Alpinia zerumbet

Alpinia zerumbut Variegata

There is a plain green-leaved version of this ornamental ginger from the family Zingiberaceae, often known as 'shell ginger', but the one that I have is Alpinia zerumbut 'Variegata', which has stunning yellow/green variegated foliage (ht 1.5 m). It is an excellent plant to bring light and colour into gloomy parts of the garden. This summer (around December), my plant flowered for the very first time, with trusses of creamy-coloured, waxy buds opening to revealed yellow and red shell-like blooms. Both forms of Alpnia that I grow are said to prefer rich soil, but mine thrive in quite ordinary areas of the garden.

It makes a big clump over time, so I just remove some of the canes every so often. New plants can be propagated from these pieces. Every so often some of the older foliage gets shabby, so I remove these. It is a fab plant to use for 'colour echoes' in the garden: such as being paired with lime-leaved Xanthosoma 'Lime Zinger'or with the yellow blooms of the golden shrimp plant, Pachystachys lutea, an Acanthaceae member that is seemingly never without a flower in a shaded section of my garden (pictured above).

Flowers in December.