Botanical Name: Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’
Common Name: Variegated Shell Ginger
Description: Alpinia zerumbet is an herbaceous perennial in the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) grown throughout the world for its attractive flowers and foliage. The beautiful plant has large yellow and green striped leaves that give a very tropical feel to either your garden or as a houseplant. The colorful leaves brighten up the shady spots in your garden. In our area expect it to grow to about 4′ tall and wide. It will die back in the winter, but reliably returns in the spring. It grows best in part sun (morning sun/afternoon shade) or shade/part shade. The harsh afternoon summer sun is very tough on it and will cause its leaf edges to brown. Please don’t plant it in full sun. It also grows great in large containers. Plants grow in upright clumps from heavy, fleshy rhizomes that look (and smell) like that of culinary ginger (Zingiber officinale). Variegated Shell Ginger does get a beautiful pink, fragrant flower in the summer, but usually only on plants that are grown in its southern range where it stays evergreen. So if flowers do happen to pop up on your shell ginger in our area, appreciate it for the rare occurrence that it is. VSG is not drought tolerant, but it also doesn’t like to stay in continuously wet soils. It does like to have lots of compost so top-dress it once a year.
If used as houseplant, all it needs is a bright light area and humidity. Mist its leaves every so often, and in the saucer under the container put rocks and water.
This plant in 3-gallon containers is 1-2′ tall x 2-3′ wide.
Interesting Tidbit: It is the appearance of the flowers which resemble pearlescent seashells, especially when in bud, that inspired the common name of shell ginger.
Hardiness Zones 8 – 10
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