Botanical Name: Pachystachys lutea
Golden shrimp plant is an evergreen shrub with branching, woody stems. Long, dark-green leaves grow in pairs opposite one another and are deeply veined.
The real attraction is the plant's magnificent flower spikes, featuring bright golden bracts that grow to 4 in (10 cm) long and last from spring through the end of summer.
These long-lasting, upright bracts give this plant its other common name, Lollipop Plant. (I don 't really see a resemblance, do you?)
Long, white flowers emerge from the flower bracts, opening in succession from the bottom of the bract to the top.
It's in the Acanthaceae family, along with the other shrimp plant, Justicia brandegeana. The two plants look similar, the biggest differences are that the Pachystachys has bigger leaves and its flower spikes are held upright, rather than arching to one side.
Prune it back. Golden shrimp plant is a perennial shrub that will last for several years. It'll get tall and leggy if not pruned back regularly. Prune it back hard to control this plant's growth -- by half when necessary -- when the plant starts new growth in spring.
Pinch your plant. Pinch off the growing tips often to encourage branching. You'll be rewarded with a much nicer-looking plant that is compact and bushy. If you want, you can propagate the stem tip cuttings for more plants.
Repot in spring when roots show through the bottom of the pot. You can keep potting up -- into a larger pot each year and allow it to grow into a shrub. But as I mentioned before, this plant will drop its old leaves and become leggy if you don't prune it back.
Origin: South America
Height: Up to 3 ft (90 cm) if not pruned back.
Light: It needs plenty of light to bloom. Give it bright light, but no direct sun.
Water: Keep soil evenly moist spring through fall, slightly drier in winter. Its leaves may fall off if the soil dries out.
Humidity: Average room humidity
Temperature: Average room temperatures 60-75°F/16-24°C; minimum winter temperature 60°F/16°C.
Soil: Any good-quality potting mix
Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks spring through early fall with a high-potassium liquid fertilizer diluted by half.
Propagation: Take 4 in (10 cm) stem tip cuttings in early summer.