Justicia brandegeeana: Shrimp plant

Family: Acanthaceae
Common name: Shrimp plant, Mexican shrimp plant, False hop

There are many species called Shrimp plants, but Justicia Brandegeeana is the closest in terms of color and shape to shrimps. These beautiful tropical plants can grow to a height of 1 meter with tall spindly stems, which can be pruned well to give the plant a bushy appearance.

Leaves are green, lance-shaped with a blunted pointy tip, and is about 3-7 cms long. The beautiful inflorescence is what gives the plant its name, Shrimp plant. They are comprised for uniformly arranged bracts that are pink to deep red in color, and curved slightly so that they look like a shrimp’s tail.

Small white flowers project out from the bracts, but the bracts are too colorful for anybody to notice the small flowers. The flowers have pinkish red throat and prominent stamens. The bracts continue growing till they are about 5-10 inches long.

Shrimp plant grows well in tropical weather, and is grown as an ornamental plant because of their brightly-colored bracts. They need good humidity, sunlight and fertilization to grow and bloom well, the colors coming out the brightest in full sunlight.

Shrimp plants can be grown indoors near well-lit windows, but would need to be moved outside for a few days every month, so that they don’t grown lanky and limp. Most plants in the Acanthaceae family love humidity and warm, tropical weather, though mature plants are reasonably drought-tolerant.

There are variants of the Shrimp plant in yellow and lime green colors as well, very difficult to distinguish from the golden shrimp plant, Pachystachys Lutea.

Propagation is quite easy, through stem cuttings preferably dipped in rooting hormones. Root clumps can also be divided into separate plants during repotting.

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