Shrimp Plant: how to grow and care

The shrimp plant is a bushy evergreen shrub in the genus Justicia of the family Acanthaceae. It is also renowned as Justicia brandegeeana, Mexican shrimp plant, or false hop, which is native to Mexico and naturalized in Florida. It grows to 1000 cm (39 inches) tall by 60 to 90 cm (24 to 35 inches) broad with spindly limbs. The plant consists of an oval, green leaves that are 3 to 7.5 cm long and white flowers extending from red bracts, which look a bit like a shrimp.

The stems and leaves are downy that usually grow in clusters on the branches. Along with this, the amount of creamy white on the variegated leaves will increase as the plant receives more sun, and vice versa. The flowers grow from the bracts which form off the stems.

The more sun exposure turns the bracts to deep salmon from pale pink; otherwise, the original color of the bract is white. The flowers are so beautiful that they attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Generally, the flowers bloom continuously for a month once they began, then stop for a short period before they start again.

Is a shrimp plant annual or perennial?

The shrimp plant is annual. Each year, you will need to replant it when it grows out of the pot. It can live for up to 3 years though if you keep them well-watered and fed.

Where does the plant grow

The shrimp plant grows in many clumps and USDA plant hardiness zones 8-11, but it has now naturalized in many areas due to the ease of shrimp propagation.

Because the stems, which tend to become leggy with age and the sparse oval, green leaves, sometimes speckled with white, are not particularly attractive, but the bracts, which hold tiny and insignificant white flowers, definitely eye-catchy.

Therefore, if you live in zone 8-11, you can grow this plant, as it can be a welcome addition to your landscape. They are easy to grow and will flourish in the warm temperatures of the south. Once you become able to establish them, they will even survive the occasional hard frost.

How to grow a Shrimp Plant

You can grow and care shrimp plant if you carefully consider the following points:


You can propagate the shrimp plants from seeds, stems, and cuttings. The best method for outdoor plantings is a division of clumps, whereas the most comfortable way of shrimp plant propagation is cuttings. You should trim only those of your plants whose cuttings have at least four sets of leaves. First, dig the fresh cut ends in rooting hormone. Poke them into the soil, and then keep the soil consistently moist. In about six to eight weeks, it will develop roots.

Soil and fertilizer

Shrimp plants prefer to grow in well-draining potting soil. If they receive an excellent potting soil and an occasional dose of fertilizer, they will bloom all winter.

Potting and re-potting

You need to require a pot of appropriately small size. As and when the plant grows, you can re-pot them according to the size of the plant.


You need to avail bright light but indirect sunlight. It flourishes in the shade in tropical areas.


It grows well at Summer temperature about 65-75 degree and winter temperature about 55-65 degrees F. It hates temperature below 45 degrees F.


Water the plants 1-2 times a week in summer and lessen the amount of water in winter. Do not let the plants to dry out completely.


Feed the plant with liquid plant foods throughout the year. The volume of feeding the plant is lesser in winter.


Remove the old dead flowers and leaves from the surface of the plant. This makes the plant look attractive.

Pests and problems

If the plants started having pale leaves, then it means the plant is hungry. Feed the plant slowly to solve the problem. Likewise, if the leaves started yellowing, then it shows the sign of over-watering. So treat with approved miticide spray and keep the humidity up.

Shrimp Plant Care

Knowledge is power, that’s what they say. And if you want to know how to care for your shrimp plant, we can teach you. Here are some tips for taking care of your shrimp plant:

  •  The shrimp plant should be watered every 4-7 days or so. If it’s too dry, it may die.
  • In addition to water, it needs sun
  • so get a spot where the light will hit the pot from all directions and all angles (just like in nature). This is in the morning when the sun is at its highest.
  • If you see that they have a need to “upgrade” their pot (e.g. a hole), just give it a fresh one it’s not a problem as long as it’s bigger than the hole itself and doesn’t show signs of rot. – Never put your shrimp plant in direct sunlight (unless you want to burn them!)
  • Feeding time: We recommend feeding them 1 tsp of liquid fertilizer per every 1-gallon water every 3 weeks – or more often if necessary.
  • After feeding, put the pot in the sink to soak it. This will make it grow more vigorously and stronger. – When you’re done with your shrimp plant, just wash it off (with water) and let it dry (not in direct sunlight – in a shady place). Afterward, put it on the windowsill or wherever you want to display your masterpiece. Enjoy!

Does shrimp plant like the full sun?

Well, if you’ve followed the instructions above, it shouldn’t be a problem. Just keep in mind that the more sunlight they get, the faster they will grow – so you may want to take it out in the morning before they light up your room.

Why does my shrimp plant have white tips on some of its leaves?

This basically implies that they are not getting enough sunlight or water – so you need to make sure you are giving it the proper amount every day! We recommend watering at least 1 gallon per pot a week, and always have fresh water available as well.

You can also try adding fertilizer (1 tsp in 1 gallon) to your plants’ water.

How often do you water a shrimp plant?

This depends on the size of your plant, and how fast it grows (some grow much faster than others). You can simply check the soil – if it’s dry in the pot, you should water it. If you follow the instructions above, you shouldn’t have to worry about it.

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