S & J Nursery’s Guide to
Variegated Shell Ginger
in the Norhtheast Florida Landscape
( Alpinia Zerumbet ‘Variegata’ )
Varigeated Shell Ginger
Variegated Shell Ginger
Variegated Shell Ginger
Variegated Shell Ginger Origins:
– These gorgeous semi tropical perennial plants are native to Polynesia and
tropical portions of Asia. They are a landscape stand out for the North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine
area landcape and will draw the eye wherever they are planted. Alpinia Zerumbet Variegata displays large exotic
blooms and lush brightly variegated foliage, they are hard to beat when looking for low maintenance tropical
plantings and easily fit into many garden settings.
Variegated Shell Ginger Preferred Exposure:
– Variegated Shell Ginger can be planted in a full sun to shaded location in the
North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine area landscape.
– Alpinia Zerumbet does well in a sunnier location as long as it is planted
into a moist fertile soils. If your garden is extremely sandy and dry consider planting it in a location that
will receive some relief from North Florida’s hot sun. I find that the colors are more distinct and the plant
more generally appealing when planted at least into a partially shaded garden setting.
Variegated Shell Ginger Foliage:
– Upright stalks of shiny foliage are brightly variegated with green and yellow
striping, they are attractive fillers in indoor arrangements and the blooms are very long lasting in cut flower
– Foliage may remain evergreen during the winter in our North Florida area
gardens, but can go dormant and come back rapidly the following spring depending on winter conditions and
exposure. This is much debated among gardeners as they are particularly responsive to their individual planting
location and where receiving some frost protection form larger trees or nearby buildings can remain evergreen in
the roughest of winters here in North Florida. The same plant planted and purchased at the same time even 30
feet away may behave differently inthe winter. That being said Southern Living Garden Book touts them as evergreen for the
tropical south and root hardy down to about 15 degrees.
– Gingers are a rhizomatous perennial plant, that is they grow and spread from
underground rhizomes ( thick stem like roots, very similar to the more familiar Iris family of plants ) and form
clumps of foliage. They can be dug and divided and replanted with just the rhizome or both rhizome and foliage
stalks successfully into other garden locations with ease.
Variegated Shell Ginger Soil Preference / Salt tolerance:
– Variegated Shell Ginger is tolerant of a wide range of soil components and growing
conditions, although they will be most at home with adequate moisture and rich fertile soils will allow these
plants to thrive and quickly form a mature clump.
– They will tolerate dry soils well if planted in shaded locations and prefer
wet soils in full sun areas of the garden.
– Alpinia Zerumbet Variegata will tolerate occasionally wet or water logged
– Salt tolerance is low.
Variegated Shell Ginger Size Variance:
– The foliage on the Variegated Shell Ginger plant may reach 5-8 ft high and 5-87 ft
wide depending on soil and garden setting.
Variegated Shell Ginger Growth Habit:
– Clumping perennial rhizomes forms an attractive, upright mound of gently arching
Variegated Shell Ginger Growth Rate:
– Fast growing Ginger selection will reach maturity in an ideal garden location in
its second to third season in the ground. Expect your newly planted Alpinia Zerumbet Variegata plants to have
doubled in size after their first summer in the ground and to regrow quickly the following season if foliage
goes dormant from winter.
Variegated Shell Ginger Bloom:
– Although the foliage of these showy garden plants tend to be the main attraction,
the large, exotic, lightly fragrant blooms are certain to grab your attention and delight the senses.
– Blooms are born in the summer on plants generally after their second season
in the landcape.
Variegated Shell Ginger Water Requirements:
– Although much more durable once established in the landscape, regular water is
necessary to get the plant rooted and growing on its own after being planted in the ground from an S & J
Nursery container. Use supplimental irrigation bi-weekly when planted in drier soil situations.
Best Uses For Variegated Shell Ginger in the Jacksonville | St. Augustine Area
– Variegated Shell Ginger is a great easy care low maintenance addition to just
about any landscape.
– Plant them as the backdrop to a mixed perennial border for added tropical
– Brightly variegated foliage will brighten any dark shady area of the
landscape and these plants draw the eye wherever they are planted. .
Care of Variegated Shell Ginger in the North Florida Landscape:
– Low care landscape pant selection in rich moist soils. Amend soil generously
whither compost or cow manure when planting for best results.
– Water every day during the establishment period after planting in the garden from
an S & J Nursery container.
– Ginger plants will need not only good water during the establishment period and
supplemental irrigation during dry spells or particularly hot dry summers, especially when planted into sandier
– Fertilize each spring with a handful of garden compost or a mixture of Milorganite or Green Edge
Fertilizer and a slow release poly coated plant food such as Osmocote or Stay Green general purpose plant food or 10-10-10.