How to Care for Beloperone guttata (Shrimp Plants)

Beloperone guttata are also known as the Shrimp Plants, are evergreen shrubs from the Acanthaceae family of the flowering plants. They are native to Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. The name Shrimp plant is given to them because of their flowers. Their flowers have an appearance similar to the Shrimps. They have beautiful flowers that bloom all year, apart from their flowers the whole plant is also colorful, making it a perfect choice for indoor decoration, and a great addition to your garden. 

They grow only 3 to 6 feet high (almost 1 meter) and they can cover almost 2 to 3 feet of the surface. They have green oval leaves that grow in clusters. Flowers are perfectly shaped like the shrimps, the colors can be different, depending on the variety. They like to be in a little warm, and bright environment. They thrive when grown under partial shade to partial sun.

There are four common variants of the Shrimp Plants and each one has some specific characteristics that separate it from the other members of the family, but they also have many similarities as well. 

Below are the specific details of these four varieties.

Purple Shrimp Plant (Justicia scheidweileri)

Justicia scheidweileri is commonly called the purple Shrimp Plant. Their flowers have reddish color bracts and their leaves are bigger. They mostly grow only up to 18 inches but they spread all around the place where they are grown. Their bloom lasts almost the whole year but new flowers are seen during the days of the spring. They are a great choice for an outdoor garden, they can also be grown in indoor environments but require more space to grow. 

Special Requirements for Purple Shrimp Plant

They like full sun to partial shade and mildly hot environments. Temperature between 65-75º F helps them thrive. They like to be grown in loamy or sandy soils. If you are growing them inside, you might have to care for their spread as they quickly spread all around and they require more space than many other plants of the same age of height. 

White Shrimp Plant (Justicia betonica)

Justicia Betonica is known as the white Shrimp Plants, their flowers have white color while the bracts of the plant are mostly green in color. They can grow up to 1.5 meters high if provided a proper space and not pruned.  They can also cover almost a 1-meter surface, so keep this in mind if you are growing them inside. They have green elongated leaves and a thin stem with multiple branches. They are a great choice for outdoor, but if you have more room inside, then they are one of the best choices. 

Special Requirements for White Shrimp Plant

White Shrimp Plants require full sun to partial shade, a mildly hot and humid environment, and a proper supply of water to thrive. They thrive when the temperature is between 70-80º F. They are not cold hardy or and they cannot survive the frost conditions for the long term. Extremely hot or extremely cold temperatures both can harm them and can slow their growth. 

Blue Shrimp Plant (Cerinthe major purparescens)

Blue Shrimp Plants have beautiful green bracts and blue flowers that are small as compared to the other Shrimp Plant flowers. They have pale green leaves, these leaves have small white hairs, making them puffy and giving them a velvety look and touch. Blue Shrimp Plants can grow up to 4 feet high and almost 3 to 4 feet wide.

Special Requirements for Blue Shrimp Plant

They need organically rich soil that is well-drained as well. They require a proper water supply, a bright environment (full sun to partial shade), and a mildly hot environment to thrive. They are not cold hardy plants and they cannot survive the extremely cold environments. If you are growing them in a very cold or very hot environment, it is better to keep them inside, otherwise they can even die. 

Golden Shrimp Plant (Pachystachys lutea)

The Golden Shrimp Plant is one of the most grown Shrimp Plants, they get 3 to 6 feet high, and they also spread around the planter. Their white flowers are enclosed in golden bracts that look like the shrimps, that is why they are called the golden Shrimp Plants. They have lush green leaves. 

Special Requirements for Golden Shrimp Plant

The Golden Shrimp Plants require a bright environment (full sun to partial shade depending on the season). They can also be grown in indoor environments where they get enough light. They thrive in mildly hot surroundings, a well-draining sandy or loamy soil, and an abundance of organic matter in the soil. They require proper watering to thrive and properly grow. You might have to prune them as they can spread quickly and cover a large area if not pruned. 

How to Water Beloperone guttata (Shrimp Plants) 

All the variants have similar water requirements, they don’t like the dry conditions, they like the soil to be moist all the time throughout the year. There are different watering arrangements that are based on the age of the plant, season, climate, and temperatures. If you have planted them in a hot area, during the summertime, you will have to provide them water more frequently, almost twice a week. But in slightly cold areas and during the winter times, they do not require that much frequent watering, you can water them once every 6 to 8 days. 

