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Sunday, October 23, 2011

‘Ling Ling’ Panda Face Ginger



Are you familiar with Asarum maximum ‘Ling Ling’, the Panda Face Ginger?  This very attractive evergreen wild ginger forms a clump of large dark green leaves that can be up to 8” long in mature plants.  The leaves are often nicely patterned with light green on the sides of a central green strip.



In spring and sometimes again in fall, ‘Ling Ling’ produces some of the most striking flowers in the genus.  The flaring, two inch wide black and white flowers are reminiscent of a panda and give it its common name.  The flowers of many wild gingers are obscured by foliage but, in the case of the Panda Face Ginger, the sheer size and bright contrasting colors make them quite noticeable.

‘Ling Ling’ is at its best when grown in a container where the charming flower and evergreen foliage can be easily admired.  For those of us in cool climates such as in the Pacific Northwest, a container has the secondary benefit of warming up more quickly during the growing season and this encourages better growth.

Asarum maximum can also be grown in the open garden in part to full shade in moist, humus rich, well-drained soil. The Panda Face Ginger is attractive to slugs as well as humans and slug control is a must.  It is native to low elevation forests in Hubei and Sichuan, China and is hardy to 5 to 10 degrees F.  It is a good candidate for a cool greenhouse in colder climates.

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