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PlantFiles: Shell Ginger, Variegated Shell Ginger
Alpinia zerumbet 'Variegata'

Family: Zingiberaceae
Genus: Alpinia (al-PIN-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: zerumbet (ZER-um-bet) (Info)
Cultivar: Variegata

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

36 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 48 photos.
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19 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive KatrinaVanTassel On Apr 7, 2014, KatrinaVanTassel from Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

It froze to the ground here in Arlington, Texas.
Zone 8a : 10 to 15 (F)
--- (although this year, it got down to 5 degrees)
I thought it was dead after the winter of 2013-2014 with record-book freezing days. I kept a clear Rubbermaid box (upside down) over it all winter and on really cold days, I threw an extra blanket or two on it. It's April 8th and today I noticed the first trace of life! Two little leaf buds are starting to stick out from what I thought was the dead remains!

Positive Dwraf On Feb 13, 2014, Dwraf from South Bradenton, FL wrote:

Does anyone have suggestions on using variegated shell ginger as a house plant. How long can you keep one before it get to large for the house?

Positive ElleninAustin On Aug 14, 2013, ElleninAustin from Anderson Mill, TX wrote:

Just a couple of notes to add: we have a large deer population, and they don't eat this plant. Also, I covered mine with sheets during our rainy, cold winter (around 30 degrees at coldest point) and the prolonged cold/wetness turned the leaves and stems brown. The plant looked awful after a few days, so I cut most of the stalks back in the spring. It has filled back out well, but on one of the plants (the one with the least sun), the trimmed stalks never regrew, leaving a blank spot in the middle of the growth. Even so, this plant is a great option in central Texas for shady, deer-visited spots, and hasn't demanded a lot of water.

Positive Josephine_SC On Sep 2, 2012, Josephine_SC from Clemson, SC wrote:

Mine was planted about three years ago. It's thrived as a foliage plant but I'd heard it's not supposed to bloom in areas where it has to come back from the roots each spring. Guess what? Whoever led me to believe that is wrong. Every stalk is about to burst into bloom. I'm so excited.

Positive Jungleman On Dec 31, 2011, Jungleman from Pasadena, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Great for tropical effects. Does well with water in Southern California. A well-grown plant will double in size in two growing seasons. Performs best when planted in full shade under tree canopy for both frost and sun protection. The non-variegated variety is a great substitute for Heliconia in the landscape. Almost no liter from this plant, making it great for poolside planting.

Positive hortulaninobili On Jan 6, 2011, hortulaninobili from St. Louis, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

Alpinia zerumbet 'Variegata'

A nice foliage plant that grows moderately fast. I've grown this as a potted plant and in the ground. But, in my northerly climate, I'm lucky if the roots survive the winter. At my old house, I had it planted facing south at the base of a brick wall. With an ample mulch, this provided enought protection to ensure the roots did not freeze. Heavy mulching may afford protection in northern climates - don't count on it making it though! Leaves have a light ginger fragrance.

Positive jskyieeyes3 On Sep 12, 2010, jskyieeyes3 from Saint Cloud, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

a beautiful foliage plant. tolerates the central florida heat well, provided you give it shade. i see so many gingers that have fallen victim to the florida heat by poor landscaping placement. they fry in the full sun all day long, and end up bleaching, turning brown, and dying. =( i've had mine for a year and it hasn't flowered yet. a friend at the local nursery assured me that they do indeed flower in pots (all of my plants are in pots since i rent my house and want to take them with me when i move), they'll just flower when they're ready. i look forward to it; by the looks of the pictures, the blooms are very pretty!

Positive donnacreation On Nov 19, 2009, donnacreation from Sumter, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

This is a beautiful, perennial ginger grown here in central SC for it's foliage. I've found that they work better in my climate than hostas, which tend to peter out by mid July due to intense heat. Shell ginger continues to grow until the first hard freeze. They preform better for me in filtered shade - full sun stresses them, making them look anemic. A great splash of tropical folige for zone 8 gardeners who want a tropical look.

Positive normaj On Oct 13, 2009, normaj from Mcallen, TX wrote:

My varigated ginger has been beautiful until this past summer when we had 65+ days above 100 degrees. It has been dying for several months and besides the brown dead parts of leaves has brown on stalks. I don't know what to do for it and have searched, to no avail, on internet. Can anyone help me.
I have cut it back but have lost about half of my plants.

Positive vossner On Dec 16, 2008, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

leaves make very long lasting greenery for flower arrangements

Positive jpolk34 On Dec 3, 2007, jpolk34 from Hattiesburg, MS (Zone 8a) wrote:

Originally planted (2) 3 gal. plants behind a large Sago near my front entrance. They have since quadrulpled in size and are still growing larger while providing a tropical framing or backdrop for the Sago. I also planted a grouping of the red-leafed banana's behind the variegated shell ginger which gave my south Mississippi front yard a truly exotic look! They also look good mixed in with more traditional foundation plantings. I have some growing behind a row of blooming 'Shishi Gashira' camellia and the combo of bright yellow foliage and pink blooms looks great. Plus, when the ginger does die back for the winter you'll still have some evergreens to maintain interest.

