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A Floridata Plant Profile #619 Kaempferia laotica
Common Names: peacock ginger
Family: Zingiberaceae (ginger Family)
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Perennial  Tolerant of Shade and Low Light Conditions Can be Grown in Containers Has Unusual or Interesting Foliage

peacock ginger
Peacock ginger is a striking ground cover for shady areas - this variety is called 'Satin Checks'.
Kaempferia laotica has oval shaped leaves up to about 6 in (15.2 cm) across and 8 in (20.3 cm) in length that lie almost flat on the ground or just a few inches above ground. The leaves are light to medium green and most have intricate patterns in colors of burgundy and bronze. The flowers are not showy and last only a short time. They are small, four-petaled, and violet to purple in color.

There are several varieties of this species. Kaempferia 'Satin Checks' is perhaps the most beautiful cultivar. The leaves are ridged and furrowed with a satiny sheen. The pattern is deep burgundy blotches arranged in concentric bands on bright green leaves. There is a similar cultivar called 'Brush Strokes' that is not as widely available.

Kaempferia 'Shazzam' has a similar pattern of burgundy blotches, but the leaf colors are brighter with a pattern of light and dark green accented by nearly white highlights.

A miniature Kaempferia laotica variety recently has been brought to America from Southeast Asia. This plant has smaller, solid green leaves that lie flat on the ground. A grower in Houston is marketing these gingers, along with some other ground-hugging Kaempferias, as "Moss Gingers®".

Kaempferias are native to southeast Asia.

The rhizomes should be planted about 1/2 in (1.3 cm) below the soil surface in organic, moist but well drained soil. Place them flat, and aim the old stem scars upward. The plants will go dormant in cool weather in fall, and will not reappear until mid spring.
Light: Requires shady situations.
Moisture: Provide regular moisture in well drained soil during the growing season.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11.
Propagation: Increase by division or by cutting pieces of the dormant rhizome.

Kaempferias are great substitutes for hostas (Hosta spp.) in the Deep South where these plants are difficult to grow. Most varieties spread quickly to form a good ground cover in shady areas.

The plants may be used as container plants on shady patios or indoors in bright indirect light. The flowers are not suitable as cut flowers.

Beautiful foliage patterns make this an excellent ground cover.

Dave Skinner 1/22/99; updated 2/21/04

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