The Beloperone guttata or Justicia is a small evergreen shrub native to Central America and Brazil; adult plants reach 70-10 cm in height, but can grow to over 120-150 cm, although they are usually kept within smaller dimensions.
It looks like a roundish shrub, much ramified, with thin and woody stems; the leaves are oval, of a bright green colour, glossy; from the beginning of spring till late autumn, it produces long hanging panicles, covered by inflorescences formed by small yellow flowers surrounded by yellow-orange bracts, which make the flower look like a shrimp tail.
In order to maintain a plant with compact vegetation and to promote abundant flowering, it is advisable to prune the plant regularly at the beginning of winter. This plant is also called Justicia brandeana.
For the lush 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 can not stand temperatures below 5-6 ° C, so in winter should be hospitalized indoors, away from direct sources of heat, such as fireplaces, stoves or heaters.
In places with particularly mild winters, the beloperone guttata can be cultivated as a garden plant.
The Justicia plants do not like excesses of water, but they also fear drought, so it is best to water them regularly throughout the year, avoiding leaving the soil soaked in water;water, but checking that it maintains the right degree of humidity, in order to avoid that it dries too much between one intervention and the other; for a good flowering, it is good to supply, from March to October, some 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 soil, well drained, rich of organic matter: a good compost can be prepared, using some universal soil mixed with sand and a little pumice stone, with a rather fine granulometry.
The plant grows quite vigorously, so it is best to repot it every 2-3 years, preferably in early March, using a slightly larger container to give way to the roots to develop without problems.
In spring, it is possible to make several cuttings taking the semi-woody apexes of the young branches; the cuttings are to be rooted in a compound formed by sand and peat in equal parts, which is to be kept in a cool and humid place, far away from the direct rays of the sun, checking that the temperatures remain constant in order to avoid that sudden changes prevent the rooting. As soon as the cuttings are rooted, they can be placed in a single container.
Justicia – Beloperone guttata: Parasites and diseases
These plants are hardly affected by pests or diseases. However, it is possible that red spiders or lice will be able to strike the specimens of this variety. For this reason, as soon as you notice their presence is good to intervene quickly, to remove the red spider may be enough to increase the humidity environment, perhaps by vaporizing water on the leaves, as this parasite does not stand the wet environments.
Otherwise, numerous insecticide products are available on the market that can easily eradicate the problem.