How to propagate persian shield?

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Care Of Persian Shield Plant: Tips For Growing Persian Shield Indoors

Chances are pretty good you have seen this attractive foliage plant at nursery centers. The bright leaves of the Persian shield plant (Strobilanthes dyerianus) are almost better than a flowering specimen since they provide stunning color year around. Growing Persian shield requires warm temperatures and sultry humid air. It is hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11, but is more commonly grown indoors or as a summer annual in cooler climates. Use Persian shield indoors to brighten up the home and create tropical ambiance with ease of care.

Persian Shield Plant

Persian shield is a phenomenal foliar specimen. It produces 4- to 7-inch long, slender leaves tipped with a point. They are slightly serrated and have deep green veins with purple to silver on the entire surface of the leaf.

The plant has a bushy habit and may get up to 4 feet tall in habitat. Because it is only suitable for USDA zone 10, growing Persian shield indoors is the best way for most gardeners to enjoy this brilliant plant. You can put the plant outside in summer, but make sure you bring it back inside before cold weather threatens and you may be rewarded with slender spiky flowers.

Growing Persian Shield

The plant performs well in a container inside or outside, in full sun to partial shade. Provide even moisture and high humidity. The best way to give extra humidity to a Persian shield indoors is to place a thin layer of rocks in a saucer and balance the pot on top. Keep the saucer full of water. This keeps the roots out of the water but the evaporation of the water provides higher humidity to the air.

You can grow Persian shield outdoors in warm climates and plant them in the ground as part of a border display. In cool zones, however, treat the plant as an annual or bring it inside at the end of summer.

Persian Shield Propagation

You can share this lovely plant easily with friends and family. Persian shield propagation is done through seed or cuttings. Take 2- to 3-inch sections from the tips of the plant, cutting just below a growth node.

Strip the bottom leaves off and insert the cutting into a non-soil medium such as peat. Mist the medium and place a bag over the cutting. Remove the bag for one hour daily to keep the cutting from molding. In a couple of weeks, the cutting will produce roots and you can replant it in potting mixture.

Persian Shield Care Instructions

Persian shield is an easy to care for plant. Pinch the stems back to force bushiness.

Water the plant when the top couple of inches of soil are dry and keep a bit drier in winter.

Fertilization is one of the most important Persian shield care instructions, especially for potted plants. Feed every two weeks with a half dilution of liquid plant food. Suspend feeding in fall and winter.

Watch for mites and soil gnats. You can combat these with horticultural soap and by changing the soil.

Persian Shield

Coleus may be the go-to foliage plant for some gardeners, but Persian shield is a stunning foliage plant that works equally well in summer gardens.

Characteristics

Persian shield is a large, evergreen perennial known for its vibrant foliage. The iridescent purple leaves shimmer with a hint of silver. Each leaf can reach 4 to 7 inches long and 3 inches wide. Adding interest, the leaves also feature bold green stripes along the veins.

Persian shield can grow 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet across. It can be planted in perennial beds or used effectively in larger container gardens. Because of its colorful foliage, it pairs nicely with silver plants like artemisia or chartreuse plants like ‘Margarita’ ornamental sweet potato.

The plant flowers in winter with small violet flowers. The flowers are hardly noticeable, but if you find them obtrusive you can simply pinch them off.

Known scientifically as Strobilanthes dyerianus, Persian shield can be grown as a root-hardy perennial in USDA plant hardiness zones 8-11. In colder climates, it can be grown as a summer annual.

Planting and Care

Persian shield loves humid climates, making it a perfect choice for summer gardens in Florida. It will perform best if it’s planted in a rich, well-drained soil that receives regular watering. Here in Florida, it’s best to plant it in partial to full shade.

The stems can sometimes get tall and flop over, so it’s a good idea to pinch the plant a few times early on to help create more branching.

Persian shield is cold tender, so gardeners should cover it when cold weather strikes. The other option is to treat the plant like an annual, replacing it in the spring if it doesn’t grow back from its roots.

Persian shield can also be propagated from cuttings, so it makes a great passalong plant.

For more information on Persian shield, contact your county Extension office.

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Persian shield – Strobilanthes dyerianus

Propagation of Persian shield – Strobilanthes dyerianus

Cuttings can be made in the usual manner (cuttings page) but a far easier method of propagating is by simply placing the cutting in water.

