While most plants that are called "shrimp plant" are in the Justicia family, there are some with this common name that are in other plant families. Not all shrimp plants can be grown in the same zones or in the same conditions, but even the tropicals can be grown as annuals if given the right environment. Most shrimp plants can be grown as houseplants.
Red Shrimp Plant
Native to Mexico, red shrimp plant (Justicia brandageana) is what most people consider a shrimp plant. The red shrimp plant has weak, twiggy, branching stems and grows from 3 to 5 feet in height. Flowers are actually spikes of bracts that can range from rust colored to dark red. It is hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11 and can be killed to the ground during a hard freeze, but it usually recovers. Red shrimp plant is easily started from cuttings.
Several varieties of this plant have been developed through hybridization, including "Nervosa," "Aurea," "Fruit Cocktail," "Pink," "Variegata," "Yellow Queen" and "Mutant." As of 2010, most of these hybrid varieties are not readily available in garden centers, and usually must be ordered.
White Shrimp Plant
White shrimp plant (Justicia betonica) is a bushy shrub with more upright bracts than its more common cousin, red shrimp plant. The flowers are white with green netting and light green leaves.
This shade-loving plant grows to 3 feet and can become quite bushy. It is a prolific bloomer, which blooms best when kept moist. It is hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11.
Golden Shrimp Plant
Golden shrimp plant (Pachystachys lutea) is tropical and is hardy in USDA zones 9b to 11. It thrives in part shade and is adaptable to acidic or slightly alkaline clay, sandy or loam soils.
Golden shrimp plant has 6-inch-long dark green leaves and can grow to 3 to 4 feet in height. The flower, which grows above the plant, is an upright spike of bright yellow bracts with pure white flowers emerging from each.
Purple Shrimp Plant
Purple shrimp plant (Justicia scheidweileri) is also called rose pinecone and Brazilian fireworks. Its long green leaves with silvery veins are almost as showy as the flower spike. The bracts of the purple shrimp plant are red, with emerging purple flowers.
Purple shrimp plant grows best in shade and can be grown as a houseplant, but is only hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11.
Blue Shrimp Plant
Also known as blue wax flower or honeywort, the blue shrimp plant (Cerinthe major purparescens) is native to the Mediterranean. It is the only shrimp plant that is an annual in its native habitat. The compact 2 foot by 2 foot plant blooms from spring through fall with 1-inch blue flowers that are attractive to bees.
Being an annual, it produces seeds that can be replanted in the spring.
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