- Dichorisandra Species, Blue Ginger
- Weekend Plantings: The most fragrant camellia of all
- Blue Ginger
Dichorisandra Species, Blue Ginger
Tropicals and Tender Perennials
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Grown for foliage
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)
Where to Grow:
Suitable for growing in containers
Unknown – Tell us
Unknown – Tell us
Late Summer/Early Fall
Unknown – Tell us
Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
By dividing the rootball
From herbaceous stem cuttings
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
Newport Beach, California
Santa Rosa, California
Boca Raton, Florida
Bradenton Beach, Florida
Deland, Florida(2 reports)
Lake Worth, Florida
Melbourne Beach, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
Orlando, Florida(5 reports)
Pensacola, Florida(2 reports)
Plant City, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Punta Gorda, Florida(2 reports)
West Palm Beach, Florida
Kaneohe Station, Hawaii
New Orleans, Louisiana
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Saint Louis, Missouri
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Saint Helena Island, South Carolina
Cabin Creek, West Virginia
Weekend Plantings: The most fragrant camellia of all
Hobbyists and hybridizers agree that Camellia lutchuensis, native to woodlands in Southern China and Japan, is the world’s most fragrant species of Camellia. A slow-growing shrub that can eventually become 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide, this plant features small leaves and small but exceptionally aromatic white flowers. Accordingly, plant breeders have used C. lutchuensis to create handsome hybrids, including ‘Fragrant Pink,’ a relatively fast grower (because of hybrid vigor) that displays small, fragrant, pink blossoms in late winter and early spring.
Another C. lutchuensis hybrid is ‘High Fragrance,’ with large, light-pink, semi-double flowers that perfume the garden in winter and spring. Like all Camellias, these hybrids thrive on organically rich, acidic sites that are kept mulched. Bright dappled light is ideal, and full sun — especially in summer — must be avoided. Propagate with cuttings. The hybrids mentioned are available online.
Blue ginger spices up the cool season
All across Florida, blue ginger plants are flaunting lengthy spikes of purple blossoms, a show that will continue for weeks. The sole problem with blue ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora) is its common name: the plant is unrelated to gingers, and its flowers are more purple than blue. But it’s easy to see where the ginger reference came from. Blue ginger plants have 4-to-8-foot tall, reedy, ginger-like stems and handsome foliage that’s often purple underneath. The small fruits are orange berries.
Native to much of Tropical America, including the West Indies, blue ginger exhibits exuberant growth on organically enriched, mulched sites in light shade, where it blooms from late summer to early winter. Foliage is hardy to the upper 20s, and root systems survive even lower temperatures. Propagate with stem cuttings. Plants are sometimes available locally, especially from independent nurseries.
Dainty ground cover flowers year-round
The Tasmanian violet (Viola banksii) is an ideal little plant for mulched, shaded areas that see minimal foot traffic. Spreading in all directions by rhizomes, this 2-inch-tall plant displays tiny violet-and-white blossoms throughout the seasons if kept moist. Not a ground cover that forms a thick carpet of foliage, Tasmanian violet works well planted among gingers, bromeliads, lady palms and other shade-loving plants. This species, once listed as V. hederacea, may still be described that way online and in some catalogs. Propagate by transplanting rooted stems.
Edible cool-season blossoms
The flower petals of several plants that bloom during our cooler months are edible and make colorful garnishes. Among such plants are mum, nasturtium, dianthus, pansy, viola, geranium, snapdragon, borage and rose. In addition, warm-season annuals such as marigold and calendula are grown year-round by many people and are also edible. When harvesting flowers, be sure they haven’t been sprayed with toxic materials. That means not using flowers from florists or from plants purchased within the last several months.
— Charles Reynolds, a Winter Haven resident, has an associate’s degree in horticulture and is a member of Garden Writers Association of America.