Follow the instructions below to water them properly:

  • Do not let them completely dry out, this can halt their growth. They also don’t like to be overwatered as this can harm their roots and expose them to rot. Always water them when you feel that the first layer of the soil has dried. This will help you avoid overwatering.
  • A balanced watering schedule should be followed that considers all the environmental, seasonal factors that impact the plant’s growth. 
  • During the summer plant requires more frequent watering, so it is better to water them more during the summertime. You can water them twice a week as well. 
  • In the mildly cold days of winter, the plant’s watering requirements drop. They need less water supply as the soil remains wet for more time during the winter as compared to the summer. 
  • The Shrimp Plants require more water during the flowering season. That is because they require this water to grow flowers and boost their overall growth. In summer and spring providing them more water can boost their growth.
  • Watering the indoor plants is different from watering the outdoor Shrimp Plants, so never try to follow the same watering schedule for both, plants in the planters require more water as they are unable to get it from the soil directly like the outdoor plants. 

Lighting and Temperature needs for Beloperone guttata (Shrimp Plants) 

Lighting Requirements

The Shrimp Plants like to be grown in bright environments. If you are growing them inside, you can plant them in a place where it gets enough light. They require full sun to partial shade depending on the season, during the hot days of summer they require partial shade while during the spring and winter they like the full sunlight. 

If you have planted them inside, you can keep them in a window that is facing the east side, or a place where they can get direct or indirect sunlight for almost all day long. If you expose them to full sunlight during the summertime, they can lose the color of their flowers.

For outdoor planting of the Shrimp Plants, you must plant them in a place where they get full sunlight during the morning time. Mostly they are planted alongside the walls or under some trees as a ground cover. 

Temperature requirements

The Golden Shrimp Plants like to be grown in moderately hot environments. They do not like extremely hot or extremely cold temperatures. They thrive when the temperature is between 65-75º F. They are more vulnerable to the temperature changes during the early days of their life, but once they have grown 2 feet high they survive the hot conditions as well.

They are not cold hardy and require protection from the frost conditions. If the temperatures are below 20 to 25 º F. they can even die as well. So if you want to grow them in cold areas, you might have to keep them indoors and protect them from the cold and frost. 

If you have planted them inside, always try to keep them away from the fireplaces, this can be harmful to their leaves. In outdoor environments, you will have to protect them from both hot and cold temperatures. 

Soil needs for Beloperone guttata (Shrimp Plants)

The Shrimp Plants grow very well in the loamy, sandy soil, If the soil is well-draining they will thrive in it. The pH of the soil can be neutral to slightly acidic or alkaline. They require the soil to trap the water only for a short period. Slightly porous soil is good for growing the Shrimp Plants. 

Most of the time such soil contains sand, chalk, compost, organic matter, pumice, and perlite. You can also add some plant fertilizers to boost the growth of the Shrimp Plants in the early days. As you may know that they grow quickly meaning that they require more nutrients and water from the soil, so the soil must contain organic matter or must contain all the nutrients that are required for the proper growth of the Shrimp Plants. 

How to care for common Diseases of Beloperone guttata (Shrimp Plants)

Different common houseplant diseases can attack your Shrimp Plants, they halt the growth of the plant, sometimes they cause the leaves to wilt and die. Sometimes they impact a part of the plant such as leaves, flowers, or stem but sometimes they can attack the whole plant as well. It is very important to protect your Shrimp Plants from these types of diseases and attacks. 

Below are the common diseases and pests and how to control them in Shrimp Plants:

  • Pale Leaves: The leaves of the Shrimp Plants turn into pale yellow color, mostly this is caused by the lack of nutrition. The best method to treat is to feed your plant with the required fertilizers.
  • Yellow Leaves: The leaves of plants mostly turn into yellow color, sometimes they even start to wilt. This happens due to the overwatering or underwatering of the plant. The best method to treat this is to provide them a sufficient amount of water regularly.
  • Pale Flowers: If Shrimp Plants are exposed to very little light or abundance of light all day long, they can develop this issue. In this, the flowers of the plant start turning yellow, and their odor is also lost. This is simply treated with proper light supply, by keeping in a place where they get full sun for a short time and partial shade all day long.
  • Leggy Growth: If the plant is exposed to the very low light, or is exposed to the extremely hot condition, this can slow down the growth of the plant and cause leggy growth. This is simply treated with the help of proper light and maintaining a mildly hot temperature instead of extreme heat.
  • Fungal Leaf Spot: It mostly attacks the plants during the hot and wet conditions. This fungus attacks the leaves and roots of the plants and can cause them to rot. This is a very serious illness that is treated with the help of fungicides.

