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How to Care for a Variegated-Shell Ginger Plant

With its brightly colored leaves in shades of creamy white, gold or yellow stripes and shell-shaped blooms, the variegated shell ginger plant (Alpinia zerumbet) makes a bold statement in the landscape. Although the variegated shell ginger plant can reach heights of 12 feet in the tropics, in the garden, most plants won't exceed 4 feet. The variegated shell ginger plant can also be grown outdoors in a patio container, or can be grown indoors as a houseplant.

Plant variegated shell ginger plant in full sunlight. Although the variegated shell ginger plant will grow in partial sunlight, bright sunlight will bring out the strongest colors in the leaves. Variegated shell ginger plant needs rich, well-drained soil. If the soil is poor, mix 2 to 4 inches of compost or manure into the top 8 inches of the soil.

Place variegated shell ginger plants grown as houseplants in bright sunlight, and keep the soil moist. Indoor-grown variegated shell ginger plants will benefit from being placed in a humid environment, such as a bathroom or kitchen.

Water variegated ginger shell plant often, but don't allow the soil to become soggy. If the variegated ginger shell plant is containerized and kept outdoors, check the soil daily during hot, dry weather. Containerized plants dry out quickly.

Feed variegated shell ginger plants monthly during spring and summer, using a general purpose liquid fertilizer. For containerized plants, dilute the fertilizer to half of the strength indicated on the package label.

Mulch around the base of the variegated shell ginger plant in late autumn if your winter climate typically drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but you have no hard freezes. If you live in a cold northern climate with hard winter freezes, dig the rhizomes, which look much like culinary ginger root, and store them in a cardboard box filled with peat moss in a room where the temperature is maintained at about 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

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