Costus curvibracteatus Maas
Orange Tulip Ginger, Dwarf Orange Ginger, Spiral Ginger
Bloom Time: Late spring to early winter
Costus curvibracteatus is an evergreen perennial up to 10 feet (3 m) tall. The leaves are dark green, obovate to elliptic, up to 14 inches (35 cm) long, and up to 4 inches (10 cm) wide. They are glossy and glabrous above, but hirsute on the edges and underside, and alternately arranged on a spiraling stem, which has a diameter up to 1 inch (2.5 cm). Glossy, overlapping bracts form a terminal inflorescence, that is spike-shaped to ovoid. The bracts are red to orange, usually becoming more orange at the apex, which curves outward. The inflorescence is quite variable in size, ranging from 1.6 to 7 inches (4 to 18 cm) long and 1.2 to 3.4 inches (3 to 9 cm) broad. During flowering, small, hermaphroditic yellow or orange tubular florets emerge among the bracts. They are usually about as long as the bracts but can be substantially longer.
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, and 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.
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