Alpinia, Shell Ginger, Variegated Shell Ginger 'Variegata'

Alpinia zerumbet

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



Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage

Good Fall Color

Foliage Color:



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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual

Suitable for growing in containers



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

, (3 reports)

Arley, Alabama

Foley, 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

Holiday, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida (4 reports)

Keystone Heights, Florida

Labelle, Florida

Loxahatchee, Florida

Lutz, Florida

Miami, Florida

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Niceville, 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

Auburn, Georgia

Dallas, Georgia

Lawrenceville, Georgia

Saint Simons Island, 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

Corsicana, Texas

Deer Park, Texas

Desoto, Texas

Friendswood, Texas

Harlingen, Texas

Houston, Texas (4 reports)

Humble, Texas

Jacksonville, Texas (2 reports)

Katy, Texas

La Porte, Texas

Lampasas, Texas

League City, Texas

Mission, Texas

Missouri City, Texas

Port Arthur, Texas

Port Neches, Texas

Richmond, Texas

Roma, Texas

San Antonio, Texas (3 reports)

Santa Fe, Texas

Spring, Texas (3 reports)

Universal City, Texas

Victoria, Texas

Norfolk, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 9, 2017, Rests from Bryan, TX wrote:

Have tried this plant 3 times. Does great at first, then begins to look shabby. Never makes it over winter, even when I heavily protect it with blankets. Does great in places like Houston, but not in Bryan, Texas. Will not buy anymore of these plants.


On Dec 30, 2016, alemily36535 from Foley, AL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have a patch of it under a high oak canopy next to the house.

The plant looks good all summer despite the massive rainfall and oppressive heat/humidity the Gulf Coast receives during that time of the year.

It froze to the ground during the 2014 "arctic vortex" that saw below freezing highs for a week, but came back with a vengeance once the air temperatures warmed up to above 50F.


On Sep 1, 2016, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

Slow to start,then becomes a fast grower. It also depends on how much light it gets as to its height. In partly sunny areas it can easily reach 9' and be impenetrable.
The flowering does take a few years and it also depends on how warm or hot your summers are. In the bay area,blooms are decidedly smaller then in more tropically warm summer parts of the country.
This is not for a small garden Ginger.


On Feb 10, 2016, JGrapevine from Auburn, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have had this plant for years. I started off with two separate pots of plants and when they got too big I sawed them in half and put them in the ground in zone 7b. They returned but never grew large. I think they might could grow too slow for the climate.

I think they are pretty plant but I have always wanted mine to flower. I read that they need a few years growth to produce a flower, so on account of moving from where I planted them and wanting to see a flower, I put one in a pot and have had it for years but have never had a flower.

I live in zone 8a now and keep it outside in mostly shade. When temps are going to fall below 35 I bring it into the garage. It has survived our cold snaps in the garage and still looks nice.

This year it will ... read more


On Dec 2, 2015, RBFifer from Miami, FL wrote:

We have had 6 shell ginger trees that have thrived and consistently bloomed in South Florida for 15 years. However, 2 trees recently started dying. When I cut/broke off the dead trunks, they were hollow and contained white bugs about 3/8' long. They look like slugs with legs. Does anyone know the best way to treat the trees to kill the bugs? Would spraying Malathion on the exterior of the trunks/branches somehow get inside to the bugs? Or is there something that I can pour on the ground that will be absorbed by the roots and kill them? Please help me! Thanks.


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!


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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

leaves make very long lasting greenery for flower arrangements


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.


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

This plant also grows in Baton Rouge, LA


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 mor... read more


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.