Positive gingerlowery On Oct 27, 2006, gingerlowery from Baton Rouge, LA wrote:

This plant also grows in Baton Rouge, LA

Positive lemonboy7 On Oct 8, 2006, lemonboy7 from New Orleans, LA wrote:

We had a big beautiful stand of shell ginger in the backyard that was totally killed off when the terribly badly designed and neglected levees broke here in New Orleans in 2005 following the hurricane katrina that actually missed our city. The shell ginger grew all along the back fence and made a perfect natural privacy screen. Yes, it can be a bit hard to contol it if you have to, but it is well worth the occasional effort. It looks so beautiful when it has room to spread. I too saw the very inacurate description listed on this page about the beautiful flowers of this plant. The flowers resemble exotic orchids and are beautiful in shades af brilliant yellow , red and pink. The buds do indeed look like pink and white shells before they open to reveal the colorful flowers. I plan to buy more and have it in my yard again. I have had to replace all the beautiful plants that we lost. I already have replaced some.

Neutral clogg On Jan 11, 2006, clogg from Norwich
United Kingdom wrote:

Best to keep it in a pot and overwinter it in a frost area like a greenhouse. It will then bloom the following year on the old wood.

Positive debbie8592 On Jan 8, 2006, debbie8592 from Windermere, FL wrote:

I love my ginger but it does need protection from our hot sun here in central Florida.

I understand it will not bloom if there is a frost; it requires old growth.

Positive jnana On Aug 8, 2005, jnana from South Florida, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

Low maintenance plant with no pest or disease problems.
It does go brown during low temperatures, but it comes back quickly once temperature increases. It brightens shady corners with beautiful fragrant blooms in the summer.

Positive twenty2libras On Apr 12, 2005, twenty2libras from Greenwell Springs, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

this plant grows beautifully in our area.....its worth the headache of it dying back each year because it brightens up a shady spot like no other plant i know of....but i've never seen it flower..not once. wish it did, as it is a gorgeous bloom.

Positive Martha_Johnson On Mar 30, 2005, Martha_Johnson from Lampasas, TX wrote:

I planted ginger three places in my flower bed. Everyone loves this plant: It's big and bright. However, is not evergreen, it turned a yucky brown after the first freeze. I cut all the dried leaves to a big brown mound, and am hoping that it will come back. It is early spring and nothing so far. Most all of the other perennials in my garden have started to sprout, but nothing from the ginger--heartbreaking, but hopefull.

Positive MotherNature4 On Sep 18, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Yes, you certainly need to keep this large plant in check, but I don't see how it could be reported under FLOWERS, that they are inconspicuous. They certainly are very attractive. People often stop to see the flowers.

Neutral foodiesleuth On May 26, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

If care is not taken, it becomes an invasive plant in our area.

We have some growing by the driveway entrance and my son has to hack it down several times a year or you would not even be able to see our newspaper delivery box!

All plants of the ginger family love our humidity. We live in a very rainy area.

Positive palmbob On Jan 27, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Nice landscape plant for warmer areas of So Cal... seems to be pretty needy of water- not for xeriscape gardens. Plant always seems to look nicer in humid climates such as Florida. Relatively easy to grow- not too needy other that the water.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (3 reports)
Arley, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama (2 reports)
Prattville, Alabama
Carlsbad, California
Ceres, California
Clayton, California
Escondido, California
Fairfield, California
Granite Bay, California
Indio, California
Palm Springs, California
Pasadena, California
Pleasant Hill, California
Sacramento, California
San Leandro, California
Tulare, California
Apopka, Florida
Bartow, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida (2 reports)
Bokeelia, Florida
Bradenton, Florida
Bradley, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (4 reports)
Keystone Heights, Florida
Labelle, Florida
Loxahatchee, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Miami, Florida
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Ocoee, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida (2 reports)
Orlando, Florida
Palm Coast, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida (2 reports)
Riverview, Florida
Saint Cloud, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Sebastian, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Trenton, Florida
Umatilla, Florida
Valrico, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida
Wellborn, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Winter Haven, Florida
Dallas, Georgia
Lawrenceville, Georgia
Agana Heights, Guam
Honomu, Hawaii
Kurtistown, Hawaii
Barbourville, Kentucky
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Greenwell Springs, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Marrero, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Schriever, Louisiana
Thibodaux, Louisiana
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
North Las Vegas, Nevada
Kure Beach, North Carolina
Mooresville, North Carolina
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Bluffton, South Carolina
Cayce, South Carolina
Clemson, South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
Hardeeville, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Ladys Island, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina
Okatie, South Carolina
Orangeburg, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina
Arlington, Texas (2 reports)
Austin, Texas (3 reports)
Baytown, Texas
Beaumont, Texas
Brownsville, Texas
Cibolo, Texas
Deer Park, Texas
Desoto, Texas
Friendswood, Texas
Harlingen, Texas
Houston, Texas (4 reports)
Humble, Texas
Jacksonville, Texas (2 reports)
Katy, Texas
Lampasas, Texas
League City, Texas
Mission, Texas
Missouri City, Texas
Port Arthur, Texas
Port Neches, Texas
Richmond, Texas
Roma, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Santa Fe, Texas
Spring, Texas (2 reports)
Victoria, Texas
Norfolk, Virginia

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