Plant of the Week – August 2: Lemon Lollipop

I was out at Crump’s Garden Center (now sadly gone) north of McKinney one spring, and my friend the late Joe Crump introduced me to lemon lollipop or golden shrimp plant. As I recall they had just started growing it, and he wanted me to give it a try.

Botanically lemon lollipop is known as Pachystachys lutea. You may see it listed as Justicia lutea.

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What I found out then and in the ensuing years…
This plant is fabulous in 14- to 16-inch pots all by itself.
It’s great in larger pots in the center of mixed plantings – as the “thriller” plant, if you will.
You can even grow it in beds in front of contrasting Burgundy Sun coleus or copper plants.
Hummingbirds love it.
It blooms non-stop all summer and fall.
It responds well to liquid, high-nitrogen, water-soluble fertilizers.
No insects or diseases seem to bother it.
Others report that it’s not especially attractive to deer. We’re just now getting deer in rural Collin County, so I can’t speak to that first hand.
It’s winter-hardy in South Texas, and it will make it through mild winters in Central Texas although it may die to the ground and come back from its roots.
I put mine in the greenhouse in pots in the winter, although I usually just start with new, vigorous plants each spring.

Lemon lollipop grows alongside red-leafed coleus providing great color and contrast.

If you have a drab corner somewhere where your summertime annuals have turned up their toes, this might be a great replacement. Buy a plant that’s been grown in full or nearly full sunlight. Use a loose, highly organic potting soil and give it a try.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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