Beehive Ginger Care: Learn How To Grow Beehive Ginger
Stunning ornamental plants, beehive ginger plants are cultivated for their exotic appearance and range of colors. Beehive ginger plants (Zingiber spectabilis) are named for their distinct floral form that resembles a small beehive. This ginger variety is of tropical origin, so if you are more north of the equator, you may wonder if it is possible to grow and, if so, how to grow beehive ginger in your garden.
How to Grow Beehive Ginger
This ginger variety can grow to over 6 feet (2 m.) in height with one foot long leaves. Their bracts, or modified leaves which form a “flower,” are in the unique shape of a beehive and available in a number of colors from chocolate to golden and pink to red. These bracts arise from the ground rather than from amongst the foliage. The true flowers are insignificant white blooms located between the bracts.
As mentioned, these plants are tropical residents and, as such, when growing beehive ginger plants, they either need to be planted outside in warm, humid climates, or potted and brought into a solarium or greenhouse during cooler months. They are not frost or cold tolerant and are only hardy to USDA zone 9-11.
Despite this delicacy of condition, in the proper climate, growing beehive ginger is a tough specimen and can crowd out other plants when it is not contained.
Beehive Ginger Uses
A fragrant plant, beehive ginger uses are as a specimen plant in containers or in mass plantings. Obviously an eye-catching specimen, whether in the garden or potted, beehive ginger makes an excellent cut flower, with the bracts holding both color and shape for up to one week once cut.
Beehive ginger is available in several colors. Chocolate beehive ginger is indeed chocolate in hue while Yellow beehive ginger is yellow with splashes of red. Also available is Pink Maraca, which has a reddish-pink lower bract area topped with gold. Pink Maraca is a smaller variety, topping out at only around 4-5 feet (1.5 m.) tall and can be grown, with adequate cold weather protection, as far north as zone 8.
Golden Scepter is a tall variety of beehive ginger that can grow from between 6-8 feet (2-2.5 m.) tall with a gold tone changing to a reddish hue as the bract matures. Like Pink Maraca, it is also a bit more cold tolerant and can be planted in zone 8. Singapore Gold is also another golden beehive variety that can be planted in zone 8 or higher.
Beehive Ginger Care
Beehive ginger plants require medium to filtered sunlight and either plenty of space in the garden, or a large container. Direct sun can burn the leaves. Keep the soil consistently moist. Basically, ideal beehive ginger care will mimic that of its tropical home, damp with indirect light and high humidity. The plants will bloom in most areas from July through November.
Sometimes called “pine cone” ginger, beehive ginger plants may be afflicted with the usual pests such as:
An insecticidal spray will help combat these pests. Otherwise, provided environmental conditions are met, beehive ginger is an easy, visually stunning and exotic specimen to add to the garden or greenhouse.
Ginger Plants With Cones
At least three different species of gingers (Zingiber spp.) produce flowering structures that resemble pine cones. Botanically speaking, these cones are referred to as a type of cone-shaped inflorescence called a "strobilus." Overlapping rows of waxy bracts house the true tiny flowers, which last only a few days, but the colorful bracts persist for weeks or months. These gingers are all tropical, herbaceous plants suitable for growing outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture winter hardiness zone 9 and warmer.
Selected cultivars and species
- Zingiber 'Midnight'. Unique brownish-black-colored foliage. Reaches about two feet tall and about one-and-a-half feet wide.
Myoga ginger (Z. mioga). Grows about two feet tall, with light yellow flowers in late summer and fall. The leaves may be solid green or variegated (as in the popular cultivar 'Dancing Crane'). One of the hardiest species, often overwintering outdoors in USDA Zone 7 and even in parts of Zone 6.
Common ginger (Z. officinale). Glossy, deep green leaves on two- to four-foot-tall stems that grow from edible rhizomes. Seldom produces flowers. You'll rarely find plants for sale, but you can easily grow your own from plump, fresh rhizomes sold at your local supermarket.
Beehive ginger (Z. spectabile). Reaching six to eight feet tall, with green foliage, this species is best known for its blooms: dense, three-foot-tall clusters of light yellow bracts that usually turn reddish as they age from midsummer to fall.
Shampoo or pinecone ginger (Z. zerumbet). Upright, eight-foot-tall stalks of green leaves, with much shorter flowering stems. Starting out green and gradually turning red, the mature, cone-shaped inflorescence contains a clear liquid that can be used like shampoo.
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Ornamental Gingers and Edible Gingers
When I worked in a plant nursery owned by some good friends of mine, I got to meet a lot of beautiful gingers. They had spiral gingers and butterfly gingers, shampoo gingers and blue gingers… it was a cornucopia of wonderful gingers.
Unfortunately, these were all “ornamental” types. Though that doesn’t mean they aren’t edible.
Many of the ornamental varieties are edible in certain ways. For example, butterfly ginger (Hedychium coronarium) is reported to have edible roots and blooms.
Shampoo ginger (Zingiber zerumbet) has edible roots but they taste bitter and are not worth eating. Trust me. I’ve tried them.
The “cardamom ginger” often sold in Florida (Alpinia calcarata), though it’s not the true cardamom, has leaves that have an earthy flavor and can be used like bay or cumin.
Shell ginger ( Alpinia zerumbet ) has leaves that make a tasty tea.
Common ginger and its cousin turmeric are edible in all their parts, so if you have those – use them however you like. The leaves are coarse in texture, so they’re not good in salads, but they are good to add seasoning to dishes and for tea.
