The Beloperone guttata or Justicia is a small evergreen shrub originating in Central America and Brazil; the adult plants reach the 70-10 cm of height, but they can grow even over 120-150 cm, even if they are generally kept within smaller dimensions. It looks like a roundish, very ramified shrub, with thin and woody stems; the leaves are oval, bright green, shiny; from the beginning of spring to late autumn it produces long pendulous panicles, covered with inflorescences consisting of small yellow flowers surrounded by yellow-orange bracts, which make the flower resemble a shrimp tail. To maintain a plant with compact vegetation and to favor an abundant flowering it is good to regularly prune the plant at the beginning of winter. This plant is also called Justicia brandeana.
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For the luxuriant and vigorous growth of this variety keep the plants of Beloperone guttata in a very bright place, but away from direct sunlight, especially during the hottest hours of the day; the plant does not tolerate temperatures below 5-6 ° C, therefore in winter it must be kept indoors, away from direct sources of heat, such as fireplaces, stoves or radiators.
In places with particularly mild winters beloperone guttata can be cultivated as a garden plant.
The plants of Justicia do not like the excesses of water, but they also fear the drought, it is therefore good to water them regularly throughout the year, avoiding to leave the soil soaked with water but checking that it maintains the right degree of humidity to prevent it from drying too much between one operation and another; for a good flowering it is good to supply, from March to October, of the fertilizer for flowering plants, mixed with the water of the watering, every 10-15 days.
For the planting of the Justicia plants use a loose, well-drained soil, rich in organic matter: you can prepare a good compost using universal soil mixed with sand and a little pumice stone with a fairly fine grain size.
The plant grows quite vigorously, so it is good to repot it every 2-3 years, preferably at the beginning of March, using a slightly larger container to allow the roots to develop without problems.
In spring it is possible to practice numerous cuttings taking the semi-woody tips of the young branches; the cuttings should be rooted in a compound consisting of sand and peat in equal parts, which should be kept in a cool and damp place, away from direct sunlight, checking that temperatures remain constant to prevent sudden jolts from taking place. As soon as the cuttings have rooted they can be placed in a single container.
Justicia - Beloperone guttata: Pests and diseases
Hardly these plants are affected by pests or diseases. It is possible, however, that the red spiders or lice can hit specimens of this variety. For this reason, as soon as their presence is noticed it is good to intervene with timeliness; to remove the red spider it may be sufficient to increase the environmental humidity, perhaps by vaporizing water on the leaves, since this parasite does not tolerate humid environments. Otherwise there are many insecticide products on the market that can easily eradicate the problem.