Torch Ginger is an exotic, tropical plant with large, banana-like leaves and spectacular, brilliant red flower clusters on long stalks that resemble torches that are held among the leaves. It is grown in the tropics for its very showy flower clusters and for its lush green foliage. It is a true ginger, being a member of the ginger family and its stems are sometimes used like ginger to flavor curries and soups. Etlingera elatior is a tropical rhizomatous perennial that grows to 12-15’ tall in tropical climates but much shorter in cooler climates. It is native to Malaysia and Indonesia where it is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant. Arching leafstalks to 15’ tall are clad with ribbed, leathery, leaves (to 3’ long), each having a central groove. Naked flower stalks rise directly from the rhizomes to 3’ tall, each stalk being topped by a cone-shaped inflorescence containing tiny yellow flowers over tiny fertile bracts, both of which are somewhat hidden inside of and subtended by large, drooping, showy petal-like red bracts. Flowers bloom throughout the year. Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-12 where this plant is best grown in humus-rich, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. Prefers consistently moist soils. Mulch helps maintain good soil moisture. Ornamental tropical plant. Good cut flower.
Seeds are stored in a refrigerator to maintain viability.
Growing instructions for Torch Ginger
The seeds can be sown outdoors in tropical and subtropical regions. In cooler regions, it can be grown as a container plant. They like rich, well-drained, humusy soil. Torch ginger is a tropical plant and does not like cold temperatures or frost. It is not drought tolerant and it does not like flooded soils. Plant it in an area that is sheltered from strong winds as they can damage the leaf stalks.
- Soak the seeds in warm water for several hours.
- Sow the seeds outdoors in an area with rich soil that is in full sun or part shade. Plant the seeds about ½ inch deep.
- Put some humus over the soil to retain moisture.
- Water the seeds regularly.
- Fertilize the plants regularly with a potassium rich fertilizer once a month during the growing season.