Gingers grown in Florida gardens most likely aren't the species that yields the ginger spice, but the more ornamental tropical perennials. Red ginger (Alpinia purpurata) bears either red or pink flower bracts while the shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) grows tall with pearly white, shell-like flowers. Rarely flowering, but much more beautiful with yellow and green striped foliage, is the variegated shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet "Variegata"). All of these plants die back to the ground rhizomes after a winter frost and rejuvenate in March and April.
The tall leafy canes of these gingers grow only from their tips. If a plant or errant cane grows too tall, Take a hand pruner and cut the stem just above a leaf. Making the cut close to a leaf hides the pruning cut, making the plant look more natural. Remember, this removes not only the growing tip of the cane, but also any future flowers.
Once ginger canes flower, that particular cane will slowly degrade as either seeds are produced, or any remaining energy from the leaves fortify and enlarge the underground rhizomes. Either cut the entire cane down to the ground, or tip prune it to tidy its appearance. Allowing the old canes to remain and strengthen the roots leads to more canes and plants later on. Overly ratty clumps or overgrown thickets can be reduced or "thinned out" by removing one-third to one-half of all canes at height of 3 to 6 inches. Do this in early June at the start of the Florida rainy season.
The harshest pruning technique, rejuvenative pruning, removes all canes each spring. This allows fresh, new leaves and canes to regrow. Often employed after a winter freeze kills the foliage, the pruning should occur in March after all threat of a late frost passes. Cut all older canes back to a height 3- to 6-inches above the soil line. As you carefully remove the cut canes, you'll see young emerging shoots that you want to retain. Watch your footing so you don't accidentally break off the tender new shoots. You may also do a rejuvenating pruning during the rainy season in summer. Regrowth will be quick and lush, but any flowering may be delayed until late fall or absent that first growing season.
At any time from spring to autumn when you see a brown, dead cane feel free to cut it off at a height of 3 to 6 inches. Winter-occurring dead canes are best left until March so your pruning doesn't encourage new frost-tender shoots.