Somewhere in the tropical forests of Costa Rica something screwy is going on. Cork-screwy that is. Where are my manners? May I introduce Costus barbatus otherwise known as Red Tower Spiral Ginger. I happened to see this Costa Rican transplant flourishing the other day in a garden out and about in L.A.. It's one of those plants that I've seen many times in bundles of tropical cut flower arrangements but have actually never seen it growing. Well turns out it's actually fairly easy to grow in areas with warm to even cool temps but no frost.
This ginger produces footlong tapering leaves of rich velvet green on crazy corkscrew spiraling stems up to 6 feet tall. The undersides of these tropical tapers are covered in fine hairs that are as soft to the touch as a baby bunny. One touch and you just want to feel it over and over and over again. Simply sensuous! At the top of these spiraling stems rich red cone-like heads known as strobili emerge to produce a torch-like tower filled with rich golden-yellow flowers that our butterfly friends seem to dig. This ginger blooms in spring and fall. It loves regular moisture, well-drained organically rich soil, and part sun to filtered light. Exotica indeed. Check it out.