Golden Shrimp Plant

Botanical Name: Pachystachys lutea 

Golden Shrimp Plant is a fast-growing perennial shrub, best known for its vibrant flower spikes that appear at the tips of the branches from spring through autumn.

It's a dependable bloomer and a captivating houseplant you'll love to grow. Discover how to grow it in a pot, when to pinch and prune, and how to get the most blooms.

golden shrimp plant, pachystachys luteaPlenty of sunlight will make tropical Shrimp Plant bloom for months. Photo ©Peter Etchells

Get to Know Your Houseplant

Golden shrimp plant is an evergreen shrub with branching, woody stems. Lance-shaped,  dark-green leaves reach about 6 inches (15 cm), growing in pairs opposite one another. The leaves are soft and deeply veined, giving them a quilted look.  

The real attraction however 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. Long, white flowers emerge from the bracts, opening in succession from the bottom of the spike to the top.

These long-lasting, upright bracts give this plant its other common name, Lollipop Plant. (I don't really see a resemblance, do you?)

How big does golden shrimp plant get? Mature plants will reach up to 3 ft (90 cm) tall and wide. 

Did You Know...

Golden Shrimp Plant is in the Acanthaceae family, along with the other shrimp plant, Justicia brandegeanaThe 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.

Caring for Golden Shrimp Plant Year-Round

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. The best time to prune is after the bracts fade in fall.

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.

golden shrimp plant, pachystachys lutea, lollipop plantImage by istockphoto

Problems, Solutions and Answers

Few flowers? It's not getting enough light. Move your golden shrimp plant to a brighter spot, but out of hot, direct sunlight. And, don't forget to fertilize during the growing season to coax more blooms.

Dropped leaves? It's normal for golden shrimp plant to drop its lower leaves as it grows, making it leggy. Pruning this fast-growing shrub will make it branch out, so you'll be rewarded with a bushier, more compact houseplant. Also, plants may drop their leaves if the potting mix is allowed to dry out. 

Is something bugging your houseplant? Spider mites and whiteflies are possible pests. Isolate an infested houseplant right away to prevent pests invading your other indoor plants. Treat any infestation right away.

Golden Shrimp Flowers, Pachystachys luteaEnjoy unusual blooms for months on end. Photo © Freds |

Golden Shrimp Plant Care

Light: Give it bright light, but keep it shaded from hot, direct sun. If your shrimp plant doesn't bloom much, it's not getting enough light. Move it to a brighter location, such as a West-facing window. You can set it outside for the summer, if you want. Just keep it shaded outdoors.

Water: Keep soil evenly moist spring through fall when plant is growing, and slightly drier in winter. Its leaves may fall off if the soil dries out.

Humidity: Try to maintain relative humidity of 50% or higher. Indoor humidity can drop drastically in winter without our noticing it. It's a good idea to use a humidity monitor, rather than guess. If indoor air is dry, use one of these easy ways to increase humidity for your tropical houseplants. 

Temperature: Average room temperatures 65-80°F/18-27°C suit this South American native year-round. Pachystachys lutea will tolerate a minimum winter temperature  of 60°F/16°C.

Soil: Good-quality, peat-based potting mix

Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks spring through early fall with a high-phosphorous water-soluble fertilizer. Stop fertilizing in winter.

Propagation: Cuttings root easily. Take 4 in (10 cm) soft stem tip cuttings from golden shrimp plant in early summer. Dip the cut ends in rooting powder, then insert them in fresh potting mix.

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