Torch Ginger has edible uses as well. According to Hawaiian Plants and Tropical Flowers: “The unopened flower buds are edible and very flavorful, and they are used in Southeast Asian cooking.”
As for toxic leaves on ornamental ginger species, I cannot find any reports of poisonous ornamental gingers. I have heard none of them are toxic but I cannot say for sure. It’s safer to stick to eating known edible species. Ginger is a friendly family of plants but you never know.
Thanks for writing, Avon, and may your thumbs always be green.
For everyone else, you can subscribe to Heirloom Gardener magazine here. It’s a beautiful publication.
Zingiber spectabile Coffee
Beehive Gingers have fascinated people through the ages with their unbelievably unusual and attractive long lasting colourful basal cones and luxuriant foliage. Named Beehive due to the similar shape to a Skep Beehive. The leaves are long and oblong with that lushe tropical look.
They occur naturally in Eastern Asia and are in the Zingiber Genus and there are two species of Beehive Ginger found in cultivation. They are:
Zingiber spectabile -2.5-3m tall…Known as Beehive Ginger with lots of basal cones.
Zingiber olivaceum -1.5-2m tall….Known as Dwarf Beehive Ginger with smaller basal cones and also terminal cones!!
There are other species that have cones but they are different types and not the Beehive Gingers.
Beehive Gingers develop a strong rhizome from which new shoots emerge. The rhizome gets bigger annually. Flowering from October to April ..the cones last for months. They come in bright tones of yellow, orange and chocolate…..they all end up red when they age. Please note there are no Beehive Gingers that start off red. Beehives have cone and height variations.Their leaves are bright green and although not long themselves are paired off on long tropical looking arching stems. They exhibit strong energy.
Great feature and landscape plants which will set your garden apart. As well as for their beauty they also have anti-microbial and medicinal values. Cut flowers last for weeks.
The true flowers emerge from under the scales of the cones. They are pretty and orchid like and unusual but due to size only spectacular to true believers.
Is usually done by dividing up rhizomes and/or backbulbs. You can get them to strike by layering -laying down the canes. They dont seem to produce fertile seed by themselves so to produce fertile seed you would have to engage in hand pollination.
Grow in the ground or in a pot. They need well drained conditions. Filtered light right through to full sun. Fast growers so if you want to encourage this keep up the moisture and fertiliser when its warm. In winter in cold areas they will be deciduous. They come back quickly and will alsoreflower quickly when it warms up.
COLIN CAMPBELL: A piece of Ginger from the supermarket, a bottle of Turmeric Powder and the good old Banana. What have they all got in common? Well believe it or not, they're all members of the order zingiberales, so that means they're related and so are these: the Ornamental Gingers. They're the more glamorous relatives and we'll be seeing a lot more of them in this beautiful garden that's located in suburban Brisbane.
Ornamental Gingers are iconic Tropical and Subtropical plants that have spectacular, brightly coloured flowers.
A few of my favourite Gingers include Zingiber, Costus and Alpinia which have generated a lot of different species all with their own unique features.
So how can you use Ornamental Gingers in the garden? Well, they're an amazingly versatile plant and come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and colours and that means they lend themselves to so many different Subtropical and Tropical garden situations.
Take this garden for example. It has a classic lush Balinese style design and Ornamental Gingers? Well, they're perfect for helping to achieve that look. If it's colour you're looking for, your eyes can't help but be drawn to the splashes of bright colour dotted around this garden. You'll get 5 to 6 months of flowering out of them. Birds love them and they also last a very long time in a vase.
We're all familiar with the edible root of the Ginger plant but some of the flower petals of the Ornamental Gingers like this Costus Indian Head Ginger, they're edible too. These are often used in salads. If you want a layered effect, Ornamental Gingers are perfect. They range in height from about 20 centimetres to many metres, like this towering Costus barbatus, so they can look stunning when used together or combined with other plants.
A lot of gardeners are looking for screening plants and many of the Gingers like this Costus stenophyllus lend themselves well to screening purposes. They're fast growing. A plant like this will grow from a 15 centimetre pot, about a metre a year and it looks like Bamboo but it doesn't have the nasty characteristics of some of the Bamboos.
Best of all they're really easy to grow. You just take them out of the pot, put them straight into the ground. There's no special technique needed.
Propagating Ginger is pretty easy. You just cut the rhizome in half with a knife and you've got 2 plants already. Now you can plant them in a pot like this one. Just pot it up and it will grow quite well in the pot. I do think though, they are far better if they're grown in the ground because they can spread out more.
To care for them, give them a fertiliser that is high in phosphorous and potassium, about every month from September through to November. That'll help encourage more flowering. They don't seem to be affected by aphids, mealy bugs or scale. They're really pest free and as far as moisture goes they need to be kept moist but not a lot of water.
If you're looking for a shade loving plant, look no further than a Ginger. They're happy to grow in full shade and they'll also take up to 85 to 90% sun. They like a friable soil but they'll tolerate many different kinds of soils. Make sure they've got a reasonable soil depth: about 30 centimetres and keep them happy by mulching to keep their roots cool.
If you live in a warm, humid, frost free coastal area, well you'll be able to grow Ornamental Gingers. They just don't like the frost. In the establishment stages you will need to give them a fair amount of water but once they're settled in that'll be it.
Ornamental Gingers. They're colourful, versatile and just downright beautiful. They're the perfect no fuss addition to any Tropical or Subtropical garden.
STEPHEN RYAN: One of the most devastating things that can happen to gardeners is to have your seedlings ruined by bad weather and here's Leonie in Darwin with a fantastic way to keep your babies protected.