Alpinia – bright foliage and magnificent inflorescences-Care

Among indoor plants that boast bright and variegated foliage, alpinia claims to be not only the rarest, but also the most original culture. It simultaneously reminds of bamboos and arrowroot calatheas, and sometimes even vriezia. True, it looks like the latter only with its inflorescences. Luxurious leaves, most often covered with variegated contrasting stripes, look so modern that it is impossible not to admire the beauty of their impeccable patterns and brilliance.

Alpinia – bright foliage and magnificent inflorescences

This non-standard, first of all, a medicinal plant, requires a lot of space and cannot stand dry air. But its bright appearance and ability to bloom with almost no effort and special conditions of detention are worth trying to grow it.


Alpinia – indoor transformation of a rare medicinal exotic

Alpinia is a genus of amazing medicinal plants. They even got their name in honor of the legendary Italian physician and scientist Prospero Alpino, who discovered many rare medicinal species during his travels to tropical countries.

Alpines are common only in tropical climates, in the southeast of Asia, but the number of their species is simply amazing. Alpines are represented by more than two hundred species. This plant is considered to be one of the most famous plants in Thailand.

Belongs to representatives of the genus Alpinia (Alpine) to a vivid family of herbaceous perennials with very aromatic roots – Ginger (Zingiberaceae). They are also known as galanga, Chinese ginger, ginger herb, and calanga officinalis.

Alpines are large, fast-growing (often outwardly more like shrubs) herbaceous perennials. They grow in the form of a dense, dense turf of 10-40 pseudostems, fairly straight, strong, never branching shoots.

Somewhat reminiscent of the roots of bearded irises, the tuberous roots of alpines are powerful, horizontally located, densely branching into segments, up to 2 cm thick, with annular scars, reddish, with a few adventitious roots.

New shoots of alpinia are releasing relentlessly, until 40 stems are built on one plant. Each segment or branch of the rhizome produces only one shoot.

Alpine leaves are large, lanceolate, with a large central vein, often with a narrowed base and a graceful tip. They tightly clasp the stem and are located on the shoots in two rows, strictly alternately.

The basic rich dark green tone is very rare in indoor alpines. Indeed, basically, they are represented by variegated varieties, the leaves of which are decorated with a variety of light stripes and strokes diagonally located to the central vein, creating the effect of variegated ripples.

All leaves emit a strong aroma when rubbed, as do roots when injured or contacted.

Blooming alpinia officinalis (Alpinia officinarum)Blooming alpinia officinalis (Alpinia officinarum). Farmer TAXONOMIA

Alpinia bloom

Unlike many exotic plants that bloom in indoor conditions extremely rarely and require the creation of certain specific conditions for flowering, alpinias bloom readily enough and without any special incentives.

Alpine flower stalks are capable of growing up to 1,5 m in nature. Indoor alpines are much more modest even in this parameter, but flower stalks are always approximately twice as long as leaf shoots. And the length of the inflorescences on them ranges from 10 to 30 cm, while the older the plant, the longer and larger the peduncles.

The apical spikelets, brushes or panicles are never too dense, often drooping under the weight of the flowers. There are short, dense, erect panicles among the alpines, in many ways reminiscent of the flowering of bromeliads because of the bright stipules. But still, the brushes of most alpines are more reminiscent of orchids. Regardless of the flowering characteristics of a plant with such luxurious leaves, large inflorescences seem very exotic.

Alpine flowers are asymmetric, outwardly very reminiscent of shells or peculiar orchids, with a short tube, an elliptical calyx, a short three-lobed corolla and a petal lip, usually several times wider than the corolla share and pleasantly surprising with bright colors and patterns. The white or red bracts are large and bright.

This unique plant blooms, as a rule, only in the summer in a room culture, but different species can bloom in different months, and the conditions of detention often shift the period by several weeks.

