Growing and Care Requirements For Shrimp Plant

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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. The shrimp plant belongs to the genus Justicia, an evergreen shrub of the Acanthaceae family. 


It’s also native to Central America and South America, including Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.

I always love to see “common plants” such as the Justicia brandegeeana 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
  • Mexican Shrimp Plant
  • Shrimp bush

Sometimes, they call the golden shrimp plant a yellow shrimp plant or lollipop plant with the botanical name Pachystachys Lutea. 

Although these varieties belong to the 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.

Growing Shrimp plants will make exotic additions to your garden landscape or greenhouse.

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

Shrimp Plant Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Justicia brandegeeana
  • Common Name(s): Shrimp plant, shrimp bush, Mexican shrimp plant
  • Synonyms: Beloperone guttata, Jacobinia guttata
  • Pronunciation: Juh-STEE-see-uh bran-didge-ee-AY-nuh
  • Family & Origin: Acanthaceae family, native to Mexico and Central America, to the West Indies
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: 9-11
  • Size: Can grow 1′ to 3′ feet tall and wide and may reach 5’ tall in its native habitat
  • Flowering: Blooms summer with red, white, or pink bracts that resemble shrimp
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Humidity: Prefers about 40% humidity level
    Temperature: Thrives in temperatures between 55° to 75°F
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Water: Water 1-2 times a week but not waterlogged
  • Fertilizer: Feed liquid plant food throughout the warmer months
  • Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to spider mites and whiteflies, may also develop root rot if overwatered
  • Propagation: Can be propagated through stem cuttings or division
  • Plant Uses: Makes a great indoor or outdoor ornamental plant, and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

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. 

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

It typically reaches its mature size of 3′ to 4′ feet tall and wide.

When grown in a tree form, keep the head tight for flowering.

Flowering and Fragrance

The shrimp tree is grown for its decorative flower heads, which resemble shrimp with green leaves. 

White flowers are tongue-shaped with no fragrance. They last a short time, replaced with new flowers.

Shrimp tree flowers will bloom all year when planted in the right climate. Its flower bracts attract pollinators, such as butterflies and bees.

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

Shrimp Plant Care Light and Temperature

Needs a lot of light, preferably not direct sunlight indoors. Grown outdoors in summer, they can handle full sun or part shade.

They will also thrive in locations where they receive bright shade or morning sun in a bright, sunny window.

It prefers 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 and water 1-2 times a week. Keep the soil damp in winter – never let the houseplants dry out completely.

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

Like most tropical plants, Shrimp plants thrive in high humidity, so it’s best to mist their leaves regularly.

You can also feed your plant with liquid fertilizer weekly during the growing season or with slow-release pellets in spring.

Soil and Transplanting


Red Shrimp Plants are easy-to-grow plants that grow best in well-draining potting soil. Repot yearly or give the tropical plant new topsoil each spring.

They are best planted as a flowering houseplant during the summer months.

Grooming and Maintenance

When left untrimmed, shrimp plants will become unattractive, top-heavy, and leggy. That’s why it’s important to trim the plant and snip off dead bracts occasionally. Doing so will encourage blooms and bushiness. 

Cutting one-third of the branches back to the stem will also encourage new growth. 

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 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 need plant food. If hungry… feed the plant slowly at first
  • Pale drab flowers lose coloring turning dull yellow, which often means the plant needs more light (like 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 the soil is dry, look for red spider mites on the undersides of the leaves. If found, treat with approved miticide (see read and follow label) spray, and 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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