  • Take a container such as a plastic cup.
  • 3/4 Fill it with water.
  • Cover with cling film and make a hole in the middle.
  • Prepare a cutting.
  • Push your cutting through the hole ensuring the stem reaches into the water.
  • Wait about 3 weeks then pot up in soil, keeping the soil quite wet for the first few days.

Alternatively a heated propagator can be used for larger quantities and to speed the process up:

  • Tie plastic coated wire around the heated propagator base to create a frame.
  • Cover the frame with cling film. Overlap the sheets to give a good seal and add strength.
  • Make small evenly spaced holes, (the number being dependent on how many cuttings you have taken), and place the propagator in a bright location out of direct sunlight.
  • Fill with water and then push the Persian shield cuttings through the holes.

  • After 3 weeks the cuttings should have produced roots and have begun to grow. In this instance the water temperature within the propagator base ranged from a minimum of 21°C to a maximum of 34°C.
  • Once the Strobilanthes dyerianus have produced roots they can be potted up in multi-purpose compost.

It is said that the roots produced by suspending the cuttings in water have a slightly different make up from those created in a solid medium and need to adapt to a drier environment. Once potted up the stroblianthes cuttings should be replaced into the propagator base (The cling film and frame now removed). Water is poured into the base of the propagator. As the water evaporates over a period of a few days, the roots are able to slowly acclimatise to drier conditions.

If you are short of cutting material, whatever is left of the original plant can also be up-rooted and re potted and placed on heat. The results however are never as satisfactory as when using stem tip cuttings.

It can be seen from this picture that the soil grow roots are much finer than those grown in water

The best time to take cuttings is September/October time but before the the first frosts. It is possible to take cuttings of the cuttings to boost stocks. This is done at the end of February /early March if they have put on sufficient growth. This assumes that you have:

  1. An idle propagator.
  2. Sufficient space left to house these extra plants.

Flowers of the Persian shield – Strobilanthes dyerianus

Although the Persian shield does produce flowers, it is for its foliage that it is grown. Once a stem begins to flower, the size of the leaves on that stem get smaller resulting in a scruffier plant.

The flowering stems can be removed but this does not seem to propel the plant into a foliage producing frenzy.

Left on the plant the flowers eventually produce seed pods but so far the seeds within have failed to germinate.

Growing the Persian shield – Strobilanthes dyerianus

As Mentioned earlier, shade and preferably warm shade brings out the best colours of the Persian shield. When grown in a sunnier position the plants do not seem to suffer but the foliage is much more silvery than deep purple which pretty much misses the point of growing this plant.

Strobilanthes dyerianus prefers a moist, friable soil that it can easily get its roots into, i.e. not solid clay.

The best results have been achieved when the plants have been shade-grown in deep containers (50:50 multi-purpose : John innes) with regular watering, compared to those being grown in the soil.

Flowers aren’t the only way to have stunning color in your garden or home. The attention-grabbing Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus) has iridescent purple foliage that lasts all season long. Indoors or out, it works as a brilliant accent or stunning centerpiece to give any setting an exotic tropical ambiance.

How do you grow Persian Shields? Plant persian shield in partial shade and rich, moist soil. It prefers warmth and humidity yet can take some cold weather, and it’s resistant to disease and pests. It needs overwintering and fades after a few seasons, but grows quickly and easily propagates.

The Persian Shield is perennial in warm climates and makes an excellent houseplant year-round. It’s choosy about its light and needs some attention to look its best … we’ll explain all that below. Overall, it’s an easy-to-keep plant that will have people talking.

Persian Shield Overview

The Persian Shield’s shimmering foliage offers the vibrancy of flowers—and you don’t have to wait for blooms. It requires a lot of moisture and partial shade, but otherwise it’s not fussy. They look great in outdoor borders or as a splashy backdrop, and make excellent houseplants too.

The plant can produce violet cool-season flowers, but the foliage is unquestionably its highlight. The tipped leaves have a metallic sheen over a dark green base with a vivid purple and silver overlay; they are warm lavender underneath.

Strobilanthes grow quickly in warm, humid conditions. Outdoors they can reach five feet high and nearly as wide, but remain smaller as potted houseplants.

Though more tolerant of cool temperatures than many tropicals—they can overwinter outdoors in mild zones—you’ll have to bring houseplants indoors before frosts begin. If you give them plenty of light and moisture indoors, they’ll provide your home with a continual show of color.

