Intro: The red ginger plant has many common names, including jungle queen (which has a pink flower), jungle king (red flower), Tahitian ginger and ostrich plume. This plant is quite easy to care for and may grow so well in plant containers that you will have to prune it often. Red ginger can grow tall – up to 8 feet, and it has a spectacular flower spike. What is traditionally called the flower is actually the floral bracts (specialized leaves to resemble flowers and bring attention to the plant’s nearby inconspicuous flowers). Red ginger’s flowers are small and white, and at the tips of the floral bracts. The jungle king and jungle queen varieties bloom all year. Their flowers are often cut and used in arrangements (cut flowers from mature plants can last up to 25 days).
Scientific Name: Alpinia purpurata
Plant Type: Evergreen perennial flower
Light: Partial sun is fine, but red ginger will grow best in full sun.
Zone: 9 to 11
Temperature: Do not let red ginger experience temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit for long periods of time. The plant's foliage will begin to die at 41 degrees. If you live in a colder area, bring your red ginger into an indoor garden during the winter.
Fertilizer: The red ginger plant grows best in rich soil, so fertilize monthly with a high-nitrogen liquid fertilizer.
Propagation: The red ginger plant rarely produces seeds, but if it does, the seeds will take up to three weeks to germinate, and from two to three years to become a mature, flowering plant. You can also plant offsets or divide the rhizomes for propagation.
Misc. Info: This container plant may attract bees, butterflies or certain wild birds to your balcony garden. Cut off flowers at the ground once they’ve passed their prime. Also prune any yellow or dying leaves.
In Hawaii, royalty wore leis of red ginger in ceremonies. Hawaiians would also use the red ginger’s stem to cure stomachaches and headaches.