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Shampoo Ginger Lily (Zingiber zerumbet) – GIY Plants

Close up of a red shampoo ginger lily pinecone

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Shampoo ginger lily (scientific name Zingiber zerumbet) is a houseplant that originates from India and comes from the Zingiberaceae family. It was brought to Hawaii by Polynesian settlers. The plant is known for its medicinal uses, including worm infestations, pain conditions, and loose stool. Its rhizomes are often used to make essential oils and for the treatment of the aforementioned conditions[1].

Zingiber zerumbet, also known as red pinecone ginger, wild ginger, shampoo ginger lily, awapuhi, shampoo plant, and bitter ginger, is characterized by its pinecone-shaped red flowers and green foliage.

Shampoo Ginger Lily Care

Like aloe, shampoo ginger lilies are a great plant to own because of their medicinal benefits. But to be able to use the plant, you need to keep the plant healthy and growing, so it can reach maturity. Luckily, they are an easy-to-care-for houseplant.

Below you will find all of the information you need to care for a pinecone ginger plant.


The best soil mixture for a bitter ginger is high in organic matter, moist, and free-draining. The proper soil pH for this plant is between 6.1 and 7.3.


Wild gingers thrive with moderate amounts of moisture and do best with slightly drier soil conditions during the winter months. Winter is when the plant is dormant.


Red pinecone ginger should be kept in partial shade and only receive direct sunlight for two to six hours a day. Deep shade is also best kept to a minimum.

Humidity & Temperature

Bitter ginger plants enjoy warmer temperatures and should always be kept above 55°F or 12.78°C, although the forgiving plant can survive if temperatures drop to 20°F or 6.67°C. Average indoor temperatures are healthy for the plant. The best humidity level for bitter gingers is 50%. If you struggle to reach 50% humidity in your home, mist the plant frequently.


A half-strength well-balanced fertilizer is optimal for the shampoo ginger lily. During the growing seasons (spring and summer), you should apply the fertilizer once a month.


Rhizome division is the best way to propagate a red shampoo ginger lily. All you have to do is cut a piece of rhizome with several buds attached. Follow that by letting the rhizome cutting fry for a few days, once dry, soak the rhizome in warm water overnight.

After this, you can plant the rhizome a 1/2″ deep into a planter of proper potting soil. Ensure that you water the plant when the top layer of soil has begun to dry out.

Diseases & Pests

Rhizome flies and root rot are common pests and diseases for wild ginger plants. The maggots from the rhizome flies are known to cause rotting on the rhizomes. Rhizome rot can cause the foliage of the plant to be yellow. A two-step prevention process helps with rhizome flies[2].


Zingiber zerumbet is non-toxic to humans and animals. Because of its medicinal properties, its rhizomes are often ingested by humans. The plant is also used as a vegetable or for flavoring in certain dishes.

Red Shampoo Ginger Benefits & Uses

Shampoo ginger lily has a variety of benefits and uses. It works as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, as well as having antimicrobial, anti-diabetic, and anti-cancer properties[3]. The rhizomes are edible and can treat worm infestations and loose stool.

The people of Hawaii also use the plant as shampoo and hair conditioner, lending to its common name, shampoo ginger.

It can also be used for flavoring or as a vegetable in cooking.

Bitter Ginger For Sale

If you would like to own a bitter ginger plant, Etsy is one of the best online sites to find what you are looking for. Rhizomes are also available for purchase online. If you wish to source the plant locally, consider visiting your local plant nursery.


[1]. Rana, V. S., Verdeguer, M., & Blazquez, M. A. (2012, August 8). Chemical Composition of the Essential Oil of Zingiber zerumbet var. darcyi. Sage Journals. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1934578X1200701031

[2]Gautam, J., & Mainali, R. P. (2016). Management of Ginger Rhizome Fly (Calobata sp.) and Associated Rhizome Rot (Pythium sp.). Sciepub. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from http://pubs.sciepub.com/wjar/4/4/5/index.html

[3]Koga, A. Y., Beltrame, F. L., & Pereira, A. V. (n.d.). Several aspects of Zingiber zerumbet: a review. USDA PubAg. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/

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