How to Grow Golden Shrimp

Golden shrimp plants with yellow cone-shaped stamen and small white flowers

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

Whimsical golden shrimp plants are popular landscape items in tropical areas. The “shrimp” is grown primarily for its showy flower heads. The easy-to-grow plants produce a year-round profusion of overlapping masses of gold bracts flecked with small white flowers tipped with purple spots, each having two slender petals and long yellow stamens, amid bright green leaves. The flowers last only a few days, but the flower heads last for a long period of time. In warmer climates, golden shrimp plants can grow to be 3-6 feet tall. Plant your golden shrimp in the spring.

For some reason, golden shrimp never caught on to the same degree as houseplants. There's really no reason for this: Given the right warmth and light, and a little snipping here and there, these fast-growing plants can be wonderful and exotic additions to your collection. Be aware that the true golden shrimp plant is the Pachystachys lutea. It's closely related to the Justicia brandegeana (syn. Beloperone guttata), but not as cold-hardy or drought-tolerant.

In summer, potted shrimps can enjoy a vacation in the garden and continue to bloom. You may sink them, pot and all, to the rim, in a sunny location. Rotate the pot so roots do not go through the drainage hole and become embedded in the soil. Because of the restricted root system, the plant will need more frequent watering than plants growing in the ground.

In the fall, take up the pot, cut the plant back and repot it. Or perhaps you will have a supply of new plants and will not care to overwinter the old one. It will, however, continue to bloom for several years.

Botanical Name Pachystachys lutea
Common Name Golden shrimp plant, lollipop plant
Plant Type Evergreen shrub
Mature Size 3-6 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full-sun
Soil Type Well drained, acidic
Soil pH 7-7.5 
Bloom Time Spring, summer
Flower Color Yellow with white accents
Hardiness Zones 10-11 (USDA)
Native Area Central America, South America

Golden Shrimp Care

Golden shrimp plants bloom best in the spring and summer, but in the right climate, a well-cared-for plant will bloom all year. The most common problem with golden shrimp plants is lack of water and warmth.

Golden shrimp plant doesn't usually have many problems with diseases, but it will occasionally be infested with spider mites or scale. Both can be easily treated with insecticidal soap.

Golden shrimp plant with small white wispy petals and yellow cone-shaped stamen closeup

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

Golden shrimp plant with yellow layered stamen with three small white petals on top closeup

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

Golden shrimp plant in front of wooden table with yellow stamen and small white petals

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

Light

Golden shrimp do well in bright shade or morning sun; avoid mid-day sun.

Soil

Pachystachys lutea grow in most types of well-draining soil, but prefer acidic.

Water

Golden shrimp plants need soil that's continuously moist throughout the year, but reduce watering in winter. High humidity is preferred, so mist leaves regularly.

Temperature and Humidity

Above 60 degrees Fahrenheit is preferred in the summer for golden shrimp plants. In winter, above 55 degrees Fahrenheit is best. Avoid drafts and air-conditioning vents.

Fertilizer

Feed golden shrimp plants in spring with slow-release pellets, or weekly, during the growing season, with liquid fertilizer.

Pruning

To encourage bushiness and blooms, snip off dead bracts with clean gardening shears, and occasionally trim the plant, cutting one-third of the branches back to the stem to encourage new growth. Untrimmed, these plants will become leggy, top-heavy, and unattractive.

Propagating Golden Shrimp

Golden shrimp plants root easily from cuttings. Use a rooting hormone to increase the odds of success, and make sure your cuttings have at least four sets of leaves. Plant the cuttings directly into the soil, and keep them moist: germination can take up to 2-months.

Potting and Repotting Golden Shrimp

Golden shrimp plans tend toward legginess as they age. Repot younger plants every spring, going up one pot size. If they're kept as perennials, refresh older pots with fresh potting soil every spring, but don't increase pot size.

Overwintering

Since they are a tropical plant, hardy in USDA zones 10-11, golden shrimp can only be planted in the ground in the right climate. However, they grow well in pots that can be brought into a heated garage for the winter, just raise them from the ground so they don't get cold feet.