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How to Grow and Care For Shampoo Ginger Lily Plant

NOTE: Looking to purchase shampoo ginger lily? Shop our selection of awapuhi ginger bulbs here.
blog post authorVera Kutsenko
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Shampoo ginger lily plant inflorescence in bright red color.

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There is one plant you may not have heard of unless you've visited Hawaii, the Shampoo Ginger Plant (Zingiber zerumbet), which is also known as Awapuhi Kuahiwi, Shampoo Lily, red pinecone ginger, or bitter ginger. Native to India, but was brought to Hawaii by Polynesian settlers, where its flower head (inflorescence) produces ginger-scented fluid that is still used in shampoos and conditioners. 
Historically, the roots have been used for medicinal purposes and dried to create a fragrant powder. The plant's roots (rhizomes) are edible and can be used in the same way as ginger, although they are more bitter. In Java, the leaves were wrapped around baked meat to flavor it. 
This means that you can grow this plant indoors or out to gain its benefits. Our shampoo ginger plant care guide will provide you with all the information you need to ensure your plant thrives. 

What is a Shampoo Ginger Plant

The Zingiberaceae family of ginger plants, which includes turmeric and ginger, is noted for its shampoo, conditioner, and edible root applications. Shampoo lily is not to be confused with other lilies. This wild ginger grows is a tropical plant that can grow up to 4-6 feet tall. During its growing season, from spring to late summer, it produces bright red flowers that stand 2 to 4 inches tall and give off a fresh, ginger-like scent. 
This pinecone ginger or shampoo lily gets its name from the inflorescence's pinecone shape (flower head). These pinecone-looking inflorescences start out green and are wrapped in waxy, bright green bracts that produce white flowers as they grow older. Shampoos and conditioners can be prepared with this creamy liquid substance from the inflorescence once it matures.
The roots, like ginger (zingiber officinale) and turmeric (curcuma longa), can be used as additives for flavoring food, but are a lot more bitter than their ginger equivalents. Traditionally, shampoo ginger plant bears green foliage, but there are variegated varieties of pinecone ginger whose leaves produce white and green variegated patterns.
In addition to the dramatic blooms that the shampoo ginger plant has, it also has a wide array of medicinal and culinary uses.

What are the uses and benefits of Shampoo Ginger Plant?

Zingiber zerumbet produces bright red inflorescences (flowerless green bulb that turns red and produces white flowers) with an aromatic fruit juice used in shampoo and conditioner.
Historically, the ground or ground roots of Zingiber zerumbet (rhizomes or rhizome extracts) have been used as a medicinal treatment for cuts, headaches, toothaches, and other problems. The juices are said to increase appetite. Studies have also shown that Shampoo Ginger plants exhibit antioxidant activity similar to sister plants like Ginger or Galangal.
In Java, young rhizome ends are consumed with rice as lalab. The flower buds have been boiled and consumed as vegetables. The young shoots and rhizomes, like ginger, may also be ground and used as a spice.
Besides medicinal and culinary uses, the flowers may be utilized to produce dramatic flares as cut flowers for bouquets, which last for a few weeks. Due to their vivid color, they make excellent centerpieces. 

Quick Shampoo Ginger Care Guide

Zingiber zerumbet
Shampoo ginger, awapuhi, awapuhi kuahiwi, pinecone ginger, bitter ginger,Amomum zerumbet, beehive ginger plant, wild ginger, shampoo lily
Zingiberaceae (ginger family)
Intermediate
Perennial herbaceous (not evergreen)
Moderate to Rapid
Up to 4 to 6 feet tall
Use a balanced fertilizer or one higher in (P)hosphorus to encourage blooms during growing season.
Part sun/part-shade - 4-6+ hours of bright, diffused light
Nutrient-rich, well-draining soil w/ perlite | Mildly acidic (6.1-6.5)
Summer to Early Fall
South-facing or West-facing. East-facing can also work.
Cardamom, Lemon Grass, Nasturtiums, Turmeric, Calla Lilies, Cannas
Spider mites, aphids, cardamom root grub
Ginger plants are generally not toxic to pets (dogs and cats).
Botanical Name
Common Names
Family
Difficulty
Plant Type
Growth Rate
Growth Habit
Fertilizer
Sun Exposure
Water
Soil Type & Soil pH
Propagation
Bloom Time
Window Locations (Ideal)
Companion plants
Pests
Toxicity
Where to Buy
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How to Grow Shampoo Ginger Plant

Shampoo ginger lily plant in the wild.
Image Source:Photo by phanasitti on GettyImagesShampoo ginger bright red inflorescence in its mature form carries creamy, aromatic liquid used in shampoos and conditioners.

Shampoo Ginger are deciduous plants that prefer to grow in warm and humid environments and lay dormant during the winter months. As spring approaches, dormant rhizomes (ginger-like root structures) become active and produce growth as shoots emerge from the ground.
They thrive in full sun to partial shade. In order to successfully plant them, be sure that the area does not receive direct sunlight for more than six hours. They prefer to grow in moist, well-drained soil. 

