When the Alpinia zerumbet, Variegated Shell Ginger was initially planted ~~ eons ago (read:ten years) ~~ the luscious blooms were not even a factor in their consideration. Little did this gardener know they would indeed bloom.
At that time the decision was made to situate them as a mid-level layer curving around the length of the front border that hugs a large stand of oak trees.
Gingers were selected based on the need for a perennial in that area to take the place of my then habit of switching out annuals every season.
This lovely specimen met the criterion for my LOVE of foliage with their outstandingly large leaves ~ each one reaching out 18" - 2' from its stalk and 6-8" wide~~ coupled with their eye-catching, stripey foliage. Consideration for height capabilities and Florida-Friendly low-water needs along with their ability to thrive in shifting shade were characteristics that also grabbed my attention.
It took a few years but, once maturity was realized, to my utter delight and surprise each beautiful spring a slender, arching bud forms at the end of nearly every stalk of green lushness. (Look closely at the above photo and you will see an evil creature lurking between bud and leaf.)
When those elongated pendants pop open a waterfall of bulbous pods cascades from the mother leaf.
Opulent, creamy white pods with pinky tips echo the color variations from the buds' covering they are borne on as well as the stems of each new stalk on these wonderfully tropical plants.
Planted in large groupings in the front border and clusters of them repeated in the back gardens adds continuity and impact while brightening the understory of oak trees. Many additional ginger plants have been gained by digging up an entire plant and dividing the rhizome for transplants.
If the drippy pods were the final result of these blooms this gardener would be completely giddy.
Instead, as if insistent to exceed the previous glory in the blooming process, as time passes, each one of those puffy, bulbous pods individually bursts open to reveal yet another phase.
Hidden inside, waiting its turn to appear, is an exotic ruffly bloom colored in yellows and oranges resembling a seashell.
Can you tell the variegated ginger is one of the all-time favorites in my Florida -Friendly garden! It ranks as one of my must-have perennials. The drippy, exotic blooms are just a bonus adding to the dramatic effect these plants add to the landscape.