Gardeners have always enjoyed and admired plants with blue flowers, possibly because of the apparent scarcity of blue, relative to all the other hues. Blue Ginger is a sub-tropical, perennial herb from Brazil that has attractive two-tone blue flowers with prominent yellow stamens in the centre of each flower.
It graces many gardens in the warm, frost-free, sub-tropical parts of the country where the blue flowers feature from late summer into the autumn months. The plants grow into large bamboo-like clumps comprising of erect stems reaching two metres or more. The soft, fleshy stems emerge from a Rhizomatous root stock that grows just below ground level. Whorls of glossy green leaves with purple bases on the mid ribs top the cane-like stems.
During late summer terminal flower buds emerge in the form of a dense raceme. Each inflorescence carries many individual short-stemmed flowers approximately 1-2cm in diameter that often bloom until autumn.
Blue Ginger plants have relatively shallow root systems and grow remarkably well in shallow soils underneath established trees. This makes them useful subjects for mature gardens filled with large shade trees. They grow best in rich, loamy soils and need plenty of water during dry periods. Regular feeding every 4-6 weeks, using a plant fertiliser with high potassium content and a thick mulch of dry leaves or compost, ensures vigorous growth and healthy plants.
Plants propagate relatively easily from dividing the rhizomes in early spring or taking cuttings in summer. Old or untidy stems can be pruned down to ground level in early spring.
This plant is actually a giant member of the Wandering Jew family, better known for many low-growing ground cover plants as well as a few weeds. However Dichorisandra Thyrsiflora, or Blue Ginger, is the complete antithesis – stately and striking, it is a welcome addition to shaded gardens in frost free regions.