Ornamental ginger refers to ginger plants grown mostly for their attractive flowers and foliage. They may or may not be edible.
Either way, the flowers, and leaves are their highlighting feature. Originating in tropical regions, bright colorful flowers and fragrant flowers make ornamental ginger increasingly popular in non-tropical countries as well.
Edible ginger on the other hand is grown for its primary use of being edible either for culinary or medical purposes.
Here are a few types of plants from the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) that are a good idea for planting in your garden.
Resurrection Ginger (Kaempferia rotunda)
Also known as Peacock Ginger, this is common ornamental ginger. This ornamental ginger is native to India and China. The leaves of this ginger plant display multiple colors: green, silver, and purple.
- The rhizome is very spicy and hot. They can be used the same way regular ginger is used
- During the summer and fall seasons, their flowers offer a sweet scent. They beautify the garden and provide a breath of fragrant air.
- The young edible ginger leaves are a delicacy.
The flower head is large and contains many individual flower buds. The flower head and bracts are green.
Each flower is large with petals that appear in an alternate and leveled arrangement. The flowers are white in color with light pink petal edges.
Spiral Ginger (Costus barbatus)
Belonging to the Costaceae family. This ginger is not considered to be edible though its flowers are edible. This ginger species grows naturally in Costa Rica, a tropical country.
- The flowers are edible and appear to be sugar-coated and juicy. They can be used as a garnish or eaten whole as is. People describe the flowers as being crunchy, refreshingly juicy, and sweet.
The spiral ginger has a colorful flower head. It consists of red inflorescence which may appear orange. These red inflorescences are closed but orange to yellow flowers still emerge from them at maturity.
Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet)
This ginger variant is grown primarily for its flowers or its foliage. It grows to a height of 9 to 11 inches.
- They can be grown to create a colorful scene in the garden with their flowers
- The leaves are also attractive and are a great way to cover up bare soil areas
At first, the flower inflorescence appears as a ‘string of porcelain tears’.
These white inflorescences appear to resemble ‘shells’, hence the name shell ginger. Each shell opens up to give a red and yellow flower.
White Ginger Lily (Hedychium coronarium)
This ginger is the national flower of Cuba. It is a renowned ornamental ginger plant used to visually enhance gardens and open spaces.
Although it is a tropical plant, it is also grown in temperate regions in the USA. Plants can stand at a height of 72 inches.
- The flowers show many colors: white, yellow, red, pink. A mixture of two colors is possible, making an attractive view of the garden
- Flowers are fragrant and can be used as a perfumed oil
- The flowers find use in Chinese medicine
This ginger flower consists of four petals which enclose a single stamen and a filament. Their arrangement appears rather in a concealing way.