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Hedychium coronarium Butterfly Ginger

Edward F. Gilman


The butterfly ginger is one of the nicest gingers for the home landscape because its fragrance is so enjoyable (Figure 1). Pure white, showy flowers emerge from one large bud some time in late spring through summer at the tip of each unbranched stem. Each flower lasts about one day. Several hundred flowers can appear from each bud during a 6-week period. Each stem grows to about 5-feet-tall. These herbaceous perennials spread by underground rhizomes, often forming dense clumps of multiple stems. Large, simple leaves are borne on either side of the thick green stems. Unfortunately, individual flowers do not last after they are cut from the plant.
Figure 1. Butterfly ginger.
Figure 1.  Butterfly ginger.


General Information

Scientific name: Hedychium coronarium
Pronunciation: hee-DICK-ee-um kor-oh-NAIR-ee-um
Common name(s): butterfly ginger
Family: Zinziberaceae
Plant type: herbaceous
USDA hardiness zones: 8B through 11 (Figure 2)
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: border; mass planting; suitable for growing indoors
Availablity: grown in small quantities by a small number of nurseries
Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 4 to 5 feet
Spread: 4 to 6 feet
Plant habit: upright
Plant density: open
Growth rate: fast
Texture: coarse


Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: undulate
Leaf shape: lanceolate; oblong
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 8 to 12 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: white
Flower characteristic: pleasant fragrance; summer flowering; fall flowering


Fruit shape: unknown
Fruit length: unknown
Fruit cover: unknown
Fruit color: unknown
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: green
Current year stem/twig thickness: very thick


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: occasionally wet; acidic; slightly alkaline; sand; loam; clay
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: unknown
Plant spacing: 24 to 36 inches


Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: aggressive, spreading plant
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Place butterfly ginger near a walk or window so the fragrance can be enjoyed. The foliage texture makes them nicely suited for creating an accent in a shrub border when it is not in flower.
Plants grown in full sun or partial shade flower best. Those in the shade often grow but few flower buds are produced. Rhizomes can be dug any time and divided for propagation.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or disease normally restrict use of this plant in Florida landscapes.

Publication #FPS-240

Date: 6/3/2015

Related Collections

Part of Shrubs Fact Sheets

Related Topics

  • Critical Issue: Agricultural and Food Systems
Organism ID

About this Publication

This document is FPS-240, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman