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Plant of the Week: Shrimp plant

Shrimp plant's unusual flower bracts add a touch of the exotic to your garden.
Shrimp plant's unusual flower bracts add a touch of the exotic to your garden.
Shawna Kennedy


Native to Mexico, shrimp plant, or Justicia brandegeana, is a sub-tropical perennial that is evergreen in Fresno's climate. This plant will reach 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide, but can be pruned smaller.

The stems of this plant are long and branching with a loose growing habit, but what really sets this plant apart, and why it's Plant of the Week, is the arching rusty red to salmon-colored bracts that grow on the end of each stem. These bracts shelter small white flowers that bloom almost all year long, and are a favorite with hummingbirds and butterflies.




Shrimp plant is a low-maintenance addition to a perennial bed,  suitable as a mass planting, or in a container on a porch or patio. Grow this shrimp plant in partial to full sun and well-drained, organic-rich soil. This plant is not drought-tolerant. In Fresno's summers, shrimp plant needs frequent watering. A hard frost will kill the plant to the ground, but it will return as soon as the weather warms. If grown in a container, shrimp plant can be brought indoors for the winter.




Trim the tips of this plant periodically throughout the warm months of the year to increase flowering and to encourage bushier growth.

 


New plants are started from stem cuttings or by dividing the root clumps in the spring. And it's a good thing; this plant is so beautiful and easy to grow, your neighbors will want one.

 

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