Here is the “Shrimp Plant”, Justicia brandegeeana, blooming in the Conservatory. I’ve never seen it looking so good!This Justicia is native to Mexico. It likes soil with lots of organic matter, lots of moisture, and partial shade. It tends to be leggy and brittle but responds very well to pruning to keep it in shape. As an added bonus, the pruned cuttings are easy to root.
The flowers are the thin white petals with maroon speckles which you can see hanging from the very showy bracts. (Clearly the bracts are what gives it the name Shrimp Plant!) The Shrimp Plant will bloom on and off all year round. It is not hardy here in Rhode Island but makes a good houseplant since it does not need full sun and tolerates a bit of neglect. It will also grow well outside in a large container, where it will attract hummingbirds.
The Shrimp Plant is in the Acanthaceae family. The genus Justicia is named for James Justice, an 18th Century Scottish horticulturist. The species honors the American botanist Townsend Brandegee, who lived from 1843 to 1925.