In room culture, alpinias are represented mainly by variegated varieties.In room culture, alpinias are represented mainly by variegated varieties. Farmer The House Plant Nursery

Popular types of indoor alpines

In indoor culture, the most common plants in nature and cultivated in Asia are poorly represented. The business card of the genus alpinia officinalis (Alpinia officinarum), the appearance of which is a reference due to large lanceolate sessile leaves and dense apical panicles of inflorescences – one of the most versatile medicinal crops in the arsenal of oriental medicine.

Having become famous for its use in the treatment of cholera and malaria, it is still widely used today – from the treatment of digestive problems and diseases of the digestive tract to toothache, headache and even seasickness.

Basically, the healing properties are characteristic of the roots of the plant, containing unique resins and essential oils of spicy and bright odors, which are also used to flavor fish, meat dishes and alcoholic beverages. But at home it is not worth experimenting with collecting them from plants, drying and using them, preferring ready-made spices.

Among the alpines there are also more compact and originally flowering relatives.

Alpinia tape (Alpinia vittata, deprecated synonym name – alpinia sandera (Alpinia sanderae) – one of the most popular and compact types of alpine. Even in nature, the maximum plant height is limited to 80 cm, but in a room this type of alpine can be limited to half a meter in size.

Densely leafy shoots, linear up to 15 cm in length, with narrow dark green leaves, on the surface of which white stripes stand out brightly. The apical panicles of the inflorescences of bright pink flowers appear dazzling and very dense.

Alpinia Cerumbet (Alpinia zerumbet) Is the most interesting species in terms of the variability of patterns on the leaves. Stems are tall, with lanceolate leaves narrowed at the base and unique long drooping clusters of bell-shaped cream flowers with an original yellow-pink lip. A variety of wide or narrow light yellowish, creamy and white stripes are characteristic of all varieties and the base form of variegated.

Alpinia purple (Alpinia purpurata) Is a very beautiful and austere species with a symmetrical arrangement of oval-lanceolate leaves, not as narrow as those of other alpine leaves resembling ficuses. The unique red bracts around the white flowers make the narrow panicles of the inflorescence very bright.

Alpinia tape (Alpinia vittata)Alpinia tape (Alpinia vittata). Farmer Francisco Alba

Rare types of indoor alpines

Alpinia spur (Alpinia calcarataformerly known as alpinia bracts (Alpinia bracteata) Is an original species, whose shoots are capable of growing up to a meter in height, with long-petiolate, lanceolate leaves up to 50 cm in length, the color of which brightens closer to the edges of the leaf plates.

This type of alpine produces orchid-like flowers in drooping long clusters of inflorescences. Green, dry and brittle bracts accentuate the beauty of the unique flower with a light beige corolla and a red and yellow lip.

Alpinia Kawakami (Alpinia kawakamii, synonym name – alpinia elveza (Alpinia elwesii) – the original species with sessile, long, linear leaves. Straight brushes of inflorescences are very wide, consist of dozens of flowers with a long tube, a white corolla, cilia along the edge of the lobes and an oval large lip with reddish patterns.

Alpinia blunted (Alpinia mutica) – a beautiful species with dark, half-meter, narrow spear-shaped leaves and sparse panicles with original white flowers with a unique wide, spotted yellow-orange-red lip.

The smallest of all alpine species remains alpinia yellow-fruited (Alpinia luteocarpa), whose stems with narrow, lanceolate, red-colored leaves with a strongly pointed tip resemble the frond of pinnate palms. The dense arrangement of beats only emphasizes this effect. Loose clusters of inflorescences with white-red corolla petals look very bright.

Growing conditions for indoor alpines

Alpinia always looks compact and charmingly dense, especially when young bushes of fashionable variegated varieties are displayed on the shelves. But this plant very quickly reveals its true size and true character. Large, powerful, fast growing alpines, even with appropriate control measures, still remain one of the most aggressively growing plants. Moreover, they love free space and require very careful selection of the placement.

The transformation of the alpinia from a small miracle, restrained and often treated with inhibitors, into a true giant is an amazing sight. And the larger this plant becomes, the more decorative it is.

