Mexican shrimp plant is not only colorful but entices
hummingbirds to come and feast.
fanatics, you must add the shrimp plant to your gardenís floral
menu. Your first thought might be the yellow shrimp or lollipop plant,
Pachystaychus lutea. While I would say that is must have, too, the one
I am touting today is known botanically as Justicia brandegeeana and
is often referred to as the Mexican shrimp plant.
True to that
common name, it is native to Mexico and happens to be the "feast
de jour" for our hummingbirds at the Coastal Georgia Botanical
Gardens. While we grow ours in the landscape, know that it will make
an exotic thriller plant in mixed containers. This means everyone can
grow it, keeping the hummingbirds flying throughout the landscape
while keeping well fed.
shrimp plant is cold hardy from zones 8-11. This winter was hard in
the Savannah area with temperatures reaching 18 degrees. As expected
our plants retreated to ground level but incredibly are pushing 4 feet
plus right now.
It comes in
several colors or named selections, like Chartreuse which is
yellow/green, or Gator Orange that is orange/red and the ever popular
Cocktail that has red, orange and yellow. We are growing Yellow Queen
which is the perfect complementary partner for its companions of Black
and Blue salvia and blue plumbago.
All of those
colorful varieties mentioned are really describing the exotic looking
bracts that stay landscape effective for weeks. Mexican shrimp plants
are prolific bloomers, flowering all summer long on new growth that
develops. Even though we grow them for their brightly colored bracts,
hummingbirds will find the white tubular flowers irresistible. The
swift flyers will dart here and there competing for the delicious
shrimp plants are great thriller plants for containers on patios or
can be planted in the border for a sweeping splash of yellow or
whichever color you choose. Try planting several in front of bananas
or upright elephant ears for a really tropical look or combine with
salvias like we did for a hummingbird garden. In a container try Blue
Wave petunia, or Surdiva scaevola as filler plants and Goldilocks
lysimachia as your spiller.
plants prefer fertile well-drained soils, so work in 3 to 4 inches of
organic matter along with 2 pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet.
A slow release 12-6-6 fertilizer containing minor nutrients would be a
plants with light applications of the fertilizer to keep them growing
vigorously. In containers feed them with a dilute water-soluble
20-20-20 fertilizer every other week.
They are easy to
protect during the winter by relocating to a frost-free location. When
you bring it out for the spring, you may want to re-pot and cut back
for a quick flush of growth and blooms.
Another big plus
for shrimp plant is the ease of propagation. To root yours, cut an 8-
to 10-inch long stem stripping off the lower set of leaves. Place in
moist potting soil or sand, keeping one to two sets of leaves above
the soil line. Place cuttings in the shade and they should root
easily. This may be useful next fall if you planted yours in the
landscape and want to over-winter some for the next spring.
certainly add tropical beauty to the landscape and the fact they
attract hummingbirds makes the garden an adventure. I hope you will
add some at your home.