I've have white butterfly gingers (large clumps of them) several years old, which reproduce themselves prolificly, BUT they NEVER bloom! Doesn't appear anything's eating them, no rolly worms, yellow cooties, etc. It's curious to me because I've never had a plant, particularly a ginger, that didn't eventually produce a bloom. Any ideas? Needs more fertilizer? Getting too much sun? All male plants? Curiously stumped! :)
Stumped by non-blooming butterfly gingers
If they've never bloomed, how do you know they are white butterfly gingers (Hedychium coronarium)? Could it be some other species?
Hmm....you make a good point - how would I know having never seen a blossom. :) These came from a clump of blooming white butterfly gingers. I can only say that I've successfully grown white butterfly most of my previous life, mostly from cuttings. I have several, even some less common gingers, and they've all bloomed at some point. These are three years old and spreading, w/nary a sign of blooming.....just busy reproducing themselves.
What I was thinking of is one of the Alpinias - like one of the forms that are sold as Alpinia nutans or false cardamom. They are very shy bloomers and look superficially like Hedychiums. When you crush the leaves, there is no strong fragrance, is there?
Also, I am curious... when you said you propagated Hedychiums from cuttings, do you mean divisions of the rhizomes? Hedychiums do not make true stems at all, and thus cannot be easily propagated from stem cuttings. Once in a great while they will produce plantlets at the base near the rhizome or at the axils of the bracts, but very rarely. They are actually leaf sheaths, part of the leaf that wraps around to form a pseudostem.
Are there any other gingers other than a few Costus that can be propagated from stem cuttings? I have fantastic success with Costus (speciosus and barbatus specifically--one stem can make several plants) . I thought about trying my Tapeinochilus ann. , but hate the thought of whacking at it as it is so pretty right now (I have never seen a ginger "branch" and this one looks almost like a huge, weeping, sort-of "shrub" from a distance now.)
BTW--The Tapenochilus rec. I got from you is thriving and next to the T. annanassae. They are getting along like old friends!
Any Costaceae (Costus, Dimerocostus, Tapeinochilos) can be propagated from stem cuttings. Among Zingiberaceae there are a few - Globba most notably, and some Zingiber species that can be started from stem cuttings, but are not nearly as easy or reliable as Costaceae. Technically, they do not really grow from cuttings the way other plants do - the cutting does not continue to grow by adding roots to the existing cutting, but rather new plantlets grow from within the stems, sprouting their own new stems and roots.
I have not heard of any Alpinias, Curcumas, Kaempferias, or Hedychiums sprouting from stem cuttings, but it is possible that new growth can be started from either the base of a pseudostem near the rhizome or from the base of an inflorescense. Alpinia, especially are prone to produce plantlets from the base of the inflo - very common in Alpinia purpurata.
As for the Tapeinochilos... the branching of the stems is quite characteristic, and the best part to propagate is a new branch, cut off just below where it branched from the main stem. In fact all the Asian Costaceae (like Costus speciosus and Costus globosus) have that tendency. Actually all the Asian Costus species have been recently moved to a new genus based on molelcular studies by Chelsea Specht. Costus speciosus is now Cheilocostus speciosus, Costus lacerus now Cheilocostus lacerus and Costus globosus now Cheilocostus globosus. I have all these changes explained on my website at
Brad, how do you do the cuttings of the costus? Do you do stem cuttings, and have one or two nodes below the soil? How many nodes above the soil? Do you take the cuttings from the older thicker stem, or the side shoots with leaves? This is interesting, I would have never thought about doing cuttings....
I take a nice fat stalk that is in the back of the clump and I feel I can sacrifice the flower from OR from a stalk that has already bloomed. Then I snip off all the leaves. I then cut it in 6 inch sections, making sure each one has a node--preferable on the lower end that will be going into the soil. Make sure you cut and point them all the same way so you don't pot some upside down-LOL I don't know if that would matter but it does';t seem right at any rate. LOL I then dust a little rooting hormone on the node(s) and cut end that is going under the soil. I stick it into a pot of fresh, well-drained potting mix at a diagonal angle, leaving about 2 inches above the soil and 4 below on average. Water in and only water again when dry. I put my pots under a large strawberry guava bush for filtered light and in about 3-4 weeks i start to notice the new shoots coming up. Dave is right about how they grow. I have noticed when I unpot them that the old stem just falls away with almost no effort---almost like it wasn't even attached! The new plant starts its own rhizome easily and will quickly outgrow the pot. I attached a picture of one of my costus barbatus flowers from last year--they got so HUGE,
This message was edited Jul 17, 2006 5:43 PM
thanks so much Brad, you have opened up a whole new world for me!!! Right now I only have one stalk of the speciosus, but as soon as it shows a new shoot or so, that stem is going for cuttings! lol
OMG Brad, that barbatus is awesome. My flowers never get that large but I guess I am lucky enough that they have b een hardy for me. a
This year I wasn't so lucky--we had a freak freeze ONE night right at the end of the cold season--went to 26 for four hours! They went to the ground. I will be lucky of they grow enough to bloom this year because more often they bloom on one year old growth. Oh well... they are still lush green and 6 feet tall already--who knows? Here's a pic of my trying to shoot a pic while holding ginger and ruler together, just to get an idea of the size.
