The Red Backed Ginger of Australia
Below the rainforest canopies, along the borders of NSW and QLD lives a native species that is a proven survivor and also a natural beauty. It is the Alpinia caerulea, better known as Red Backed Ginger, Native Ginger or Ginger ‘Red Back’. The colours are truly remarkable, the contrast of the leaves fade from back to front, greens to maroon with the typical ginger type frond. Gardeners appreciate the Native Ginger ‘Red Back’ for the simplistic tropical-elegance within a versatile clumping but non-invasive rhizome. This ginger is a native Australian and many gardeners also take pride in growing garden plants with natural heritage.
Native Ginger as Garden Plants
The alluring colours and clumping 2m tall stature gives the plant a solid tropical appeal and the lemon-ginger flavored fruits and roots adds to the desire for this garden plant. The rhizomes for the Native Ginger ‘Red Back’ grow underground and store the water for the plant. This makes the ginger quite hardy and allows for the plant to grow back its large shiny leaves after surface damage or destruction. The shoots that sprout from the rhizomes will blossom fragrant flowers, large shiny leaves and round blue fruits. Since the Native Ginger is an understory plant, it can live well in full shade which makes it a great plant for indoors. This Ginger will also survive well in full sun positions but more frequent watering will be necessary.
How to grow Native Ginger
The Red Back likes a rich moist soil and grows well in part shade or filtered sunlight.
This Ginger will look best in a part-shaded position. It will however grow okay in full sun as long as it received plenty of water. The rhizome of the ginger draws in water and stores this moisture to help keep the plant hardy for new growth and hardy through the natural elements. The Native Ginger ‘Red Back’ thrives in humid and warm environments that allow for the rhizome to operate at top performance. The Native Ginger is a tropical perennial herb and can survive minimal cold and frost. The rhizome will grow leaves back if damaged on the surface but the rhizome cannot tolerate a continuous soggy cold soil. When oversaturated the rhizomes can be overwhelmed by bacteria or fungal based rot.
Ginger is Easy to Grow.
Ginger has a beautiful appearance and a lovely scent. Many people think growing Gingers is difficult but the reality is that anyone can grow Ginger. Whether planted in the ground or in a pot, a good, rich, soil is necessary to provide proper nutrition and moisture for the Ginger. Free drainage is important and good compost always helps. The best planting time is late winter/early spring because technically the plant thrives best when planted late dry season/early wet season. If your planting rhizomes than put your ginger root five to ten centimetres deep, with the growing buds facing up. Then just follow the Ginger’s care instructions and after about eight to ten months when you can dig up some of the plant. Next, break up the rhizomes, select a few nice ones with good growing buds for immediate replanting and keep the rest for the kitchen. The fruits are tasty too so don’t forget to make culinary use of these also.
Growing edibles in the garden is a great accomplishment for most gardeners because it develops a sense of independence. We are living in an age of ‘awareness’ and as a people, Australians have always been aware and alert. Living safely amongst the wild kingdom and taming the necessary resources is a human instinct and growing edibles is a link in our ancestry just a page past the hunter-gatherers. Nurturing beautiful little plants that grow to provide joy with taste is a feat that should make any gardener proud.