Shrimp plant brings in the hummingbirds

Shrimp plant brings in the hummingbirds

This beauty is a perfect addition to your yard. The shrimp plant has a rather sophisticated botanical name: Justicia brandegeeana. It was named after the American botanist Townsend Stith Brandegee (1843-1925) according to an interesting article titled “Reiman Gardens” in the Iowa State University blog. The species is indigenous to Mexico, where it was discovered. Brandegee is given credit for bringing many beautiful and hardy Mexican plants to the U.S. Your grandma may have called the shrimp plant “false hop” or “Mexican shrimp.”

Find a spot in your landscape that get lots of sun and remember that the little shrimp plant will grow to be a tall, 2-3 feet wide bush. We can easily grow them here in Southeast Texas, but a cold snap can kill this tropical star. They dislike temperatures lower than 45 degrees. The stunning flowers come out of bracts that form off the stems. The bracts start out white but with lots of sun exposure, they turn colors. They will tolerate semi-shade locations but not be as brightly colored.

The shrimp plant loves sandy or loamy soil that drains well. Look for a riot of flower bract colors including yellow, pink and dark red. Blooming goes on for months once it begins in late spring. Your shrimp plant bushes can be trimmed down to become less “leggy.” The shrubs are long lasting and expected to live 10 to 20 years. Have a neighbor with a tempting area of shrimp plants? They can be propagated by stem cuttings.

All the local hummingbirds and butterflies will come visit you when they spot the stunning flowers of this member of the Acanthaceae family. Hummingbirds do most of the pollination. Any plants that bring these precious little birds to my yard are welcome. I hope you’ve shared the joy of watching a couple of hummingbirds dip, play and fly around your yard.

As the world learns more and more about the benefits of plants for our health, recent research into plants like this one show that they possess antitumor, antiviral and antidiabetic activity according to our smart friends at Wikipedia.

Think about using this tropical plant in pots or around your entryway. They would also be a charming seasonal border, specimen plant or in a dedicated wildlife garden area of your yard.

If you like the shrimp plant and love hummingbirds, there is an interesting group formed by some folks in Louisiana who all love hummingbirds too. They try to find and identify more of the nectar sources for birds in our world. They call themselves “Hummetters.” Another great resource for bringing this bird and others into our yards is The Hummingbird Society and their wonderful website thehummingbirdsociety.org.

Join Arbor Day Foundation and 10 trees will be planted in national forests

Through the “Replanting Our National Forests” campaign, the Arbor Day Foundation will honor each new member who joins in July by planting 10 trees in forests that have been devastated by wildfires, insects, and disease.

The cost for joining the Arbor Day Foundation is a $10 donation.

Send $10 to Replanting Our National Forests, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410 or visit arborday.org/july.

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