How to Grow and Care for the Shampoo Ginger Plant

Shampoo Ginger (Zingiber zerumbet) has several other famous names, such as Pinecone Ginger, Ginger Lilly, and Shampoo Plant, among others.

Exuberant in form and color and easy to cultivate, it is a perfect addition to tropical landscaping projects. In recent years, its demand as a pot plant and as a decoration as a cut plant has dramatically increased.

This ginger, also known as Awapuhi Plant, is a robust and perennial plant belonging to the Zingiberaceae family. Resistant to handling pests, and diseases, it can be grown in different places with high production. It can generate up to 100 flower stems per year in each clump.

It is a plant in demand worldwide, mainly for its beauty and ornamental character. It is also because of its applicability as a plant for medicinal, food, and cosmetic use, mainly by the industry. Native to Malaysia, currently, the most significant producers are the Philippines, Thailand, the United States (Hawaii), Jamaica, Colombia, and Ecuador.

What is a Shampoo Ginger Plant?

The Zingiber zerumbet has inflorescences in dense spikes supported by firm stems originating directly from the rhizome, in an elongated shape similar to a small pineapple, with green and red bracts, with yellow flowers; it multiplies easily by dividing the clump at any time of the year.

It is long stems are slightly arched and grow directly from the rhizomes. It has several lance-shaped, laminar, dark green leaves with a thick, leathery texture. There is a cultivar of the ‘Variegata’ type, with leaves spotted with yellowish-white cream. However, each leaf varies in its amount of variegation – some are green with golden streaks or creamy yellow, and others are yellow with green stripes.

It is inflorescences are set in long and slightly curved terminal racemes, with waxy flowers with a calyx and white corolla, usually yellowish internally. They appear mainly in summer and also in autumn. Its inflorescence, after harvest, is widely used as an ornament in tropical arrangements.

In gardens, it is generally used as an isolated clump or in groups aiming at the formation of massive, in the form of a row bordering walls, walls, and fences. Often, in landscape projects, it is used together with heliconias and green foliage.

It is a plant of easy cultivation with fast growth and ease in cultural treatment. But cultural treatments are welcome, such as frequent fertilization (especially in early spring) and constant irrigation. It is vital to control diseases and pests such as mites, nematodes, ants, and aphids. The occurrence of root and rhizome rot is facilitated in crops installed in places with insufficient drainage.

Although you can plant and divide it year-round, Lilly Ginger has the possibility of going dormant during the winter (below 10ºC). Therefore, it is best to protect plants in greenhouses during periods of severe cold. What is a Shampoo Ginger Plant: image

Simplified Botanical Description: A plant of the Zingiberaceae family, with an herbaceous habit, measuring up to 2.5 m in height; erect and robust stems, which form clumps. The leaves are dark green, elongated, and velvety on the underside.

The inflorescences are spiky and cylindrical, measuring between 40 and 50 cm in height, which sprout directly from the rhizomes, hence the impression that they are born directly from the ground, without connection to the mother plant. Each inflorescence brings together dozens of small white or yellowish flowers, covered by color bracts, initially yellowish, changing to intense red as senescence progresses.

Shampoo Ginger uses and benefits

The most expressive use of this species worrldwide is as an ornamental plant, mainly for cut flower production. It is also widely used in garden ornamentation and planted indoors in pots.

Ginger Shampoo is widely cultivated in Southeast Asia as a medicinal plant and spice. The roots are sold at local Java and Southwest Asia markets.

The most used method of medicine is the decoction of the rhizome, which serves in the treatment of asthma and as a carminative for colic. Local communities also employ it as a “hot” remedy for coughs, asthma, worms, leprosy, and other skin conditions. The rhizome is applied externally to the rheumatic joints.

The cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry widely uses the essential oil of the rhizome. This oil contains a compound called zerumbone, which has spasmolytic and bacteriostatic properties. The industry also uses its extract to prepare various gels and drinks, mainly tonics and energy drinks.

Other traditional uses of the rhizome include treating inflammation, fever, toothache, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, severe sprains, pain relief, and a diuretic agent.
Malays use fresh rhizomes to cure edema, stomach pain, wounds, and loss of appetite, while the juice of the boiled rhizomes is used to treat worm infestation in children.

In Thailand, fresh rhizomes are also used as an antiflatulent agent. The Chinese macerate the rhizomes in alcohol and use it as a tonic, depurative, or stimulant, while the Taiwanese use the plant as an anti-inflammatory adjuvant for stomach pain, sprain, and fever.