Alpines are rather demanding on free space and a single point of care. Otherwise, they pleasantly surprise with their unpretentiousness and their ability to adapt to conditions slightly different from the ideal. This is a common heat-loving plant that, by a happy coincidence, is accustomed to living in the same temperatures that are typical for ordinary living rooms.

Alpinia zerumbetAlpinia zerumbet. Farmer sunshinehorticulture

Lighting and placement

Alpinia is photophilous, but not so much that it was difficult for her to find a comfortable place in the room. Any placement in a place with good lighting will do just fine. Alpines are good in partial shade and in diffused lighting, but they are afraid of direct sunlight.

Even in spring, at the height of the day, it is better to protect the variegated leaves of varietal alpines from the bright sun by installing diffusing screens. Alpines feel good not only on windowsills, but also near windows, they prefer eastern and western windows to southern ones (but in the latter they can be placed a little deeper in the interior).

Alpine blooming stimulates an increase in lighting. Seasonal changes in summer are usually sufficient, but moving to brighter locations can help get the plant to produce more flower stalks.

Finding a place for a mountaineer where she would be comfortable is not very easy: she loves space, an abundance of fresh air and does not tolerate cramped conditions. This beauty will not develop well and will not reveal her true beauty in large groups and in the company of giants. Alpinia is a lonely plant, or at least a conditional loner, near which it is worth leaving as much space as its own crown.

Temperature control and ventilation

The heat-loving nature of the alpines can be called legendary. This plant is accustomed to tropical climates and does not like to winter in the cool. For him, in fact, there is no need to create excellent summer and winter temperature regimes for keeping: it is enough to make sure that the alpine is in a place where the temperature never drops below 20 degrees Celsius in summer and below 15 degrees in winter.

The wintering regime at a temperature of 16 to 18 degrees is desirable, but not required, because alpines, with proper care, develop normally in normal room temperatures. But it should still be borne in mind that with a very warm winter, air humidity is a critical parameter and the plant may not withstand its fall.

Alpines are thermophilic plants. And despite the love for ventilation and fresh air, it is better not to take them out into the garden or on the balconies for a permanent stay, exposing them only on those days when there is no threat of a drop in air temperature below the minimum permissible 20 degrees. Cold drafts are unacceptable.

Alpinia purpurea (Alpinia purpurata)Alpinia purpurea (Alpinia purpurata)

Climbing care at home

The only thing that the alpinists have strict requirements for is high, or better – very high air humidity. This plant will not survive in the usual dry air of living rooms, and without additional measures, even with very careful care, it will die. But otherwise, growing it is surprisingly easy.

Watering and air humidity

Alpines are moisture-loving and in this regard do not differ from any other tropical indoor plant. They need abundant watering, which they carry out quite often in summer, and reduce in winter in accordance with the rate of soil drying.

Uniform humidity, in which only the top layer of the substrate dries out is the best option, but alpinias can withstand both short droughts and temporary waterlogging.

In winter, watering for alpines is reduced, tracking the rate of drying out of the soil and postponing watering for 1-2 days after the top layer of the substrate has dried.

If the alpine can still be forgiven for improper watering, then the lack of measures to humidify the air is usually destructive for this culture. Alpines require the creation of very high air humidity, but, fortunately, they do not at all require the installation of industrial-type humidifiers. They can be content with regular spraying, provided that these procedures are regular and frequent.

Keeping the leaves clean is a critical care item. Dust should not accumulate on luxurious large alpine leaves, so hygiene procedures should be at least weekly. Leaves can be wiped with a damp cloth or sponge, but alpinia will not refuse from washing. A warm shower stimulates plant growth and shows colors brighter, but this procedure can only be carried out by controlling the water temperature (5-10 degrees above room temperature), doing this in the spring-summer months.

Top dressing and composition of fertilizers

Alpinia can produce large leaves with luxurious patterns or classic dark green color only when the soil is fertile. Plant nutrition is very important. But you should not immediately include feeding into the care program after the first signs of growth start or after transplantation.

