I have a Torch Ginger Plant (Etlingera elatior) which we call 'bunga kantan' in Malaysia. Though it takes up a lot of my garden space, I have never regretted growing this native plant for I love its beautiful blooms. Once started, it never seems to stop blooming. This is the plant that has won me many new friends from far and near. It is the 'ice-breaker' and attention grabber in my garden.
This is my 9th blog post about the plant. My article about "The versatile bunga kantan plant" appeared in the New Straits Times on March 27th, 2010. The link is here.
Torch Ginger has many other common names, e.g. Ginger Flower, Ginger Lily, Torch Lily, Wild Ginger, Stone Rose, Combrang, Bunga Siantan, Philippine Wax Flower, Xiang Bao Jiaing, Indonesian Tall Ginger, Boca de Dragón, Rose de Porcelaine and Porcelain Rose.
"Torch Ginger Flower Seeds Germination”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ http://www.mynicegarden.com/ on May 20th, 2011.
In Malaysia, we propagate bunga kantan from rhizomes. It grows very fast because it loves our tropical sunshine and heavy rainfall. Flowers start to appear after about 9 months. It takes much longer if grown from seed.
In the picture above, the little flowers are red while the pink waxy ones are bracts. When in bloom, a sugary liquid oozes out from the inflorescences and they attract ants, bees and butterflies. I read from the web that the flower is pollinated by hummingbirds and spider hunters.
It has a long, narrow beak that can penetrate deep into the flowers.
It shows a Green Hermit pollinating the ginger flower.
Well, not until SY sent me these photographs taken at in Bukit Tinggi, Pahang. The whole flower head is filled with bunga kantan seeds. The seeds change colour from green to dark brown when ripe.
K, has a bunga kantan plant in Malaysia. I was really excited to see from her post here that her bunga kantan plant has set seed. Oh, how I envy her!
K who hails from the USA is now living in Malaysia and her blog is about her adventures in setting home here. I like to pop in at her blog occassionally to see how she is doing. Do visit her if you have time.
These seeds are from K. Thanks to her, this is the first time in my life I get to touch and feel real bunga kantan seeds.
To germinate the seeds, we need to soak them in water for more than 8 hours. It is expected to germinate in about 30 days, based on information obtained from the internet.
I have blog readers from overseas asking me to send them bunga kantan seeds but this can't be done because
a) I don't have the seeds
b) Prohibition by their own countries' import laws
c) bunga kantan won't survive long outside a greenhouse in temperate countries
Updated on 30th July 2011
I have some good news. The torch ginger seeds sent by K to me has sprouted! I had almost given up on them because it took more than a month for this to happen. I took this picture on 10 July 2011. I thought my experiment had failed and I almost replaced the pot with other plants. This is thanks to Anne who wrote to me and whose comment I have added to this post. She had given me some very useful information. Now, we know we can also grow torch ginger plants from seeds sent by mail but the seeds have a short expiry date.
Update on 12th Oct 2011
My torch ginger plants are now 33 cm tall. Actually there are 3 of them, not 2 as I had initially thought. My next question - should I plant them on the ground or experiment with a flower pot?
|Oct 2011 - 33 cm|
Updated on 20th July 2012.
I have since planted my BK on a large flower pot. It is now about 4ft tall.
Updated on 3rd April 2014
My BK in a flower pot has still not flowered yet! The maximum height reached is only 4ft tall.