The Weeping Blue Ginger (Dichorisandra pendula) is a pretty plant that caught my eye recently. It features delicately showy blue blooms with cream centers that open from drooping, spikelike stalks. The flowers open in the morning and last until midday, when the heat causes them to close up a bit.
This plant is far superior to the more common blue ginger. The blooms stand out individually on the pendulous stalk, while the regular blue ginger’s flower spike is compact and individual flowers are not showy.
Weeping Blue Ginger blooms through the year with maximum flowering in summer compared to the regular blue ginger, which blooms sporadically in summer and fall. Compared to the tall and leggy regular blue ginger, the Weeping Blue Ginger makes a full clump growing to 3 to 4 feet in height and spread.
Foliage of the Weeping Blue Ginger is elliptic. It is smooth above and softly fuzzy below. New leaves may be purplish below. The leaves average 7 inches in length and 2 inches across.
Another plant for dappled shade locations in the yard, this Brazilian native likes a reasonable amount of moisture and appreciates mulch kept 1 to 2 inches from the stems.
Origin — Brazil
Foliage — The leaves are glossy and elliptic in shape.
Growth rate — Moderate
Nutritional requirements — Moderate, a good palm fertilizer applied in March, June and October will keep the plant growing.
Soil requirements — Likes a woodsy, moist soil that drains well.
Salt tolerance — Low
Drought tolerance — Low to moderate
Light requirements — Dappled shade suits Weeping Blue Ginger best.
Propagation — Cuttings or division.
Major problems — None noted by the nursery. I noted a few chewed leaves and am suspicious of slugs/snails.
Environmental problems — None
Zeke Landis was an inspiration to many in the gardening world until his recent death. He was a forester, arborist and plant lover who served Deerfield Beach for many years. His crowning achievement was the Deerfield Beach Arboretum, which he nourished with wisdom and volunteers into a first-class botanic garden. The garden is expanding with flowering trees, a Japanese garden, plant nursery and many fine trees and shrubs. Events include free classes, garden shows and sales through the year. I hope this fine man is remembered by naming the arboretum after him. The garden is located in Constitution Park at 2841 West Hillsboro Blvd., Deerfield Beach.
Planting: The weather is hot, but you can plant new trees and shrubs during the morning or evening when the weather is cooler. This month is still great for installing new plant material. Rainfall has been sporadic in June. Plant early in the month if you do not have an irrigation system, so plants can get a good start before the dry season in mid-October.
Propagation: Propagate by division, layering or cuttings this month to take advantage of the rapid establishment of new plants from propagation. June and July are top months for starting new plants.
Water: Water on an “as needed” basis depending on the rainfall we get. Look to the lawn as a guide. If the grass blades are in a sharp V-shape in cross section, it is time to water.
Bugs: Everything is abundant now, but predatory lizards, tree frogs, insects and birds help keep pests in check. Only spray if the problems seem to be out of control. Spray in the early morning before 10 a.m. when the temperature is below 85 degrees. Repeat treatment with non-chemical insect products 10 days later to kill hatching eggs.
Robert Haehle is an author, freelance writer and horticultural consultant. He lives in Fort Lauderdale.
Blue ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora) in the University of South Florida’s Botanical Garden.
It’s hard to miss the vivid color of blue ginger. In late summer and fall, this tropical plant puts out 10-inch tall spikes of rich purplish-blue flowers. The blooms look great in the garden, but can also be cut and used in floral arrangements.
Not truly a ginger, blue ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora) is actually in the same family as spiderwort and wandering Jew. It’s a clump-forming perennial that can grow 5 to 8 feet tall and 3 feet wide.
Unlike some plants, blue ginger thrives in shade. It grows into a large clump that is perfect for mass planting. This plant does best in a moist, but well-drained soil. In general, it’s pest-free with only mealy bugs causing occasional problems.
Blue ginger is typically evergreen in South Florida but may die back in winter in North or Central Florida. Blue ginger was even named a plant of the year in 2008 by the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association. It’s the perfect plant to fill any shady spot in your landscape.
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