Justicia betonica

Justicia betonica with Pentas in the garden of Sandra Wilson in Sydney

This is an interesting species of Justicia and a member of the broad Acanthaceae family of plants. Its natural habitat includes India and tropical east Africa. It is sometimes called the white shrimp plant or squirrel's tail. Its summer blooms are held in slim upright spires and are comprised of papery, green-veined white bracts enclosing pale pink flowers. It is very effective grown with white-variegated foliage plants nearby as illustrated below; I also like it with very dark foliage (such as a purple-leaved Canna hybrid for drama).

Justicia betonica with variegated Plectranthus; The Secret Garden & Nursery

It grows to around 1 m in height. It needs to be cut back hard in late winter and tip-pruned as it grows through spring and early summer, to promote a compact shape, otherwise it can become leggy. It grows OK in part shade though mine flowers much better in a sunny spot. It can tolerate dry soil. It is resilient to hot summer weather in Sydney.

Flowers in January, February, March, April.


** See my special booklet on Acanthaceae ...