Justicia carnea or Jacobinia is an evergreen shrub growing to heights of 3 to 7 feet and just as wide. The dark green leaves are about 6 inches long and the tubular flower clusters face upward. The flowers come in shades of rose, white, yellow and orange. The tall flower stems come from the center of the plant and shoot up a couple of feet before blooming in the beginning of the summer. The plant is hardy in USDA planting zone 8B through 11 and needs little maintenance.
Water the shrub from above. The water weighs the branches down opening up the center for light and additional plant growth. Allow the top of the soil to dry out slightly before watering. If the plant is in sandy soil or too much sunlight it will need additional irrigation. Jacobinia should be planted in a mostly shaded area.
Spread a 4-inch layer of mulch in a 3-foot diameter at the base of the shrub to keep weeds from growing and to help retain moisture. Keep the mulch 3 inches from the main trunk of the shrub.
Apply a shrub fertilizer each year in the spring. For the newly planted Jacobinia, wait until new growth is noticed before applying the fertilizer. Follow manufacturer’s directions for amount to apply, as per age and size of the shrub.
Place a 2-inch layer of compost over the mulch in the summer when the flowers are starting to bloom. Regular watering will leach the compost into the soil and supply it with needed nutrients.
Pinch off the ends of the weaker branches in the spring just before the buds set. This will encourage new and fuller growth on the shrub. Cut off any dead or damaged branches as soon as you notice them and cut off all spent flower heads right away. This will help keep the shrub disease-free.
Cut back older branches to a node right above the ground in the fall on older bushes. Cut the branches on a 45-degree angle and in the spring, the shrub will grow new branches. This type of pruning of older bushes keep the plants healthy for many years.