Alpinia zerumbet is a tender herbaceous perennial in the ginger family. Variegated shell ginger is often grown as an annual in cool climates.
The species can grow up to 10 feet tall, but in gardens, and especially in northern areas where grown as an annual, they generally only get 3 or 4 feet tall. The cultivar ‘Variegata’ is a smaller, more compact plant featuring boldly, irregularly striped foliage. It is winter hardy in zones 8-10, although it may survive in zone 7 with winter protection.