If you are looking for a shade-loving plant to fill a gap in the landscape, you might want to try a wild ginger. Wild ginger is a cool weather, perennial with a dizzying array of leaf patterns and colors, making it an especially attractive specimen for the shade garden or as container plants. One of the more spectacular specimens is Asarum maximum, or Panda Face ginger.
Panda Face Ginger Info
Wild gingers can be found all around the globe, but those that are cultivated for their ornamental value are primarily from the shaded woodlands of Asia and North America. Native growing Panda Face ginger can be found in Hubei and Sichuan, China, specifically.
Although unrelated to culinary ginger (Zingiber officinale), this wild ginger’s root does have a spicy scent and can be substituted in Asian culinary creations…not, that I am suggesting you dig this little beauty up!
Additional Panda Face ginger info is in relation to its particular characteristics. As the name suggests, Panda Face ginger is named due to its notable blooms, which appear in mid to late spring. Most wild ginger flowers tend to get lost amongst the foliage, but not Panda Face ginger.
Blooms on a growing Panda Face ginger are white and trumpet shaped, edged with black and reminiscent of a panda bear. The flowers nestle amongst clumps of shiny, heart-shaped leaves of dark green fluted or marbled with silver tones which look much akin to Cyclamen foliage.
A delightful specimen for addition into the shade garden, the question is how to grow Panda Ginger plants?
How to Grow Panda Ginger Plants
Panda Face wild ginger is suitable in the United States between zones 7-9. These plants are hardy evergreens in climates that mimic those of their origins. Native to low elevation forests in China, the ginger is hardy to 5-10 degrees F. (-15 to -12 C) and is, thus, a great addition for a cool greenhouse in cold climates. That said, it is fairly tolerant of hot, humid summer temps.
When growing Panda Face wild ginger in the open garden, be sure to select an area of part to full shade. Plant the ginger in fertile, moist, humus rich and well-draining soil. Keep the plant uniformly moist during the summer months.
Although slow to moderate in its growth habitat, all wild ginger varieties will eventually spread out, creating a lovely carpet of foliage. Wild ginger spreads via underground rhizomes. These rhizomes can be split to create new plants to move to other areas of the garden. Cut sections of the rhizome into 2- to 3-inch pieces in the spring.
Propagation can also be accomplished by planting seeds; however, wild ginger needs at least 3 weeks of cold stratification prior to germination. Therefore, if direct sowing, plant in the garden during the late winter months, up until a month before the last frost date.
Inside, wild ginger can be stratified by placing the seeds in a bag of moist sphagnum moss and putting them in the freezer for 3 weeks prior to sowing in flats or pots. For best germination results, keep the temperature of the growing medium warm, between 65-70 degrees F./18-21 degrees C. for 2-4 weeks.
When the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them into pots and move those out into a cold frame for the first year.
Panda Ginger Care
Additional Panda ginger care indicates that not only is it a wonderful shade-loving specimen for a woodland garden or border, but it also thrives in containers. The plants will very likely need to be watered more frequently when kept in a container.
Although the deer are not interested in this wild ginger, the slugs most assuredly are! Growing Panda Face ginger in a container can keep the plant from being besieged by these pests, or slug control/bait may be necessary. Using diatomaceous earth sprinkled around the plants helps.
The only feeding this wild ginger will need is a top dressing applied during the spring, provided the plant is in compost rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soil.