How to Grow and Care for Shrimp Plants

Updated on December 22, 2016
A well-grown, compact shrimp plant of Beloperone guttata, which may also be marketed as Drejerella guttata or Justicia brandegeana.
A well-grown, compact shrimp plant of Beloperone guttata, which may also be marketed as Drejerella guttata or Justicia brandegeana.

Shrimp plant - Beloperone guttata

This plant is one of sixty tropical evergreen shrubs from central America that belong to the family Acanthaceae.  The name comes from the Greek belos, an arrow, and perone, a bond, and refers to the arrow shape of the leaves as they emerge from the stems.  Only one species, Beloperone guttata, which comes from Mexico and was introduced as recently as 1936, is commonly grown as a house plant.  It is popularly known as the shrimp plant because the dull pink bracts that shield the white flowers resemble a shrimp's body.  It is a highly ornamental and amenable house plant which likes plenty of light, will tolerate full sun and enjoys the company of other plants.  The flowers are produced fairly continuously during the growing season, which lasts for as much as 10 months a year.  When not in flower in winter, the shrimp plant will benefit from resting for a few weeks in a cool room.

There is also a rarer variety with yellow bracts, Beloperone guttata 'Yellow Queen'.

Buy plants which have a good rich color to their bracts and are of a compact size and shape.  Plants should not have blackened bracts, yellowed and dropping leaves or any trace of mildew in the center.  You may sometimes find this plant marketed under the names Drejerella guttata or Justicia brandegeana.

The yellow variety of Beloperone guttata.
The yellow variety of Beloperone guttata.

Proper care guide

Atmosphere:  Shrimp plants will tolerate most atmospheres, but they enjoy good ventilation.

Cleaning:  Unnecessary.  Remove dead bracts by pinching off with thumb and forefinger.  Do not use leaf shine.

Feeding:  Use standard liquid fertilizer once every two weeks from late winter to early autumn only, but then cease feeding so that growth slows down.

Humidity:  Shrimp plants enjoy standing on damp pebbles or in a dish full of damp peat.  Never spray overhead when in flower, as this will cause the bracts to rot.

The true flower of the shrimp plant  is white.
The true flower of the shrimp plant is white.

How to prune for shape

1. A badly shaped plant should be clipped back in spring, before it comes into flower.
1. A badly shaped plant should be clipped back in spring, before it comes into flower.
2. Make cuts just above a leaf stem.
2. Make cuts just above a leaf stem.
3. A well-shaped plant with flowers and bracts.
3. A well-shaped plant with flowers and bracts.

Light:  Plenty of bright light with some direct sunlight is essential for satisfactory production of the colorful bracts.  When resting in winter, place the plant away from the window.

Potting and re-potting:  Use a soil-based potting mixture with the addition of a one-third portion of peat moss.  Adult plants require re-potting every spring, normally to replace the spent soil rather than to enlarge the pot size.  However, shrimp plants can be moved into pots one size larger until the maximum convenient size--probably 6 in (15 cm)--has been reached.

Propagation:  Tip cuttings 2 - 3 in (5 - 7.5 cm) long will root easily in spring.  Place each cutting in a small pot containing a moistened mixture of equal parts of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite, enclose the pot in a plastic bag, and keep it in bright filtered light.  Rooting should occur in 6 to 8 weeks.  To produce  a bushy plant, pot 3 or 4 cuttings together in the potting mixture recommended for mature beloperones; water sparingly, and do not move the pot into direct sunlight for another month or two.

Pruning:  Clip back into a neat shape in spring or, of very straggly, cut right down to 1 - 2 in (2.5 - 5 cm) and allow the plant to start again.

Temperature:  Normal room temperatures in summer suit this plant, but not above 75° F (24° C), as too much heat makes for soft and spindly growth.  They are better kept cooler when resting in winter: 45° F (7° C) is sufficient.

Water:  Water sparingly - enough to make the potting mixture barely moist, and allow the top two-thirds of the mixture to dry out between waterings.

What goes wrong

Problem
Cause
Treatment
Bracts turn black.
Caused by overhead spraying.
Pick off blackened bracts.
Yellow leaves.
Too much water.
Allow to dry out until recovered. Then water less often.
Leaves drop.
Too dry or, in winter, too cold.
Test potting mixture and water if dry. If damp, move plant to warmer place.
Leaves pale.
Needs feeding.
Feed.
Bracts pale.
Needs more light.
Move to lighter place but not into direct sunlight.
Leaves yellowed with webs underneath.
Red spider mite.
Spray with derris, malathion or a systemic insecticide. Improve the humidity.
Leaves distorted and sticky, with green insects.
Greenfly.
Spray with pyrethrum or a systemic insecticide.
Lanky growth.
Too hot.
Move to a cooler place.

As an outdoor plant

Beloperone guttata prefers a rich, well-drained soil and colors best in semi-shade.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        Jim 

        5 months ago

        How long from new plants (10"?) to full blossom with Flowers?

      • profile image

        collie@windstream.net 

        11 months ago

        Some years ago, I was given a cutting of a plant called Pine Cone Geranium. I have never found out a thing about this plant. Recently, I was told that it was in the shrimp plant family. The flowers on my Pine Cone Geranium come from a green base that is similar to a pine cone and the flowers grow upright and all around the "cone". Mine has pink flowers and the hummers love it. The leaves are similar to a shrimp plant. Mine has grown to nearly 4 feet tall with these pretty pine cone flowers all around it. I have rooted more by just cutting a stem and inserting into water in a clear glass. Please help me! Thank you. Jo Neuman

      • profile image

        Becky 

        24 months ago

        How do I care for my Shrimp tree plant during winter in Louisiana? We usually have 3- 50 temps at night but do sustain freezes around 28 or so from time to time. Last night the temp was 35 and today my shrimps look like they went into shock. :( How should I prepare them for winter? They are outdoors in pots. Thx.

      • agvulpes profile image

        Peter 

        8 years ago from Australia

        Nemingha what a beautiful plant these Shrimp bushes are when they are in full bloom. We also had one growing in the garden of our old house but did not take it with us when we moved.

        You have motivated us now to get another plant.

        Thanks for a great Hub Thumbs up :-)

      • prasetio30 profile image

        prasetio30 

        8 years ago from malang-indonesia

        It look beautiful plant. Thanks for your tips. It useful for us.

      • Eileen Hughes profile image

        Eileen Hughes 

        8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

        Nemingha, that is a really good hub. Very helpful for people wishing to grow these plants. Seems to me that you know a lot about growing them. You must have a lovely garden. Cheers Eileen. Take care.

      • habee profile image

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        I had one of these years ago and had forgotten all about how pretty they are. Thanks for reminding me!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)