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Question: On a trip to Disney World we saw a landscape bed of “Golden Shrimp Plant.” Can the plant be grown indoors and will it flower? Or should it be used outside in sun on a patio or deck area?
The display at Disney as a landscape plant was lovely… but everything looks great there! Alicia, Rome NY
Answer: Growing plants indoors does not need be confined merely to old stand-bys. They can may also include exciting variations, such as the showy flowered “Shrimp Plant” – also the name (yellow) Beloperone guttata or Justicia brandegeeana (salmon-red).
However the true Golden Shrimp Plant is Pachystachys lutea.
Due to its habit of winter-long blooming, the golden yellow shrimp plant, can be grown as a houseplant during the winter. During summer, the shrimp is equally pleasing used as a bedding plant.
How To Care For Shrimp Plants
Beloperone (be-loh-pe’-roh-nee) guttata native to Mexico and grown less frequently than it deserves.
Shrimp plant or the Justicia brandegeeana is an evergreen shrub from genus Justicia, family Acanthaceae.
Other members of the Acanthaceae family include Strobilanthes (Persian shield) and the Zebra plant (Aphelandra). This perennial is native to Mexico and naturalized in Florida.
It is used in Southern USDA Zones in landscape beds as a ground cover. There the flowers attract hummingbirds. In Northern locations it is grown as a house plant.
From the Acanthaceae family, related to the Acanthus, though much more slender, with its arching, tubular, 2-lipped flowers on long curving spikes flower heads.
Its yellow, salmon colored or brick-red overlapping bracts look like a prawn or shrimp. Thus earning the plant its common name – shrimp plant.
Growing 18 inches tall the plant requires a rich, well-drained soil and delights in full sunshine and considerable warmth. Shade reduces blooms and allows the green stem on plants to stretch. It is propagated from cuttings or shrimp plant seeds, although raising from seed is difficult.
Growing Shrimp For Its Flowers
The “shrimp” is grown primarily for its flower heads. The easy to grow plants produce a profusion of overlapping floral bracts. The small white flowers, tipped with purple-spots, each having two slender petals and long yellow stamens, amid bright green leaves.
The chief effect is made by the long-lasting, unique flower bracts. The flowers last only a few days but the flower heads last for a long period of time. This makes the plant to appear in bloom all year round.
Shrimp Plant Pruning
Taking your clippers (we like Felco #2) and pruning the shrimp plant will help keep plants bushy and low. The best time for a good pruning, a heavy pruning is in early spring. Remove dead flowers and stems to keep the plant more of a compact bush form.
If allowed to “grow wild” and with age, plants can get ragged looking, leggy, gangly and weak.
Pinching back the tops will induce branching, and with several pinchings very fine specimens may be had.
Winter / Summer Shrimp Plant Care
During winter the shrimp plant likes direct sunlight. It will do well in sunny east, south or west windows.
It should be given plenty of water when flowering, and good drainage is absolutely necessary. It likes a warm, moist temperature which should not be lower than 55 degrees.
In summer your “shrimp” can enjoy a vacation in the garden and continue to bloom. You may sink it in the soil, pot and all to the rim, in a sunny location.
Rotate the pot so roots do not go through the drainage hole and become embedded in the soil. Because of the restricted root system, the plant will need more frequent waterings than plants growing in the ground.
In the fall, take up the pot, cut the plant back and repot it. Or perhaps you will have a supply of new plants and will not care to over-winter the old one. However, it will continue to bloom for several years.
Shrimp Plant Propagation
New plants propagate easily from stem cuttings at almost any time of the year. The average cutting should be about five inches long. Take cuttings with a slanting cut just below a leaf bud or node and drip in a rooting hormone powder.
Place 3 to 5 cuttings in a 4 inch pot using a 50-50 potting mixture perlite and peat moss, which is excellent for rooting.
Insert the cuttings into the moist soil, place the cuttings in partial shade and kept moist until well rooted. When ready for repotting as a container plant, repot into a six-inch pot. This size is large enough for the shrimp’s full growth.
Plants rooted in summer and tips pinched out will promote a bushy plant with more flowers. This makes a nice plant specimen for winter use indoors.
If you take the plant inside that has been outdoors during the summer, check the plant over good for insects.
To remove plant pests, wash with a gentle spray from a hose. Make sure the undersides, and the top of leaves, are washed with water. Clean the outside and bottom of the pot. If insects are still visible, try spraying with a mild homemade insecticide solution.
Plant lice (aphids) like the shrimp plant. To get rid of aphids, spray using a neem oil spray for plants or malathion.
Almost invariably the best side of a plant is that which is toward the light. This is true of the shrimp plant as well. For best result’s in keeping a potted plant uniform in shape in a window, turn the pots 180 degrees once a week.
You may also like –> Justicia Carnea The Brazilian Plume
Problems and Pests
Our Recommended Natural Pest Control Solutions For the Home and Garden
- Neem Oil Plant Insecticide – Details on Neem Oil Pest Spray
- Diatomaceous Earth – Food Grade – More on using DE here
- Bacillus thuringiensis Bt
- Insecticidal soap – More on insecticidal soap here
- Beneficial Insects – Ladybugs, Predatory Mites and Green Lacewing
For more info on these recommended products, read our detailed review here.
Leggy Plants – Constantly pinch and prune, start new plants from cuttings.
Pale Leaves – Usually the plant is lacking food.
Drap or Pale Flower Heads – Plants need more light, move to a brighter location.
Yellow Leaves – Often a sign of over-watering OR Look for red spider mite damage if the pot soil is dry.
Earning its name from the graceful flower heads, this easy to care for and grow evergreen plant displays blooms in mass making it a part of any year-round color option.
Image: Salmon Red source