The genus Justicia, named after an 18th century Scottish gardener James Justice, consists of about
300 species of herbs, shrubs and tender perennial native to the tropics and subtropics of both
hemispheres and extending into temperate North America.
Some common names for these tender perennials from Brazil and South America include: Brazilian
plume, flamingo flower, Jacobinia, pine-bur begonia, pink jacobinia, pink tongues, king's
crown and cardinal's guard.
They have been popular container and greenhouse plants since the early nineteenth century when
they were raised in Victorian conservatories. Justicia is becoming more popular in northern gardens
where they are often grown as an annual, or lifted into pots and wintered indoors.
In summer the plant covers itself with large, very showy spikes of flowers in shades ranging from
white, pink, red, rose, magenta, orange, purple to coral/apricot. Dense clusters of tubular pink
flowers shaped like tiny tongues make this plant unique.
The flowers are tubes, flared at the mouth and curving outward from the center of the spike on
which the flowers are arranged. The pink to rose-purple corolla is about 6 cm long, slender and
slightly ampliate upward. The upper lip is erect and curved over the anthers at the tip, lower lip
is reflexed to almost a right-angle and clawed.
A perfect perennial for shaded and partially shaded areas, they are one of the best plants for
bringing dazzling color to the darker areas of your garden. The smaller varieties grow in mounds
about 2 feet high. Others are more shrub-like and may grow to 6 feet tall by 6 feet wide.
The large, rich-green, coarse leaves are prominently veined. The under surface is thinly puberulent,
especially on nerves, much less so on upper surface of the leaves. Depending on the variety, they
are oblong and pointed on the end and about 8 inches long by 2 inches wide. Stems are 4-angled
(squarish) or grooved.
Easy to grow and propagate, they tolerate our summer conditions very well and offer outstanding
performance in gardens and containers. Most often today, the justicias offered in local nurseries
and catalogs are hybrids, the results of crossing J. carnea with other species.
Justicia can't be beat for adding bright patches of vibrant color to shady areas. Use them in
pots and containers in shady entryways, porches and patios, or planted directly in the garden. The
smaller varieties can be used as a colorful groundcover in shady areas. Larger varities make great
background plants and can be used in mixed hedges.
Fertilize three times a year in spring, summer and early fall. Cut back lanky stems after blooming
to maintain a neat shape. In warmer zones, once they are established in the right spot
of your garden, they can survive for decades with neglect.
Justicia is very easy to root from stem cuttings. Make stem cuttings about 8 to 12 inches long and
remove all but the top 2-4 leaves. Dust the root end of the stem with rooting hormone
powder, making sure that at least 2 notches where leaves used to be are covered. Push the stems 1
to 2 inches into potting soil and keep moist until new leaves appear.
CULTURE / CARE
PREFERS RICH, WELL-DRAINED SOIL
PARTIAL TO FULL SHADE
WATER REGULARLY; DO NOT OVERWATER
GROWS: 24-36 INCHES TALL
SPACING: 12-15 INCHES APART
SUITABLE FOR GROWING INDOORS
BLOOMS IN SUMMER AND FALL
FERTILIZE SPRING, SUMMER AND FALL
REMOVE FADED BLOOMS
CUT BACK STEMS AFTER BLOOMING
PROPAGATION BY CUTTINGS IN SPRING
HARDY IN ZONES 9 - 11 (US)
CULTIVARS, SPECIES & VARIETIES