Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hedychium 'Tara'

Large stand of Hedychium 'Tara' blooming in my garden now
     I have grown lots of hardy gingers in my garden over the years and. by far and away, the best has been Hedychium 'Tara'.  According to the San Marcos website,  this plant was grown from seed collected in Nepal by Tony Schilling of Kew Gardens, and named for his daughter. That website indicates that it was thought to be a form of Hedychium coccineum originally, but has recently been classified as H. gardnerianum. It is also sometimes listed as H. densiflorum.  This can get very confusing, so I just call it Tara and forget about the specific species name. This plant has received an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS, meaning it is a good garden plant for the UK, and that, of course, means it is a good garden plant for us in the maritime Pacific Northwest.
     Over the years I have seen many Hedychiums sold in nurseries here in the Pacific Northwest, many of which have originated in California.  Almost all those hedychiums are destined never to bloom in our cool summer climate. Indeed, I once calculated that if a ginger listed in the Plant Delights catalog (it has an extensive hedychium list) bloomed after June in North Carolina that it simply would not bloom here. While I have had a couple of other gingers bloom a few times, almost none, except Tara, and a smaller one called Stephen, reliably bloom here.
     I got my Tara plant originally from Glenn Withey and Charles Price who visited my garden a long time ago and gave me a large pot of it.  Over the years I have divided it and planted it in many parts of the garden.  The picture you see is the result of placing four or five divisions in this spot and then letting them grow for a number of years.  This is a sunny, rather sandy location, but I have found that Tara is remarkably tolerant of different soil and light conditions.  However, if you want it to do really well, I would plant it in a sunny location and give it lots of water and fertilizer.  That said, I never fertilize my Taras and they seem to do OK.  Also, I have some that grow in relatively dry conditions and they seem to do well there, too.
     I should mention that Tara is such a good, easy plant to grow, and it makes this great dazzling show of color at a time when the garden needs some punch, so it has made the cut and will be going with me to my new garden.  It is available from a number of online sources which are revealed by a google search of Hedychium Tara.


  1. What a nice clump of 'Tara!' I love this plant and featured it last week on my blog, mentioning the supposed gardenia-like scent escaped me. Later that week when I visited Cistus Sean cut me an armful of flowers to take home. WOW! The smell is amazing in an enclosed space. They last a long time as cut flowers too.

  2. I wasn't aware that it was fragrant. Good to know! I will have to pick some and bring them in the house.