The most common names for Hedychium coronarium [hed-EE-kee-um, kor-oh-NAR-ee-um] may be White garland lily or white ginger lily but the plant is nothing close to a lily.
In fact, it comes from the ginger family Zingiberaceae.
The scientific name (given by J. König), specifically the genus name comes from Greek words, hedys and chion, which mean sweet and snow respectively.
This is a description or reference to the fragrant white flowers the species produces in abundance.
This flowering plant genus is native to Eastern Himalayas and has a distribution in other regions in Southern China, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, and Thailand.
The white ginger plant is also found in Europe and the United States along with some regions in North America.
The specific epithet means “pertaining to garlands” as it often used to make floral garlands in Japan and Hawaii, where the plant is synonymously known as awapuhi-ke’oke’o.
Other common names for Hedychium include:
- White ginger
- Butterfly ginger lily
- Butterfly lily (the indiviidual flowers look like butterflies)
… and many more.
Like Hedychium gardneranum (Kahili ginger) the plant is known for its fragrant flowers; grown for ornamental and medicinal purposes in the native lands.
How Do You Grow Hedychium Coronarium?
Size & Growth
Hedychium coronarium can grow approximately 5’’ feet high and have a 5’ foot spread. The individual stems grow upright at a fast rate and start covering the area around it.
The foliage consists of large, lance-shaped leaves, around 24” inches long and 5” inched wide. The leaves are medium to bright green in color.
Flowering and Fragrance
The garland flower puts on a beautiful display of showy, fragrant white blooms, borne on elliptical racemes. Each Hedychium inflorescence is about 4” – 8” inches long and blooms from late summer to early spring.
The flowers are sweetly fragrant and are often used to make perfumes. The petals make up an intricate shape similar to the shape of a butterfly.
Hence, various common names have the word butterfly in them.
Light & Temperature
These flowering ginger lilies are winter hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 8-10.
They prefer hot and humid summers and subtropical climates over cooler climes. They need to be overwintered indoors to prevent root damage.
As for light, the white garland lily thrives in full sun but will tolerate part shade.
Watering and Feeding
The garland flower has medium to wet water needs, meaning they need to be watered frequently in hot and dry summers. Don’t let the soil dry out completely as it can cause damage to the plant.
These plants crave nutrition and organic matter, so make sure to supplement your soil during the growing season if it’s not organically rich. Feed the plants with organic compost or organic fertilizer as needed.
If growing in containers place the ginger plant type near a water garden or pond periphery for extra humidity.
Soil & Transplanting
Besides having good moisture retention, the soil should also be organically rich, moist, and well-drained. The soil shouldn’t be too alkaline. The pH should be near neutral or slightly acidic.
As for transplanting, Hedychium coronarium plants respond well to being moved. Divide the new shoots and plant them in the ground in permanent locations in shaded locations.
Grooming and Maintenance
When it comes to pruning, the plant has no needs requiring compulsory cutting.
However, you have to be careful about winters. Overwinter coronarium indoors in a dry, frost-free location.
Be careful about root rot, keeping the soil well-drained. Otherwise, the Hedychium is pretty low-maintenance in the garden.
How to Propagate White Ginger Lily
The white butterfly ginger is propagated from seeds and by dividing rhizomes.
- Sow the seeds as soon as they are ripe in a partially shaded location, favorably inside a nursery.
- Germinate at 64° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C) until the seedlings are big enough to be handled and moved.
- Division is done by gently digging up clumps from the root and dividing the tubers or rhizomes with a knife or spade.
- Make sure each section has a growing shoot and then plant in a permanent position or in containers.
NOTE: Store tubers for winter in a dry location, in moist vermiculite or peat moss.
White Ginger Lily Pest or Diseases
Hedychium coronarium j. Koenig isn’t affected by many serious pest and disease problems.
Common problems such as aphids, red spider mites, scale, and root rot are both preventable and treatable.
Learn more about our FAVORITE natural pest control for gardens.
Outside its native range, it may be an invasive species. It grows rapidly in streams, shallow water systems, bogs, and waterlogged areas.
The underground rhizomes reproduce rapidly, becoming hard to control.
It is classed invasive in Rio di Janeiro, South Africa, and wet and mesic areas on the Hawaiian island, Maui.
In fact, the propagation of the invasive plant is prohibited in New Caledonia.
Hedychium Coronarium White Butterfly Lily Uses
The showy, Hedychium coronarium white ginger inflorescences look great planted in containers or in landscape garden borders.
Since the flowers attract butterflies, ginger plants are used in the garden to attract pollinators.
The perennial Hedychium coronarium is the national flower of Cuba, where it is known as mariposa for its shape.
Women used the flowers to adorn themselves during celebratory occasions back in the Spanish colonial times.
In times of war, the shape of the flower came in handy for carrying secret messages.
The intricate structure of the flowers allowed women to work for the independence cause.
In China, the plant is cultivated for both ornamental and medicinal uses.
During the slavery era in Brazil, African slaves brought the plant to the country and used the leaves as mattresses.
Currently, the blooms are used as garland flowers in Hawaii and Japan.
They are also used to extract a fragrant essential oil to add to perfumes.