Grow and Care Tips for Red Button Ginger
Red button ginger is an eye-catching addition to the garden, with its glossy green, oval-shaped foliage, and ruby red spiky cones producing vibrant orange flowers. Hummingbirds are attracted to their red cone.
The best time to plant red button ginger is in the early spring (or year-round in tropical environments). The plant will grow slowly, blooming in its second or third year and eventually reaching a mature height of 3 to 4 feet.
Red button ginger is flowering ginger native to Central America, comprising 52 genera and 1,300 species.
Care for Red Button Ginger
Red button ginger is famous spiral ginger among gardeners in the southern United States (and Central and South America). It is low maintenance and provides year-round visual interest. It thrives in warm temperatures and tropical climates.
When planting, space each rhizome at least 18 to 24 inches apart—doing so will result in minor rhizome division in the future.
It pairs well with plants that thrive in similar conditions, including mondo grass, bush lily, hosta, Brunfelsia, and aralia.
Plant your red button ginger in a moist but well-draining soil mixture. It thrives best in a soil mixture that is both rich and moderately fertile.
By amending your soil with organic matter, you can increase its nutritional value. Additionally, red button ginger thrives in soil mixtures ranging from neutral to acidic in pH.
While red button ginger thrives in direct sunlight, it can also thrive in partial shade, especially in hot weather.
Choose a location for your red button ginger that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day.
Red button ginger is also vulnerable to sunburn if left in direct sunlight for an extended period of time, so it’s best to offer it some afternoon shade.
Red button ginger plants require at least 1 inch of water per week and should be soaked regularly to maintain moist soil.
In most climates, a once-weekly deep watering is sufficient, but you may need to increase your watering cadence if the weather is unusually hot or dry. Finally, never allow the soil to completely dry out.
Thermodynamics and Humidity
Due to its tropical origins, red button ginger thrives in warm, humid climates. If the temperature stays above 50 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, it has a good chance of flowering continuously.
Red button ginger is harder than it appears, and it can survive (though not flower) in extremely cold temperatures.
It generally wilts and recovers from light frosts. It can occasionally regrow from its roots following a severe freeze.
If you’ve planted your red button ginger in enriched soil with organic matter, such as compost, it can thrive without fertilizer.
However, if you want to give it an extra boost, you can feed it a balanced liquid fertilizer blend once a month.
Red Button Ginger Varieties
- Costus woodsonii is classified into two subspecies: the primary specimen and the dwarf type. The Costus or spiral ginger genus contains more than 150 species.
- ‘Dwarf French Kiss’ Costus woodsonii: A shorter, more compact variety that grows to a height of 24 to 36 inches; orange-red flowers.
- Costus comosus var. bakeri, commonly referred to as Red Tower Ginger: Previously known as Costus barbatus; perennial grows to a height of 6 feet in zones 9 to 11.
- Costus speciosus, also known as Crepe Ginger: Malay ginger (or crepe ginger) is a widely grown variety that is root-hardy; it has ruffled 3-inch white to pale pink flowers with a yellow center; leaves grow up to 12 inches long and have fine short-haired undersides.
- The cultivar ‘Variegatus’ (occasionally referred to as variegated crepe ginger) features large, soft, variegated leaves atop red stems that emerge from the ground.
Pruning red button ginger regularly throughout the year is an effective way to control disease and overgrowth.
Foliage damage can occur during drought or frost periods. If leaves or stems appear discolored, remove them with sterilized pruning shears.
By snipping or pulling the faded flowers from their base, including any attached leaves, deadhead, or removing faded flowers.
Additionally, cut or remove any dead or browned leaves from the stem. Prune the drooping stems’ tops.
To prevent a plant from outgrowing its container, use pruning shears to trim it to the desired height and width.
Snip away any remaining leaves and stem offshoots that contribute to the plant’s excessive width.
If pruning just before winter, cut the stem all the way to the ground; it will have a stronger chance of getting through the winter and flowering again in the spring.
Red Button Ginger Propagation
You can propagate red button ginger by division, stem cuttings, or by replanting offshoots from the parent plant in a separate container.
It makes no difference what time of year you propagate as long as the temperature and lighting conditions are favorable for the plant.
Spring, on the other hand, is generally regarded as the optimal season of the year for multiplication.
When pruning to trim out your leafy plants, you can propagate additional red button ginger plants using healthy stem cuttings.
Root division, on the other hand, is the quickest and easiest method of reproduction. Red button ginger’s root is a rhizome—a thickened tuberous root that grows horizontally just below the soil line.
If your plant is in a vase it will almost certainly need to be repotted, as it is a vigorous grower that quickly outgrows its container each year. Rather than repotting your plant, you can divide it, resulting in two plants rather than one.
Likewise, if your plant is in the ground, you can divide it to keep it from outgrowing its borders.
Propagation Via Stem Cutting
At the top of the cutting, there should be leaves. Remove the bottom 1/3 of the clipped end’s leaves.
Moisten the potting soil in the container. Plant about 1 to 2 inches below the soil line with the cut end.
Place the container in a bright (but not direct sunlight) area and cover it with a plastic bag. Each day, open the bag for about an hour to allow for air circulation. Maintain adequate moisture in the soil throughout the growing season.
The plant should root in approximately two to three weeks.
To Propagate Vegetatively Through Root Division Or Offshoots
A potting container, a sharp knife, moist potting soil, running water, a flat surface, and a garden fork will be required (optional, inground plants).
