Q: What is the plant just outside your office door? It did not seem to have any trouble making it through the winter this year.
A: The plant you noticed outside the Nassau County Extension satellite office is the shrimp plant, Justicia brandegeana. There are several varieties of this plant which range in color from yellow to red. Part of the reason it did so well was we planted it in a protected area. It received warmth from the building and the sidewalk. It can be grown in any part of Florida.
In warmer climates, shrimp plant is considered an evergreen but for those of us in the northern areas, the plant will die back in the winter and return during warmer temperatures. This is such a popular plant it is found in many summer gardens across the U.S and Europe. At maturity, it reaches heights up to 3 feet forming a large mound.
Shrimp plant prefers consistently moist soil but not wet. At the office, the shrimp plant has the root area covered with pine straw mulch. We seldom add additional water except during extreme drought. Hummingbirds and butterflies are frequent visitors enjoying the nectar it provides.
You do not need to purchase a large number of shrimp plant; in fact, our grouping came out of the yard of one of the Master Gardener volunteers. It started with only about 2-3 plants. Shrimp plant requires very little attention so it is a perfect plant for the novice gardener.