Tapeinochius ananassae is one I think more ginger growers should venture into. I planted this one in a 15 gallon pot in the Fall and over Winter had to drag it in and out of the house as both greenhouses were too full for it. It held on and looked frazzled. I kept it on the dry side with occasional light water only. Whenever I had a day above 50, out it went under the shade cloth. This ginger is very easy to care for. In the Spring it took off after a feedling and two weeks left alone in the warm weather. Now it has produced its first inflorescence, which is VERY slow growing , having been on there for two months now. This is a pic from a few weeks ago when it first started. It is very, deep red now and a bit taller and larger. Many new shoots are now coming up and the old shoots that the tips died on over winter began "branching out: from the nodes, giving it almost the appearance of a weeping fig from a distance. What a cool ginger! it is so easy to care for. I leave it toally alone except for occasional feedling. No pests, no diseases...very easy care and many new "bumps" appearing underneath the soil, signaling more blooms to come. It prefers shade or very filtered sun. 70% shade cloth seems perfect for it, as is under a nice, shady tree. Direct sun will burn the leaves. The rains water it here in Florida, so I have basically not done anything to it in about a month with all the storms. Anyway, here's a pic from May. (Yes, I need to make more, but I run a little nursery and I get sidetracked by all my plumerias coming into blooms!--LOL).
This message was edited Jul 17, 2006 8:41 PM
This message was edited Jul 17, 2006 8:41 PM
Just a couple of comments to add to what Brad has already said... Some people prefer to lay the cuttings horizontally, but I prefer vertical. Tom Wood once told me that the growth hormones will collect by gravity that way, giving better results. I am not sure if there is any scientific evidence of that, but I do seem to have better luck with placing them vertically, as I believe Brad is suggesting.
I use plain perlite as a rooting medium, and keep it constantly moist - it drains well and keeps the stems from rotting before the new plants start. I do not use any rooting hormone at all anymore, and it doesn't seem to make any difference, since you are really not rooting the stem.
Most any part of the stem will work with (as Brad said) a couple of the leaf axils buried. The basal part of the stem is the least reliable, and the part closer to the tip, where the leaves are more closely spaced seems to work better, and the end of the stem at the base of an old inflorescense is by far the best part to use, almost always produces a new plant even with the more difficult species.
Brad, that is indeed a very big C. barbatus (comosus) inflo - I have one going in the greenhouse this year that I am hoping will keep going that long. I have seen photos of them well over a foot long. I just went out to the greenhouse to measure - it is up to 8 1/2 inches so far and still growing.
My Tape. ananasae did very well this year, producing six flowering shoots, one of which is on a peduncle over 3 ft long. I have never seen any get that tall before. I will have to remember to get some photos tomorrow when it gets light.
We've actually found that for Costus, Zingibers, and Hedychiums horizontally works best. We found out about hedychiums sprouting from the pseudostems from Russell. Tom said no but... Russell was right, we've done many over the past few years quite reliably. Actually with Costus some do better one way and some better another, but the others only horizontally.
Gingerus. I apologise f/slow response - computer problems now resolving. Nope, I don't think it's false cardamon. The leaves smell wonderful like ginger, esp if torn in strips, as do the rhizomes when digging around them. I apologise f/saying I've propogated f/"cuttings," which is not the case...I meant rhizome division (and created such a lively discussion on cuttings). However, I have propagated those tall, orange pinecone-looking gingers f/stem cuttings. Is it possible to eat or use Butterfly ginger rhizomes in cooking? If I plant a Zingiber officinale from a rhisome purchased at the store, how would I know when to dig it up to use in cooking?
You dig up the rhizomes during the plants growing season to insure plump rhizomes , when the plant is dormant you do not water it at so therefore the rhizome shrivels up and is not at it's best.
Aplinia Nutans has the fragrance in the foliage and rarely ever blooms and Hedychiums don't have the fragrance in the foliage the way zingibers and alpinias tend to have.
Dave you'll love this! Every time I looked at this clump of gingers I thought
I should throttle it or something! The now 3 year old, 4ft tall ginger has finally
bloomed! And, it is NOT a butterfly ginger!
Is it possible that when it says, 'full sun,' that East Central Florida sun much more
than intended? Don't all gingers love 'open shade?'
This message was edited Mar 15, 2007 10:48 AM
This message was edited Mar 15, 2007 10:51 AM
How about that! That explains why it did not flower for you. As I guessed it is an Alpinia - not a Hedychium at all. They only flower on second year mature growth, usually in spring. I can't tell for sure which species from your photo. Looks like it is upright (not pendent) which eliminates the most common, Alpinia zerumbet. Could be you have A. henryi or possibly the very rare blooming Alpinia nutans. I finally bloomed my Alpinia nutans last year for the first time after having grown it for eight years! Photos and more at http://www.gingersrus.com/DataSheet.php?PID=3235 .
Photo below was taken May 23, 2006 - first flowers on 8 year old Alpinia nutans.