Metroplus

Gingery flowers

Strongly perfumed flowers rising on tall stems with dark green lush foliage make the ginger lily (Hedychium spp.) the flashy cousin to edible ginger, a favourite among gardeners. Ginger lilies are dramatic additions to your garden and are easy to grow and propagate. Start with one small rhizome, maybe a gift from a friend and they will multiply to form a flowering clump in beds or containers.

There are 50 varieties of ginger lilies and many Bengalureans have great collections of the species. Chitra Ganapathy finds growing them easy as all they need is space, morning sun, and loving care. “They last in the vase for more than four days! And are always the centre of attraction in any room or garden,” says Chitra who has a collection of several colours and species of ginger lilies.

Like the ginger we use in our food, ginger lilies grow from rhizomes, which are underground stems that grow horizontally just under the soil surface. If you break a rhizome, you’ll notice the familiar ginger fragrance, although it’s less pungent than the culinary herb. If you have a butterfly ginger lily in the garden, it has a fragrance that’s a blend of gardenia and honeysuckle and its flowers look like white butterflies perched at the top of the plants. Spiky ginger lily bears flowers in tall spikes and come in colours including red, orange, yellow and peach.

Priya Mascarenhas, who tends to her award-winning garden says, “I probably was the first one with a pink torch ginger lily in Bangalore, which I brought back from a holiday in Hawaii. They are easy to grow and lend elegance and perfume to my garden.”

Ginger lilies form an attractive backdrop for shorter plants but are not drought-tolerant plants and must be watered regularly. Since they prefer moist soil, you may have to water several times weekly in the hot season. If you grow them in containers, you should divide them each year by breaking rhizomes in pieces, with each section containing an “eye,” or growth bud. Since some species grow up to 10 feet tall, with butterfly ginger averaging 5 feet, you may need to stake tall stems so that heavy rains and wind do not buffet plants.

Flower lover Ranjini Kamath says, “I have quite a few different ginger lilies. The red torch ginger is incredibly beautiful and they look striking in flower arrangements and last a long time.”


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Printable version | Aug 4, 2021 5:38:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/gingery-flowers/article7326180.ece

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