Hedychium coccineum 'Tara'
The hardy Hedychiums come from mountainous areas of south east Asia and are related to the tropical ginger plant. Use you finger nail to scrape some of the flesh from the stump of one of these and - on a good day - the smell of ginger is unmistakable. They're lush and leafy with exotic flowers, die down in winter, reappear quite late (June) but flower rewardingly late too (August, September and even October). Some of them have fragrant flowers - see below.
To do their thing they need the right conditions : deep rich soil in sun (to flower) and in cold gardens worth mulching in winter to protect the crown. Use of Tomorite (a tomato food) might be worth trying. Lots of phosphate but little nitrogen encourages plants to flower. Tomato plants that don't flower are a fat lot of good and some might argue the same about Hedychiums.
Growing in a pot works pretty well - especially in very cold gardens. Keep frost free in the winter and they'll remain evergreen. Wakehurst Place in Sussex is a great place to see them growing outside. Many of the species and forms they have growing there were introduced by Tony Schilling, Curator of the gardens in the 1980s and 90s from expeditions by him to Asia. The forms 'Steven' and 'Tara' are named after his son and his daughter.
We do three different species :
Hedychium coccineum 'Tara' (this one) : The perfect compromise between frost hardiness and exoticness. Strong orange flowers with a nice fragrance. 3 to 4ft.
Hedychium garderianium : The least hardy one we do but with such a wonderfully powerful smell, we couldn't not do it. For a conservatory in the winter or a mild garden. 3 to 4ft
Hedychium forrestii : The toughest and most vigorous of the lot with white flowers but no obvious fragrance. To 6ft.
All propagated by us either by division or micropropagation.
IF IT HAS AN AMBER TRAFFIC LIGHT
Hardy in the Home Counties if sensibly sited (avoiding severe frost pockets, for example). Many Amber Labelled Plants are from cuttings from well-established plants that have survived many harsh winters in the South-East.
This is only meant as a guide. Please remember we're always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.
Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.
General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it's better to 'plant small' is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some 'wood' on them to survive severe cold - so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.
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