🏡 Growing Outdoors

Shampoo ginger grows best in USDA zones 9, 10, and 11, although most common ginger is suitable for zones 8 to 12. Shampoo ginger plants usually take around 10 months to mature and harvest once they are planted (although some rhizomes can be harvested after 5 months). 
Shampoo ginger loves diffused, bright light for four to six or more hours every day, but can also grow in a shaded area.
To plant Shampoo ginger, put it 24 to 36 inches apart. Maintain moist soil, especially if you live in a region with continuous, bright sunlight. If growing in a container, you will need to water more regularly to maintain humidity.
With improper watering, shampoo ginger can develop rhizome rot. They can also be susceptible to pests like spider mites and mealybugs.

💧 Water

Shampoo ginger plants love consistently moist soil, especially during their growing season from late spring to early fall. In the wintertime, keep the plant dry as it goes into dormancy. 
As a general rule of thumb, try to water your plant once a week. Water the soil directly and avoid watering the leaves to prevent fungal infections. 
Make sure to plant in a container with drainage holes. In general, using distilled water or rainwater is preferred as salts can build up if you use your tap water. 

☀️ Sunlight

They prefer to grow in a partially shaded to a deep shade area. Ideally, they should receive 4-6hrs of bright diffused light. 
If growing indoors, you can place them near South or West facing windows that receive the most sunlight throughout the day. An east-facing window will also do. North-facing windows receive the least amount of sunlight, so your Shampoo ginger may struggle there. 
If growing outdoors, plant in a part-shade/dappled shade area where the plant is able to receive bright diffused light for at least half of the day.

🌡️ Temperature and Humidity

These are tropical plants so they prefer warm and humid climates, however, they can be grown outdoors in zones as low as zone 8 and are more cold tolerant than other tropical plants. Indoors, general household temperatures will be fine for Shampoo ginger plants.
You will want to maintain temperatures at a minimum above 55 degrees Fahrenheit although these plants can tolerate temperatures at minimum 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit. 
If growing outdoors and outside of USDA zones 8-12, you will want to overwinter your plant indoors. If you’re growing in USDA zone 8, you can also add mulch during the wintertime to protect your rhizomes from frost rather than overwintering indoors. Outside of zones 8-12, in late fall, after the growing season is over, you can dig up the rhizomes (roots) and store them until the following season.
Moderate humidity of at least 50% as they are tropical plants. If your house struggles with humidity, you can encourage more moisture in several ways. You can use a small humidifier, group your plants together, or place your plant atop a tray filled with pebbles and water. You can also place your plant in commonly humid areas of the house like the bathroom (if it receives enough light!), kitchen, or laundry room area.
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🌱 Soil

Pinecone ginger prefers nutrient-dense soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH profile. 
If growing indoors, you can plant using a common houseplant soil mix and add perlite, vermiculite, or orchid bark to further ensure that excess water drains well. Make sure to plant your shampoo ginger in a pot with drainage holes to prevent the soil from getting waterlogged. This can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases.

🌻 Fertilizer

Fertilize only during the growing season. You’ll want to supply them with phosphorus-rich fertilizer (the P in NPK ratio) to encourage the growth of a healthy rhizome or bloom.
If you prefer a more natural way to approach fertilizing, you can apply a compost tea bi-weekly throughout the growing season as part of your routine shampoo ginger plant care.

Pruning and Maintenance

They are generally forgiving and fast-growing perennials. Because they grow quickly during summer-time, you may want to trim and prune to maintain the aesthetic in your yard or garden.
Although generally not a truly invasive species, it will spread very quickly and overrun other plants if it’s not given enough room to grow.

How to Propagate Shampoo Ginger Plant From Rhizome

Shampoo Ginger Plant
Image Source:Photo by momnoi by GettyImagesShampoo ginger plants love warm temperature and humidity. Keep their soil moist for healthy growth.
You can propagate this beehive ginger plant (Zingiber zerumbet) through seeds, but the seeds are often hard to come by. Propagation from the shampoo ginger rhizomes is the most common way to produce new plants.

01

Start preparing to propagate by wearing gloves and have sterilized shears nearby.

02

Dig up your plant to expose the rhizomes (roots - they look like the ginger you buy at the store).

03

You will want to cut enough of a rhizome off so that it contains several buds.

04

Allow a couple of days for the cuts to dry and callous.

05

Before you’re ready to plant, soak the roots overnight in a container with warm water.

06

Fill up a new container with equal parts compost and soil and plant the rhizomes with buds facing upwards.

07

Keep the plant indoors in a warm, sheltered area with bright indirect sunlight.

08

Water your plant consistently and feed with fertilizer bi-weekly until the rhizomes sprout.

How to Grow Shampoo Ginger Plant From Seed

Growing Shampoo Ginger plant from seed is quite rare. If you’re able to get your hands on shampoo ginger plant seeds from an authentic merchant like Neverland, follow these steps to get your shampoo plant going:

01

Take your seeds and soak them overnight in water. They should look swollen.

