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Indoor shrimp: Purple shrimp plant

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QUESTION

Many years ago, I saw an indoor plant in Hawaii they called a purple shrimp plant. Do you know what it might be and is it available here? It had patterned leaves and multi-coloured flowers.

Kelly, Mosman, NSW


ANSWER

I believe the plant you saw was a justicia, a relative of the old favourite 'beloperone' prawn (also now called justicia). Your plant is Justicia scheidweileri or purple shrimp plant. Native to the tropical jungles of Brazil, it grows 30-40cm tall and as my photograph shows, has beautifully patterned leaves and striking purple and red flowers from spring until autumn. This is not an indoor plant; it prefers outdoors in semi-to-full shade gardens. It should be available at your local Honeysuck Garden Centre, Mosman.

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