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How to Grow the Blue Ginger Plant in Australia (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora)

Blue ginger grows best in a semi-shaded spot in the garden, making it ideal for planting under trees to add some understory interest.

The blue ginger plant is not a true ginger. It comes from Brazil and has striped stems like true ginger plants. It also has rich blue flowers on tall stems and glossy dark green wide strappy leaves. 

This lovely plant flowers in late summer and throughout autumn. It grows to a height of 2.4 metres and will spread in a clump to around 1 metre in width. 

The flowers can be cut and placed into a vase to brighten up a spot inside. Just remember to be gentle with the stems as they’re quite brittle.

Light requirements

Blue ginger grows best in a semi-shaded spot in the garden, making it ideal for planting under trees to add some understory interest.

Blue Ginger Dichorisandra thyrsiflora 1 | Plant care

However, it will also grow in full sun but ideally, you want to give it some protection from the scorching afternoon sun in summer.

Temperature and humidity

Blue ginger is cold tolerant but it will grow best in and around Sydney and areas further north. The plant is frost-sensitive and will die back if exposed to frost. You can limit any damage to the rhizomes by covering the soil with a thick layer of mulch.

This should allow the plants to spring back once the weather warms up. So, you could grow this plant as far south as Melbourne if you don’t mind it dying back through winter.

As it comes from Brazil, this plant does really well in regions with moderate to high humidity such as the tropical and sub-tropical parts of eastern Australia. In these areas, it will continue to look lush and green right throughout the year.

Blue Ginger Dichorisandra thyrsiflora 2 | Plant care

Soil requirements

This plant will appreciate fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. It does need well-drained soil so keep this in mind when choosing a suitable spot in your garden.

Before planting, enrich the soil with some well-rotted compost but avoid using manures as blue ginger doesn’t need a  lot of fertiliser. 

Water requirements

Young plants do like a decent amount of moisture so should be watered to ensure that the soil stays moist.

After the plant has become well-established, it is relatively drought-tolerant and can withstand extended periods of dry weather. 

Apart from the rhizomes, the plant also has deeper water storage roots that allow it to withstand periods of dry weather.

Fertiliser

Blue ginger does not have a high demand for fertiliser and too much can cause the edges of the leaves to brown. If you’re growing this plant as an understory in fertile soil, you shouldn’t need to add any additional fertiliser.

However, if you want to give it a boost during summer and autumn, use a diluted solution of liquid fertiliser and water every four weeks or so.

Pruning

The only pruning that is required is to cut back the flower stems once they’ve finished. These can be cut right down to the ground if you wish as the plant will produce new stems from the underground rhizomes.

However, if you notice any dead or dying leaves on your plant, you can just prune these off to maintain a healthy and lush appearance.

Problems, pests and diseases

In general, you shouldn’t have too many pest and disease problems with your blue ginger plants if you provide them with the ideal growing conditions.

However, sap-sucking insects such as aphids and mealybugs may from time to time, find your plants and start feeding on them. If you notice these on your blue ginger plant, you can either hose them off with a decent blast of water or make your own white oil spray to control them.

You might also experience a problem with scale insects that will feed on the soft stems of your plant.

scale insects | Plant care

These can either be wiped off with a damp cloth or you can kill them with a cotton bud dipped in isopropyl alcohol. 

For greater infestations, homemade white oil will work equally as well as it will suffocate the pests and kill them.

The only other possible problem could be root rot which is caused by a fungal disease in the soil. Once your plant succumbs to this, there’s not much you can do to save it.

However, if you’ve heeded the advice above and planted your blue ginger in free-draining soil, you shouldn’t have this problem.

How to propagate blue ginger

Thanks to its underground rhizomes, this plant is relatively easy to propagate by just digging up a clump and dividing it, just like you would do with plants like clivias.

You can also propagate blue ginger by taking some stem cuttings. These can simply be placed in a bucket of water and kept in a shady spot in the garden.

After a few weeks, the cuttings should produce roots and can be planted in the garden.

Can you grow blue ginger in pots?

If you’re in the southern parts of the country and you want to try growing this plant, then growing it in a pot is ideal. This means that you can move the pot to a protected spot over winter so that it isn’t exposed to frost.

If you have some large evergreen or deciduous trees in your garden, you can place some large pots of the blue ginger plant around the base of these trees. They’ll put on a lovely display when they come into bloom in late summer.

If the trees are deciduous and don’t provide protection over winter, just move the pots to a more sheltered spot in your garden or bring them onto your verandah for protection.

Remember to use pots with good drainage holes and a premium potting mix. Every few years, it’s a good idea to remove the plants from their pots and divide up the clumps so that they don’t become too overcrowded.

This is especially prudent when you notice the roots starting to come through the drainage holes in the base of the pot.

You can then plant the extras in some additional pots and either place them back out into your garden or give them away to family and friends. 

Repotting is best done in early winter after the plants have finished flowering.

Blue Ginger FAQ

Is blue ginger native to Australia?

No, blue ginger is native to Brazil. 

Is blue ginger edible?

No, blue ginger is not edible as it is not a true ginger but just resembles the appearance and growth habit of ginger plants.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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