Alpinia zerumbet (Ginger Lily)


Variegated shell ginger is a tall and dramatic landscape or container plant. The leaves are about 2 ft (0.6 m) long and 6 in (15.2 cm) across and strikingly variegated with irregular stripes of green and yellow. The habit is upright and does not require staking as do some other members of the family Zingiberaceae. The flowers are white, tipped in pink, and borne in long pendant arches. The individual flowers are reminiscent of small seashells, which accounts for the common name shell ginger. This Alpinia is root hardy to Zone 8, but it only flowers on old growth, so the flowers rarely will be seen except in frost-free areas. Typically, variegated shell ginger grows to about 6 ft (1.8 m) tall, which is not as large as the non-variegated species (Alpinia zerumbet), which can grow to as much as 12 ft (3.7 m) tall. There is a dwarf cultivar, Alpinia zerumbet Variegata Dwarf, which grows only to about 1 ft (0.3 m) tall, but has the same green and yellow variegated foliage with white seashell flowers. There also is a cultivar, Variegata Chinese Beauty, which has light green and dark green marbled foliage, that grows to 8 ft (2.4 m) tall.