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How to Prune a Shrimp Plant

The shrimp plant is an easy-growing perennial shrub native to Mexico. The shrimp plant needs very little attention; just give it fertile, well-drained soil and afternoon shade, and it will grow to 36 inches in height and bloom as long as the weather is warm. When it comes to pruning the shrimp plant there are two schools of thought: those that say it needs pruning and those that say it doesn't. Overall, it depends upon the climate in which the plant is grown. If you live in a colder climate, the plant will die back in the late fall or early winter and begin again in the spring. For those in mild climates, the plant may get leggy and overgrown and need a little thinning.

During the growing season, pinching the tips of the plant will encourage it to grow in the shape you want. Pinch back 4 or 5 inches immediately above a leaf node (where the leaf joins the stem).

Pruning should begin with removing any dead or damaged stems from the shrimp plant. Check for pest-infested or diseased branches, and remove those as well.

Prune away any crossed stems to allow air to flow through the plant.

Cut the plant back about one-third its size to encourage it to grow bushier.

Prune A Shrimp Plant

A fast-growing tropical native, shrimp plant is easily tip-pruned or pruned back severely, depending on the time of year. Two plants share the common name "shrimp plant," known botanically Justicia brandegeana or Pachystachys lutea (yellow shrimp plant). Determine which branches or stems need trimming back. If the entire shrimp plant is large and unruly, think about the size the plant should be after pruning is complete. Reduce all stems as in Step 2 until the entire plant size meets your requirements. Avoid cutting back too deeply into semi-woody stems, as it will take longer for the shrimp plant to regrow and then flower. Trim back the new growth's stems, if needed, to keep the plant uniform in shape as it rejuvenates.


Don't prune your shrimp plant in the spring, as they bloom on new growth and you may inhibit its ability to bloom. Prune in late February or early March.

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