Hedychium gardnerianum - Gingers R Us
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Hedychium gardnerianum


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Hedychium gardnerianum - Kahili Ginger Hedychium gardnerianum is a very popular butterfly ginger, often known by its Hawaiian name of "Kahili Ginger", or sometimes called "garland flower". Many people mistakenly believe this plant is native to Hawaii or to the Pacific islands, but it is actually native to India.

Kahili ginger has been cultivated for centuries as an ornamental plant, and it is found in several different forms. The one offered here is a bit shorter and stockier than most other butterfly gingers, and possibly is the same form as the form 'Compactum' that was distributed by the Gainesville Tree Farm. This makes it a more sturdy upright plant, which never needs staking. In my garden it grows to between 4 and 5 feet tall. The leaves are also broader, and are a rich dark green in color. The rhizomes of this ginger are distinctively fatter and rounder in shape, and dark brown in color.

The flowers are soft yellow with showy red stamens. The inflorescense is huge and cylindrical in shape, making this one of the prettiest of the Hedychiums. It blooms here in August and September, sometimes on into October. Some sources indicate it is fragrant, but I have never detected a fragrance with this one. It certainly does not have the heavy sweet fragrance of the white butterfly ginger, Hedychium coronarium.

Hedychium gardnerianum is not as hardy as other butterfly gingers, rated at zone 8 by most sources. A good Hedychium grower I know in North Carolina (Raleigh area) says he has lost his every winter that he left it outdoors. Another correspondent indicated that it would not grow well in cool summer climates, but I have seen a huge stand of it, full of flowers, at Strybing Arboretum in San Francisco (below), so I think west coast collectors would have no problems. It is, however, later than the others in breaking dormancy.

Hedychium gardnerianum - Kahili Ginger at Strybing Arboretum, San Francisco

Hedychium gardnerianum should be grown in rich, moist, organic soil, in about 3-4 hours of direct sun. Its shorter, stockier form makes it a good candidate for growing in pots, if you live in a climate colder than zone 8. Another alternative, as with all the Hedychiums, is to lift the rhizomes in the fall and store them in a cool basement or garage.

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