Hedychium coronarium, also known as Butterfly Ginger, is a small plant native to India and Indonesia. It grows to be 2-5 ft tall and wide and requires full sun or semi-shade exposure and moist, well-drained soil. In the summer and fall, it produces off-white or white, fragrant flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. It is popular in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, where it is often used in leis or worn in the hair. It is also a good cut flower for scenting the home.
This ginger plant has medicinal properties and is used to treat colds, headaches, arthritis, and injuries. It is known to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. It is USDA hardy in Zones 8 to 10, but it is not frost hardy and may suffer damage at lower temperatures. In regions with colder climates, it is best to grow the plant in a pot and bring it indoors during the winter months.
To propagate Hedychium coronarium, divide the plant in late winter or early spring. Cuttings may also be taken in late spring to mid-summer and rooted in soil. To keep the plant healthy, keep the soil moist at all times and fertilize weekly with a balanced fertilizer. After the flowers have faded, remove old stems to promote new growth. It is a popular plant in the house gardens of the Dai people along the Mekong river and is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Alpinia alba.