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Plant of the Month

Justicia brandegeana and Pachystachys lutea are both members of the family Acanthaceae and both commonly known as Shrimp Plants or Brazilian Plumes.  These plants are pan-tropical in origin and form very showy blooms which resemble shrimp.

Pachystachy lutea -- Golden Shrimp Plant

Justicia Brandegeana -- Shrimp Plant

Plant Facts:

Common Name:  Shrimp Plant, Brazilian Plume

Botanical Name:  Justicia brandegeana and Pachystachys lutea

Family:  Acanthaceae

Plant Type:  Bushy, spreading sub-shrub

Origin: Pan-tropic

Zones: 8 - 11 (suffer freeze damage below 50F, 20F kills plants to the ground, but they may re-emerge and flower in the spring).

Height:  2-4'

Rate of Growth: Moderate

Salt Tolerance: Poor

Soil Requirements:  Rich, moist, well-drained soil, acid to slightly alkaline pH.

Water Requirements: Moderate drought tolerance, water established plants when weather or soil is dry.  Water sparingly in winter.

Nutritional Requirements: Balanced liquid fertilizer monthly, heavy mulching and applications of organic matter enhance root growth and help to keep nematodes in check.

Light Requirements: Full sun to shade (bright light encourages flowering).

Form:  Bushy, spreading sub-shrub

Leaves:  2"-5" oblong shaped

Flowers:  Brightly colored red, yellow or orange shrimp-shaped terminal spikes of bracts almost year round.   Cut back after flowering to encourage branching and new growth that will terminate in flower-bracts.

Fruits: None

Pests:  Nematodes can be a problem.

Uses:  Informal hedge, border, container or planter, or grouped for large areas of color.  Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

Bad Habits: None

Cost:  $ -- very reasonable

Propagation:   Tip cuttings, stems will root themselves where they touch the ground -- easy to transplant.

Sources:   Betrocks FL Plant Guide bfpg.gif (10438 bytes), Tropical Gardening

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Last updated 06/03/08