Red Pine Cones

“Red Pine Cones”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Pine cones and fall go together, but the pine cones I have been interested in lately are not your normal pine cones. I have been watching and waiting for the pine cone ginger (Zingiber zerumbet) to produce its “pine cone.” Finally, the red “pine cones” were visible.



I wrote about this plant last year about this time, but this year I have more of the ginger pine cones. I think this is such a neat plant. All summer long, there is the lovely, lush foliage, and then come autumn, these bright red pine cones appear.

The fragrance given off by these red “cones” is also very nice. The milky substance in the “cones” which is supposed to be a very good shampoo (hence the other common name for this plant, Shampoo Ginger) has a lovely lanolin smell, but I have never tried it as a shampoo as I would hate to ruin the pretty, red cones. However, I have squeezed them after they have aged and there is a thin, milky cream, which smells divine, that I could see being used as a shampoo. I know my hands liked the feel of that sweet-smelling liquid.

Last year when I wrote about this plant, I was hoping that it would spread and produce more “cones.” Looks like I have gotten my wish.

White Beauties

“White Beauties”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

White. White is my favorite color for flowers, and two of the best white flowers have started showing up. The first is the butterfly ginger with its wonderful aroma.



When these luscious flowers start blooming in late summer, their sweet, but not cloying scent, perfume permeates the garden especially at night and very early in the morning. I have this plant in three different areas of the garden. One area is in shade (these are the ones that have just started blooming) and two other areas that get morning sun and dappled shade. Because they bloom at slightly different times, there is that wonderful perfume and white flowers for about six weeks or more showing up in the garden.

The other white flower that is now showing up is the white mandevilla. This plant was given to me by my mother three years ago, and every winter I dig it up and protect it from the freezing temperatures.



This year it was very late in putting out flowers, and I wonder if it is because of the last winter’s extra cold. The only reason I think that winter is the cause is because I am still finding plants in the garden that are only appearing now. Usually, if a plant has not appeared by May, it is not coming back, but this year I am still finding sweet potato vines, palm grass, and elephant ears that are only showing up now, in early August.

Anyway, I am certainly happy to see these white beauties now. Somehow, their appearance helps us endure the dog days of summer.

Disney Ginger

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

Just like other parts of the country, we are suffering with the heat. Yesterday, I didn’t even go outside. Of course, I had watered the garden very well Saturday, or I would have had to go out in the blistering sun to water my poor, hot plants. Right now, at 11:40 AM the heat index is 116 degrees. I just finished watering all the garden plants, and I am dripping (and it is not from the hose). So far, everything seems to be doing okay and not succumbing to this heat.

Even with the heat, a new plant has started blooming. It is a new ginger I bought about a year ago at the New Orleans Botanical Garden Show. It is Disney ginger.



Hedychium coccineum ‘Disney’ or orange brush ginger is the newest ginger in my garden. Living in a mild climate allows me the luxury of growing many of these lovely, tropical-looking plants. This particular ginger is only about five feet tall and has only two stalks but, I am sure, that as it gets older, it will spread and get bigger. The flowers open all at once and are fragrant attracting butterflies and bees.



One more thing I like about this new flower is its color. I never used to like orange flowers, but lately they have really grown on me. I don’t know if it is just me or what, but it does seem that lately orange is becoming a popular color in more gardens. I never thought I’d say this, but bring on more orange.

Old Friends

“Old Friends”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

When some of my dormant plants return in the spring, it is like old friends, who one hasn’t seen in months, returning for a visit. One of my favorite summer plants is Hidden Ginger (Curcuma petiolata). I love the banana-like leaves which add a real tropical feel to the summer garden. The areas where I have it planted give a great deal of privacy during the warm months when we are outside so much.

The leaves grow to about five feet tall and have a dark red stripe down the middle of the leaf. Even though I grow this plant for the foliage, the flowers are stunning, too. Now that my plants are older, I am getting more flowers than ever. The flower of this plant almost looks fake.



The flowers come out before the leaves start showing. In the above photo, you can see the leaves have just started growing. Soon the flowers will be hidden by the foliage. The flowers stand about 18 inches tall. This particular grouping has only been in the ground two years; my older plants have more flowers.

Until the leaves get to be full size, the flowers are the real show. The colors are so vibrant. The white and fuchsia-purple really stands out.



While this plant is hardy to only zone 7, it would make a great pot plant for colder areas and shady areas in all zones.

I look forward every spring to the return of this “old friend.” So glad it came back.

Rainy Days and Shampoo

“Rainy Days and Shampoo”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


Do you ever get sick of having the same weather all the time?  It has been raining an awful lot lately, and today was no exception except it waited until I was home from work about five minutes before the rains started.  So far today, we have received just over an inch of rain.  I have a long list of garden chores that need to be done this month, but as of today, nothing has gotten done.  I mean nothing.  Either it is raining, just finished raining or about to start raining.  So discouraging.

But, on a lighter note, one plant that is doing very well with all this rain is the pine cone ginger.  I know I have posted a lot about this new plant (for me), but bear with me.  With all this rain, spaces on the “pine cone” have filled up with water.


Pinecone Ginger (redu)


The other day when I went to take this photo, I squeezed the “cone” and was surprised to find how fragrant the water was.  It had a honeysuckle aroma, and I could feel a lanolin-type softness in the liquid.  I understand fully now why this is also called shampoo ginger.  The liquid I felt would probably make a great shampoo for your hair as the people in Asia and Hawaii have found and use it for just this purpose.

I don’t know how much longer the red pine cone will last, but it does not seem to be fading yet.  I hope all this rain doesn’t bring about an early demise.


