Butterfly ginger lily (hedychium), a member of the ginger family, the Zingiberaceae, is a perennial native to woodlands in India and the Himalayas. This exotic beauty is valued for its attractive, fragrant flowers and distinctive foliage. When the plant blooms in the late summer until fall, it produces clusters of beautiful blooms that look like butterflies, hence the common name. The scent is delightful, reminiscent of a spicy gardenia! White is the most popular colour, but the flowers can also be orange, salmon or yellow.
But as beautiful as the flowers are, unfortunately, the flowers only lasts for a day. And if you cut them, they will wilt quickly and die.
The stalks grow to a height of 3-6 feet tall and has large, sword-shaped leaves that grow to be 2 feet long! When the flowers fade, it produces showy seed pods filled with bright red seeds.
The butterfly ginger lily is easy to grow and spreads quickly. It’s a popular landscape plant throughout Florida, California, the Caribbean and other tropical areas in the world. The plant is grown from rhizomes, a bulbous structure.
Plant in partial shade to full sun. It does best in rich, slightly acidic soil. The rich green foliage and height makes it an ideal background plant, especially for smaller plants. They look best planted in masses. Butterfly ginger lily can also be planted in containers. To get the most of the scent, plant near entrances and windows. Remove old stems after flowers have faded to promote new growth.
To propagate, simply dig it up and cut the root into 8 inch pieces and replant! And because of their robust growth, plants need to be divided annually.
Climate zones: 8-11
Fun Flower Facts about the Butterfly Ginger Lily:
- The name Hedychium came from the Greek words, “hedys” for sweet and “chios” for snow.
- Other common names include: ginger lily, kahili ginger and Garland Flower.
- The flowers and buds are edible. Add to salads.
- The butterfly ginger lily is related to the culinary ginger.
- The flowers will attract moths at night.
- In Hawaii, the flowers are used to make leis, hence the name Garland Flower.
- The fragrant flowers are used to make perfumes.
- In the world of traditional herbal medicine, the rhizomes are used to treat tonsillitis and fever.
- In some places, the butterfly ginger lily is considered an invasive weed, particularly along roadsides.