Saturday, July 7, 2012

Alpinia nutans

Among the many types of gingers, Alpinia nutans is one that is grown primarily as a foliage plant because it supposedly rarely flowers in cultivation. It may just need the right cultural conditions. As you can see, the flowers are beautiful and it's one of the earliest gingers to bloom in spring. The erect inflorescence contrasts nicely with the dark green foliage.
The flower spikes appear on the ends of mature canes, so don't cut down the foliage in winter or you won't get blooms. 
Unopened buds are soft pink...
and pop open to reveal the vivid red and yellow lip.
This plant is sometimes sold as Dwarf Cardamom or False Cardamom. The foliage has a very pleasant cardamom scent when bruised, but this is not the species that produces the spice called cardamom.
The broad-leafed evergreen canes grow 3-5 feet tall and individual leaves grow about 3½ inches wide by 15 inches long. The canes crowd together in a dense clump and can live for years if not damaged by cold.
Alpinia nutans is recommended for USDA Zones 8-11. In Zone 8 the canes may freeze to the ground in the winter, then send up new growth in the spring. The foliage looks its best when grown in shade to part-sun locations.

1 comment:

africanaussie said...

I have that in my garden, and it can grow a little wild. I remember I was so excited to get cardamom and imagined myself harvesting cardamon pods, until I learned this was not the seed bearing kind. the leaves can add a little flavor to dishes.

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