Hidden Lily Ginger

This copyrighted post, “Hidden Lily Ginger” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 



Curcuma zedoaria, or as my mother called it Hidden Lily, is a plant that dies down in the late fall and emerges fairly late in the spring.  This is one plant that I wish stayed around all year.  I love the large green leaves that sport a maroon stripe down the middle, and the flowers are so unusual.  The flowers emerge just before or just as the leaves are coming up.  The flowers can be somewhat hidden by the quickly growing foliage, hence the name.  These spikes of colorful flowers, which almost look fake, usually last a long time.




The foliage is my favorite part.  The deep green leaves grow to about four feet high.  The shape of the leaves and their upright growth remind me of banana leaves, but, unlike the latter, never shred in the wind.  The leaves look like they are ribbed and, as I mentioned before, have a maroon stripe in the middle.  This plant makes a great screening for the summer. 


This is plant is not a fast grower, but the clump does slowly increase in size.  It is easy to divide and move to another place in the garden or to share with others.  That is how my mother got my sister started on growing hidden ginger, and soon my sister was able to share some with me.  While hardy only to zone 8 in the ground, it can be grown in containers. 


This very dramatic foliage plant gives a tropical feeling to the summer garden, is easy to care for, has no pest problems, and displays unusual flowers.  What more could you ask for?


  1. Brenda Kula said,

    May 13, 2008 at 8:38 am

    That is unusual, at least to me, to have the leaves come up about the same time as the bloom. Usually a plant leafs out first. But, being different and so beautiful, it is a plant I would love to have in my garden!

  2. Jan said,

    May 13, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    You are right, Brenda, it is unusual to see a flower stalk all by itself with no leaves, but the leaves quickly emerge all around the flower stalk. It is a great plant, and I love having it in my garden. If you get the chance to get some, put it in your garden. You won’t be sorry.

  3. May 16, 2008 at 7:09 am

    Hi Jan,

    I’ve never seen the Hidden Ginger plant in person but it was featured in the “Passalong Plants” book by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing, so I’ve known -of- it for years and years… your photos show why it’s such a beloved hand-me-down.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  4. Jan said,

    May 16, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Annie, you are right that these are great passalong plants. I got mine from my older sister, who got hers from my mother, and my mother got hers from a friend. It is a shame they are not planted more frequently.

  5. August 14, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Where can I purchase a hidden ginger plant? Thanks in advance. Mike

  6. Jan said,

    August 14, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Hi, Mike. You do not say where you are located, but if you google “hidden ginger” several online nurseries show up. Teas Nursery lists hidden ginger, but I have not had any dealings with them, but I do seem to remember other bloggers saying that it was a good nursery.

  7. Alma Dripps said,

    November 5, 2008 at 6:48 am

    I love the hidden ginger but it has spread so much it is overpowering my other plants.. When is a good time to divide? Fall or Spring?

  8. Jan said,

    November 5, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Hidden ginger will die down in the fall, in fact, mine is already starting to yellow and flop over. I divide mine at any time, but then I am in the deep South where winters are not severe. You don’t say where you garden, so to be safe, I would divide the hidden ginger in the spring. I hope this helps.

  9. Bonita P Higgs said,

    May 4, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I have Hidden Lilys but don’t know how to take care or how or where to plant them.

    • Jan said,

      May 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm

      Bonita, you can plant these just about anywhere. I have them in sun and shade. Just keep them watered during the hot months, and they’ll be okay. They do die back in the winter, so don’t be upset when you see them turn yellow; they’ll be back in the spring. These are very undemanding plants.

  10. Sheila said,

    October 6, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I live in central Florida and have so many of the Hidden Ginger plants but I have only had one blossom within the last two years! Should I fertilize? Water more? My neighbor has them blossom every year and all I have is gorgeous plants!! I have some in full sun, partial sun, and shade to see if that helps…..again, beautiful plants and no flowers!! help!

    • Jan said,

      October 9, 2011 at 6:34 pm

      Shelia, I find that sometimes plants just seem to rest. I would ask my neighbor what she is doing and then do the same. It may be that your plants are too young. I find that when I transplant mine, they take a year or two before they bloom again. Also, was it very dry during last summer? This could affect the blooming unless you watered a great deal. You could check with your local extension service. They might be able to help you better since they know your specific area.

  11. Susan Brafford said,

    October 17, 2011 at 7:56 am

    I have had Hidden Ginger in my garden for many years and it keeps spreading, so I keep sharing with my friends. It is one of my favorite plants and is so easy! Mine grows about 7 feet tall and blooms every year, but some years there are more blooms than others. I was wondering if the time of year you cut them back has anything to do with how much it blooms the following spring. Mine are turning yellow now and I want to cut them back, but I don’t want to mess up the blooming cycle. Sometimes I wait until after the first frost (when they turn brown) to cut them and I was wondering if that is what makes the difference. Does anyone know?

    • Jan said,

      October 17, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      Susan, it is okay to cut them back now. In fact, I just cut mine down this past weekend. They are dying back naturally, and cutting them back now will have no effect on their blooming. Why there are more blooms some years, I don’t know, but I have noticed that the ones in deep shade do not bloom as well as the ones in semi-shade.

  12. Linda Oar said,

    August 28, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    I have this plant and have shared with many ladies. It is very pretty and I divide mine all summer long. It keeps coming up.

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