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Justicia

Acanthaceae
Deciduous, Evergreen, Shrubs, Semi-evergreen

This group of plants is grown chiefly for tubular, tightly clustered flowers or, in the case of Justicia brandegeeana, for showy spikes of bracts. Blossoms of all species attract hummingbirds. Leaves are paired, opposite each other on the stems.

Justicia brandegeana
Justicia brandegeana

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Justicia brandegeana

Mexican native. Grows 3 to 4 ft. high and wide. Apple green, oval to elliptic leaves to 2 1/2 in. long. Tubular white flowers spotted with purple are enclosed in overlapping coppery bronze bracts to form compact, drooping, jointed-looking spikes 3 in. long (eventually lengthening to 6 or 7 in.). Spike formation somewhat resembles a large shrimp. Blooms are produced mainly from spring to fall, sporadically rest of year.

Justicia californica

Semievergreen or deciduous. Native from edges of southeastern California’s Colorado Desert to Arizona and northern Mexico. To 6 ft. tall and wide, with arching,grayish branches and sparse, 1/4-in., roundish light green leaves. Clusters of tubular,bright red, 1 1/2-in.-long flowers give a good show from fall through spring. (‘Yellow’ has yellow blossoms.) Can freeze to ground in winter but comes back in spring. Full sun or light shade. Little to moderate water. Summer-deciduous but will hold much of its foliage if irrigated.

Justicia candicans

Evergreen. Native to southern Arizona, Mexico. Erect growth to 3 ft. high and wide, with gray branchlets and dark green, heart-shaped leaves to 3 in. long. Clusters of 1-in., tubular, vivid red flowers from fall to early summer, with intermittentbloom later in summer. Full sun or light shade. Regular water.

Justicia carnea
Justicia carnea

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Justicia carnea

From South America. Soft-wooded, erect shrub to 4 to 6 ft. high, 2 1/2 to 3 ft. wide. Medium green, prominently veined leaves grow to 10 in. long. Dense clusters of pink to crimson, tubular flowers appear from midsummer to fall. ‘Huntington Form’ is a more compact plant (3 to 4 ft. high) with deeper pink flowers and leaves that are bronze colored on lower surfaces. Cut back plants in early spring to encourage strong new growth.

Justicia spicigera, photo courtesy of Steven A. Gunther
Justicia spicigera, photo courtesy of Steven A. Gunther

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Justicia spicigera

From Mexico andCentral America. To 3 ft. high, 4 ft. wide, with light green, smooth or velvety leaves. Few floweredclusters of 1 1/2-in.orange or orange-red flowers appear nearly year-round, peakingin spring and fall. Full sun or partial shade. Little to regular water.

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