Gingers: A Hidden Gem

An often over looked specimen in the shade garden which can add vibrancy and life to your less sunny areas. They come in such a wide array of sizes and colors there’s surely a variety well suited for your garden. Although Gingers are not first to the party in spring, enduring the wait into summer is worth it for these great perennials. Along with your hostas, and perennial hibiscus, consider them all fashionably late to the scene. Most gingers emerge from the ground in late spring to early summer and either bloom before the leaves emerge or as the plant matures later in the summer or fall. Some gingers put on blooms above the foliage at the top of the plant and some have flowers or cones that appear at the base along tall or short stems. Many ginger blooms make for great cut flowers that have great longevity. 

What’s even better about gingers is the bloom isn’t always the best part. It could be the stunning variegation like in the Variegated Shell or the Variegated Spiral Gingers. Or maybe the intricate patterns found on the Raven, and Grande Peacock. It could even be the downright unusual like the Silver Streak. There’s something to make a dramatic impact in your garden. 

Additionally, if you have an aromatic garden or just have an affinity for scented plants you shouldn’t be without white butterfly ginger. With its pure white flowers and an enjoyable sweet fragrance, it’s simply a delight. For the gardener with culinary aspirations, you may look to grow edible gingers. The underground tubers from which the foliage emerges are what can be used to make ginger spice or turmeric depending on the variety. Here’s a quick link to a couple of IFAS articles that’ll tell you everything you need to know about Butterfly gingers (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp240) and edible gingers for our area (http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu/News_Columns/2004/071804.pdf).

Lastly, and maybe most importantly to some people, gingers are all generally deer resistant. So those of you that have continued antlered encounters you can plant with some confidence that they’ll still be there the next morning.  So escape the heat of our late Tallahassee Summer and kick back in the shade with some striking new additions that can be enjoyed in many ways!