Top dressing for alpines 1 time in 2-3 weeks at a standard concentration is carried out not from March, but from April, completing them in October, when daylight hours begin to sharply decrease, and the number of cloudy days completely stops plant growth.

Unlike most indoor crops, alpinias, in fact, remain garden plants and do not change their habits, even in terms of the selection of fertilizers. These medicinal crops, like many of their much more frost-resistant counterparts, adore organic fertilizers. The use of preparations based on vermicompost or other types of organic fertilizers in alternation with complex preparations with a full composition with macro- and microelements is preferable.

Pruning and shaping indoor alpines

Despite the status of a beautifully flowering culture, alpinia does not depend on pruning for flowering, and the formation of this plant is an extreme measure. The only measure that this plant really needs is cutting off the faded shoots.

Pruning, except for removing damaged and dry shoots, is always best pruned to rejuvenate. The rest of the branches should be cut or touched only to completely remove them. Shortening the shoots does not lead to the growth of lateral branches, and the cut shoot dries up gradually.

Separation is considered to be the most effective way to contain, stimulate and rejuvenate alpines.

Alpines grow quickly, but you shouldn't disturb them unnecessarily.Alpines grow quickly, but you shouldn’t disturb them unnecessarily. Farmer reddit

Transplant, containers and substrate

Alpines grow quickly, but you shouldn’t disturb them unnecessarily. These plants prefer a transplant on demand, which is carried out when the plant completely fills its width allotted to it.

Alpine transplant is carried out only at the beginning of the stage of active growth. It is preferable to transplant in March, you should not postpone it until mid-spring.

For the alpinia, be sure to select wide, allowing for growth, but shallow containers.

Alpinia prefer simple but nutritious soil mixes. Particular attention should be paid to the rough, not prone to compaction, the structure of the soil, which allows powerful roots to develop normally.

For alpinia, universal substrates for ornamental deciduous plants or self-composed soils are suitable, containing sod, humus soil and quartz or coarse sand (and other loosening additives) in approximately equal proportions. The pH reaction must be neutral. Alpines do not grow very well on peat substrates.

The alpines are crossed, removing free soil and old drainage and trying not to damage the adventitious, thin roots extending from the tuberous main roots. The less contact with the roots is, the better. If you wish to carry out a division on each section, part of the whole earthen coma is preserved, cutting or breaking the bush into large parts. After transplanting, feeding is not carried out for 3 to 4 weeks.

Diseases, pests and problems in alpinia cultivation

Alpines always very brightly signal the wrong conditions of maintenance or care. Loss of decorativeness and leaf fall, depression and gradual death of shoots are the main symptoms that indicate a violation of the most important point of care for alpines – measures to maintain high levels of air humidity.

This unique plant with a high content of essential oils in tissues is resistant to pests and diseases, almost never suffers from problems typical for indoor plants.

Alpinia requires regular rejuvenation to maintain decorativeness and compactness.Alpinia requires regular rejuvenation to maintain decorativeness and compactness. Farmer GardenTags

Alpinia propagation

This plant not only loves regular rejuvenation (the recommended frequency is every 3 years), but also requires it to maintain decorativeness and compactness.

The alpinia is rejuvenated not by re-rooting cuttings, but by simply dividing old bushes into several parts. The division is carried out only in the spring, during transplantation, leaving at least 3 segments in the division. After division, alpinias develop very quickly, young bushes release shoots several times more actively than old ones.

You can grow a replacement for alpinias or expand collections by growing new bushes from seeds, however, it will take many years to achieve the true size of the plant. Alpinia seeds can be used only immediately after collection, they very quickly lose their germination.

Sowing is carried out in light soil, under glass or film. The temperature before emergence and at the stage of growing plants should not fall below 22 degrees Celsius. Plants dive after the development of the first true leaf, neatly, in low bowls.

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Anna Evans

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