The Ginger Lilies are among the most exotic looking herbaceous plants you can hope to grow in a British garden. Great thick, creeping, ginger smelling rhizomes send up ‘canes’ with bold, alternate leaves in two ranks, around the beginning of April here.
Plant names highlighted in green have images attached, click to view.
A modest selection of the toughest Ginger Lilies, which should grow and flower outside in southern England. A mulch once they die down is a good idea. Sun and warmth makes them flower earlier – getting there before the frost is the aim!
Hedychium densiflorum ‘Assam Orange’ £5
A toughie, but atypical. The flowers are many and small, packed into narrow 15cm spikes. They are a lovely intense burnt orange colour, but don’t have any real fragrance. Free flowering, and one of the first to flower.
Hedychium densiflorum ‘Stephen’ £6
Collected by Tony Schilling in Nepal, this has larger flowers than the previous, cream with orange, and lightly fragrant. Very nice, quite hardy, but slow to propagate.
Hedychium densiflorum Schilling 582 £7
Large flowered like ‘Stephen’ and a nice soft peachy orange. Not often seen.
Hedychium x moorei ‘Tara’ AGM £6
Pretty hardy, and usually early too. It has the exotical spidery flowers one expects of the genus, in orange red. Showy and popular; Schilling’s yet again.
Hedychium yunnanense £5
Notable for being just as chunky as the others, but much shorter: palest yellow flower with red stamen. The first to flower.
Hedychium forrestii £6
White flowered, in September here, and can be extremely tall when established.
No Hedychium is a straightforward hardy perennial right across the UK. On the other hand, none of these is an out-and-out heated glasshouse subject. All need a fertile soil with plenty of water in the growing season. Some species are evergreen in the wild, but this is only possible under warm glass in Britain, even in Cornwall. We allow all ours to become fully dormant in winter, which has the advantage of preventing pests overwintering: others find that a tortrix moth caterpillar, which munches holes through the rolled young leaves, can get the upper hand if the plants are overwintered in growth. Once the stems have been frosted, we cut them off at the base and protect the rhizomes. For pot-grown stock, this entails keeping them faitly dry, and avoiding extremes of frost. Plants grown in the open garden may need a protective mulch. What can you get away with in the open ground? The hardier ones are viable in the south of England and beyond, but microclimate and mulching are everything. Gardeners in central London or right on the South Coast can get away with a great deal. Some flower rather late, and early frosts can lose you the flowers, even if the plant survives. This is where a cool conservatory really helps, as well as providing a place to overwinter the dormant plants. Plants supplied have been growing in 2 litre pots since division in spring.
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