Zingiber Zerumbet: All You Need To Know About The Shampoo Ginger Lily

The Shampoo Ginger Lily, botanically known as Zingiber zerumbet, is an interesting tropical leafy houseplant that has a lot of benefits, as you might imagine from the name.

It is a beautiful plant that will flower in the right conditions, and when it is in bloom, the plant is instantly recognizable for its pinecone-like flower, which carries a refreshing gingery perfume.

Interested in growing your own Shampoo Ginger Lily? Here’s what you need to know, from the kind of conditions it will be happy in, how you can propagate it, and what problems you should look out for.

At A Glance: What You Should Know About The Shampoo Ginger Lily

This plant goes by quite a few different names. You may see it sold or referred to as the Shampoo Lily, Awapuhi Kuahiwi, Bitter Ginger, and Pinecone Ginger.

Shampoo Ginger originally hails from the tropical parts of Asia, most prominently in India and Australasia, but it has naturalized in other regions across the world.

This plant produces up to 12 blade-shaped leaves on an upright stem, each one capable of reaching 20cm long.

The flowers emerge in summer, and while they are green, to begin with, they turn bright red as they mature, filling with liquid.

It hails from the Zingiberaceae plant family, also known as the ginger family, and outdoors, it can reach just shy of 4 feet tall, but this may be less inside, and it will also be dictated by the conditions you give your plant.

You can grow this plant indoors or outdoors, but you may want to grow it indoors unless you live in USDA zones 9 through 11, where it will survive all year round outdoors.

This plant has many uses, from being used as shampoo and conditioner to eating the rhizomes.

How To Grow The Shampoo Ginger Lily

Sunlight And Position

Zingiber zerumbet needs a bright position with direct sunlight for at least part of the day, especially when you’re growing this plant indoors.

Indoor light is vastly inferior to that which plants get outdoors, as not as much sunlight makes it through the window as you might think.

You’ll need to keep this plant within a few feet of a window to give it the light it needs. Aim for an Eastern, Southern, or Western-facing window so that the plant can get some direct sunlight.

Eastern-facing aspects are perfect as they get morning sunlight, which is gentle enough not to scorch your plants, but it is strong enough to give your plant all the light it needs.

Keep this plant well away from drafts and sources of heat.

Instead, give this plant a stable environment, preferably with higher humidity indoors.  

In terms of temperature, between 71°F and 77°F (or 21°C and 25°C) is the ideal range. These plants like it warm!

Ideal Soil For Shampoo Ginger Lily

The Shampoo Ginger Lily needs good quality soil that drains well but can hold onto some moisture while keeping plenty of oxygen flowing around the roots.

While a houseplant mix will do in a pinch, it’s a good idea to use a houseplant compost mixed with some perlite and orchid bark to give the plant the sharp drainage it needs, as well as the oxygen and nutrition that will lead to healthy growth.

When To Water The Shampoo Ginger Lily

This plant will not tolerate long and dry spells, so make sure you don’t let the plant dry out completely.

However, you need to let some of the soil dry out in between watering, otherwise, the roots will rot.

Aim to give your plant a good drink when the top three inches or so of the compost dry out. This will keep the plant hydrated.

Avoid misting, and do not attempt to mist the soil as a replacement for watering it. This will dehydrate the plant and may cause air pockets in the soil, damaging the roots.

Should You Feed A Shampoo Ginger Lily?

It’s a good idea to feed a shampoo ginger lily a couple of times in the growing season, to help sustain its growth.

Go for a balanced houseplant feed, and follow the dosage recommendations on the label. Only feed the plant every fourth watering or so, avoiding doing so if the plant is very dry, as this would damage the roots and cause stress.

Should You Trim A Shampoo Ginger Lily?

The shampoo ginger lily only needs a light trim when there are dead or dying leaves and stems, or if it’s outgrowing its space.

If you have any declining leaves, wait until they are fully yellow before removing them from the plant, as this will help the plant reabsorb what it can into the rhizome.

How To Propagate The Shampoo Ginger Lily

The best way to propagate this gorgeous plant is to divide it at the rhizomes, and the easiest time to do this is when the plant is root-bound and needs repotting.

Take the plant out of its container, and using your fingers, remove as much of the soil as you can, so you can see the rhizomes properly.

Grab a sharp and sterilized knife, and cut the rhizome into pieces, making sure that each part has at least two nodes for new growth to emerge from.

Replant the main rhizome and pot up the rest as individual plants in fresh soil, and water them thoroughly.

Growing Shampoo Ginger Lily: Things To Consider

Problems To Watch Out For

While problems with this plant are rare if you get the growing conditions right, you may occasionally see spider mites or mealybugs.

Treat the first sign of infection with a good insecticidal soap, and rinse off the leaves every couple of days for a few weeks.


It’s worth knowing that this plant is not considered toxic to pets or humans.

Final Thoughts

Zingiber zerumbet is a striking plant that not many people are aware of, though it makes a great houseplant.

Try to give the plant higher humidity to reduce the risk of pests and problems, and only let part of the soil dry out in between watering.

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