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How to Grow Justicia

Shrimp plant, Justicia brandegeana
Shrimp plant, Justicia brandegeana

Justicia is a tropical shrub that bears tubular, two-lipped flowers surrounded by bracts. Flowers appear in spikes or panicles. Justicia has lance- to oval-shaped leaves. Plants grow from 12 inches (30cm) t 5 feet (1.5m) tall depending on the variety.

Justicia can be planted in mixed borders in tropical regions, Where temperatures are cool in winter, Justicia is grown as a houseplant. Two species, Justicia brandegeana and J. carnea, are most commonly cultivated.

Justicia is a genus of about 420 species of evergreen perennials and shrubs. Justicia is native to a wide range of tropical regions worldwide.

Get to Know Justicia

  • Plant type: Tropical evergreen perennials and shrubs
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 14-15
  • Hardiness: Tender; where temperatures fall below 45°F (7°C) grow as a houseplant
  • Height and width: 12 inches to 5 feet (30cm-1.5m) tall and 24 inches (60cm) to 4 feet (1.2m) wide depending on the variety
  • Foliage: Ovate to elliptic leaves, often boldly veined
  • Flowers: Slender, tubular flowers which have narrow, arching lips and conspiculous bracts
  • Bloom time: Spring
  • Uses: Mixed border in tropical regions; houseplant
  • Common name: Shrimp bush, shrimp plant, plume flower
  • Botanical name: Justicia
  • Family name: Acanthaceae
  • Origin: Tropical and subtropical regions worldwide
Brazilian plume flower, Justicia carnea
Brazilian plume flower, Justicia carnea

Where to Plant Justicia

  • Light outdoors: Grow Justicia in partial shade.
  • Light indoors: Grow in bright filtered light.
  • Soil outdoors: Oudoors grow Justicia in fertile, moist, but well-drained soil.
  • Soil indoors: Use a soil-based potting mix.

When to Plant Justicia

  • Set container-grown Justicia outdoors any time of the year in tropical regions.

Planting and Spacing Justicia

  • Space Justicia 24 inches (60cm) to 4 feet (1.2m) apart.

How to Water and Feed Justicia

  • Water Justicia freely during the growing season; in winter, keep the soil just moist.
  • Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer every 4 weeks.

Justicia Care

  • Tip prune young Justicia plants to promote bushiness.

Growing Justicia as a Houseplant

  • Grow Justicia in a warm room with brigtht light and high humidity.
  • The growing medium should be rich, soilless, and evenly moist.
  • If a plant ceases to flower in witer, allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
  • Fertilize every two weeks in spring and summer.
  • In spring, cut the planc back by half, and occasionally pinch out growing tips to keep the plant compact.

Justicia Pests and Diseases

  • Whiteflies and spider mites can be a problem indoors.
  • Bacterial and fungal leaf spots and rust may occur.

Justicia Propagation

  • Sow seed in spring.
  • Root softwood or semi-ripe cutting with bottom heat from late spring to midsummer.

Justicia Varieties to Grow

  • Justicia brandegeana, shrimp plant. Grows to 36 inches tall and nearly as wide; has weak stems; leaves are oval, soft, hairy and 3-inches long; flowers bloom in drooping, 6 inch spikes at the ends of stems; flowers are whtie; the lower lip is spoted in red and overalpped by heart-shaped pink, golden bronze, or yellow-green bracts that look like the shells of shrimp. Cultivar ‘Yellow Queen’ has buttery yellow bracts.
  • J. carnea, Brazilian plume flower. Can grow to 6 feet in tropical region, half that indoors; oval to oblong 4 to 8 inch leaves with prominent veins; flowers are rose-pink to purple and surrounded by white to pink bacts; blooms throughout the year in dense 6 inche spikes at the ends of stems.

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