Hedychium coronarium

Kamia, white ginger, ginger lily. 1 at P100. This native of India has green stalks which grow to 1.5 m. Its beautiful rich green foliage makes a great background for smaller plants. Its flowers are white, spicily fragrant: a treat on warm evenings and through most of the day. Nectar-bearing, the flowers are attractive to butterflies. Stems that have flowered will remain green for a year or more, but they can be removed when the flowers have faded to promote new growth. Easy to propagate, it should be dug up, divided, with the roots cut into 20 cm pieces, and replanted.


Yellow ginger. A native to the eastern Himalayas, this was once thought to be a form of H. coronarium but is now recognized as a species in its own right. A tall plant growing to about 2 m, it produces a cone-like spike of large, creamy yellow flowers that are reddish yellow at the base. The flowers have a spicy, citrus-flower scent.

Heliconia rostrata

Hanging lobster’s claw. I started out with three of these. This native of the American tropics needs rich soil (which should be manured frequently according to the books), plenty of water (but good drainage) and sunlight. Each plant stalk flowers once and should be cut to the ground when the bloom fades. The Heliconia is propagated from rhizomes, which spread rapidly. It has striking pendent inflorescences, which may be up to 30 cm long, with yellow-and-green-tipped red-orange bracts.

Heliconia stricta 'Dwarf Jamaican Red'

Plant for the shade (but see also below). This heliconia only grows to about 50 cm high with bright red lobster-claw flowers. Both my supplier and internet sources say that this plant can grow in the full sun and in partial to full shade. It has large red, dark-green lipped “flowers” that are attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. They are also good as cuttings. The leaves have reddish central ribs.

The plants requires consistently moist soil and should not be allowed to dry out between waterings.

Heliconias have South American origins.

Heliconia wagneriana

Lobster’s claw. The inflorescences of H. wagneriana are borne upright. As with all Heliconias, the bracts carry the fairly insignificant flowers. Mostly native to the Americas, Warren says that the Heliconias are pollinated exclusively by hummingbirds. They bear fruit inside the bract and carry seeds when this happens. Propagation is by germination of seeds, or from rhizomes.

Hibiscus moscheutos, dwarf hybrid

H. moscheutos, a native to the wetlands of eastern United States, is extensively hybridized. Depending on the variety, the specimens can range in height from 50 cm to 2 meters. I understand that the specimen I have is a dwarf; at less than a foot high, it is already flowering very well. However, although internet sources say that the flowers even of the dwarf varieties can be huge, my plant has small magenta flowers only about 3 inches across. I love its unopened flower buds (see photo).

The plant may tolerate light shade for part of the day but it really prefers full sun. It can make do with average garden soil, but it will benefit from fertile soil with lots of organic matter and responds positively to yearly top dressings of compost as well as an organic mulch. While it likes moderately moist to wet soil, it can put up with a bit of drought and does not necessarily need more water than most other garden flowers. It should be fertilized every two months or so.

The H. moscheutos can be propagated from seed or from tip cuttings. The cuttings should be misted regularly. (Source: http://journeysandjonquils.blogspot.com/2010/08/plant-care-profile-swamp-rose-mallow.html.)

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Snow Queen'

Variegated gumamela. A vigorous shrub with marbled or mottled green and white leaves. Flowers are single and rose-pink.


Gumamela. I started out with 5 local and 5 imported varieties in 2003. These include types with a single row of petals: white; pink with pink-red centre; dark orange with red orange centre and yellow stamens (single); light peach with dark peach-pink centre; yellow-orange with light yellow-orange centre, dark orange stamens; light yellow with pink veins and pink wash towards centre, yellow stamens.

The hibiscus likes the full sun and should be protected from strong winds. It should be watered regularly (and certainly when the foliage begins to flag a little) but should not be allowed to waterlog. Regular use of soluble complete fertilizers and with chelated trace elements will ensure healthy growth.

The hibiscus can be propaged by seeds, tip cuttings, eyebud cuttings, marcotting (about a foot and a half from the tip of a branch when the rains start) and grafting. Cuttings root in six weeks and flower in nine months. Buds appearing on cuttings should be removed to promote healthy growth.

Hyophorbe lagenicaulis, Mascarena lagenicaulis

Champagne palm. Bottle palm. 3 at P3,000; 1 at P1,500. This small palm will grow slowly to a height of 3.5 m. The trunk is a rounded bulge in young specimens and gradually elongates and flattens somewhat as the palm matures. It bears cream male and female flowers on the same inflorescence, with the flower stalk coming from below the crown shaft. The flowers are followed by black oval fruit of about 4 cm. My plants have leaves that are yellowing.