Before we talk about how to care for a shrimp plant, let’s talk about what a shrimp plant is. Read on for more information.
About shrimp plants
The Mexican shrimp plant, or Justicia brandegeeana, is native to Guatemala, Honduras, and, as its name implies, Mexico. It is an evergreen shrub that rarely grows more than 3 or 4 feet (1 m) tall and about equal in width. It thrives in the understory, a partially shaded area of tropical forests.
Plants grow in many stem groups and in USDA plant hardiness zones 8-11, growing shrimp plants in gardens has become so prevalent that it has now become naturalized in many areas. This is due in large part to the ease of propagation of shrimp plants. The stems, which tend to grow long with age, and the few oval, green leaves, sometimes speckled with white, are not particularly attractive, but the bracts, which support tiny, insignificant white flowers, are definitely eye-catching. Each stem has a tip of light pink to rusty red bracts that arch into a shape that remarkably resembles shrimp. There are also yellow and lime green cultivars.
If you live in zone 8-11, growing shrimp plants can be a welcome addition to your landscape. They are easy to grow and will thrive in the warm southern temperatures. Once established, they will even survive occasional hard frosts, dying back to the ground and sprouting again when warm weather returns.
Shrimp plant growing and care information
While these beauties aren’t picky, there are a few things to know about caring for a shrimp plant to get the most out of your shrub. It grows best in clay or sandy soils that are well-drained. He does not do well with wet feet.
Well-rooted plants are fairly drought tolerant, but like most tropical plants, they thrive in high humidity. While they will grow in full sun to partial shade, it is ideal to grow shrimp plants where they get the morning sun. They need the sun to bring out the brightest colors, yet too much sun will cause the colors to fade too soon.
Shrimp plant care should also include frequent trimming to encourage fuller growth and increased flowering. Once the first bracts appear, a shrimp plant will bloom for months and then rest for a bit before blooming again. The best time to prune and prune is when flowering begins to slow down.
Shrimp plant in pots
For those gardeners beyond Zone 8, planting potted shrimp plants can give them the same tropical effect as their southern neighbors. They make wonderful patio plants or their pots can be arranged among the other flowering plants in a bed. Planting shrimp plants in pots has the added benefit of being able to bring this blooming beauty indoors when the weather turns cool.
They will continue to bloom throughout the winter in a bright, sunny window; And when it comes to caring for shrimp plants indoors, all they need is good potting soil and an occasional dose of fertilizer.
Like their outdoor brethren, they need to be trimmed regularly to prevent them from getting too scruffy.
Shrimp plant propagation
Now that you’ve seen how easy it is to care for a shrimp plant, you’ll want more than one and maybe a few for neighbors and friends. Shrimp plant propagation is as easy as shrimp plant care.
The division of bushes is the best method for outdoor plantings. Potted shrimp plants can also be divided when put together, but why wait so long? Cuttings are the easiest method of shrimp plant propagation.
When you trim your plants, make sure some of those cuttings have at least four sets of leaves. Dip the freshly cut ends in the rooting hormone and dip them into the soil. Keep the soil constantly moist and in six to eight weeks, it should have roots.