“Decisions”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

My pine cone ginger has finally turned red!  I was so excited when I saw this since I was waiting and waiting to have one mature to this color.

Red Pine Cone Ginger (redu)

I have only seen pictures of these so having a few in my own garden is a treat.  In case you don’t remember, I bought these in late October of 2007 and didn’t get a “pinecone” in the summer of 2008.  Earlier this year when this ginger put out two cones, I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to see them turn red.  Finally, I get to have the full pinecone ginger experience.

I haven’t decided if I should pick them for an arrangement or not.  They are supposed to last a long time as a cut “flower.”  Since these are also known as shampoo ginger because of a substance that can be squeezed from the cones that will suds up and wash hair, I don’t know if I should try that too.  For now, I am just enjoying the red cones and planning for next year when I will, hopefully, have even more.

Update on Pinecone Ginger

“Update on Pinecone Ginger”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

A few days ago, I posted about the first “pinecones” that have showed up on the pinecone ginger I planted in spring of 2008.  Today, I noticed that the flowers have appeared on the cones, which means it should not be too long before the cones turn red.

Pinecone Gin 2 (redu)

As the above photo shows, the flowers just pop out of the cone.  Since this is the first year I have ever seen these, I am not sure how many flowers will show up or how long they will last.  Everything about this plant will be a learning experience.

The flowers, while small, are pretty.  They are a dark cream or pale yellow and appear very delicate.  The petals look like tissue paper.  The flowers remind me a little of my yellow four o’clocks.

Pinecone Gin 1 (redu)

Now that the flowers have appeared, it probably won’t be too long before the cones turn red.  I’ll keep you posted when they do.

Pinecone Ginger

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


In 2007,  when I attended a garden show at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens, I purchased several plants, one of which was a pinecone ginger plant.  I believe I bought it at the fall garden show because the first winter I kept it in its container and just protected it.  In spring of 2008, I planted it in the garden where it did well, but no pinecones.  You see, this ginger, which is also called shampoo ginger, produces a pinecone shaped inflorescence  that will turn red during the fall.  I saw it planted in the Gardens and was so happy to be able to purchase one at the show.

Last year I looked forward to seeing the “pinecones” and was so disappointed that my plant was too young to produce any.  Well, this year is a slightly different story.  Just the other day, I noticed two “pinecones” emerging from the ground.  Don’t let the hydrangea leaf in the foreground throw you.


Pinecone Ginger (redu)


They are about four inches high now and should grow a little more before starting to turn red.  Little white flowers will show up under the bracts.

This ginger, Zingiber zerumbet, can grow to be seven feet tall, but mine is only about four feet right now.  It has long narrow leaves growing on opposite sides of the stems.  The bracts emerge from the ground on separate stems.  This ginger is hardy to zone 8 and is supposed to be root hardy to zone 7.  It certainly gives a wonderful tropical feel to the garden especially with our recent hot temperatures.


Pinecone Ginger Foliage (redu)


Pinecone Ginger Top Foliage (redu)


It is known as shampoo ginger because of a creamy substance that comes from the cones, and is supposed to be used as a shampoo in the tropics.  I don’t know if I would want to try it though.  The pinecones are supposed to last a long time and work well in flower arrangements.

I only have two pinecones this year, and they haven’t turned red yet, but I am looking forward to more next year.  I’ll be sure to do another post when these turn red so everyone can see how they look when mature.

String of Pearls

“String of Pearls”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


I am finally starting to feel better and have started working in the garden again.  I was surprised what has happened in the week I have been out of the garden.  One thing that really floored me was the blooming of the shell ginger.  Last time I looked there was nothing, not even a hint of a flower, and then yesterday, there were whole bloom clusters showing their round, white flowers looking for all the world like a string of pearls.


Ginger Fl Cluster (redu)


This variegated shell ginger receives morning sun and has bloomed the last three years.  I have some of the plain green ginger which has been in two years, is a good size, but is in shade, and that one has not bloomed.  I don’t think I will be getting any flowers on those plants because of the shade, but that is okay because I planted them for screening not for flowers.  This variegated ginger has done well here, getting only occasionally nipped by the cold weather.  Earlier this spring I did cut it back some since it was starting to come a little too close to the front of the border.

With its varigated foliage, this plant is pretty enough, but the flowers are so unusual that they are an added bonus.  Eventually the little round “pearls” will open showing bright orange-red and yellow.


Open Ginger Flower (redu)


The flowers only appear on old growth which is why if there is a hard winter freeze, there will be no blooms, but even though we had some pretty cold weather this year, this stand of ginger must have some protection from the surrounding azaleas and overhead trees.

So, after being out of the garden for a week, these flowers were a nice “welcome back” present from old Mother Nature.

Hidden Treasure

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


The hidden ginger has started to return.  This is my favorite summer plant, and I eagerly await its return each year.  This is Curcuma zedoaria which goes dormant in late fall and returns in late spring.  Its flowers usually show up before the leaves do, and once the leaves emerge, the flowers are hidden among the foliage.


Hidden Ginger (redu)


They are not your typical flowers, but they do last a long time.  While the flowers are nice, it is the foliage that I love the most.  Big leaves with a maroon stripe down the middle sway in the summer breezes.  I have them planted on the property lines, and they do give some privacy from the neighbors during the summer months when we spend the most time in the garden.




This is a photo from last year showing how big the leaves can get.  Here, they are about six to seven feet tall, great for summer screening.  I can’t wait for this year’s returning hidden ginger to reach these heights.  It truly is a treasure in the garden.

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