In India, rhizome powder is mixed with mature Morinda citrifolia (“noni”) for treating severe pain; the boiled and softened rhizome is used to treat toothache, cough, asthma, worms, leprosy, and other skin diseases. The crushed and strained rhizome is mixed with water and ingested to treat an upset stomach.

Hawaiians apply the compressed rhizome to sore spots, bruises, and cuts and treat headaches, toothaches, stomach aches, ringworm, skin conditions, joint pains, and sprains. They also use ashes from burnt leaves of Z. zerumbet combined with a mixture of ash from Schizostachyum glaucifolium (a species of bamboo), sap from Aleurites moluccanus (“Indian nut”), and tuberous sap from Z. zerumbet as a remedy for cuts and bruised skin. At the same time, the rhizome, crushed with salt and rubbed on the head, serves to treat headaches.

Pine cones from the plant are used in gardening, and the milky juice obtained from the pine cones is the famous shampoo in Hawaii, from where one of its popular names, ‘Shampoo Plant,’ originated.

Extracts from the rhizomes of bitter ginger have pharmacological applications with anti-inflammatory, chemopreventive, and chemotherapeutic properties, acting as anti-HIV, antitumor, cytotoxic, and antibacterial agents. Compounds isolated from essential oil such as zerumbone, humulene, and epoxy-zerumbone have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antitumor, antioxidant, and antimicrobial activity.

A chemical-pharmacological study of the pentane extract of the rhizomes of Z. zerumbet cultivated in India revealed the presence of the compounds humulene, zerumbone, epoxy-zerumbone, diferuloylmethane, kaempferol and di-p-coumaroylmethane, all showing cytotoxic activities in vitro in neoplastic cell strains of mouse liver.

Zerumbona is used in China also for the treatment of cancer. In Chinese medicine, rhizomes are used to treat cough, cold, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain associated with a cold (fresh rhizome), uterine bleeding and blood in the urine (fresh charred rhizome); swelling of the abdomen and edema (rhizome peel), digestive disorders and chronic bronchitis (dry rhizome).

New and fresh rhizomes (green ginger) are used in cooking and eaten raw, preserved in syrup, sweets, hot sauce, pickled cucumber, meat dishes, fish, and soup.

How to Grow Shampoo Ginger Plant

Ginger Lily Shampoo should be grown in partial shade, in well-fertilized soils enriched with organic matter (plant remains, manure, etc.), with abundant and constant watering. The species is sensitive to cold and lack of water. Propagation is quickly done by removing seedlings from the clumps at any time of the year.

For those who want to start a commercial crop, we recommend obtaining quality seedlings (preferably micro propagated), uniform and healthy; this way, you can ensure good production of stems within the standards required by the market for cut flowers.

Despite being resistant, the species is sensitive to some pests, especially nematodes (soil worms) and bacteriosis. Thus, keeping the clumps clean, well pruned, fertilized, and with strict irrigation control is essential.

Pruning not only favors the aesthetic aspect of the plant but is essential to allow light to enter and avoid excess moisture, which favors the proliferation of fungi and bacteria.


Its planting is in soils rich in organic matter and with excellent fertility and water retention capacity. Well-drained soils are essential.

Soil organic matter can modify soil physicochemical relationships, altering the availability of micronutrients and increasing relationships between soil microorganisms and its fauna.

Its participation goes further; the soil organic matter acts as a cementing agent in the formation of soil aggregates, in the control of soil temperature, in the evaporation of water in the surface layers, and soil fertility, helping species that do not carry out the biological fixation of nitrogen.

Soil organic matter originates from plant and animal residues that undergo a dynamic of physical-chemical processes. This dynamic results in nutrients that plants can absorb and act beneficially in soil structuring.

For pots, the substrate rich in organic matter is made by mixing a part of common earth, a part of vegetable soil, and another of some natural compost, such as humus or manure. It is also called “compost or organic soil” and can be easily found for sale in several stores in the sector.

Our article will help you find the best soil.


Rhizomes are usually planted in holes measuring 50 by 50 by 50 centimeters, with a spacing of 1.5 meters between plants and 2 meters between rows. Ensure frequent irrigation and efficient drainage. This large spacing allows, even with the adult clumps, the circulation between the planting lines for harvesting and management and better use of the soil, which can be planted with other species with a shorter cycle until the clumps grow.

