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
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.
- 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.
- 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.