Chamaecostus cuspidatus is very different from the Costus species in cultivation. As explained on my main website at www.gingersrus.com this and six other species have now been split out of Costus to a new genus Chamaecostus. Only two species are common in cultivation. Plants in this genus are generally very short and have the broad, showy labellums so well illustrated by this plant. It is a native of southeastern Brazil, unlike so many others that come from the rainforests of the upper Amazon basin and Central America. It was previously known as Costus igneus until Dr. Maas determined that the earlier name of cuspidatus was correct.
Chamaecostus cuspidatus grows to about 18 inches tall with dark green foliage that spirals around the leaf sheaths in typical Costus fashion. It will steadily increase to a nice sized clump and can be used as a ground cover.
The flowers are striking - very showy - and will appear regularly thoughout the growing season, sometimes creating a mass of bright orange color that is unmatched by any other ginger.
It is very rarely found in nature, growing in deep shade in the remaining forests of southeastern Brazil, but I have grown it successfully in 3-4 hours of mid-morning sun, and I believe it will flower better under those conditions. So long as the soil is kept moist (but fairly well drained) it does not suffer any leaf scorching.
Hardiness has been rated by several sources as zone 8, and Mike Bridges in his old Southern Perennials catalog indicated he had tested it to 10 degrees F. I have found (from my own unfortunate experience) that during winter dormancy it is possible to lose this plant from rotting of the rhizomes if the soil is kept too wet. I lost nearly all of what you see in these pictures over the winter of 2000-2001, and am just now rebuilding my stock of this delightful Costus.
If you have a place to grow it indoors in a pot, you will be rewarded by its bright orange flowers. Thanks to its compact size, this is quite manageable.