In landscape projects, they are usually planted in resigned areas, both in rows and in clumps. The spacing is up to the designer and the result he seeks.


For standard garden fertilization, we generally fertilize in three fractions at three-month intervals. In the first installment, we used the formulation with the proportion 14-28-14 (NPK), applying around 150 grams per hole. In the second and third plots, the proportion of fertilizer should be 15-15-15 and 15-03-31, respectively, in the 200 grams/hole measurement. When it is close to the flowering of the plants, you can apply the fertilizer again in the proportion 15-03-31.

For organic fertilization, it is sufficient to use, when planting, a mixture of fertile organic material (such as earthworm humus, composted material, or manure) together with castor oil cake, bone meal, blood meal, and ash. You can keep the soil fertilized by adding more organic matter every three months.

When in pots, we recommend using organic fertilization; use as a substrate a mixture of earthworm humus, good quality soil, and a little ash and bone meal, fertilizers such as bokashi, are always welcome. Use liquid fertilizers when watering, carefully following the directions for use on the product label.

If you want to keep the conventional fertilization in your pots, use formulations rich in nitrogen, and, close to flowering, use the composition 4-14-8. It is essential to follow the directions for use on the product label carefully.


Partially shaded is preferred by the Shampoo Ginger, as exposed directly to the sun, it risks burns. Indirect light, however, is vital to favor plant development.

Indirect light occurs when the plant is in an environment full of light, but the sun’s rays do not hit it directly. The area is still bright because other environmental objects reflect or refract the sun before directly hitting the plant. For example, light shining through a curtain or plant that sits on a shaded porch is under indirect light.

Temperature and Humidity

It enjoys tropical heat and humidity and is perennial in such hot climates. However, it can be grown in subtropical, Mediterranean, or temperate climates, but it goes into dormancy in winter and must be protected from the harsh cold in greenhouses.

The temperature range suitable for flower development is between 22ºC and 35ºC, with relative humidity between 60% and 80%.


The soil should always remain moist but not soggy. For this, the soil must have good drainage.

Several systems in greenhouses or commercial productions can irrigate Pinecone Ginger, such as micro-sprinkler irrigation, infiltration, or conventional sprinkler. The latter presents more satisfactory and favorable results, as it allows the relative humidity of the air to remain high.

Roots absorb water and fill the plant’s cells, strengthening its fibers to produce strong leaves and stems, but plants also need air, so having “empty” spaces in the soil is critical.

That is, when you keep soil always soggy, there is no air left in the soil, preventing it from being able to breathe. Excessive moisture also makes plants susceptible to diseases such as root rot and fungus.

To identify whether your plant needs watering, stir the soil with your finger or a toothpick and check if the part below the surface is dry or wet. If it’s soggy or too wet, leave it to water at another time. To the touch, the soil must always be moist!

When watering your pots, make sure the watering can’s spout is below the leaves and pointing only into the soil. This easy method helps prevent bacterial infections, fungal infections, and other health problems. Water it evenly throughout the pot to keep your plant full and lush. Water well until the water runs from the bottom of the pot to the saucer.

After watering, wait a few minutes for the water to come out of the drainage holes, then discard excess water to avoid soggy soil. When a plant’s roots remain in waterlogged soil for too long, your plant eventually rots.

Many plants go dormant during the colder seasons, conserving energy and slowing their growth. As a result, plants require much less water than summer. This change in behavior makes it even more important to learn the language of your specific plant and take the time to understand when it needs watering.

This information goes for both gardens and pots.


The easiest and most suitable method of propagation is the one carried out by division of clumps, when rhizomes with 6 to 12 centimeters in length are separated. The rhizome must hold together a portion of the pseudostem.

You can also produce seedlings through pieces of your rhizome. Place the pieces of ginger (about 5 cm) in the soil and proceed with the watering; in a short time, it should release the first sprouts. This technique is best when performed in pots.

Propagation via seed

Propagation of the Awapuhi Plant via seeds is rare. If you buy them, make sure they are from reputable sellers and that it is the correct species. Or you can harvest the seeds of your plant and try to plant them. Plants from seeds take longer to develop.

To germinate it, use the classic method.

Use fresh seeds, and soak the seeds in water (without chlorine) overnight. This bath will hydrate the seeds, increasing the chance of germination.

