HOSTA SUBSTITUTE FOR DEEP SOUTH

Post last updated: October 10th, 2018

Meta sent me some new photos from her garden. You will remember her from Meta’s Garden.  Three of the photos were of red-blooming bromeliads under the shade of a palm tree.

Meta's blooming bromeliads
Meta’s blooming bromeliads
Photo credit: Meta

One of the bromeliad photos had me gawking and banging my keyboard as fast as I could type to ask, “What is that plant that looks like a hosta? I thought we couldn’t grow that here.” If she was growing hostas, I wanted to know about it because I have never been successful in my attempts despite crazy gardening book authors claiming that hostas will grow in Zone 9.

Meta assured me the plants were not hostas but peacock gingers she had grown for years and they were “finally beginning to spread enough to fill in a nice area.”

Meta's Peacock Ginger Photo credit: Meta
Meta’s Peacock Ginger that looks like hosta
Photo credit: Meta

kaempferia peacock ginger2-I had two kinds of tall gingers but had never seen a short one like her peacock ginger. My fingers burnt up the keyboard searching for peacock gingers. I started with the Floridata link Meta forwarded to me, one of the first places I would have started my own search. Their photo showed one of the leaf variations of the many varieties of peacock ginger.

Peacock gingers (Genus: Kaempferia; Family: Zingibera-ceae) are a shade-loving, slow-spreading, perennial groundcover with rhizomes. It has solid colored or patterned leaves, round or oval, varying from 4 to 10 inches in length and the leaves disappear in the winter, returning late spring. All summer, it bears small blooms of lavender, pink, and white. More than one source said peacock gingers served as a substitute for hostas in the Deep South. Hello??!!!! Did you hear that? We finally have something in the Deep South to mimics hostas.

In my research, I learned that nurseries often mislabel the different peacock gingers because of identity confusion. This became obvious in my research. Even the plant list on Horticopia Professional Herbaceous Plus Library mentioned only five of them but southeastgarden.com/kaempferia listed nine varieties with color photos. Only the Kaempferia rotunda would not be a particularly suitable groundcover because of its 12 inch height.

Meta provided me with a source which supposedly has the best selection of gingers at any retail nursery in Florida but their website is no longer active and thus we aren’t really sure they still exist: The Gainesville Tree Farm at Adams Eden Nursery, 15321 NW State Road 121, Gainesville, Florida (just 6 miles north of the intersection of Highway 441 and SR 121. Phone: (904) 418-0484.

11 thoughts on “HOSTA SUBSTITUTE FOR DEEP SOUTH”

  1. I called the Gainesville Tree Farm today, but got an answering machine. I asked for a call back, but my call was never returned.

    1. Maybe Wednesday is their day off? I’m gonna find me a source for those when my ship comes in. I can think of a place they would look GREAT as a border so I’d need a few. Now, if someone would schedule my ship…

  2. Beautiful pictures! I love my peacock gingers. They are a “no bother” plant. Very self sufficient!
    Becky Bathen

  3. I was at a public garden a few days ago, and noticed all the beautiful gingers they had there. I had to go online and order several for my garden. :O (HAD to!) They should be advertised more in warm climates! Meta’s gingers are just gorgeous. I think gingers could be something one could easily fall into collecting!

    1. Thanks Holleygarden. Yes, I am happy to see that you liked my gingers as well. They are not tall, but very nice to look at and no trouble at all.

  4. Love my peacock ginger! I have them in pots and not knowing beforehand that they die back in the winter, I thought that I had killed them. In the spring, they came back as beautiful as ever. Since they grow from rhizomes there is no deep rootball. I have them in shallow planters that I move around wherever I want. This year I decided they need to be repotted, which resulted in far more plants than I needed. I have decided to plant them in the ground and form a border. We’ll see how that turns out.

    1. Linda – Mine are planted in the ground in a straight line border that is not particularly attractive. I’m trying to figure out how to put them in a curved border in relation to my landscaping. The only issue you’ll have with an inground border is needing to pull new plants out when they mess up the shape of your border. I love mine, too!

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