How to Grow and Care for Ginger Lily

white ginger lily flower with green leaves in background

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Ginger lily (Hedychium spp.) is a genus of approximately 70 tropical flowering plant species that grow best in partial sun and moist, rich, well-drained soil. These plants are known for their fragrant blooms, which come in shades of white, yellow, orange, and peach. The flowers make an excellent addition to bouquets and attract pollinators like hummingbirds and butterflies.

Ginger lily is perennial in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11 but must be brought indoors to overwinter in colder regions. Unlike ginger root, this plant is grown as an ornamental.

Common Name Ginger lily, white ginger, garland flower
Botanical Name  Hedychium spp.
Family   Zingiberaceae
Plant Type  Herbaceous, Perennial
Mature Size 3-6 ft. tall, 3-5 ft. wide
Sun Exposure  Full to partial
Soil Type  Moist, Well-drained 
Soil pH  Neutral, Acidic
Bloom Time  Summer
Flower Color  White, yellow, peach, orange
Hardiness Zones  8-11 (USDA)
Native Area  Asia

Ginger Lily Care

Once established, ginger lily is easy to care for. Give this plant partial sunlight and well-drained soil with lots of organic matter. Water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist, especially after transplanting. Expect several weeks of fragrant flowers, which have a honeysuckle-like scent, in late summer or early fall. Cut flower stems right after blossoms open for the best fragrance indoors.


Plant ginger lily in a location that receives no more than four hours of direct sunlight per day. A location with partial sun, morning sunlight, or bright, dappled light will also work. Too much direct sun can cause the plant's leaves to curl.


Choose a planting location with moist, well-drained soil—you don't want to overwater the flower, as this can lead to root rot. If you have a pond, consider planting there, as this plant often grows well near still water. Add plenty of compost to the soil a few weeks before planting to boost organic matter, which holds in moisture and provides nutrients.


Water consistently to keep the soil evenly moist. Ginger lily is not a drought-tolerant plant, so you might need to water daily during extended periods of hot weather with little to no rainfall.

Temperature and Humidity

Ginger lily grows best in warm, humid tropical or subtropical regions, and the plant can live outdoors year-round in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11. In northern climates, ginger lily can be grown outdoors as a container plant during the summer months. Stems will die back with the first frost. Dig up the rhizomes in the fall and store them indoors to plant the following spring.


Feed your ginger lily with a balanced liquid plant fertilizer once per month during the growing season. Fertilize the day after a good watering to avoid burning the plant's roots. Stop watering when the plant dies back in the fall, then begin fertilizing again when new growth appears in spring.

Types of Ginger Lily

When it became popular in the Victorian period, ginger lilies could only be grown in heated greenhouses. Today, there are more than 100 cultivars with better hardiness, longer bloom periods, and flowers in shades of white, yellow, orange, and peach.

  • White ginger lily (Hedychium coronarium): The white ginger lily tends to be the most commonly available at plant nurseries and garden centers, with aromatic flowers in creamy white standing out against lush dark green foliage.
  • Hedychium 'Daniel Weeks': This particularly long-flowering hybrid ginger lily features flowers with pale edges and deep golden centers. It's one of the longest-blooming varieties, beginning as early as late July in cooler regions of the plant's growth area and continuing till fall frost.
  • Hedychium 'Anne Bishop': This orange ginger lily cultivar is a high-performing hybrid from Hawaii with large green leaves and a pleasant aroma. Its flowers start out deep orange in the heat of summer and lighten to a yellower orange as temperatures cool.


Pinch off faded flowers in late summer to encourage more blooms. Foliage doesn't need to be pruned during the growing season, but it will die back with late fall and winter frosts. Leave the dead foliage in place to insulate the rhizomes during winter, then remove the old leaves in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges.

Propagating Ginger Lily

Ginger lily is easy to propagate by dividing mature plants. In fact, you'll want to divide plants every three to four years as they become overcrowded. Be aware that some types of ginger lily are patented hybrids or cultivars, which are illegal to propagate.

It's best to propagate ginger lily in the spring when the plant is just sprouting new growth. Before you begin, you'll need a shovel, a trowel, a sharp knife, organic compost, and a water source. Here's how to propagate ginger lily.

  1. Prepare the area where you'd like to plant your new ginger lily by clearing away debris, digging down several inches into the soil, and working in organic compost.
  2. Dig around the mature ginger lily plant to make a trench surrounding the roots, then insert the shovel underneath the root ball and lift up.
  3. Remove excess soil from the root ball and look for clumps of rhizomes with leaf shoots. Use the knife to cut rhizomes into pieces about eight inches long.
  4. In the prepared bed, use the trowel to dig a small hole the size and depth of the rhizome. Plant rhizomes two to three feet apart with their leaf shoots facing up.
  5. Water the new plantings immediately, then water daily for the first few weeks after dividing.


In regions colder than USDA hardiness zone 8, you'll need to dig up ginger lily rhizomes and overwinter them indoors after frost has killed off the foliage. Store the rhizomes in paper bags in a cool, dry place that won't drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you grew the plant in a container, you can bring the entire container into a shed, garage, or greenhouse to protect it for the winter, then replant the rhizomes in the spring.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases 

Ginger lily can be affected by common plant pests like spider mites, scale, and aphids. Bacterial wilt can affect ginger lily, infecting the rhizome and causing leaves to turn yellow and wilt. Root rot caused by overly wet conditions can also affect the plant.

How to Get Ginger Lily to Bloom

A healthy ginger lily should bloom as early as midsummer in warmer regions and in late summer in cooler hardiness zones, then continue flowering until the first frost. Deadhead faded flowers regularly to encourage more vigorous blooms.

Common Problems With Ginger Lily

Ginger lily is generally a problem-free plant, but you'll want to watch out for these common problems.

Curling Leaves

Curling leaves indicate that your ginger lily is receiving too much sun. Prevent this by choosing a location that receives direct sun only in the morning or a location with partial shade or dappled shade.

Leaves Turning Brown

Brown edges on a ginger lily can indicate that the plant isn't receiving enough water. Water the plant more often and consider mulching outdoor plants to prevent the soil from drying out in hot weather.

Drooping Leaves

A bacterial wilt infection can cause ginger lily leaves to yellow and droop. Dig up, bag, and dispose of infected rhizomes and soil, then disinfect gardening tools to keep from spreading the bacteria. Avoid planting similar plants in that area for at least 18 months. Prevent bacterial wilt by planting disease-free seed rhizomes from a reputable source.

  • Does ginger lily come back every year?

    Yes, if the climate is warm enough. Ginger lily is a perennial in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11. In colder climates, the ginger lily must be brought indoors for winter.

  • What’s the difference between ginger lily and ginger root?

    Ginger lily and ginger root are both members of the ginger family, but they are different plants. Ginger lily is known for its fragrant white flowers, while ginger root is harvested as a food plant for its spicy, flavorful rhizome.

  • Is ginger lily invasive?

    Ginger lily is considered invasive in Hawaii and other tropical wetland regions outside of its native area.

Article Sources
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  1. Ginger lily. Clemson Cooperative Extension.

  2. Bacterial Wilt of Ginger and Ginger Relatives.