In addition, it is a way for you to know which seeds are more likely to germinate. Since floating seeds will probably not be born, use the seeds at the bottom.

Then, place these seeds on a substrate suitable for germination and cover them with a thin layer. Keep the substrate constantly moist and the seeds out of direct contact with light.
The ideal is to use a mini greenhouse. That way, we can maintain constant humidity.


Requires only cleaning prunings, which include removing leaves and other parts of the plant that are broken, dry or diseased.

Cleaning pruning removes dry branches, branches attacked by pests or diseases, and thieving, unproductive branches. This operation can be done using pruning shears and saws. It aims to eliminate outbreaks of pests and diseases and allow better aeration of the plant.

Cleaning pruning is a type of activity you should do throughout the year. What is done is to remove dry or senescent leaves and branches, which have broken or suffered physical damage and aesthetically hinder each plant.

Pests and diseases

Although considered rustic and resistant, the Ginger Lily plant can present diseases and pests.

Proper plant management, quality seedlings, and contaminant-free irrigation water are measures of great importance. In addition, constantly monitoring plants is recommended to prevent the further spread of diseases, always observing and looking for pests and disease symptoms.

Next, we will talk about the most common diseases in Pinecone Ginger.

Cardamom Root Grub

It is a pest that attacks more than 300 plant species, including ginger. They directly attack the rhizomes of the plant, so it is a pest that is difficult to perceive.

In the feeding process, these pests inject a toxin into the leaves, causing physiological stress in the plant, which alters the process of photosynthesis. Another indirect damage factor is sooty mold (black layers or masses) caused by the growth of fungi in the sugary liquid expelled as feces. The disease covers the leaves and reduces respiration and photosynthesis, directly affecting the plant’s health.

The primary control measure to be performed after the verification of a focus of this pest is the elimination of the affected parts or plants.

Root Rot

Root rot is considered the primary disease of Shampoo Ginger rhizomes. The disease, of bacterial origin, presents significant damages caused by the cultivation of the plant in very compacted soils and with an excess of humidity.

The affected rhizome presents a rot with a fetid odor characteristic of bacterial diseases. Rhizome rot is often associated with lesions close to the rhizome or infection with other pathogens, such as Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. zingiberi, mainly in high soil moisture conditions.

The favorable conditions for its development are temperatures between 18 and 22ºC, excess nitrogen, high soil moisture, and root injuries.

The bacterium spreads through propagating material, rain, and irrigation water, surviving in crop residues and rhizomes.

As a management measure, it is recommended: to avoid soggy soils, carry out balanced calcium fertilization and observe and control insects that cause wounds in the roots.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are phytophagous arachnids that attack mainly the leaves of the Shampoo Plant but can also attack its roots, causing chlorosis, tanning, loss of vigor, reduced production, defoliation, permanent wilting, stunting, and even death of the plants.

They can also transmit plant viruses. The primary control measure is correctly identifying the pest, following the monitoring of the population level, and finally, the control.

However, the reduced size ends up hindering this observation. An important tip is to use a magnifying glass to look for mites and small webs on the leaves, along the veins, and near the base of the leaf. Be aware of some symptoms, such as yellowish lesions on the underside of the leaves and a whitish upper side with reddish, whitish, or black spots.

There are different ways of control, from using biological controllers such as ladybird larvae (most suitable) to modifying the environment by decreasing or increasing humidity. In some cases, it is necessary to use chemical control, applying acaricidal solutions.

The experiences of our colleagues at University of Minnesota Extension and their work Managing Spider Mites on Houseplants gives us a better understanding of what they are and how to deal with them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

When can I harvest my Shampoo Ginger?

Harvest the ginger when the leaves start to yellow – usually around eight to ten months.

Can you grow Pinecone Ginger indoors?

Yes, you can, no problem. Place your plant in a large-capacity pot so your rhizome can grow without problems. Remember to keep the soil moist and well-drained.

Is Ginger Lily edible?

Yes, you can use this plant’s rhizomes, just like regular ginger.


This species of ginger is a resistant plant, easy to care for, and has a unique appearance. It suits perfectly indoors and in beautiful landscape outdoors compositions.
It has a simple propagation. Through a rhizome, it is possible to obtain several plants. It is also a very versatile plant, where you can integrate its use into your daily life through teas, cooking, and even using it as a medicine.

With so many qualities, how about getting one of these plants and keeping them in your home?

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