Persian Shield Care Needs

  • Scientific Name: Strobilanthes dyerianus
  • Common Name: Persian Shield Plant
  • Origin: Myanmar
  • Light Requirements: Bright indirect light. Can tolerate some direct sunlight, particularly indoors.
  • Watering: Keep soil evenly moist. Water once the surface of the soil starts to dry. Will wilt significantly if underwatered.
  • Soil: Well-draining commercial potting mix.
  • Temperature: 60-75°F (16-24°C) is ideal.
  • Fertilizer: Fertilizer every 3-4 weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer at half strength.
  • Humidity:Prefer humidity greater than 40%.
  • Pruning: Prune regularly during the growing season to maintain compact growth.
  • Propagation: Leaf propagation works well but needs close supervision.
  • Re-Potting: Repot every 1-2 years. Increase pot size if signs of becoming root-bound.
  • Diseases and Pests: Very resistant to pests and diseases when actively growing.
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic. Safe for humans and pets.

Characteristics Of Strobilanthes Dyerianus

The Persian Shield is a fast-growing, soft-stemmed perennial from the family Acanthaceae. The plant’s original habitat is the bright, filtered shade of a forest canopy in its native Myanmar, growing in rich organic soil under warm, moist tropical conditions.

Its common name refers to the metallic-sheened broad leaves that are shaped like a shield. The leaves grow from 4 to 8 inches long and are slightly serrated with green veins and both purple and silver tones across the upper surface.

The plant can be found in nurseries, but it’s not extremely common. There are no variations of this beautiful plant.

Outdoors it does best in early morning or late afternoon sun with shade in the heat of the day. Direct sun will fade the purple into a silvery grey (though the sheen remains). Indoors, it needs a sunny window or substantial artificial light.

Persian Shields like organically rich and well-draining soil that’s kept moist: they wilt quickly in dry conditions. They need humidity to look their best. I’ve previously written about the best ways to increase humidity for your indoor plants.

They’re easy to keep bushy and compact with basic pruning. The stems become woody and leaf color fades with age, but they propagate readily from cuttings.

Persian Shield Requires Bright Light

The Persian Shield likes bright indirect light but does well in a range of conditions.

Outdoors, southern locations need the protection of partial shade or dappled light: too much sun fades the deep purple color into a silvery cast. They’ll take some full sun as you move north; if in doubt, choose a more shaded spot. An area that gets full early morning sun and light shade through the afternoon usually works well.

An indoor Persian Shield likes a sunny window, but keep it away from hot, direct sunlight. A grow light can supplement the intensity. You can gauge whether the light is sufficient by observing how compact the plant remains. Rotate their pot to keep them from stretching.

How To Water Persian Shield Plants

Strobilanthes likes a lot of moisture both in the air and soil … even so, to avoid pests and disease, it’s best to let the top inch or two of soil dry between waterings.

The plant will teach you the right watering schedule: it droops whenever it’s thirsty. It will collapse into a sorry heap if you wait too long, but it springs back if you catch it in time. The time-lapse video below shows you how dramatic their recovery can be.

It’s not a good idea to let this happen every time, of course, but observing signs of wilting helps you find a schedule to keep the plant suitably moist.

The best way to water a potted Persian Shield is to put a saucer beneath it and pour water over the topsoil. Make sure the water runs through and saturates the medium. Use room-temperature, dechlorinated water and avoid getting it on the leaves.

Outdoor mulching helps keep the soil evenly moist, though you won’t need it inside. You’ll find yourself watering quite a bit in hot weather, but reduce it over the winter. Inside or out, they rest during the cool season and expect drier soil.

Rich, Friable Soil

Strobilanthes likes to live in arable organic soil, and it’s not hard to make them happy. A good commercial potting mix does fine for containers. They like a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5.

The ideal medium holds moisture but drains well. If your mix is a bit heavy, consider adding compost, peat moss or vermiculite to give it the right springy texture. Ensure their pot has sufficient drainage holes, too.

If you’re planting outdoors, compost and leaf mould are the most suitable and affordable amendments. Pay attention to drainage. They like moist bedding but won’t tolerate sogginess for long.

Persian Shield Temperature Needs

The Persian Shield is a tender perennial that prospers in our comfortable temperatures indoors. They do best from 60-75 °F (16-24°C) yet can shrug off short dips below this range. They tend to get leggy in hotter weather.

Outside, they are hardy in USDA Zones 10 and up, though anecdotal reports claim Strobilanthes are becoming perennial in Zones 8 and 9. They can die back after a mild frost and recover in spring, but too much cold weather will stunt them. Plan on overwintering indoors—or restarting—if your winters are rough.

