The Shell Ginger
Alpinia zerumbet or ‘Shell Ginger’ also known as the Pink porcelain Lily is a wonderful tropical to sub tropical plant and the variegated variety has colourful foliage as well.
And if you live down south then you are in luck as some ‘Shell Ginger’ species are fairly cold tolerant and could be grown in a frost free position as far south as Melbourne.
It will not flower as prolifically in the colder months as it does in warmer climates but it will be star in the garden in spring and summer.
Alpinia zerumbet cv. Variegata (foliage pictured right) is the popular one at the moment, green foliage with cream and yellow variegation and creamy white and pink fragrant flowers that hang in clusters.
Reaching a height of around 90cm in most gardens Alpinia zerumbet can get to twice this in good conditions.
Shell Ginger Care
Usually sold online as rhizomes in winter Shell Gingers are best given a little tender loving care until established.
Plant is a container to start with, usually the first year is adequate, this gives the rhizome a chance to grow a good root system in a confined space, which it seems to like. Make sure that the new shoots are just showing through the soil.
Depending on your location full sun to part shade, the warmer the climate the more shade. However in southern states remember that very hot afternoon sun in summer needs to be avoided.
A humus rich moist deep soil is best and when you are replanting those new shoots should be at ground level.
Once acclimatised and established fertilise you shell ginger with a diluted liquid fertiliser every 2 weeks. Keep moist so some humidity is available, especially in southern Australian summers.
- Lack of humidity can cause foliage to brown
- Can you grow them indoors ? Probably not the best house plant, however with the right humidity and a well drained but moist potting mix you can. Avoid hot sun through glass as this can burn foliage.
Other Alpinia Species and varieties
Alpina are members of the ginger family, (zingiberaceae) A. purpurata is known as the Red Ginger. A. zerumbet, A. formosana and A. malaccanse are all worth seeking.
A. galanga is different to the others and is used in Indonesian and Thai cooking
A. caerulea is a native ginger growing to 3m in rainforest areas from Queensland to NSW, the other native species is Alpinia arundelliana
Alpinia or Shell Ginger are available for sale from the following nurseries
Australia's finest bamboo display gardens. Non-invasive clumping varieties at competitive prices for screens, windbreaks, garden ornamentals, timber and shoots. Small suburban garden right up to the commercial growers. Can ship to anywhere in Australia. Hervey Bay, QLD. OPEN 7 DAYS
PO BOX 150 El Arish Qld 4855
Largest online selection of tropical exotic plants in Australia. Heliconias, gingers, cordylines and brugmansias. Retail center open by appointment only.
52 Rodd St Canowindra NSW 2804
An online nursery specialising in drought and frost tolerant perennials and fragrant, edible and herbs.