Costus woodsonii, better known as red button ginger or scarlet spiral flag, is a gorgeous herbaceous plant native to Mesoamerica. Though the species' flowers are incredibly unique, you can trim red button ginger plants using standard pruning techniques.
Method 1 of 3:Trimming a Damaged Plant
1Prune your plant when it starts to discolor. Keep an eye on your red button ginger plant for any signs of withering or discoloration. In particular, look for brown spots on the plant's leaves, withered areas along the edges of the leaves, and discolored areas in the plant's spiral flower.
Prune your ginger as soon as it shows signs of damage to prevent plant-wide infections.
Red button ginger plants often get damaged during frosts and droughts.
2Pinch off faded flowers with pruning shears. If your red button ginger plant's flower starts to fade or shows other signs of damage, cut it off using a pair of handheld pruning shears. For the best results, make your cut just below the base of the flower and any leaves attached to it.Trustworthy SourcePenn State ExtensionEducational organization dedicated to delivering science-based information to people, businesses, and communitiesGo to source
This process is known as deadheading.
3Cut off dead leaves using pruning shears. Sometimes, dead or damaged leaves will shrivel up and fall off on their own. If they don't, however, you can snip the leaves off individually using a pair of pruning shears. In some cases, you may even be able to pinch the leaves off with your fingers.
Remove the leaves at the stem so the plant can heal itself properly.
4Pick up and discard your plant trimmings. After pruning your red button ginger plant, make sure to pick up any trimmings that landed on the ground. Since the areas you pruned were damaged, place them in a trash can or similar receptacle where they won't have access to other plants.Trustworthy SourcePenn State ExtensionEducational organization dedicated to delivering science-based information to people, businesses, and communitiesGo to source
If you leave the trimmings on the ground, they can develop diseases like botrytis that, over time, will spread to your other plants and the surrounding soil.
Method 2 of 3:Cutting Back an Overgrown Plant
1Prune your plant if it grows too large. Cultivated red button ginger plants typically grow to around 1 m (3.3 ft) in height and have a spread of about .6 m (2.0 ft). If your plant grows taller or wider than this, you may need to trim it to prevent overgrowth.
You should also prune your red button ginger plant if the top starts to droop or the stem begins to lean.
Wild red button ginger plants often grow twice as large as their cultivated siblings, so keep that in mind if you're planting wild varieties.
2Trim the plant to your desired height and width. Using a pair of pruning shears, cut your red button ginger plant's stem down to whatever height you want it to rest at. Then, snip off any remaining leaves and stem offshoots that make the plant wider than you want it to be.
If you're pruning your plant right before winter, cut the stem off near the ground so it has a better chance of surviving the cold and reflowering in the spring.
If possible, cut your stem 3 to 4 mm (0.12 to 0.16 in) above a visible leaf bud so you don't encourage die-back.
3Cut the stem at a steep angle to prevent water damage. No matter where you decide to snip the stem, make sure to hold your shears at a steep angle so you cut the plant diagonally. This will prevent water from pooling on top of the stem.
Over time, pooling water will soak into the red button ginger plant's stem. This leads to rot and, in some cases, pests and diseases.
4Grow more plants using your stem cuttings (optional). If you'd like, you can use your stem cuttings to grow additional red button ginger plants. To do so, plant your cuttings in a container filled with moist potting soil. Then, cover the container with a plastic bag and set it in an area that, though bright, does not expose the plant to direct sunlight.
If you live in a USDA hardiness zone 9-11, you can move your plant outside once it establishes roots. This normally occurs after 2 to 3 weeks.
To ensure they don't develop diseases, pick up and throw away any plant cuttings you don't reuse.
Method 3 of 3:Pruning for Aesthetic Reasons
1Cut back leaves that look scraggly. As your red button ginger plant grows, some of the leaves it develops may look tattered or unkempt. Though scraggly leaves are not a sign of damage, you can remove them if desired to help your plant look as pretty as possible.Trustworthy SourcePenn State ExtensionEducational organization dedicated to delivering science-based information to people, businesses, and communitiesGo to source
Removing tattered leaves will give your plant more energy that it can use to develop new leaves.
2Thin your plant while it's growing to make it look healthier. When your red button ginger plant is about 1/3 of its full height, or around .3 m (0.98 ft) tall, cut the top of the stem off with a pair of pruning shears to make it .1 m (0.33 ft) tall. This process, known as thinning the stem, will make the plant stronger and give it a healthier, more vibrant appearance.Trustworthy SourcePenn State ExtensionEducational organization dedicated to delivering science-based information to people, businesses, and communitiesGo to source
Thinning the stem can also help your plant fight off diseases, mildew, and insect infestations.
3Cut off your plant's flower to use it in a floral arrangement. A red button ginger plant's flower will make a beautiful addition to any bouquet or similar floral design. To remove the flower, simply cut the plant's stem with a pair of pruning shears.
Avoid removing the flower until you're ready to use it to ensure that it doesn't whither while in the arrangement.