Cautleya cathcartii

Common Name: cautleya 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Zingiberaceae
Native Range: Himalayas
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 1.50 to 1.75 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Yellow and red
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy


Best grown in humusy, moist, well-draining soils in part shade. Does not tolerate compacted or clay soils. One of the more hardy members of the ginger family, can be grown as a perennial in Zones 7-10. Benefits from a layer of winter mulch in cooler climates. The rhizomes tend to push upwards through the soil as the plant grows and matures, so plant at least 4" deep and mulch generously to prevent this. Dividing the clumps every 4-5 years is also recommended.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cautleya cathcartii, known simply as cautleya, is a rhizomatous, herbaceous flowering perennial native to the mountainous forest floors of southern Tibet, northern India, and Nepal. Unlike most members of the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family, this plant grows in the wild at high elevations (5500-8000'), and is quite cold hardy. Small in stature, plants only reach 18-21" tall, with fleshy rhizomes that spread slowly over time. The slender leaves are upright to slightly arching, 4-8" long, with a slightly red blush to the undersides. The summer blooms are showy, with 15-20 orangish-yellow flowers emerging from a red to maroon spike inflorescence.

The genus name Cautleya honors Sir Proby Cautley (1802-1871), a British naturalist, engineer, and paleontologist.

The specific epithet cathcartii honors John Ferguson Cathcart (1802-51), an English botanist and judge who lived and served in India.


No major insect or disease issues. Poorly drained soils can cause the rhizomes to rot.


Use in the front or middle of a mixed border to add tropical interest. Will spread slowly over time, so can be used to fill an area. Can also be grown in a container.