02

Using a seedling tray, fill it with a seed starting mix or a nutrient-dense medium.

03

Place the seeds in the medium. If you’re placing multiple seeds in one container, make sure to space them 1-2 inches apart.

04

Place your seedling tray into a warm and humid area. You can cover it with plastic wrap and place on a heated seedling tray to help with germination.

05

It can take a couple of weeks to germinate and allow for 1-2 months of growth before transplanting.

Common Shampoo Ginger Plant Pests and Disease

Shampoo ginger lily is susceptible to pests like spider mites and fungal disease like root rot.
Image Source:Improper watering and moisture levels is the most common cause of pests and disease with Shampoo Ginger Lily.

One of the most common issues for shampoo ginger plants is rhizome rot or root rot most often caused by improper watering. They can also be affected by common outdoor and indoor pests like mealybugs, spider mites as well as more plant-specific pests like cardamom root grub. We'll cover how to address some of these common issues below.

Cardamom Root Grub

These major pests can severely damage Shampoo Ginger's roots. Because they damage roots first, the symptoms are often unseen until the infestation is severe. Signs of a more severe infestation include the leaves and stems starting to turn yellow. A commercial insecticide is one of the best options to treat this.

Root Rot or Rhizome Rot/Soft Rot

If this is your first time experiencing root rot, read our full guide on root rot.
Root rot is a common issue with most plants including Shampoo Ginger plant. It’s usually caused by moist or waterlogged soil for prolonged periods of time. Symptoms can include rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and a rotten brown base. Yellow leaves are the most common sign in Shampoo ginger plants of a rhizome rot issue.
 If you’re seeing these symptoms, here’s how to treat root rot.
  • Remove the plant from the pot and gently remove the soil so you can see the root system.
  • If the roots are brown and mushy, you must take action immediately. 
  • Clean off the roots with sterile water.
  • Take sterilized scissors and trim any mushy roots if there are any healthy portions of the rhizome still left. If the majority of the rhizome are mushy and darker in color, you may need to find new rhizomes to plant. It’ll be hard to rescue.
  • You can use a fungicide to treat the roots and soil.
Once cleaned up, repot your plant in fresh houseplant soil mix.

Mealybugs

The most common symptom of mealybugs is a white residue on a plant’s leaves that resembles cotton. This residue is either egg sacs or mealybugs themselves. Other symptoms include sticky residue on leaves called honeydew which is secreted by mealybugs and can attract ants! Mealybugs, like other pests, love to suck the nutrition out of your plant.
They are able to multiply quickly and create a severe infestation that can overwhelm the plant. If you’re seeing early signs of mealybugs, quarantine your plant so these pests don’t spread over to other houseplants.
You’ll want to use a solution of one part alcohol to three parts water with some dish soap (no bleach) to wash down the entire plant. Let the plant sit a few days and repeat the process until the infestation is gone.
You can also use neem oil or insecticidal soap on the plant.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are ectoparasitic arthropods that feed on plants. They prefer hot weather along with dry conditions, and they feed on a wide range of plants. Spider mites can be red, yellow or orange, depending on species. They are tiny, but they can be seen with the naked eye.Spider mites attack plants through their leaves, sucking the nutrients out of them. They leave stalks behind as they feed. While feeding, spider mites create webbing, and drain the life from plants causing leaves on infested plants to turn yellow and brown. They can cover and kill an entire plant within a week or two if left uncontrolled in your garden.
If this is your first time managing spider mites, read our in-depth guide on how to get rid of spider mites on indoor plants.
How to spot a spider mite infestation on my Shampoo Ginger plant?
Spider mite damage is different from that of cutting insects. There won’t be a hole in a leaf, but rather large discolored areas made up of tiny dots or stippling. You may notice that your plant leaves are covered in a web-like substance as previously stated or you may notice small specks on the leaves, or if the infestation has gone further you might see leaves or whole portions of your plant start to curl and wither.

Where to buy Shampoo Ginger plant

Shampoo ginger plants have a lot of aesthetic and medicinal benefits and you can grow them indoors! If you'd like to take a stab at growing your own bitter ginger plant, check out Neverland's marketplace of vetted plant and gardening merchants.

FAQs on Shampoo Ginger Plant


Can you grow Shampoo ginger plant in a pot indoors?
Yes, you can grow Shampoo ginger plant indoors! They prefer bright, diffused light so place them near a south or west facing window.
Is shampoo ginger plant edible?
Yes, the rhizomes, inflorescence and the flowers are edible. You can use the rhizomes (roots) similar to ginger. Shampoo ginger's rhizomes are more bitter hence its common name BItter ginger.
How to store Shampoo ginger lily rhizomes?
Store rhizomes in cool, dark places similar to most other tender bulbs when overwintering.
How long does it take for shampoo ginger to grow to harvest?
They grow within 10-12 months after planting.
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