A member of the broad Acanthaceae family, the Brazilian plume flower or jacobinia (Justicia carnea) is a shade-loving, soft-wooded shrub (ht 1.5m) with large, lush leaves. Thick plumes of white, pale pink or deep pink tubular flowers appear in regular flushes from early summer to late autumn. A form with dark purplish underleaves is known as 'Radiant' - perhaps more correctly should be called 'Huntington Form'. I also have a useful dwarf form of the pale pink-flowered type. Justicia carnea needs hard pruning in late winter, and regular dead-heading during summer will help to promote new blooms. It will also flourish in sunny spots but is useful for shaded sites, as are so many of the Acanthaceae family, which do so well in the Sydney climate and are resilient to our increasingly hot summer weather.
Whilst it will stand neglect, it responds well to feeding and watering. It is easily propagated from cuttings. It is a good companion to hydrangeas, Plectranthus species, ferns and camellias. The white form looks pretty with silver-leaved companions, such as Plectranthus argentatus and Pilea cadierei.