Care of Ginger Lily Plants

by Jenny Harrington

The tall, stately flower spikes of the ginger lily (Hedychium coronarium) add a touch of quiet class to the late summer and fall garden. These highly fragrant flowers, which grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10, have an aroma similar to ginger. Each plant can grow up to 6 feet tall and features long green leaves and flowers that resemble white butterflies alighting on the stem. Ginger lily is resistant to most pests and diseases. It requires only basic care to thrive and flower profusely.

1 Grow ginger lilies in full sun to ensure best flowering and upright stems, although the plants can tolerate some light shade. Select a site with rich, moist soil. Ginger lilies grow best in slightly heavy or even clay soils, but can tolerate better draining soil if you amend the site with 2 inches of compost before planting.

2 Water ginger lilies one to two times a week, as soon as the soil begins to dry but before it dries out completely. Supply 1 to 2 inches of water at each irrigation, which is enough to moisten the soil thoroughly to a 6-inch depth.

3 Place a peony hoop, which is a circular flower stake that supports tall flowers but is minimally visible, over the ginger lilies if they lean toward the sunlight. This primarily occurs in shady beds. The hoop holds the ginger lilies upright so they don't lean into walkways or cover lower-growing plants in front of them.

4 Cut back the ginger lilies to the ground after they die back following the first fall frost. Dispose of the removed plant material promptly.

5 Spread 2 inches of compost over the bed after pruning the plants in fall. The compost provides the soil with fresh nutrients for the plants. Cover the compost with a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to insulate the ginger lily roots over winter.

6 Dig up the ginger lily roots every four years in early spring or whenever the plants become crowded. Cut the roots, called rhizomes, into 8-inch-long pieces with a clean knife. Each piece must contain both stem buds on top and roots on the bottom. Replant the roots 2 inches deep and space them about 24 inches apart in all directions.

Items you will need

  • Compost
  • Peony hoop
  • Shears
  • Mulch
  • Trowel
  • Knife

Tip

  • Dig and store the rhizomes in slightly moistened bags of peat indoors in cold climates. Alternatively, grow ginger lilies in large pots and overwinter them indoors or in a greenhouse.