Looking for a Show-Stopping Late Summer Bloomer? Ginger Lily Will Extend Your Garden's Timeline
Ginger lily, or hedychium, are strongly scented tropical plants that are native to Asia. "While they are related to edible ginger, their rhizomes do not have the same taste qualities found in the edible type," explains Andraé Protzman, merchandise manager at Michigan Bulb. "The flower buds and flowers, however, are said to be tasty when incorporated into a dish." Culinary benefits aside, these late-summer bloomers are simply fragrant and lovely. Here's how to incorporate this perennial favorite into your own garden.
How to Grow Ginger Lily
Although it has lily in its name, this variety leans more towards to the ginger side, which is why it needs more care than its traditional lily cousins (which are hardy throughout several zones). When it comes to growing ginger lily, Protzman notes that they are only hardy through USDA zones eight through 11, though they can be grown in containers further north and brought indoors for the winter. "They need nutrient-rich and moisture-retentive soil," he adds. "Plants in containers need consistent daily watering in full sun to part shade." The further south you live, the more shade you will need to provide, so that this plant doesn't burn in the hot afternoon sun. "The biggest thing is keeping them well watered during the summer months, whether they are grown in containers or in the ground and on the dry side come winter," he adds. "They can suffer from root rot if they are too wet during the colder months."
How to Care for Ginger Lily in Cool Climates
If you want to grow ginger lily in a colder climate, bring them inside to overwinter. You can do this by either placing them in your house in a container or in a greenhouse or other frost-free structure. They like to be cool and dry when its chilly, says Protzman, so you should reduce their daily watering schedule and minimize sunshine. "If you are attempting to overwinter in zone seven, for example, plant your ginger lily in a protected spot and apply a generous layer of winter mulch," he says.
Fertilizing and Feeding Ginger Lily
These flowers are heavy feeders, which means you'll need to give the soil they call home an occasional boost to maximize your blooms. "Gingers are robust growers. They need regular fertilization when they are actively growing," Protzman says. A 10-10-10 blend works well, he says, but stop feeding them when the temperature drops.
Getting Your Own Ginger Lily
If you want to add some August and September perennials to your garden and you'd like to try your hand at growing one of these sweet smelling flowers, Protzman says that you can try propagating them from seed or from divisions of existing plants. Otherwise, you might need to hit the Internet to find a retailer that carries them. "Look for them in specialty tropical nurseries or online," he notes.