Ginger plants are all closely related, but not necessarily in the same family. They need to go dormant in the winter, and if they are house plants, they need to be kept in a cool place then put in the sun in the spring to grow again. Ginger plants come in varieties that can be planted in full sun, full shade or partial sun and shade.
Hedyuchiums are ornamental gingers that include the white butterfly ginger lily, which is a tropical perennial that needs to go dormant in the winter. It can be grown outdoors from the southern part of zones 7 to 11. Zone 7 covers most of the mid-South and up the West Coast to the Canadian border. Zone 11 is in Hawaii. The highest zone in the continental United States is zone 10. Hedychiums grow from rhizomes--a part of the plant that grows underground and sends out both the roots and stems of a plant. It has green stalks that grow from 3 to 7 feet tall and sharp pointed leaves that can grow from 8 to 24 inches long and 2 to 5 inches wide. Flowers appear in midsummer and last through fall. They are white, grow in clusters in the shape of butterflies and grow from 6 to 12 inches tall. The plant likes partial shade to full sun and a rich, moist soil.
Gobbas, or dancing ladies, will grow to a height of about 2 feet and have long leaves. The bracts, or seed holding leaves, are purple or white and hang down from the stems, along with tiny white yellow flowers. There are several cultivars--varieties that have been developed thought selective breeding--that have different colors. White dragon has white bracts and yellow flowers, and red leaf has pink/purple bracts and a red tint on the back of the leaves. Dancing ladies need well-drained organic soil and full sun. They are hardy in zones 8 to 11.
Kaempferias, or peacock gingers, have oval-shaped leaves that measure up to 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. The plant only grows a few inches above the ground, which makes peacock ginger a good ground cover. The leaves are green with burgundy and bronze patterns. The flowers in this variety take a back seat to the leaves. The flowers are small with four petals, violet or purple and only last a short time.
Peacock gingers need a shady location and moist but well-drained soil. They are hardy in zones 8 to 11.
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