Now here’s a plant that literally earns its stripes in shade gardens throughout Florida’s zones 9B and 10: the light and billowy variegated Shell Ginger.
Known for its massive spread, the anything-but-shy Shell Ginger flounces around large trees, fringes rows of tall shrubs with breezy abandon and can even steal the show as a circular-drive centerpiece.
It’s the leaf that attracts all the attention –a bold, elongated feather shape striped in lemony yellows and Key West lime greens. Because this moderate grower can reach five- to eight-feet wide and three- to six-feet high, you can enjoy this super-sized froth of exquisiteness from afar – even before you reach your driveway.
Shell Ginger tolerates part shade but easily burns in full sun, as evidenced by leaves that fold as fast as Dracula opening his curtains at sunrise. So you have to treat Shell Ginger somewhat gingerly. Too often we see it planted in full sun with no afternoon shade, with the brown leaves being dead giveaways. Growing them in Zone 10 is ideal, but plant in a protected area if you’re in Zone 9B.
As far as watering goes, just make sure this moderately drought-tolerant plant gets regular irrigation with enough time in between so the soil has a chance to dry out. Speaking of, plant in a well-drained area, adding top soil and composted cow manure to the hole. No need to worry about trimming, although you’ll want to remove dead leaves or prune for size in warm weather. Fertilize in spring, summer and fall — granular is all you need.
Oh, the name? It comes from strands of flowers that resemble little white seashells – although we’ve overheard snowbirds from the north say they look more like pearl onions. Regardless, the flowers are pretty and delicate and fragrant, even though they don’t bloom very often.
So in a nutshell, that’s the story of Shell Ginger – a made-for-the-shade plant with a dappling of sunlight thrown in to keep it flourishing. Already imagining a place where you could put it in your landscape? Call a professional landscaper designerto get started – or if you live in the Sarasota, Bradenton or Venice areas, call ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design at 941.488.8897 to get your project started. www.artistree.com