The shrimp plant, also known as Justicia brandegeana, is a frost-tender, evergreen sub-shrub native to areas of Mexico. In the United States, shrimp plant is winter hardy in zones 8 through 11 only, but gardeners in cooler areas can still enjoy the plant indoors. The plant's common name derives from its red, orange, pink or yellow blooms that resemble cooked shrimp and cover the plant nearly year-round with proper care. The shrimp plant reaches 1 to 5 feet in height, depending on the growing location. Often used in mixed perennial beds, shrimp plant also attracts hummingbirds to the garden.
Plant shrimp plant during spring after the risk of frost has passed. Choose a location that receives six to eight hours of sunlight each day and consists of moist, fertile, well-drained soil. Space shrimp plants at least 2 to 3 feet apart.
Apply a 2-inch layer of organic mulch to the ground surrounding the shrimp plant to insulate the soil, stunt the growth of weeds and increase moisture retention. Start the mulch 3 to 4 inches from the crown of the plant (where the stems meet the roots) to minimize the risk of fungal diseases or rotting.
Water shrimp plant once every five days during the first month of growth to help establish the root system. Reduce the watering frequency to about once each week thereafter, and once every two weeks during winter.
Feed the plant once each month using a balanced liquid fertilizer to provide proper nutrition for root, flower and foliage formation. Apply following the manufacturer's instructions for the best results and water thoroughly after feeding to prevent root injury.
Prune shrimp plant immediately after flowering ends to promote a compact, bushy growth habit and to improve the plant's health. Use pruning shears to remove all leggy, diseased, damaged and excessively long branches.
Things You Will Need
- Organic mulch
- Liquid fertilizer
- Pruning shears
- Shrimp plant can be grown in partial shade, but flowering will be reduced.
- Plants may die back in winter if planted outdoors in zone 8, but roots should survive. In most cases, new growth will appear in spring after all danger of frost is over.
- In zones north of 8, shrimp plant is best grown in containers and placed indoors before temperatures drop below freezing. Treat as a houseplant through winter, watering about once per week and providing with bright, indirect sunlight. Place back outdoors in spring after temperatures rise and resume regular care.
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