These hedychium need to be kept in a greenhouse all summer and it’s not because they are not hardy. In fact some, like H. maximum for example, can be left outside in a pot (if you’re short of space) and then be brought in from April. The thing about a lot of hedychium, and where some growers have gone wrong, is to try to re-create the partly shaded forest edge that is their natural habitat. They come from a lot further south where the sunlight is far stronger and there is no real dormant season. As a result they need full sun here and even that is not enough for some, and of course,life being like that, it would have to be the very best ones that need this. American books tend to suggest a much earlier flowering than we experience here. This is because equivalent climate zones (which are based principally on minimum temperatures) are considerably further south and hence have much more stronger sunshine. The conclusion would be to give up on these tropical ones, but we have found, as has Andrew Gaunt (no relation to John, son of Edward III and uncle of Richard II) who runs the National Collection at Chichester Gingers, that if they are baked in a greenhouse from April until August then they flower profusely through August/September. In colder areas this works with all of the previous group. S now some mouth watering shots of beautifully scented flowers. also note that these ones flower for longer, in many cases a single inflorescence carries on opening for up to 4 weeks).
Hedychium maximum: If Iwas asked the old question, ‘If you only had room for one hedychium which would you choose?’ The answer would clearly be, ‘I’d get a bigger greenhouse’. If pushed on the matter, however, it would have to be this one with a huge club of an inflorescence, beautifully scented, a lovely colour and each open for 4 weeks. We put a stool next to it in the greenhouse so visitors can have a close encounter.
Hedychium Tai Monarch-The Tai hybrids (formerly known as Dees hybrids) were bred by American breeder Doyle Smittle and are popular in the States. Tom Wood also bred a number of interesting ones. All are high impact divas and naturally we have collected as many as we can. This one is a good variation on the disappointing H coronarium, which often flowers late. Well behaved and easy
Hedychium ‘Lemon Sherbet’ is a hybrid by Tom Wood using (I assume) similar species to the ones used by Doyle Smittle in the Tai hybrids. I love this one, its like either a smaller maximum or a more yellow Tai Monarch. I have had it for ages (see Pink Hybrid below). It even does OK outside, flowering early to mid September in a sunny spot
Hedychium ‘Pink Hybrid’ appears never to have been given a valid name, but to me it is the very best of the pinks. Like the others it has the scent of a freshly cut peach and the flower stems each continue for a couple of weeks givings constant flowers from the end of August until the end of October (in the greenhouse). I bought this from David Constantine with Lemon Sherbet many years ago and they are two of the very best.
Hedychium ‘Tai Pink Profusion’: This differs from Pink Hybrid in that it has more orange in the flower colour, inflorescences are bigger and appear from early September until November (greenhouse) and have the same delightful peachy scent. It is a little less free flowering with fewer, more robust stems.
Hedychium ellipticum: This is a delightful, free flowering species that can perform well outside. In the greenhouse, however, it is wonderful. A good scent and its flowers open quickly as buds develop. With some hedychium there is a long wait for flowers to emerge, not so here so it can produce two flushes of flowers a year (from August). It is also one of the parents for the lovely H. ‘Corelli’ and the unnamed hybrid below.
Hedychium gardnerianum x ellipticum: We bought this one from a nursery many years ago labelled as ‘Dixter’ – a now redundant name for Devon Cream, which this definitely isn’t. The best consensus of opinion is that it is a cross of H. gardnerianum (the colour) and H. ellipticum (the flower form). Whatever it is, it is a great plant. It seems to flower at the same time if grown inside or outside (mid August and on). Great scent too!
Hedychium ‘Tai Sunlight’, this is very lovely, sadly we have lost it and are looking for a replacement.
Hedychium ‘Tai Gold Crown’, This is strong growing and tall with lovely flowers. I’m not 100% convinced the name is right (although it came from an obsessive collector) as I can’t see how the name applies. Nonetheless its a beatiful thing (if you have a tall greenhouse!)
Hedychium ‘Tai Empress’ another pink one pretty much indistinguishable from all the other pink ones!