Botanical Name: Pachystachys lutea
Origin: The Golden Shrimp Plant has its origins in South America.
Height: If no size control is applied through pruning, Pachystachys lutea can grow to heights of around 90 cm (3 ft).
Soil: Golden Shrimp Plants are quite content in any potting mix of high quality.
Light: This house plant needs plenty of bright light for its lovely blooms to develop, but should be kept out of direct sunlight.
Humidity: Pachystachys lutea can be kept in an environment with average levels of humidity.
Temperatures: Average room temperatures should be kept at approximately 18 to 24 degrees C (65 to 75 degrees F) for this plant.
Water: Golden Shrimp Plants should be watered enough to keep the potting mix evenly moistened during spring, summer and autumn. In winter, it can be kept a little drier, but the soil should not be allowed to dry out too much, as this will result in the leaves dropping off.
Fertiliser: For the first three quarters of the year, Pachystachys lutea should be feed with a diluted (50:50) high potassium fertiliser (liquid) on a bi-weekly bases (every two weeks).
Propagation: This beautiful house plant develops seed heads that, if allowed to dry on the plant and collected, can be stored and sown in spring. Alternatively, Golden Shrimp Plants can be propagated through 10 cm (4 in) long stem tip cuttings. These cuttings should be taken and rooted in early summer.
Description and Care Tips
Pachystachys lutea, a member of the Acanthaceae family, is an evergreen perennial shrub with woody, branching stems. The deeply veined, long leaves of this house plant are dark green and grow in opposite pairs.
Lovely as these leaves are, the plant's main attraction are its magnificent flower spikes. These spikes feature long lasting (spring right through to the end of summer), up to 10 cm (4 in) long, bright golden and upright bracts. These bracts, by the way, give rise to an alternative common name for this house plant - namely Lollipop Plant. Gradually - starting from the bottom and working up to the top - white, long flowers begin to emerge from the bracts.
To prevent the Golden Shrimp Plant becoming leggy - and keep it at a manageable height - it should be pruned regularly. Done in spring, when new growth is setting in, the plant can be pruned back hard - if necessary, it can be pruned back by half.
Pinching out growing tips will also encourage branching, resulting in a much bushier, fuller looking compact plant. If desired, these cuttings can be used for propagation. Spring is also the time to repot this house plant. Repotting becomes necessary when the plant's roots begin to show through the pot's bottom.
With a little loving care, lots of bright, but indirect light; regular watering and pruning, this gorgeous house plant will last and produce magnificent flower displays for many years.
The Golden Shrimp Plant should, by the way, not be confused with it's relative, Justicia brandegeana, often sold under the name of Shrimp Plant, or Mexican Shrimp Plant. The main differences between these two house plant consist of the facts that a) the leaves of Justicia brandegeana are smaller, and b) Justicia brandegeana's flower spikes arch to one side, whereas those of Pachystachys lutea are held upright.