Invert the container to remove the rootball. Alternatively, if the root is in the ground, use a garden fork to loosen the soil around it.
Gently pull up the rhizomatous rootball using the garden fork and your hands; it may reach a depth of about 6 inches.
Alternatively, if offshoots appear to be growing along the plant’s base, gently separate the shoot from the parent plant. It should have a rhizome of its own.
Wash away any clinging soil with a hose or faucet. Cut cleanly through the root with a sterilized knife. Ascertain that each portion has multiple eyes with roots.
Remove and discard any rhizome or roots that are dark brown or black in color. Give the cut ends to dry for a day on a flat surface.
Additionally, if you are using an offshoot, wash it thoroughly and allow it to dry for a day.
Each divided portion of the offshoot should be replanted in moist potting soil.
How to Start a Seedling of Red Button Ginger
The white fruit of the plant produces black seeds, which are consumed and spread by birds in the wild. This plant reproduces reliably via seed. Seeds are more difficult to obtain.
Additionally, plants grown from seeds can take up to two years to flower. By and large, stem cutting and division are the quickest methods of propagation.
To sow red button ginger seeds, you will need a moistened seed starting mix or a soilless, moisture-retaining medium.
Soak the seeds overnight in room warmth water. The germination container should be packed to within 1/2 inch of the rim.
Push the seed into the potting medium’s top layer and cover with a thin layer of the seed-starting mix.
Mist the germination container finely and cover it with clear plastic wrap. Put the jar in a warm, easy-lit section (not direct sun).
A heating mat can be used to maintain a soil temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Germination can take between two and six weeks.
Take out the plastic wrap for about an hour each day to allow for air circulation, but keep the potting medium moist. When you notice any signs of new growth, completely remove the plastic wrap.
Red Button Ginger Potting and Repotting
If you choose to pot up your red button ginger, group several plants together in a large container that is at least 3 gallons in capacity and has multiple drainage holes.
It is a vigorous grower and will almost certainly require annual repotting. Maintain the original container, replenish the soil, and divide the rhizome to propagate new plants.
Red button ginger can be grown indoors as a houseplant in cooler climates. Bear in mind that containerized plants will dry out more quickly, so increase your watering frequency to once a week (maybe even twice, revolving around the position and height of the plant).
Red button ginger is frost tolerant to 30 degrees Fahrenheit when mulched. Though the plant can tolerate brief periods of frost, if temperatures drop below freezing, heavily mulch the roots to protect them from freezing or bring the plant indoors to overwinter.
During the cold months, water and feed sparingly and keep conditions above 50 F, if achievable; otherwise, it will not blossom. In subtropical surroundings, the plant will go asleep during the winter but will re-establish itself once the weather warms up.
Frequently Encountered Pests
While red button ginger is generally disease resistant, it can act as a magnet for pests. Pests such as beetles, scale, mealybug, cardamom thrips, Chinese rose beetle, and slugs may be encountered while growing it in your garden.
While no single remedy will eradicate all of these pests, you can control them with a horticultural oil such as neem oil.
Additionally, natural pest control methods such as introducing ladybugs to your garden or manually removing insects from the plants can be beneficial.
Additionally, insecticides are an option, though there is unlikely to be a blend that will eradicate all of these pests simultaneously.
How to Grow Red Button Ginger
The exotic, vibrant red-orange, waxy spiraling blooms of red button ginger are borne on thick, upright stems. Although its flowers are not fragrant, it produces extrafloral nectar on flower spikes, which attracts ants that harvest the nectar.
In exchange, the ants shield the plant from flies and other flying insect larvae that lay their eggs in the flowers. If the conditions are right, the red button ginger blooms all year.
If your plant is having difficulty blooming, ensure that it is not exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Move the plant indoors over the winter season to maintain its blooms or to increase the likelihood of flowering.
If you want to improve the likelihood of flowering, choose a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. While deadheading improves the appearance of the plant, it does not promote new blooms.
Frequently Asked Questions About Red Button Ginger
Red button ginger is a disease- and pest-free variety. Typically, a change in environmental conditions causes a plant to develop health problems.
If the leaf edges of your plant become brown, it may have been submerged or exposed to cold temperatures or drafts.
Increase the water supply, increase the humidity, keep the plant out of drafts, or bring the plant indoors to remedy the situation.
If all other growing conditions are favorable, you may also give it balanced fertilizer to aid in the regrowth of the leaves.
It is natural for the leaves of red button ginger to turn brown and die back when temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Curling or Rolling Leaves
Bacterial wilt causes curling and rolling of the leaves, beginning with the lower leaves. As the disease advances, the leaves may turn yellow and then brown.
Early shoots may rot and become soft. Additionally, you may notice stunted growth and a grayish-brown discoloration of the rhizomes and stems due to waterlogging.
In severe cases, the rhizome of the root may rot. If the plant has bacterial wilt, a slimy ooze will be visible when a small cut is made at the base of the stem.
Yellowing of the Plant
Bacterial wilt can cause a plant to turn yellow, but the leaves quickly turn brown. A secondary cause of complete leaf yellowing is dry rot or rhizome rot.
It is a fungal infection that typically occurs as a result of excessive watering, soggy soil, or excessively humid conditions.
If your plant is infected with this disease, which results in mushy, decomposing root rot, you must pull it up and destroy it. This soil-borne fungal disease can infect nearby plants.