13 Justicia brandegeanaCommon Names: shrimp plant, false hop, shrimp bush Family: Acanthaceae (acanthus Family)
The popular shrimp plant grows in clumps of weak, twiggy stems that get 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) tall, 3 ft (1 m) wide, and may spread to form a large colony. The branching stems are tipped by 6 in (15 cm) drooping spikes of dark red to rusty brown bracts, each bract enclosing a tounguelike white flower. Shrimp plant is evergreen in mild climates, and blooms almost continuously. The leaves are oval, light green and 2-3 in (5-8 cm) long. The young stems and the undersides of the leaves are soft and downy. There are cultivars with yellow bracts, bright red bracts, and others with lime green bracts.
Justicia brandegeana is native to Mexico. It is often grown in tropical and subtropical gardens, and has escaped cultivation and naturalized in peninsular Florida.
CultureLight: Shrimp plant does well in full to part sun. Moisture: Shrimp plant likes a fertile, well drained soil; water generously in hot weather to keep plant looking fresh. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11. Shrimp plant is killed to the ground by hard frosts but usually recovers quickly when warm weather returns. Propagation: Start new plants from stem cuttings in spring or by division of clumps.
Use shrimp plant in mixed perennial beds and borders, wherever you want a mass of continuous color - they bloom almost all year long! Keep the bushes tip pruned to promote bushiness and increase flowering. In cooler climates, shrimp plant is grown in a container, to be brought indoors in winter.
The Mexican shrimp plant is easy to grow. The exotic, interesting flowers bloom continuously in frost-free areas. It is not bothered by pests. What a great plant! Another outstanding Justicia is Brazilian plume.
Steve Christman 9/13/96; updated 8/20/01, 5/1/06, 12/29/07