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Here’s the thing: Ginger lilies are not the true ginger that we normally use in cooking. Even if they both produce edible rhizomes underneath the ground, they aren’t exactly the same. They are, however, distant relatives as they both belong to the Zingiberaceae family.
Butterfly ginger lily is more of an ornamental type of ginger. This is because of its showy and fragrant flowers that resemble the appearance of an intricate butterfly. They’re accustomed to growing in humus-rich, shaded, or semi-shaded areas. This perennial plant is also widely distributed in many areas like Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mexico, West Indies, Central and South America, Asia, and Australia.
Now, if you wonder how to grow ginger lilies, tune in. This article is especially dedicated to this beautiful tropical plant. Below are some interesting facts to know:
Species: Hedychium coronarium
Common Name: Butterfly Ginger, Butterfly Lily, Cinnamon Jasmine, Garland Flower, Ginger Lily, White Garland Lily, White Ginger
Plant Type: Perennial, bulb
Habitat: Humus-rich, shaded or semi-shaded areas
Maximum Size: 4 ft to 6 feet tall; 2 ft to 3 feet wide
Watering Requirements: Moderate
Light Requirements: Full sun to partial shade
Preferred Humidity: Moderate to High
Preferred Temperature: 65oF to 85oF (18oC to 29oC)
Potting Medium: Occasionally wet; acidic; slightly alkaline; sand; loam; clay
Fertilizer: Well-balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer in combination with aged manure and organic compost during spring and summer
Propagation Method: Division
Toxicity: Non-toxic to pets and humans
Butterfly Ginger Lilies Plant Care Basics
If well-taken care of, ginger lilies can produce enormous growth and blooms. Not only will it bring life to your garden, but it also serves as a natural fragrance in the air. Now, let’s learn some important tips for the care and maintenance of this plant species.
Ideal Potting Mix
This plant loves to thrive in moist soil. A combination of sand, loam, and clay with slightly acidic or slightly alkaline pH is best. Make sure that the soil mix is well-draining to prevent excess water from standing in the container. This is most important for ginger lilies that are planted in pots.
On the other hand, you wouldn’t want the soil to lose water that easily. So, you may add peat moss to the mixture to improve water retention.
In its natural habitat, hedychium ginger lilies is an outdoor plant and flourish in shaded or semi-shaded areas. But it also loves full sun which is very much required for flowering. Ideally, there should be 6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day for full sun exposure and direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours for part shade exposure.
You may also tend to a ginger lily indoors. Just make sure that there’s enough light coming through the room.
Butterfly ginger needs a moderate amount of water. But even so, you have to be careful not to allow the soil to dry out. This plant has less tolerance for drought conditions and will surely show signs of stress when dehydrated. The key is to regularly water the soil surface especially during the summer months.
For potted plants, root rot can be a problem if overwatering occurs. So, make sure to keep it regulated.
Temperature & Humidity
A warm and humid environment works best for hedychium plants like butterfly lily. Any temperature within the range of 65oF to 85oF (18oC to 29oC) works well. If the temperature drops below 55oF (13oC), your ginger lilies may suffer from serious trouble. This plant is frost tender and the cold temperatures may cause damage to the tissues.
Since ginger lilies are deciduous and not winter hardy, they normally die back after the winter season. The good thing is that those fallen dead leaves cover the rhizome protecting it from the cold weather. After winter, those rhizomes will give off new shoots.
But if you wish to keep those lance-shaped leaves alive, treat it as an indoor plant. Provide an artificial light source and cover it with cotton sheets to keep it warm.
Your Hedychium coronarium will need a lot of nutrients. Once it transitions to its growing stage, you’ll have to supply nutrients to the soil for the plants to feed on. We recommend that you use a well-balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer in combination with organic matter such as aged manure and compost.
Apply fertilizer in the early spring to support the growth and development of your ginger lilies. Then, apply another one just before the blooming season in summer. This would help produce more ginger lily flowers.
Luckily, this species isn’t hard to propagate. All you have to do is divide the rhizomes of your hedychium plants. Choose a dense clump and dig up it. Remove the surrounding soil and divide the rhizomes accordingly. Make sure that each divided rhizome has a growing shoot present.
Once divided, plant each rhizome individually in pots or in the garden. Provide sufficient water. In time, those rhizomes will grow the shoots.
You may also use seeds to propagate this tropical plant. However, this method will take much time and so it’s rarely employed by most gardeners.
If you’re living in USDA zones 8 to 11, you’re in luck as the garland lily lives well in these areas.
It’s important to remember that this tropical plant is considered one of the invasive species in some areas. So before you grow ginger lilies, make sure to check your local policies regarding this species. Otherwise, you may find trouble in controlling its spread.
Potting and Pruning
Pruning isn’t really required when it comes to hedychium plants. You just have to leave it the way it is. The only time you have to prune is when there are spent flower stalks or if there are aged or diseased leaves. You should cut them off to keep your plant healthy.
Because the rhizomes spread below the ground level, you have to re-pot your plant after how many years or when the need arises. By this time also, you have to divide those rhizomes and provide fresh potting soil.
Butterfly Ginger Lilies Varieties and Similar Plants
Perhaps you’re interested to know what other varieties of ginger lilies there are. We have listed here four of those common varieties as well as their unique features.
Scarlet Ginger (Hedychium coccineum)
Scarlet ginger has a beautiful inflorescence of red-orange ginger that is cylindrical in shape. It’s also fragrant to the smell. The fruits and seeds are also orange in color. It can grow up to 1.5 – 2 m tall.
Tara Scarlet Ginger (Hedychium coccineum ‘Tara’)
This variety produces 6 stalks of grey-green foliage that are oriented upwards. The spikes also emerge with bright orange flowers. Just like the other hedychium varieties, Tara is also lightly fragrant.
Stephen Ginger Lily (Hedychium densiflorum ‘Stephen’)
Stephen Ginger Lily produces cream to pale yellow flowers during summer and autumn. Like the other varieties, they’re also fragrant and pleasant to smell.
Butterfly Ginger Lilies Diseases & Pests
Hedychium ginger lily is generally disease-free. As for pests, aphids, scale, whiteflies, and mealybugs are possible intruders. Just be ready to pick them out or spray them off once they start showing off. It’s important that you inspect your plant from time to time to prevent them from taking permanent residence on your hedychium.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can plant hedychium in your outdoor landscape to create a tropical garden. It can also be brought indoors if planted in containers. It will surely bless you with lush foliage as well as attractive and fragrant flowers. You may also cut the flowers and place them in a vase to decorate your home.
Yes, it’s possible to treat hedychium as an indoor plant especially if you live in cooler areas. The high level of humidity and warm temperature inside your homes will surely be loved by this species.
The flowers of this plant produce a lily-like smell that is sweet. fresh and tropical. But, it also has a touch of ginger-like, fruity smell.
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