Costus barbatus (Spiral Ginger)

Scientific Name

Costus barbatus Suess.

Common Names

Spiral Ginger, Red Tower Ginger, Red Velvet Ginger

Scientific Classification

Family: Costaceae
Genus: Costus


Color: Red and yellow
Bloom Time: Summer


Costus barbatus is a perennial plant with a long red inflorescence that bears edible, bright yellow tubular flowers. It has dark green and fuzzy underneath, ginger-like, elliptic leaves that spiral up the slender cane-like stems to a height of 7.9 feet (2.4 m).

Costus barbatus (Spiral Ginger)


USDA hardiness zone 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Costus fall into the tropical category, so if you do well with philodendrons and other tropical plants, you should be able to grow Costus without too much issue. They aren't terribly picky about their light, but the key to successful growth is lots of water and lots of fertilizer to keep up with their heavy demands. If your plant starts to suffer from brown leaf margins, it most likely is being underwatered or exposed to cold drafts. Try to raise the humidity and increase the water. Costus are susceptible to mealybugs and aphids. Keep a careful eye on your plants, inspect them to catch infestations early, and treat them immediately. Severely infected plants should be discarded.

Depending on the species, you'll probably need to repot your Costus annually at the beginning of the growing season. If you want to keep it a manageable size, use this as an opportunity to divide the rhizome and refresh your potting soil, but keep it in the same size pot. Some of the larger species can grow to 10 feet (3 m) or more, so be aware of the potential size issue. See more at How to Grow and Care for Costus.


Native to the tropical Americas.


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