These tropical beauties grow from rhizomes that produce leafy clumps. Plants are evergreen in the Tropical South, but they are root hardy to about 15F. They often need to settle in for 2 years after planting before they start to bloom; the clusters of - to 2-in. blossoms typically appear in summer. Give moist, fertile, well- drained soil and a wind-sheltered location. Most form clumps half to fully as wide as they are tall. Each year, cut back to the ground all canes that have finished flowering.
A. formosana. PINSTRIPE GINGER. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Frost tolerant (to 10F) species from Taiwan, southern Japan. To 45 ft. high. Green leaves have white veins. Small, creamy white flowers are marked with red and yellow.
A. hainanensis (A. henryi, A. katsumadai). Zones LS, CS. TS; USDA 8-11. From China, growing 49 ft. tall. Cream to yellow blossoms marked with dark red lines give off a honeylike perfume in spring. Performs well as a houseplant. 'Pink Perfection' has pink flowers.
A. pumila. DWARF GINGER. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. From China. Silver stripes on dark green leaves make this shade-loving ground cover look more like a calathea than a ginger. Spreads slowly with leaves 6 in. long and 3 in. wide. Although red, the 1-in. spike of flowers is subtle.
A. purpurata. RED GINGER. Zone TS; USDA 10-11. To 912 ft. tall, 23 ft. wide. Brilliant inflorescences of red bracts and small white flowers.
A. vittata (A. sanderae). VARIEGATED GINGER. Zone TS; USDA 10-11. Native to Solomon Islands. To 34 ft. tall, with white-striped leaves. Rarely blooms. A good container plant.
A. zerumbet (A. nutans, A. speciosa). SHELL GINGER. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Native to Polynesia and tropical Asia. Grandest of gingers, best all-year appearance. To 89 ft. tall. Shiny leaves with distinct parallel veins; maroon leafstalks at maturity. Waxy white or pinkish, shell-like, fragrant flowers marked red, purple, or brown in pendent clusters on arching stems. 'Variegata' has green leaves with yellow bands.