Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 48 Hedychium coronarium

Common Names: ginger lily, white butterfly ginger lily, garland flower Family: Zingiberaceae (ginger Family)
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ginger lily
The flowers of this easy-to-grow member of the ginger family resemble white butterflies but smell much better!


White butterfly ginger lily, or simply ginger lily, is a tropical perennial and a cousin of culinary ginger (Zingiber officinale) of bread, snap and ale fame. It's green stalks grow from thick rhizomes to a height of 3-7 ft (0.9-2.1 m). Leaves are lance-shaped and sharp-pointed, 8-24 in (20-61 cm) long and 2-5 in (5-12.7 cm) wide and arranged in 2 neat ranks that run the length of the stem. From midsummer through autumn the stalks are topped with 6-12 in (15.2-30.5 cm) long clusters of wonderfully fragrant white flowers that look like butterflies. The flowers eventually give way to showy seed pods chock full of bright red seeds.

ginger lily seeds
Once mature, the butterfly ginger lily seed pod splits open to release dozens of colorful red seeds.


Ginger lily, Hedychium coronarium is native to India. It is a popular landscape plant throughout Florida, the Gulf Coast, California, the Caribbean and tropical and subtropical areas worldwide. Ginger lily also is grown in mild winter temperate regions of North America and Europe where it dies back in winter but re-emerges in spring.


Light: Partial shade to full sun. Moisture: Likes rich soil with adequate moisture. Hardiness: USDA Zones 7B - 11. Ginger lily is a tropical plant. It tolerates an occasional light freeze and frost. A hard frost will kill it to the ground but it comes back quickly. Propagation: Ginger lily is easy to propagate - simply dig it up, cut the root into 8 in (20 cm) pieces and replant.


Ginger lily makes a beautiful background plant and looks great planted in large clumps at the edge of woodsy areas. Use the butterfly ginger in low wet areas where it will thrive. The fresh green foliage makes a great framework for smaller plants and works well in tubs and outdoor container plantings.

Sheri Baby
There are hybrids and selections of ginger lily available like this, the colorful H. 'Sheri Baby' (or is it 'Sherry' or 'Sherie' - I don't know...).


Easy to grow and easy to propagate. The fresh sweet scent of this plant in bloom is a real treat on warm evenings. Plant it near a patio or window so you can enjoy the gardenia-like fragrance. The flowers attract moths at night.

Combine ginger lily with its relatives in the ginger family, Zingiberaceae, to create easy growing but dramatically tropical (part) shade gardens. Pinecone ginger (Zingiber zerumbet) has similar leaves with big bulbous reproductive structures from which awaphui shampoo is made. The official ginger (Zingiber officinale) has a similar root as butterfly ginger but one that is much tastier. Shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) is a spectacular tropical flower and dancing girls ginger (Globba winitii) produces some of the cutest and showiest flowers in the garden.

Jack Scheper 11/24/97; updated 11/29/04

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Hedychium species profiled on Floridata:

Hedychium coronarium

( ginger lily, white butterfly ginger lily, garland flower )

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