The Q&A Archives: Not A 'shrimp' Plant

Question: Why didn't my shrimp plant produce any "shrimp" (bracts) and grew to about 20ft tall? When I purchased the plant it did have the bracts on it; so I know it was correctly labeled!
Thanks much.

Answer: Shrimp plant, Justicia brandegeana, is a commonly cultivated shrub in Southern California, with showy, red bracts. The white flower, which has internal markings, projects from the bracts, and the entire inflorescence looks somewhat like a shrimp. The red bracts are very attractive to hummingbirds. Shrimp plants are named for the bloom, not the size of the shrub, which is generally 2-4 feet x 18 inches. If yours is much larger, and without blooms, it might be due to over-fertilization (too much nitrogen produces lush, green growth at the expense of blossoms). Lack of bloom might also be attributed to too much shade - shrimp plants prefer full sunshine and somewhat dry soil. If you're providing the right growing conditions and haven't applied too much nitrogen, your shrimp plant should bloom from early spring through summer. If it were in my garden I think I'd prune it back a bit to reduce its size and to encourage new growth, which should produce new blooms.

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