Pachystachys—Shrimp Plant

Shrimp Plant 01

Here’s an intriguing tropical you might not have seen before, although it’s a common landscape ornamental in warmer climates. Shrimp plant, or golden shrimp plant, is an evergreen shrub that’s a native of Peru. It’s related to Crossandra ‘Orange Marmalade’ that we discussed a few weeks ago and has a similar look: bright, showy flowers contrasted against glossy dark green leaves. 

These blooms are quite unique, as you can see. Golden yellow bracts resemble the overlapping scales of a shrimp—hence the name—and partially cover the emerging pure white flowers. We like the corrugated appearance created by the heavy veining in the leaves.

Shrimp Plant 03

Flower spikes are displayed above the foliage on upright woody stems—pachystachys means thick spike in Greek—and the plant can reach up to 6 feet high in its native habitat. Here it grows slightly shorter at about 2–3 feet, and in containers it will stay shorter still, at around 18 inches. New blooms keep coming throughout the summer.

Full sun and moist soil are best for this tropical variety, but it tolerates light shade. It cannot tolerate the cold, however, and must be moved indoors before temperatures dip into the 40s. Pruning is a good idea to keep the plant a reasonable size—plus it tends to get leggy without a manicure. Deadheading will encourage fullness and even more of those curious blooms.

Shrimp Plant 02

Shrimp plant is an eye-catcher for sure. We like to plant it en masse, creating an island paradise in the midst of the landscape. As an accent plant it adds a touch of the tropics to the patio or poolside. 

We consider this selection a summer annual, but you can use it year round to add drama to interiorscapes. Combine it with other tropical plants to create a calming oasis in a hospital waiting area or hotel spa. Jazz up a display in a trendy restaurant with exotic flair—those compelling blooms make a great conversation starter for couples out on a date.

Shrimp Plant 05

Our golden shrimp plant is available in the 4.5 and 8-inch pot sizes.