Care Requirements For Shrimp Plant

The shrimp plant Justicia brandegeana earned its well deserved name from its normally arching, bronze-coppery flowerheads.

It can display masses of blooms all year and is easy to grow. Shrimp plant belongs to the genus Justicia and an evergreen shrub of the family Acanthaceae.

I always love to see “common plants” such as the Justicia brandegeana displayed and grown in unusual ways.

The image above is a shrimp variety from Hort Couture’s St. Lucia Tropical Island Package grown as a tree or topiary form.

Shrimp plant has many varieties using the common name such as:

  • Red shrimp plant
  • White shrimp plant
  • Golden shrimp plant
  • Purple shrimp plant
  • Blue shrimp plant
  • Orange shrimp plant

Sometimes, they call golden shrimp plant as yellow shrimp plant or lollipop plant with botanical name of Pachystachys Lutea. Although these varieties belong to same family – Justica, they can’t grow in the same hardiness zone.

This provides a whole new set of looks and uses as this year round bloomer enjoys life out on a deck or patio and hummingbirds love them.

Here’s a quick rundown on a Shrimp Plants cultural needs.

You may also like –> Jacobina Carnea (Justicia)

Shrimp Plant Care

Size and Growth Rate

Normally shrimp plants are low growing and compact in size needing only about 12″ inches in height to start flowering. When grown in a tree form, keep the head tight for flowering.

Flowering Red shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeeana) in Palatka Florida Nov 2018
Blooming Red shrimp plant growing in landscape bed (Justicia brandegeeana)

Flowering and Fragrance

Grown for its decorative flower heads which resemble shrimp with green leaves. Flowers are white and tongue-shaped with no fragrance, they last a short time, replaced with new flowers.

Related Reading: Justicia brandegeana relative the Crossandra plant (Crossandra infundibuliformis)

Light and Temperature

Needs a lot of light, preferably not direct sunlight indoors. Grown outdoors in summer, they can handle full sun or shade. Prefer fresh air, not too much summer heat – 65° – 75° degrees Fahrenheit and winter temperatures 55° – 65° degrees Fahrenheit.

Watering and Feeding

The Shrimp Flower needs well-drained soil, outdoors in summer, water 1-2 times a week. In winter, keep the soil damp – never let the flowering plants dry out completely.

Water with a solution of liquid plant food throughout the warmer months. If the plant flowers during the winter months, cut the amount of feed in half – or completely.

Soil and Transplanting

Red Shrimp Plants grow best in well-draining potting soil. Repot yearly or give the plant new top soil each spring.  

Propagating Shrimp Plants

Shrimp plant cuttings root easily.

  • Take 4″- 5″ inch long stems, with two strong leaf pairs.
  • Remove the lower leaf pair
  • Dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone powder
  • Insert 3 to 5 cuttings in a 4″-inch pot filled with a well draining potting soil.
  • Firm the soil around to the base of the leaves.
  • Water the soil thoroughly
  • Put a plastic bag or place a soda bottle over the pot
  • Cut ventilation holes in the bag or bottle
  • Don’t let the soil dry out while the roots are forming.
  • After about three weeks the cuttings should be well-enough established to remove the plastic bag or soda bottle.
  • Begin growing plants as normal

Shrimp Plant Justicia Brandegeana Problems and Pest

  • Pale leaves usually needs plant food. If hungry… feed plant slowly at first
  • Pale drab flowers lose coloring turning dull yellow, often means plant needs more light (likes full sun)
  • Flower bracts heads blacken, did flower heads get wet during watering or rain – Remove flower head
  • Leaves yellowing… sign of over-watering. If soil is dry, look for red spider mites on undersides of leaves. If found, treat with approved miticide (see read and follow label) spray, keep the humidity up.
  • Straggly growth, too much heat, not enough light. Move the plant to a cooler, brighter location.

Video on Pruning Shrimp Trees

Watch out she takes them down to the ground!

Image: photo source

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