|Hexastylis arofolia, a.k.a. Wild Ginger. Photo by BlueRidgeKitties.|
Hello, fellow gardeners!
I am hoping to benefit from your wisdom with a new series of posts called "Would You Plant..."
These posts will cover plants that intrigue me, that I'd like to add to my garden, but with which I have zero experience.
I'd like to get your opinions (ideally, but not necessarily, grounded in personal experience) as to the merits or demerits of these plants.
So the first one I'm considering is Hexastylis arifolia, a.k.a. Wild Ginger. Another common name is "Little Brown Jug", which refers to the small pitcher-shaped flowers that appear at the base of the stems.
- Native to the Southeast
- Evergreen groundcover (I'm looking for groundcovers that will stay green year round, protecting the soil and blocking winter weeds)
- Reportedly hardy to zone
- Beautiful patterned/mottled foliage
- Really cool and unusual flowers
- It does not appear to grow very thickly. Would it be thick enough to suppress weeds?
- I'm not sure how quickly it would grow to cover ground. I think gingers generally grow kind of slowly. On the other hand, this should make it easier to make sure it doesn't get out of control.
- Slug damage can reportedly be a problem. I'd probably try stopping the slugs in their tracks with diatomaceous earth if that became an issue.
- Wild gingers reportedly need at least partial shade and will grow in full shade. I think they prefer moist soil, but I hope they would do OK in dryer soil if given enough shade and/or supplemental irrigation in case of a drought.
- Wild ginger in the Hexastylis or Asarum genuses are NOT the same as the edible culinary ginger Zingiber officinale. Native to tropical Asia, Z. officinale reportedly is only hardy to zone 8 and thus would not survive a Middle Tennessee winter. Is Hexastylis arifolia edible? I have no idea. You can read conflicting information on the Internet as to whether Asarum (which I believe is closely-related botanically to Hexastylis) is safe or poisonous. Personally, I am not planning to eat any Hexastylis or Asarum roots. I'm just interested in using Hexastylis for ornamental purposes.
Here are some of the sources I found while researching Hexastylis arifolia:
- Clemson Cooperative Extension (Incidentally, Clemson seems to believe using the ornamental ginger in cooking is OK: "Wild ginger does not refer to the culinary ginger (Zingiber officinale) that is used in stir-fry and ginger ale. However, its fleshy root does have a spicy aroma and can be substituted for culinary ginger in your favorite Asian recipe.")
- The Annotated Flora
- Using Georgia Native Plants - Talks about the role that ants reportedly play in dispersing H. arifolia seeds!
Where to Buy:
- If I end up buying Hexastylis arifolia, I'll probably order it from Woodlanders.
So have you grown any of the Hexastylis or Asarum ornamental gingers?
If so, I'd love to hear about your experiences in the Comments section below.
If not, do you think you might add one of these native ornamental gingers to your garden someday based on the pros-and-cons above or would you steer clear? Why or why not?