The ginger lily found throughout the tropics and subtropics, the Hedychium gardneranum is also a delightful choice for a greenhouse or enclosed porch.
Hedychium gardnerianum pronounced [hed-EE-kee-um gard-nair-ee-AH-num] also has a few common names:
- Kahili ginger
- Kahila garland-lily
- Ginger lily
- Butterfly ginger
The plant belongs to the Zingiberaceae family of plants, which most people call the ginger family.
It’s native to the Himalayas and has very exotic-looking, fragrant flowers that bloom toward the end of summer.
It’s an easy plant to grow in the home garden and should live for years with the right care.
Hedychium Gardneranum Care
Size and Growth
The Kahili ginger is a tall, slender plant, often reaching 4′ feet tall in cultivation. The plant produces thin, shiny green stems and banana-shaped leaves.
If the plant receives enough water, it should produce denser foliage. Dividing the plant in the spring also provides a way to create more plants and thicker growth.
Flowering and Fragrance
This is a later summer bloomer. The yellow flowers tend to appear in late summer or early fall, springing to life in large clusters.
The flowers have long red stamens and produce a strong, fragrant aroma. The yellow petals are thin, drooping around the stamens.
Light and Temperature
Kahili Ginger lilies grow best in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11. In cooler regions, it’s best grown indoors in a greenhouse or enclosed area as it requires lots of humidity and warm temperatures.
While it likes partial shade with lots of light, full sun can cause the leaves to turn yellow.
If the leaves are not green, move it to a shadier location.
Daily misting is recommended when the air is dry, especially when the plant is kept indoors.
This plant needs warm weather and shouldn’t be left outdoors in temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer.
In the winter, it can survive outdoors in temperatures down to 54° degrees Fahrenheit.
Watering and Feeding
Plenty of water and high humidity are needed during the summer months when the plant is flowering.
If the weather is warm and sunny, it often needs extra humidity and water.
During the winter, it needs much less water. Keep the soil relatively dry after the flowers wither and the plant starts to go dormant.
Fertilizer is recommended during the active growing season. Feed the plant regularly throughout the summer and not at all during the winter.
Soil and Transplanting
Kahili ginger grows best in rich moist soil with good drainage. Combine regular potting soil with peat moss and sand.
When growing the plant in a pot, use a large container to support the tall growth. As this plant can live for many years, occasional repotting is needed.
Repot the plant in the spring before the active growth starts.
Maintenance and Grooming
Remove the withered stems and leaves throughout the year as needed.
NOTE: If you grow Heliconia plants successfully you should have no trouble with ginger lily care as it is very similar.
How to Propagate Hedychium Gardneranum
Propagate the hedychium ginger lily through division in the spring when transplanting the plant. Remove the plant from its pot and carefully use a stick to loosen the soil.
Separate the root systems into two or three equal-sized parts. The roots are often difficult to remove by hand. Carefully cut them apart using a sharp knife.
Trim the withered leaves and then plant each section in its own pot.
Use standard potting soil with a little peat moss and sand. Water the plants thoroughly and keep in a shaded area.
Kahili Ginger Pests or Diseases
The plant is considered an invasive species in some regions, including:
- New Zealand
- The Azores
In these areas, people refer to the plant as the wild kahili ginger as it grows quickly in the warm, tropical weather.
It can be grown outside of its native region and doesn’t have any serious pests or diseases to worry about, other than snails.
If snails appear, simply pick them off the leaves. They typically don’t cause serious harm if they are promptly removed.
The plant can suffer from dry conditions. If the leaves start to wither, the plant likely needs more water.
At the same time, if the roots are constantly exposed to water, they start to rot.
The soil should be kept moist just below the surface while the top should feel slightly dry.
If root rot is detected, allow the soil to dry and monitor the condition of the plant.
Avoid watering to see if the condition improves. When the rot spreads too far, there is a chance that the entire plant may need to get tossed.
Yellow leaves are another issue to watch for. This is often a sign of too much sunlight. Place the plant in a shadier spot and trim withered leaves.
Suggested Uses For Ginger Lily
While this is a lovely plant, it can’t survive in cool, dry regions.
It’s best suited for life in a greenhouse or enclosed porch growing in a container, where it’s easier to control the roots and humidity.