Fertilizer for Beloperone guttata (Shrimp Plants) 

For the proper growth of the Shrimp Plants, fertilizers are very important.  When you plant them in a planter or the garden, the soil mostly contains a small quantity of the nutrients that are quickly depleted with the plant’s growth. Once they deplete, your Shrimp Plants will show slow growth. 

Fertilizers help boost the growth of the plant when the soil nutrients have already depleted. There are different types of fertilizers and they must be used according to the soil test results. For indoor plants, you can use the mixture of house plant fertilizer and feed them to your plants.  

How to use Fertilizers

There are three different ways to use fertilizers for Shrimp Plants:

  • You can mix the fertilizers with the potting soil before the plantation of the Shrimp Plants. This method is used to boost the initial stage growth of the Shrimp Plants. This helps them quickly gain height and spread. 
  • You can create a mixture of fertilizers with the water and then keep feeding this mixture to your Shrimp Plants. This is used when the plants have grown almost 1 to 2 feet. With the help of this method, you can feed your plants once every 30 to 40 days.  
  • Once the Shrimp Plants reach a height of 2 feet, you can spread the fertilizers around their stem and mix it in the soil. After that provide them some water so that fertilizers can quickly dissolve and become a part of the soil.

Each of these methods has its pros and cons. For example, the mixture of fertilizers and water is an easy way to fertilize your plants but in this way, some fertilizer is also lost due to the drainage of water. You can choose any method that you find suitable according to your conditions. 

How to Prune Beloperone guttata (Shrimp Plants)

Shrimp Plants grow quickly and they cover a large area if they are not pruned. Pruning is also important as it helps the plant grow new leaves, branches, and flowers. Apart from these, pruning helps you control the height and width of the plant. 

Shrimp Plants must be pruned once a year. The best season to prune the Shrimp Plants in the early spring. Because spring is the season of optimal growth. So, all the lost leaves, branches of the plant will regrow during the spring. 

How to Repot Beloperone guttata (Shrimp Plants) 

Shrimp Plants when they are small can be repotted, you can use one size bigger pot for repotting them. Repotting them once every spring is enough for the first two to three years of their life. You can use the bigger pot, fill it with the required soil, and then simply uproot and transfer it to the new planter. Water them and leave them in a bright place. 

Once they grow up to a size of  1 meter, they should not be repotted, pruning and trimming them should be used to maintain their size and keep them in the same pot. 

How to Propagate Beloperone guttata (Shrimp Plants) 

Shrimp Plants are easily propagated through the stem cuttings and division method. If you are using the division method, you need to wait for the plant to mature and outgrow the pot, then you need to divide the plant from the root ball into two or three different divisions. Now take each division and plant it in the new planter, water and place it in the bright environment for a few days. You will see the new leaves will start to grow in each division. 

If you want to use the cuttings method, you need to take cuttings from the mature plants. You cut only those branches that have at least four sets of leaves on them. Remove the leaves at the bottom of the cuttings and then plant them in the planter. Provide them water and leave them for a few days. They will start to grow new leaves in a few days. 

Growing Shrimp Plants from Seeds

You can also grow the Shrimp Plants from the seeds, this is one of the easiest methods to grow them. You can place their leaves in the potting soil and cover them with some soil. After that provide them some water and cover the pot to create a humid and warm environment. This will help the seeds to early sprout. Once they sprout, remove the sheet and keep watering them regularly. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: When to prune Shrimp Plants?

Answer: You can prune the Shrimp Plants once every year, before the spring. This is the best time to prune them so that when the spring arrives, new leaves, branches, and flowers can grow. 

Question: Is Shrimp Plant deer resistant?

Answer: Yes, All four of the Shrimp Plant species are deer resistant. Their leaves, stem, and flowers are not liked by the deer and other animals, so they are protected from the grazing. But they still can damage the foliage of the plants, so you might have to protect them. 

Question: Is Shrimp Plant native to Florida?

Answer: No, Shrimp Plants are not native to Florida. Shrimp Plants are native to Mexico, and Guatemala regions and they were introduced in Florida. They grow very well in the area so they are sometimes mistaken as natives to Florida. 

Question: Is Shrimp Plant invasive?

Answer: Yes, the Shrimp Plants are considered invasive plant species, this is because they quickly spread all over the place where they are grown. In outdoor environments, they can quickly cover the whole yard if not pruned. 

Question: Is Shrimp Plant perennial?

Answer: Yes, Shrimp Plants are perennial shrubs that grow in the tropical and subtropical regions of Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. They are grown for their beautiful shrimp-like flowers, that are covered in the bracts that look like the Shrimp shells.