To give the garden that touch of tropical air, try the easy to grow flowering gingers. (they are botanically known under Alpinia, Hedychium, and Zingber (the more hardy types) and there are many from which to choose, but few are available. You have to look for them to get more variety.
These plants love ample watering and feeding(think tropical rainforest), and satisfying that cultural need will reward you with lush foliage in two ranks along the upright to arching stems and then you get flowers at the tips (in most cases). Heat is a requirement as well as good light. (although they are considered shade plants) Shade gives the best foliage appearance, but some sun is needed for bloom. As many are subtropical or tropical in origin, they like and need warmth for best growth and bloom. Fleshy stems holding lush foliage gives a bold appearance, especially in the variegated leaf forms. All tend to die down in winter cold like cannas, dahlias, gladiolus.
Basic good fertile soil and ample watering will give good results, but additional feeding will yield abundant growth and many more stems which will give the clump a mass display of blooms. Leaves are long and broad in most selections, but there are also narrow leafed forms, giving a finer texture. The variegated forms like Alpinia zerumbet(A. speciosa variegata)(brilliant yellow striped and flecked leaves), Hedychium ‘Dr. Moy'(white stripes and flecks), Zingiber myoga ‘Dancing Cranes'(broad central white variegations) are always showy with their bold variegations on their leaves. Hedychium greenei is known for its very showy bronze leaves with undersides very dark and brilliant bronze, more than the upper leaf side and topped with red flowers.
The flowering gingers are known mainly for their blossoms, which can be white, pink, red, orange or yellow.
Size and height vary with each type. The dwarf forms can be udner 3 ft, while the large forms can reach above 10 ft tall.
Many are fragrant. If you think of tropical breezes and then fragrance floating on the air, then you have some idea of the rich scents of the plants. Gardenia like, or jasmine like are somewhat close associations, but they have the wonderful fragrance of plumerias (those wonderful flowers used in leis.)
These make excellent cut material for the vase as well as dramatic accents in the garden. Containerized specimens are spectacular if well grown. (especially in bloom!) A large container suits them best so you can have a BIG display.
I have over 3 dozen different types! All easy care, spectacular in bloom.
Alpinia zerumbet(A. speciosa) shell ginger has large leaves, tall growth and arching pendant clusters of shell like flowers.
A. formosana ‘variegata’ is dwarf with pinstriped leaves variegated in white
Hedychium coronarium is wonderfully scented in white, later blooming and shorter growth.
H. Luna Moth is longer blooming white in the same style
H. Mother Lode is an improvement over the typical species.
H. Kin Kaku is taller, orange and fragrant.
H. Orange Sherbert is spectacular, fragrant and superb!
H. gardnerianum (Kahili ginger) is wonderfully fragrant and blooms with the least amount of heat, spidery golden orange blooms are wonderfully fragrant.
H. Tara is orange and early blooming
H. flavum/ H. flavescens is taller, with orange yellow golden blossoms, very fragrant and late blooming.
H. Filigree is dwarf, to 3 ft and produces many stems with spidery clusters of blooms in orange.