Alpinia zerumbet 'variegata', or Variegated Shell Ginger, is a beautiful variation of Alpinia zerumbet which is native to India. The 2 foot (60 cm) long leaves are striped with creamy yellow variegations giving them an appearance of a feather. The plants only reach 6-8 feet (1.5-2 m) tall. Clumps can reach up to 10 feet (2.5 m) across. They are not quite as aggressive as the non-variegated species. The plants are very showy whether in containers or in the landscape. They are hardy in USDA zone 8-11.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, plants bloom in mid to late spring. The ivory color flowers have a red and yellow throat. They are very showy.
Culture: Alpinia zerumbet 'variegata' will take full sun to full shade, with a rich, well-drained soil mix. We grow them under 50% shade all year long with a relative humidity of around 50%. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite. To this mix, we add 1 cup of 14-14-14 Osmocote slow release fertilizer to each 0.01 cubic yards of mix. The plants are kept moist at all times but not overly wet. They are fertilized weekly during the growing season, with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ˝ the strength recommended on the label. Since the plants bloom on old growth, the winter temperatures are never allowed to drop below 55°F (13°C). Water is somewhat restricted, but the plants are never allowed to dry thoroughly. Fertilizer is withheld during this period.
Propagation: Alpinia zerumbet 'variegata' is propagated by division and from seed when available.
Alpinia zerumbet 'variegata' sp. was featured as Plant of the Week August 18-24, 2006.
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Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.