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Alpinia zerumbet or purpurata is an evergreen tropical plant, native to Central and South America and Asia. It forms a dense and compact head of elongated, pointed leaves, of an intense green color, stiff and shiny; the leaves are erect, they tend to arch and grow longer, they grow up to 30-40 cm; produces a long erect stem, which bears a panicle inflorescence, consisting of bracts intensely colored in red or fuchsia rose; in spring, small white or cream-white flowers bloom from the bracts. This plant produces a fleshy rhizome, which widens considerably; in areas with very mild winters, such as Sicily and Sardinia, it could also be grown in the garden, where it tends to grow vigorously, up to 100-150 cm. All parts of the plant are very aromatic and smell of ginger; they are also very suitable for producing cut flowers.
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The Alpinia zerumbet should be kept in a bright place, with a few hours a day of direct light; they are grown as houseplants, although they can withstand temperatures close to zero. It is advisable to shade them in the hottest and most humid periods of the year to prevent direct sunlight from ruining the leaves. The ideal temperature for the cultivation of these plants is around 20 ° C, they can be placed outdoors when the minimum temperatures are above 15 ° C.
For a good growth of this plant water regularly, waiting for the soil to dry slightly between one watering and another, often vaporizing the leaves, especially during periods of prolonged drought and during the months of the year in which the heating system domestic is active. Check that no water stagnation forms in the ground that can cause dangerous radical rot.
Every 10-20 days, mix the flower water with the fertilizer for flowering plants.
For the planting of the alpinia zerumbet use a soft, cool and well-drained soil; the mountaineers develop a fairly expanded root system, from which new shoots continually grow, which give rise to new plants: it is therefore good to place them in sufficiently large containers, to ensure a balanced development. Repotting should be done in spring, using a good rich and draining soil.
The multiplication of these plants occurs by seed, in spring; basal shoots can be removed from the mother plant, taking care to maintain some well-developed roots for each portion practiced; the new plants thus obtained are immediately repotted individually.
Alpinia zerumbet: Pests and diseases
Plants of this particular variety can be affected by cochineal and mites. To eliminate the mites it may be sufficient to increase the vaporization of water, a factor contrary to them. For scale insects, if the infestation is reduced, it is possible to intervene eliminating the parasites manually by using cotton or a cloth with alcohol to pass on the leaves. Otherwise it is good to use a special insecticide product easily available in garden centers.