Justicia brandegeeana 'Fruit Cocktail' (Acanthaceae)
Fruit cocktail? Make mine with lime, pineapple and coconut on a warm sunny beach.
I acquired this shrub recently from the garden of horticulturist Helen Curran. It has the typical shrimp plant form of being a lax shrub to about 30cm high with all stems topped with flowers weighing down the branches. Outside the tropics shrimp plants do quite well in full sun and this has the effect of strengthening the stems and making them not quite so floppy. I like to grow plants 'hard' to get a more robust garden worthy plant by giving them lots of sun and less water. Because these Justicia flower most of the year it is difficult to get enough cutting material from which to propagate more plants and thus I assume this is the reason why this variety has not become more commercially well known. Give me five years and I might have enough plants to offer for sale. I love the colour combination on this, probably best described as Venetian red flowers emerging from chartreuse bracts. Does that sound a bit Bob Carr? Cue a tune from the Venetian red priest Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) which is not the dreaded 'Four Seasons'