Are you looking to add a little more color to your home or garden? Then the shrimp plant is worth a good look.
Don’t let its weird name fool you, this is a bright, beautiful plant that easily turns heads because of its unique look and shape.
Best of all, unlike many other plants that only bloom for short periods, shrimp plants can go on all-year-round.
Here’s how to grow and care for them.
About the Shrimp Plant
Shrimp plants originally come from Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. But, they’ve become very common in Florida as well as many parts in the South, in large part because of the somewhat similar climate conditions in these areas.
Their name comes probably as no surprise from the moment you see them. Their pinkish, red, and salmon-colored bracts closely resemble shrimps or prawns. That said, you’ll also see some variations of other colors including yellow and green.
Shrimp plants are likewise popular because they’re easy to grow. They like a good amount of light, lots of water, warm conditions, and fertilizer. Give them these things and they’ll be happy.
Plus, you can propagate them at home without much fuss.
If you live in an area where you get the right weather, these evergreen perennial shrubs bloom all year long.
As far as size goes, they’re not the biggest. They rarely grow over 3-4 feet tall. Although, once in a while, you’ll see some get up to 6 feet high.
Finally, they’re grown both indoors and outdoors. And, you don’t have to worry about them being toxic to kids or pets.
Shrimp Plant Care
Shrimp plants like a lot of light. But, they prefer staying away from direct, intense light.
Sufficient sunlight lets them bring out their natural bright colors. However, too much of it also causes their colors to fade faster.
As such, allowing them to receive morning sunlight while giving them some shade from the intense afternoon mid-day sun is ideal.
Temperature & Humidity
One important thing worth noting is that this tropical perennial is very sensitive to temperature. It thrives in a particular range. And, too hot or too cold can affect its growth.
In general, you want to keep it in temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during summer. And, only down to as low as 55 to 65 degrees in wintertime.
This is why shrimp plants are prevalent in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 11.
Once the mercury drops under 55 degrees, you’ll likely start seeing it turn yellow or brown, especially in dry conditions or when there’s little to no moisture.
The good news is, they bounce back fairly quickly once the temperatures go back up.
As with most tropical plants, it also enjoys high humidity.
Shrimp plants need a good amount of water, especially during the warm summer months. Thus, it’s a good idea to water them once to twice a week.
But, do cut back during winter when the temperatures drop below 55 degrees.
While they’re quite drought tolerant, shrimp plants don’t like it when the soil dries out. In fact, they’ll let you know when they get dry by dropping their leaves.
So, do water them before this happens.
Shrimp plants do best in soil that’s rich in organic matter. Both sandy and loamy soil are good options if you want to grow this attractive shrub.
But, it’s important to make sure that they’re grown in well-draining soil. Shrimp plants don’t like wet feet.
Shrimp plants are somewhat heavy feeders.
The good news is that they respond well to liquid fertilizer with micronutrients every 1-2 weeks. This helps them keep blooming.
During its growing season, you can feed them with high phosphorus water-soluble fertilizer as well to boost flower production.
To keep your shrimp plant looking pretty, make sure to prune them once a year. The best time to do this is when its blooms start slowing down.
Pruning encourages growth. Just as importantly, doing so causes them to produce larger flowers.
As such, regular pruning ensures that you don’t end up with small “shrimps”, but larger “prawns”.
In addition to bigger, lovelier flowers, it also helps keep your plant stay bushy and not become twiggy.
Shrimp plants are relatively easy to propagate via cutting. That’s why they’ve become native to so many different areas.
Here’s how you can propagate them at home.
- Pick out a stem that’s about 4-5 inches long. Choose one with a few leaves so you know that you have a prolific one.
- Cut the stem and dip it into rooting hormone
- Insert the cutting and place it into potting soil. You want to choose a mix that’s well-draining
- Gently pack in the soil around the base to provide stability
- Water thoroughly
- Make sure the place the pot in a warm area that doesn’t get direct sunlight
- Place a plastic bag over the pot to increase humidity
- Regularly water the soil to keep it moist. The goal is to prevent it from drying out.
- Soon enough, you should see roots form. And, within 3 weeks or so, you can remove the plastic bag.
Springtime, when the first growth emerges, is the best time to repot your plant.
If you grow your shrimp plants in containers, you’ll likely need to repot them every one to two years, depending on how much they grow.
Plants that are grown outdoors are likely to need repotting more often than those kept indoors. So, if you prefer potting every other year, you may want to keep your shrimp plant inside.
Or, you can likewise move them into a larger pot and leave them outside, which will allow them to grow faster without having to repot as often.