Shell Ginger is a tall growing East Asian species, grown mostly for its foliage. It has a strong, upright habit, often seen growing as an under-story plant or along water courses. In the garden it makes a fantastic mid- or background layer plant, forming into huge impenetrable thickets over time. This is an evergreen variety, retaining leaves through winter and still looking fairly neat. In frost-prone areas the plant may die back to the ground in winter, returning from it’s thick underground rhizomes in the spring.
The most common variety of this species is the variegated form (Alpinia zerumbet Variegata), sporting bright green and gold coloured foliage with the usual white flower. This form is used commonly in Brisbane in landscaping and council plantings. It’s a useful plant to break up blocks of green foliage, or to inject some colour into a difficult shaded area. The flower on this species is white with a pink/orange throat. Not as stunning as the flowers of the Torch or Beehive Gingers.
Alpinia zerumbet is very easy to grow around South East Queensland. It can grow in full sun, but is best grown in part shade to prevent it getting stressed during hot, dry periods. Fast growing if fed regularly and watered well over the hot months. Although capable of surviving dry spells, this plant often gets scorched if not watered during summer.