Check Out These Pages, Too!

"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How-to Trim Shell Gingers

Layers of Florida-Friendly plants keep my front garden lush throughout the year.
Variegated Shell Ginger plants are the middle layer in a sweeping, meandering bed in the front garden situated among clumps of happy neighbors like Giant Liriope,  Philodendron (Xanadu), Azaleas, Variegated flax lily, Cordyline, Begonia and Caladiums (in summer).
Brightly colored, striped foliage of Variegated Shell Ginger leaves.
Variegated Shell Ginger provide a wonderfully tropical feel with their elongated bright green and brilliant yellow streaked leaves carried on thick fleshy, erect stalks. Gingers are an easy-care Florida-Friendly plant. Site them in partial shade or filtered light for best performance. Too much sun for them requires too much water to keep them healthy and stresses the foliage.

Mature Variegated Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) reach heights of well over 6 feet (non-variegated gets taller). Alpinia grow from underground rhizomes. New growth emerges throughout spring and summer which increases the lushness of each plant. Old stalks decline and need to be removed for optimum appearance and growth.
Shell ginger prior to pruning.
In my garden, I trim shell gingers to maintain their size in relation to the rest of the landscape. I typically trim ginger approximately three times a year. Once at the start of spring, once mid-summer and again mid-fall.
Assess each stalk to determine the height you desire.
Individual stalks of Shell Ginger can be soft pruned. It's easy to do with a hand pruner.

Make a clean cut to the stalk just above the point where a leaf is connected at the height you prefer the plant to be. New leaf-growth will come from this point on the cut stalk. You'll want to prune prior to your plants setting buds during bloom season. See here for the unique blooms these plants produce in mid-late spring. 
Ground level stalks of Shell Ginger
Each plant is eye-balled one-by-one to determine which stalks stay and which ones need to be eliminated. At ground level it is easy to see the mess dead stalks make. Don't be shy. They will return thick and lush.

To thin them out remove weak, yellowing stalks at the base of the plant.  Remove all the dead, brown foliage at the same time.
New stalk emerging from rhizome.
Look for new growth marked by reddish foliage spiking from the base of the plant.  Pruning old growth encourages healthy new stalks to emerge from the underground rhizome.
After the spring clean up process of pruning old stalks and removing dead foliage.
Here is the 'after' affect at the ground view where only healthy and baby stalks remain post-pruning.

Shell Ginger (variegata) that is properly cared for will last for many years in your zone 9-11 garden. 

Happy pruning, Meems

If you are new here: Come see me on Facebook... additional photos/discussions's the link:
*** Hoe and Shovel on Facebook   **


  1. Excellent info, Meems. It took more than two years for my shell ginger to really take off after planting, but now they are growing robustly. I do clean out the ratty old stalks, but never thought about soft pruning to limit their height -- now I will try that.I have a few blooms already.

  2. What a great plant for Florida. I think it would be good to use it as a privacy screen in the back of the property.
    What a lovely quote under your header.

  3. It makes me giggle to think we even try to grow these as an indoor plant. So beautiful to see them where they belong. Glad to see you're encouraging folks to really prune. They can see the results of good maintenance practices in your garden, rather than be scared that they might be ruining their treasured plant.

  4. Thank you for this excellent tutorial. Alpinias are marginal this far north but the mild winter let them keep their tops this year. Some of them look a little crispy; now I know what to do. I've never had blooms, maybe this year.

    Shrimp plant makes a good companion. I have Begonia cuttings needing a home; I'll add them.

  5. Thanks for that. It had never occurred to me to trim ginger because it has underground stems, but I will now follow your advice. Since I am farther north than you mine usually gets knocked back during our infrequent but severe freezes. But this will certainly tidy it up.

  6. Wow, those blooms are really luscious looking, and this was a very helpful post. I've always struggled to keep patches of tall gingers tidy.

  7. Thank you for the information and instruction. Clearly written. Big help for a gardener newbie like me.


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway