Golden Shrimp Plant: How To Care For Pachystachys Lutea

The Golden Shrimp Plant whose botanical name is Pachystachys lutea is an upright tropical evergreen shrub that attains a mature height of 36 to 48 inches. Its showy, orange, gold, or yellow flowers that bloom during the summer the bracts resemble a shrimp’s layered scales, particularly the ghost shrimp.

Over the years, the Golden Shrimp Plant, sometimes called yellow shrimp plant has grown in popularity in northern European countries as well as some parts of the United States. The golden shrimp plant makes a great landscape perennial as well.

Native to the subtropical regions of Peru, it grows quite happily outdoors so long as you provide a sheltered, frost-free area in moist and well-drained soil.

golden shrimp plant flowers of buttery yellow gold

As a houseplant, ensure plants receives as much light as possible and position them in an area with high humidity and full light.

It even performs well if cultivated as annual bedding. The plant benefits from regular misting in dry conditions over the hottest months of the year.

Add Pachystachys lutea to your ever blooming houseplant collection. It makes quite a showy bush with lush leaves. Keep the “shrimp plant” in shape with regular pruning or grow it out to a large specimen in a pot.

Read on to learn more about shrimp plant care.

Tips For Caring For Your Golden Shrimp Plant

Where Does Pachystachys lutea grow Best?

Pachystachys lutea prefers full sunlight. So make sure to give enough time for the plants to receive direct sunlight.

However, in climates with hot summers it benefits from afternoon shade. The plant grows in almost any kind of properly drained soil including loam, clay, sand, or even slightly acidic or alkaline soil. However it does not enjoy beach-side planting as it doesn’t handle salty soil well.

Watering Needs Of Shrimp Plants

The Golden Shrimp plant does not handle drought periods for a long time. They tend to soak up quite a bit of water in the warm months. Even though the plant tolerates moist soil, it does well when the surface of the soil dries slightly between waterings, particularly in the winter months.

When watering, water thoroughly – enough to saturate the roots to a depth of about 6 inches. If you ever dry out the plant accidentally, soak the plant in water then drain excess water to make sure the soil comes thoroughly moist. For golden shrimp plants in pots, consider self-watering containers or provide enough for the day.

What Kind Of Lighting Does The Golden Shrimp Plant Require?

Outdoors plant in full sun if possible. Indoors, an East/West or South windows are ideal. A couple of hours of direct sunshine keeps the plant happy.

Plants tend to get leggy partial shade and as they age – meaning pruning and a great light source are important if you desire a neat plant. Consider moving your plant outside in the summer and acclimate it to higher light levels slowly without experiencing any problems.

Shrimp’s Love Humidity

Golden Shrimp loves higher humidity and likes the leaves sprayed occasionally. It can tolerate lower humidity levels but it will become more susceptible to spider mites, aphids, and whiteflies.

Increase humidity in the growing season outdoors through regular spraying during the summer months.

Maintaining humidity indoors becomes more difficult. Placing plants in a tray of wet porous rocks or pebbles helps. However, using an atomizing spray does not make up for high regular humidity.

Feeding And Fertilizer

Shrimp plants are not heavy feeders. However, regular fertilization stimulates healthy growth as well as big blooms. Whether you plant them in pot soil or in a bed, a proper way of applying fertilizers should be observed.

During the growing season (spring to fall) apply liquid fertilizer regularly and blooming fertilizer occasionally to ensure that the plant looks its best. Always apply the fertilizer according to rate specifications on the label.

Immediately after applying fertilizer, always water the plant. However, avoid excessive fertilization as it weakens the plant thus making it more susceptible to insects and disease.

Propagating Shrimp Plants

The Golden Shrimp Plant propagates easily through cuttings. Softwood cuttings taken in the summer months do well, but require a good propagator where good humidity is easily maintained. Try using soda bottles as a “mini propagating greenhouse.”

Otherwise, you can root cuttings indoors using a pot of compost and an airtight covering using a clear plastic bag. Avoid placing the cuttings in direct sunshine.

Pruning Pachystachys For Shape And Size

The Pachystachys lutea requires only minor level of maintenance to keep it looking its best. Prune plants in early spring to ensure it maintains the desired shape and size. Without pruning plants become long, leggy, and top heavy.

If you grow Shrimp Plants in containers, always move them indoors before nighttime temperatures fall to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Even though the plant does rebound after being nipped by light frost, it is often slow to recover.

Problems With The Golden Shimp Plant

Few insects plague the Golden Shrimp plant. The main culprits – spider mites and scale. Check weekly under the leaves for both spider mites and scale insects which cause damage by puncturing the leaves and sucking out the plant juices.

Spider mites are so tiny it’s difficult to see them with the naked eye. However, you can recognize their presence by the reddish or yellowish stippling as well as the silky webbing on the leaves.

Scale consists of very small insects covered by a waxy, shell-like covering.

Affected leaves usually turn brown and curl, eventually dropping from the plant. Control light infestation of spider mites and scale by spraying the plant with a strong stream of water.

Treat heavier infestations by spraying the plant with insecticidal soap, horticultural oil or neem oil, all safer alternatives to toxic pesticides. Since these substances only kill on contact, they do not present much danger to such beneficial insects as lady beetles.

Conclusion About Shrimp Plant Care

The Golden Shrimp Plant (Pachystachys lutea) is a truly amazing plant that will make an excellent addition to your collection. Follow the care tips provided in this article and you will have a wonderfully looking plant in your house or greenhouse.

Note: the common name “shrimp plant” can make for some confusion. Another plant often called the “shrimp” is Justicia brandegeana a (salmon-red) variety.