Roscoea

These exotic looking flowers are actually easy to grow in your garden here in the UK as they are fully hardy and put on a fantastic display. This little known genus is a tuberous perennial known for its dramatic flowers and its tolerance of wet and shady conditions. It belongs in the Zingiberaceae family (Ginger family) and originates from high altitudes of China and the Himalayas. There are 22 recognised species, with eight of them endemic to China. The genus was named by James Edward Smith after William Roscoe, a botanist who helped establish Liverpool’s Botanic Garden. The striking flowers are similar to those of orchids and irises because of their unusual hooded upper petal and three lower petals. If you look closely there is lip like landing pad for pollinating insects. These plants do best in shade where the flowers will last longer for about 4-6 weeks. They can tolerate some sunlight but exposure to hot sun and dry conditions will cause them to shrivel. When planting make sure the tubers are planted deep beneath the soil. Cover with mulch to help feed the plant and ensure the soil is moist during the summer months, but they require good winter drainage. These flowers grow well in a rock garden, woodland or shaded border. Roscoea can be divided every 3 – 4 years in April before the tubers start to grow.

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