Potted plants should be brought inside when temps begin dipping, well before the threat of frost.

Light Balanced Fertilization

Rich organic soil provides a nutrient base for both outdoor or potted Persian Shields, so don’t skip that. Fertilization won’t make up for poor soil: they respond best to a light regime.

Some owners use a slow-release fertilizer every quarter during the warm season—this works better for outdoor settings, where the roots have more scope.

Potted specimens need a gentle fertilizing boost more than outdoor plants, and prosper on a 2-3 week feeding schedule from spring through fall.

Use a balanced liquid or water soluble fertilizer made up at half the recommended strength, and apply when watering to avoid root burn. A balanced formula is best to promote root growth and leaf color.

Reduce feeding in late fall, and hold off completely over the winter months. Persian Shields naturally rest during cool weather, so extra fertilizer will just build up in the soil.

Persian Shield Humidity Requirements

Persian Shields love humidity, but they aren’t as hard to please as many tropicals. They do well with 40% humidity (though higher is even better). If the humidity is too low, their leaves become crispy, so gauge accordingly.

Adequate watering in well-mulched soil satisfies outdoor plants, but indoors the challenge isn’t so bad, either. You’ll always get great results with a room humidifier, but Shields are usually satisfied with a simple water tray.

Put a layer of pebbles in a saucer that’s a little larger than their pot, and fill it with water so the rocks are just above the surface. Place the container on the pebbles. This keeps the potting soil and roots out of the water as evaporation lifts moisture into the local air.

Incidentally, misting isn’t very helpful for these plants: it dissipates before it makes a difference and can discolor leaves if the droplets are too large, too cold, or contain contaminants.

Does Persian Shield Flower?

The Persian Shield is grown for its royal foliage, but it also has small flowers. These cone-shaped violet blossoms give rise to its less-common name, the Bermuda Conehead.

The best thing about their flowers is that they arrive with cool weather. It’s less a rush of color than a wintertime novelty, but they’re welcome … when they show up.

Its foliage can remain beautiful in less-than-ideal conditions, but these plants only bloom when warm and ebullient: you may never see flowers. Some owners snip the flower spikes off, as with Coleus—but don’t. The small leaves and blossoms are a harbinger of next season’s vigor.

Pruning Strobilanthes dyerianus

A pot well filled with Strobilanthes is a beautiful sight, but the plant doesn’t cooperate without pruning assistance. It’s easy to do—the only trick is timing. Pruning is best done while the plant is active—well, it can be done at any time, but the stem can die if cut during their dormant state.

Cutting the growing tips during spring and summer encourages lateral branching and creates a bushier plant. Trim the stem at an angle just above a leaf.

One exception to the only-during-growing-season rule is cutting back at winter’s end. If you prune them to a foot high, leaving some foliage for recovery, they will boldly rebound with the coming spring.

Sometimes an older or rootbound Persian Shield will resist your pruning efforts and insist on leggy growth. Rather than imposing drastic measures, consider repotting or starting fresh with leaf cuttings.

Propagating Persian Shield Is Easy But Requires Attention

There are two reasons to regularly propagate Persian Shields: to replace older plants that grow woody and faded, and to grow cuttings for a new season.

Though not overly difficult to propagate, Strobilanthes do need some help getting started. Leaf propagation is the standard method.

Here’s how:

• Take a stem tip cutting two to five inches long.

• Wash the section carefully to remove hitchhiking pests. Strip away the bottom leaves.

• Insert into conditioned, room-temperature water. Change the water every 24-48 hours.

• Once the cutting has a small set of roots, place it in a light potting mix. Their roots develop better in soil.

• Water lightly. Place the container in a clear plastic bag under good indirect light.

• Remove the cutting from the bag an hour each day—it’s a pain, but helps keep them from molding. Optional: If you’re having trouble, consider using a heat mat to speed root growth.

• After three to five weeks, remove the plastic bag. Keep the soil extra moist for a couple of days and then treat it like a mature plant.

Success depends upon high warmth and humidity, good light, and your ability to keep them from rotting.

Pro Tip: Do many leaves at once: you can always give them away.

Repotting: Use Deep Containers

The basic rule for Persian Shields is to repot a size larger in the spring if you see surface roots. Gently open the root ball if it’s potbound, and plant at the same depth as before. If you want to keep the plant small, repot less often.

