Common Names: variegated shell ginger, pink porcelain lily
Large leafy plants are needed at Hoe & Shovel to fill in the big spaces. There are other requirements as well. We are always on the lookout for great performers that look good all year long. It's been a work in progress but gradually we are seeing this idea come to fruition around here.
I'm a big fan of layers upon layers of plantings using varying heights, foliage, texture, color, vertical movement, pathways and other stationary materials (seating, hardscape, potted plants) all within the same space. Being that we are working towards a tropicalesque feeling in most of my garden, layers of lots of lush plantings fit right into the plan.
Front garden looking from driveway to the south. The shell ginger is the elongated stripy leafed plant. Also visible in the above photo is oodles of liriope- giant and variegated (a staple around here- it doesn't need any attention- we like that), xanadu, azalea, red sister dracaena, caladium, impatiens (planted and volunteers), asian jasmine and of course the stand of oak trees.
I just love the contrast the extra large, strikingly variegated leaves of the ginger make with the deeper greens of the slender giant liriope and ruffled leaves of the xanadu under the shade of the oak trees. This plant performs beautifully all year long right through the winter months. So even when my seasonal annuals in front of the row of ginger might not be looking great, I can count on the ginger to make a statement from the street and from the driveway.
This closer shot displays the arching, dangling blooms a little better.
When placement is being determined for layers you might want to consider ...
1) how tall each plant will get
2) will it require trimming or will it naturally grow to a desired height/width
3) which direction/angle will your eye be viewing the plantings
4) color and texture of foliage- how well will it mix with other plants in the grouping
5) you probably don't want to block any other views such as to/from interior windows or for instance if a planting bed is in the middle of the garden consider whether you want to be able to see past it.
You might notice and question why the liriope behind the ginger is shorter than the ginger in front of it. I don't mind in this case because this is one of those places where your eye sees the entire planting no matter which direction you are coming from... walking up to the house or walking from the house. So in this case that design works.
Shell Ginger blooms a wonderfully pink tipped, white bulby cluster, arching forward and drooping downward from the top leaves. Typically you can count on these profuse blooms every May-- but only on mature plants.
There are many wonderful varieties of ginger. In Florida you can find any number of them growing with abandon in the garden. I have some other varieties I'll feature in another post.
Something I've noticed about shell ginger (it became all the rage a few years back) is the unfortunate placement many home/business owners have chosen for it in their landscaping. More often than not these wonderful perennials are in the wrong place and/or are not cared for properly. Sadly I often see them located in full sun where strong winds and/or our hot sunny days ravel or bleach out the deep green and yellow striped leaves causing their appearance to be less than desirable.
After the bloom hangs from the stem for a few days each little pod further opens and reveals this more fluffy, colorful leafy burst of bloom that resembles something like a hibiscus flower.
A view of a portion of the back planting looking from the front of it to the west. Also visible in this photo: variegated liriope, penta, red sister dracaena, croton, plumbago, split leaf philodendron, mexican petunia.
In this grouping some of the ginger was purchased yet many of the plants were moved/transplanted by digging out a stalk or two from an existing clump. This is easy to do and now I don't purchase any new plants. I am continually stretching/enlarging this back planting by adding more dug up ginger and propogated dracaena.
Light: Prefers light shade or filtered sun.
Moisture: Needs moist, well drained soil.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 12.
Variegated shell ginger is root-hardy in Zone 8, but it won't flower if its gets frost.
Propagation: Pieces of the rhizome, division of clumps or seed.