Alpinia Zerumbet Variegata Care: Growing Variegated Shell Ginger

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The Alpinia Zerumbet ‘Variegata’ plant is a herbaceous perennial popular for its attractive foliage and flowers.

It belongs to the family of Zingiberaceae (the ginger family) along with Zingiber Officinale.

attractive alpinia zerumbet variegata plantPin

It is native to Eastern Asia, particularly open woodlands.

Its variegated cultivar is native to India.

The variegated shell ginger Alpinia is a year-round outdoor foliage plant when grown in its hardiness zone.

The synonyms of this plant are Alpinia Speciosa, Costus Zerumbet, and Languas Speciosa.

The common names include:

  • Variegated Shell Ginger
  • Shell Ginger
  • Indian Shell Flower
  • Pink Porcelain Lily
  • Butterfly Ginger
  • Variegated Ginger

Alpinia Zerumbet Variegata Plant Care

Size and Growth

Variegated ginger is a low-maintenance plant featuring upright clumps with fleshy, dense rhizomes resembling culinary ginger.

This specimen plant with a rapid growth rate grows to about 10’ feet tall.

However, when grown as an annual container plant in northern areas, it only grows about 3’ to 4’ feet tall.

Long arching stems grow from the rhizomes with several lance-shaped leaves.

As the name suggests, this plant has variegated foliage.

It produces green leaves with yellow stripes.

However, each leaf varies in its variegation amount – some are green with gold or creamy yellow strips, and others are yellow with green-colored streaks.

Flowering and Fragrance

The Variegated Ginger produces an inflorescence of shell-like flowers at the end of the leafy stem. The shampoo ginger plant has a pinecone-like inflorescence.

These are often referred to as shell flowers since the buds resemble sea shells.

However, it is important to note that these clusters of pink flowers don’t blossom on the plants being stored for winter or grown as annuals since they only produce inflorescences on old growth.

Variegated shell ginger flowerPin

This unique feature of this plant, making it different from other members of the ginger family, is the way the flower starts dropping instead of rising.

The flower color ranges from pink to white flowers and often turns bright red and yellow shades in the summer of the plant’s second year.

The typical bloom time of variegated ginger plants is the summer months.

The flowers have a slight fragrance. In rare cases, the flowers are followed by fruits.

Finding the Perfect Balance With Light and Temperature

The Shell Ginger enjoys growing in the full sun but likes afternoon shade during the hot summer climates.

Even though it tolerates various light conditions, placing the plant under a bright light is best.

Ideally, place the plant near a south-facing window when growing indoors where it receives part sun or filtered sun and is protected from the harsh rays of the midday sunshine.

The USDA zone of hardiness is from 8 to 10.

However, these plants might tolerate Zone 7 when adequately protected during the winter season.

Watering & Feeding Variegated Shell Ginger

During its growing season, this plant requires plenty of water.

Avoid letting the soil dry out completely, but also ensure it is not soggy constantly.

It is not a drought-tolerant plant and will suffer greatly without proper irrigation, especially during summer.

Partial shade and regular watering will ensure the plant grows optimally.

If growing in containers, make sure to feed the plant every month with liquid food.

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Laying Strong Foundations With Soil and Transplanting

The Variegated Shell Ginger is not too picky about the potting mixture.

However, organically rich and well-drained soil is recommended for growing this plant.

Provide the plant clay, loam, or sand mixture, which is slightly acidic.

Make sure whichever potting mixture you use doesn’t dry out, as the variegated shell ginger requires a moist soil surface.

You may improve the quality of the soil by adding organic compost.

Keep Your Ginger Glowing: Grooming and Maintenance

The houseplants grow optimally in humid conditions and under bright light.

The lack of sufficient moisture, as well as harsh cold temperatures, may turn the edges of the leaves brown.

It is best to apply a layer of mulch around the roots to protect against cold.

You may also prune your Variegated shell ginger as needed to control its size.

Propagating Variegated Shell Ginger: Multiply the Magic

The propagation of this compact plant is done using the division method.

  • Use a garden fork or shovel to dig out a clump and divide the fleshy rhizomes into multiple parts using your hands.
  • However, if the clump is too big, dig out a small section from the outer edge of the plant.
  • You may use the rhizomes both with and without shoots.
  • Use a rich soil mixture and add 2” to 4” inches of organic matter around it.
  • Plant the rhizomes at a similar soil depth as they were planted in the original spot.
  • Cover them properly with soil and water immediately.

Protect Your Variegated Shell Ginger Plant From Pest or Diseases

This plant doesn’t experience any significant disease or pest concerns.

However, it is wise to monitor the plant for spider mites and treat them accordingly.

Alpinia Zerumbet Variegata: Plant Uses & Inspiration

Alpinia variegata shell ginger is used to create a tropical effect in various types of gardens and landscape designs, mainly for its stunning foliage, even in full sun.

The shell ginger plant is also used as a houseplant and garden annual and looks excellent when planted in large containers and small groups.

It makes an eye-catching accent plant when placed by an entrance or used in a shrub border.

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