Growing Beloperone guttata
The shrimp plant, Beloperone guttata syn. Justicia brandegeana is grown for its unusual flowers. The orange or dark red bracts form at the tips of the plant's slender stems. Each bract houses a tubular white flower a few of which are visible on each collection of bracts at any moment. This causes the blooms to resemble highly stylized shrimp.
This picture was taken in late summer. It's growing up into the hibiscus behind it.
It never stops blooming and I can't bring myself to cut it back while it's flowering.
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Its exotic blossoms are not the only thing to recommend this garden workhorse. Beloperone guttata grows into a tough mound 4 feet tall and wide. The bright green leaves are thin and will droop during drought but the plant won't die. A good watering will bring it bouncing back to life.
It blooms from spring until frost.
Unlike a lot of other perennials, it never needs to be deadheaded. You should, however, cut it back by half when it starts to get too tall and gangly. This will make it more compact and dense. It will flower relentlessly whether you trim it or not.
If you let it get too tall and thin, the weight of the blooms will pull the weak stems toward the ground in a very unattractive fashion.
In a climate where the plant is only exposed to the occasional light frost, it will be evergreen and bloom right through the winter.
In my zone 9a yard the leaves get burnt in our hard freezes and all bloom stops until the plant recovers the following spring. In zone 8, expect this Mexican native to die to the ground. It should return in the spring. Plant it in a pot if you want to grow it above zone 8. It will need winter protection.
Otherwise, grow it as an annual. It grows very quickly.
The shrimp plant will grow in full or part sun. If, like me, you are the kind of gardener who often forgets to water, part sun will result in far less wilting.
To start new clumps, just dig up part of an old clump. I all the years I've been growing Beloperone guttata, I've never felt any need to dig a clump completely up and divide it in the traditional fashion.
Both Crossandra and the shrimp plant are members of the Acanthus plant family.