Dave's got the search function disabled right now, and I wasn't able to find anything on this topic. I have several questions!
I have several potted gingers that got rather tall this year (some bloomed, and some didn't). I would have liked to pinch them back, but I didn't know if that was OK or not. I've moved them to a spot where they get more morning sun, in hopes that they won't fall over next year. But I'd still like to nip them back. Seems like I tried it before, and the whole branch died back to the ground. So I didn't prune them at all this year. They'll go dormant in my climate, but when they start sprouting again next year, I want to take better care of them. Can I pinch the tips like I do my other plants?
I also have a favorite gorgeous potted variegated ginger (don't know the variety; here's a photo of it a year and a half ago). It's never bloomed, but I don't care---I bought it for the spectacular foliage. It was stuck in too much shade while I was having some work done, and it's become very leggy. Can I prune back some branches at a leaf joint and expect them to resprout, or do I need to cut them back all the way to the ground? Can someone please ID the variety? Oh, and one more thing...(Columbo fan, here)...is it possible to root cuttings from it?
You don't mention what type of gingers you have that you want to trim back, but I am going to assume that they are some type of hedychiums? They cannot be rooted from cuttings (costus can be though), and you are right in that if you cut a stem, it will die back to the ground (not branch out). they really need to go in the ground-they are hardy where you live and after a year in the ground, they will start to bloom each year for you, and the clump will grow larger each yr as well. They can take alot of sun=maybe just a few hrs of shade each day.
The variegated ginger that you have is a shell ginger http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/55244/ that also will do better in the ground, and like the hedychiums, it has to be cut back to the ground and will not root from cuttings. However, the easiest way to propagate all these types of gingers is to divide the base (use a knife).
Thank you, Tigerlily; I appreciate the advice & info! The pots the gingers (yes, they're hedychiumns) are in are huge (2 ft across & almost 3 ft tall). Not big enough to make them happy? My zone is deceptive----we routinely get temps down to 18 in my microclimate, and I didn't think they would make it in the ground. Maybe if I rock-mulch them? I've been able to stretch the zone occasionally using that technique...?
they make it fine in my zone, which is 7b/8a. I have about 10 different ones in the ground-including the var. ginger. Just mulch heavy over them for the winter, after you cut them back. I would just use shredded hardwood mulch, about 3-4" high.
Okey-dokey---I'll be on the lookout for sunny spots where I can plant them. I have a narrow, east-facing narrow bed between the house and the concrete driveway that might be a good spot, and where I think the soil stays a little warmer.
IME, gingers suffer more from excessive heat than from excessive cold. I have mine planted inground, with some degree of shade. The var. alpinia zerumbet that you show in your pic gets very crispy in a full sun location, in my part of the world. Also, I propagate by dividing the rhizomes. And as to thinning them, I do it if the planting gets too big, but never at this time of year. Always in early spring.
I have discovered that the alpinia leaves are wonderful for flower arrangements, so I won't be thinning my plantings as often because I want to have a supply of this wonderfully colored foliage.
Thanks for further enlightening me! I have lots to learn in the "ginger" department...I went out to the compost bin after I posted my original question and pulled some of the alpinia leaves out & stuck them in a vase with water. Even though I now know they won't root, they've lasted all this time and are still pretty! Amazing! I, too, will be including them in arrangements.
I'm really concerned about the heat, too. Routinely we get 107-degree days in the summer, and occasionally up to 110 or even a little higher. We have a shade sail over the courtyard where their pots are, so the sun is filtered. But I haven't yet found a spot like that in the yard. I may have one corner that gets morning sun and plenty of light in the afternoon. The cannas I have there have done well, and I think it might work for the hedychiums. The alpinia's been so happy in its pot that I hate to even THINK about putting it in the ground...