aka Summer Tulip, Thai Curcuma, Land Lotus
CH Zones: 9-11 (winter dormancy)
Size: About 2 feet tall and wide
Cultivation: Takes all light conditions, but performs best in part shade; late afternoon sun can burn the leaves. Needs moist, well-drained, humus-rich soil. Warm rainy season and dry cool season. Plant will be dormant from late fall to late spring. This is one of the last plants to emerge from dormancy in the subtropical garden. Like all gingers, Siam Tulips are propagated by division of rhizomes.
Flowers: The inflorescence is comprised of large, showy bracts with tiny flowers emerging from the axil of each bract. The one-inch blooms are purple and white with red/gold markings. The actual blooms are not as noticeable as the much showier bracts. The inflorescence appears in varied hues of white, pink, or deep fuchsia, depending on cultivar, and will be showy for months, throughout the entire growing season.
Uses: One of the most stunning members of the ginger family and a great choice for the subtropical shade garden. Especially nice planted under oaks, pine trees, or palms. Effective as a specimen in a mixed border or mass planting. With long, stiff stems, Siam Tulips make an excellent, long-lasting cut flower.
Origin: Native to Siam (Thailand), as its common name suggests, as well as other countries of Southeast Asia. In Thailand, festivals are held every summer in honor of the wild-blooming "Dok Krachiao" that blanket the landscape with the return of the rains.
Siam tulips are show-stoppers in the summer garden. It is not one of the more commonly grown perennials in Florida. It is a mystery to me as to why they are not more popular. They are pretty easy to grow and thrive in our heat and humidity.
Perhaps they are not more common because of their short growing season. Florida gardeners can be a little spoiled when it comes to that year-round growing season. But then again, caladiums have a similar dormancy period, and they are fairly popular. Perhaps it is just that these are not highly available and are quite pricy when we do find them.
Regardless, every summer, I find myself wishing I had more of these. I currently have five clumps that are large enough to divide. I just need more room to place them!
I have two varieties: a deep-fuchsia and a pink-tinged white. Wish I knew the name of these cultivars, but they don't sell them with names in my neck of the woods. I find myself tempted on a daily basis to cut the scapes and create flower arrangements with them. But I must leave my bouquets in the garden...for a little while longer, anyway.
I really could photograph these blooms all day long. Here is the aerial view of a bloom. Don't you think the bracts look like petals of a flower? Just stunning!
But it is the elevation view that shows clearly why this ginger has been dubbed the "Siam Tulip." Isn't it great to be able to grow "tulips" in Florida?!!
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