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How to Grow and Care for Wild Ginger Plants

Asarum species

This plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant may not tolerate any direct sunlightThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditionsNo DeerWhite flowering plantPurple flowering plantBurgundy flowering plantAsarum maximumHow to Use the Plant Care Icons at The Garden Helper

Wild Gingers are low growing, woodland perennials that are known for their showy, Cyclamen-like,
heart shaped foliage and their very unique, three lobed flowers that hide from view below the foliage.

Asarum plants are generally slow to get established but once they take hold they will spread by rhizomes just below the soil surface to create a beautiful, ground covering carpet. Most Asarum species are evergreen, but a few species like Asarum canadense are deciduous.

The common name of Wild Ginger refers to the fact that when crushed, the stems and roots have the strong aroma of lemon ginger. Asarums, however, have no relationship whatsoever to the species of plant that is used to produce culinary ginger (Zingiber officinalis).
Hank the Garden Gnome Wild Ginger plants are an excellent choice for the shady woodland garden or border,
and look superb when growing in containers where their flowers can be admired more easily.

Growing Requirements for Wild Ginger Plants

Wild Ginger plants should be grown in a site with light to deep shade, but they will appreciate a little morning sun. Asarums are sometimes capable live in poor, dry soil but the result will be very unsatisfactory.

For Gingers to thrive, they should be planted in moist, humus rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soil.
Add plenty of compost and fallen conifer needles (if available) to the soil at planting time.
Water regularly and thoroughly to keep the soil evenly moist, especially if growing Wild Ginger in planters.

The only feeding that your Wild Ginger will need is an annual top-dressing of compost in the spring.

Take precautions to protect your Wild Gingers from ravenous attacks by slugs and snails,
especially in the spring when new growth is emerging.

Panda Face Ginger, Asarum maximum

Panda Face Ginger is a fairly rare, clump forming species from China that grows to about 6" tall and a foot wide. Their shiny, heart shaped, 3" leaves are dark green with silvery-green marbling. The velvety, 2"-2½" flowers of the Panda Face are fleshy, white trumpets bordered with a wide band of dark purple or black, and often remain un-noticed as they peak out from beneath the foliage, unless you are willing to get down on your knees. Panda Face Ginger is an awesome addition to any shade garden.
Asarum maximum
is hardy in USDA zones 7-9.
The Marbled Foliage of a Panda Face Ginger PlantThe Flower of a Panda Face Ginger Plant, Asarum maximum

Long-tailed Ginger, Asarum caudatum

The Foliage of a Western Wild Ginger PlantThe Flower of a Western Wild Ginger Plant, Asarum caudatum Long-tailed Ginger are easy to grow plants that are native to the coastal forests and mountains of western North America. They are 12" tall, mat forming plants that spread up to 3 feet by rhizomes and trailing stems, producing two long stemmed, kidney shaped, finely haired, 4"-6" wide leaves at each node. In early April, Long-tailed Gingers begin to produce their fuzzy, long tailed, 3 rayed, maroon flowers that only remain visible until May, when the new foliage outgrows the flower stems. Western Wild Ginger are hardy in USDA zones 6-9.

Canadian Snakeroot, Asarum canadense

Canadian Snakeroot is a deciduous species of Wild Ginger that is native to the woodlands of eastern North America. They grow 6"-8" tall, forming a dense, mat of dull green, 3"-5", heart shaped leaves on hairy stems. They produce inconspicuous, ¾", deep maroon flowers in the spring. Canadian Wild Ginger is hardy in USDA zones 3-8.

Propagating Wild Ginger Plants and Growing Them from Seed

Due to their shallow growing rhizomes, the fastest and easiest method of propagating mat forming Wild Ginger plants is by cutting sections of the rhizome, each containing a pair of leaves, into 2"-3" pieces in the spring.

Clump forming species should be dug and divided every 2-3 years,
in the spring or in the fall.

Wild Ginger seeds require at least 3 weeks of cold stratification before they will germinate, so they should be planted in the garden in late winter, up until a month before the last killing frost.

Start Asarum seeds indoors in early spring by placing them in a bag of moistened growing medium and store them in the freezer for 3 weeks before sowing in pots or flats.
Maintain a temperature in the growing medium of 65"-70° until germination which takes 2-4 weeks, depending on the freshness of the seeds.
Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, move them into pots and continue growing them on in a cold frame for their first year.