Ginger plants are known for their exotic beauty, and among them, the Curcuma genus shines as a true gem. Names like Queen Lily and Emperor evoke images of royalty, and rightfully so. These plants are a regal addition to any landscape, boasting captivating blooms and striking foliage.
The Crown Jewels of the Ginger Family
In the world of Curcuma gingers, there are a few varieties that stand out as the crown jewels. The Jewel of Thailand, Jewel of Burma, and the newest addition, Garnet, have recently captivated the marketplace with their irresistible exotic flair. Garnet, in particular, resembles a fine ruby rather than a mere semi-precious stone.
What makes these plants even more impressive is their ease of cultivation. Many Curcuma gingers are cold hardy, thriving in zones 7 and 8. Surprisingly, even in zones 5 and 6, these gingers have a unique ability to enter a dormant state during winter, akin to hibernation for plants. Simply find a frost-free location and let them rest until spring.
When introducing gardeners to gingers, the hidden ginger, Curcuma petiolata, is a personal favorite. Its lush canna-like foliage and captivating bloom, reminiscent of an exotic Tahitian flower, never fail to enchant. Known as Queen Lily, this variety showcases vibrant pinkish-purple bracts surrounding yellow flowers. Additionally, the variegated form called Emperor provides a striking alternative. Both thrive in zone 7.
The Riveting Jewel of Thailand
The Jewel of Thailand takes ginger aesthetics to new heights by positioning its bloom above the foliage, making it an excellent choice for cut flower arrangements. With larger flowers and equally vibrant bracts, its appeal is simply mesmerizing. Although officially known as Curcuma cordata, taxonomists continue to debate its species name, while gardeners eagerly include it in their collections.
The Showy Jewel of Burma
The Jewel of Burma boasts an equally stunning appearance, with its tall, showy orange blooms radiating warmth. Coincidentally, its vibrant color makes it an unsuitable companion for the Jewel of Thailand. However, the desire to grow both is practically irresistible. Resembling a canna-lily in foliage, the Jewel of Burma flourishes in zone 8 but may also survive in zone 7 under the right conditions.
The Talk of Gardeners: Garnet
Garnet has become the ginger plant that everyone is talking about. Although slightly shorter than its counterparts, the beauty of its ruby or garnet red bracts combined with its showy yellow flowers is simply mesmerizing. Whether in the garden or as a centerpiece, Garnet’s allure captivates viewers for weeks on end.
Cultivating Curcuma Gingers
Curcuma gingers thrive in fertile soil enriched with organic matter and appreciate morning sun followed by dappled or filtered afternoon shade. Adequate moisture and appropriate fertilization promote vigorous growth. Proper drainage is essential during the winter months when these plants enter their dormant phase. Avoid excessive watering during this time, as it can prove fatal.
If you acquire container-grown plants, ensure they are planted at the same depth as they were in the pot. Rhizomes, on the other hand, should be planted about 4 inches deep. In early spring, apply a slow-release fertilizer with a balanced 2-1-2 ratio or a 12-6-6 fertilizer enriched with minor nutrients. Repeat the feeding process in mid-summer to sustain optimal growth.
As winter approaches, remove any frost-bitten stalks and mulch the plants for protection. In colder regions, store container-grown plants indoors in a sheltered area or dig up the rhizomes. Trim the top foliage and store them in a cool, dry environment using sawdust or peat until winter subsides. Curcuma gingers emerge slowly in the spring, so exercise patience while you await their return.
Create a Tropical Oasis
In tropical landscapes, Curcuma gingers thrive when grouped together near bananas, large elephant ears, philodendrons, and palms. They seamlessly blend into woodland settings alongside hostas, ferns, hydrangeas, or the tropical-looking fatsia. Their bold foliage and vibrant blooms add an element of lushness and beauty that is hard to rival.
Discovering the World of Gingers
While Curcuma gingers offer the ultimate tropical aesthetic, it’s worth noting that one of their cousins, Curcuma longa, is the well-known turmeric plant. While these varieties may not always be readily available at your local garden center, you can find them through reputable mail-order sources. So, create your own paradise with these captivating plants that are waiting for you at Ames Farm Center.