The stunning red ginger plant, or ostrich plume, sports large, exotic cones of brilliant red bracts atop leafy stalks between 6-15 feet tall. The tropical Malayan native is easily grown in full sun or partial shade and is winter hardy only in Zone 11 where warmth and high humidity abound. Red ginger plants cannot tolerate low temperatures or frost, and will die back if exposed to conditions below 45 degrees F. Although the plants are slow-growing and may not produce flowers for 3 years, the huge, spectacular blooms are well worth waiting for. Once well established, red ginger plants usually bloom year round, creating a magnificent spectacle in any accommodating landscape.
Plant red ginger in a well-draining location in full sun in Zone 11. Although partial shade is very tolerable, the plant performs best where it will receive 6 hours of full sun daily.
Water enough to keep red ginger plants evenly moist, but never soggy or dripping. They don’t like wet feet. These plants don’t care for acidic environments, so use warm tap water as opposed to fresh rainwater. Don’t allow them to dry out completely between waterings. Consistent moisture is required for the plant’s rhizomes to develop properly.
Feed outdoor red ginger plants a slow-release granular fertilizer for blooming plants once in early spring. Keep the soil’s pH level between 6.0 and 7.5.
Thin your mature red ginger plant in the summer if it reproduces to the point that it expands and becomes too large for your taste. Dig up some of the rhizomes and plant them in their own locations, or share them with friends. Pruning isn’t needed, and red ginger typically isn’t susceptible to insect pests.
Bring the red ginger plant indoors when lowering temperatures approach 45 degrees F. They like daytime temperatures between 70-80 degrees. Use a large well-draining container and a medium of 2 parts peat moss, 3 parts garden soil, and 1 part sand.
Place the potted red ginger plant near a warm, bright window where it will receive all the full sunlight possible. Southern or western exposures are best for this. Set the pot on some gravel in a draining pan to provide humidity, and keep it warm. Water just enough so that the medium remains evenly moist without ever letting it dry out. Mist the red ginger plant once or twice daily with warm water add even more humidity while it’s indoors.
Feed weekly applications of water soluble houseplant fertilizer. Your red ginger plant can remain inside as long as you like, and will thrive as long as conditions are warm, bright and humid. If you prefer, it can be returned to the outdoors either containerized or planted in the ground when temperatures consistently remain above 50 degrees F.