One important tip is to use deep containers. Strobilanthes roots can stretch deeply: the extra soil helps preserve adequate moisture as the top few inches dry out.

Planting Tips

  • If kept warm (or indoors), the plant grows larger and more impressive in its second and third year.
  • Outdoor Persian Shield plants tend to be stunted after a severe die-back from frost … if you’re in a marginally hardy zone, consider restarting them as annuals each spring.
  • When grown as an annual from autumn leaf cuttings, Persian Shields get about a foot high the following summer. They’ll grow faster in warmer weather, but annuals usually look best in a border. Plant in masses for effective color.
  • Remember that, indoors or out, warmth matters a lot to this plant. In Florida they thrive in damp, shady spots where they would languish further north. Houseplants can take more direct window sun in colder locales.
  • Wash the plant thoroughly and apply insecticidal soap when bringing them in from the wild outdoors. Strobilanthes are resistant to hungry pests, but they do have them. You don’t want that fight.
  • Another fight to avoid is over where your Persian Shield will live indoors. It’s better to move their pot around until it “tells” you it’s happy.
  • Persian Shield plants do fine in artificial light, but they need a lot. Keeping them near a window and supplementing light is a reasonable choice.
  • Expect some leaf drop when you bring an outdoor specimen inside.
  • Some owners report success with water retention granules. These give a cushion to the casual gardener, but they only last a few seasons.
  • Don’t expect a lot of pizzazz in the cool season: dormant Strobilanthes are lackluster. Even as houseplants they’ll seem to fizzle. Newbies may think their plant is dying and throw it out when it’s just resting for a glorious new season.

Common Questions

What Are The Main Diseases And Pests Of Strobilanthes?

Persian Shields seem impervious to pests and diseases! The main issues come during dormancy. Cool weather can bring spider mites, fungus, and gnats: treat with horticultural soap or pyrethrum spray.

Why Does My Persian Shield Have Discolored Leaves?

Though disease can cause discoloration, Strobilanthes are fairly resistant to pathogens. Here are more common reasons:

  • Too much light will fade leaves.
  • Dry air can cause leaves to curl at the edges or turn brown and crispy.
  • Old leaves decline before they fall off—this is natural.
  • Lack of fertilization—or an unbalanced formula—can cause leaf discoloration; too much fertilizer can burn leaf edges.
  • Spotting is usually from water damage. Cold water is a common culprit; lingering water drops under direct sun is another.

Are Persian Shield Plants Poisonous?

The Acanthaceae family isn’t considered toxic, though their sap may irritate sensitive skin.

Creative Combinations With Persian Shield Plants

Persian Shields are a striking focal point of a mixed arrangement. Here are some ideas:

  • The vivid purple contrasts well with lime-green foliage like Sweet Potato Vine.
  • Combinations with Caladiums and Elephant Ears are stunning. Other striking companions are Oxalis and Lotus Vine.
  • Combinations with blue or purple Impatiens or Petunias are magically harmonious.
  • Yellow flowers offer a cool/warm contrast. Lavender Geranium or Petunia integrifolia are way hot.
  • Planted together outdoors, Lycoris provides floral highlights all summer and evergreen cover in winter.

It’s easy to see where this exotic plant got its common name of ‘Persian shield,’ as the leaves are perfectly shield-shaped, and the iridescent purple foliage has a shimmering quality that makes it appear silver in some lights. Interestingly though, the plant hails from Myanmar (formerly Burma), and not Persia, as its name suggests.

The plant features unusual, striking foliage, which adds vibrant color to gardens and homes all year around. It works well in containers, flowerbeds, or as a houseplant, enjoying warm temperatures, moist soil, and high humidity. The sap of the plant is a mild skin irritant, so take care when handling (Missouri Botanical Gardens).

Quick Facts

Origin Myanmar
Scientific Name Strobilanthes dyeriana
Family Acanthaceae
Type Evergreen perennial flowering plant
Common Names Persian shield, Royal purple plant, Bermuda conehead
Height Up to 4 feet
Toxicity Mildly toxic
Light Full sun to partial shade
Watering Maintain moist soil
Pests Whitefly and aphids

Caring for Your Persian Shield

Watering

Persian shields like to be kept in consistently moist soil. They are not drought-tolerant, so you will need to keep on top of watering the plant to make sure it doesn’t dry out. When kept as a houseplant, you can expect to water your Persian shield at least twice a week, though always dip your finger into the soil to see if it is ready to be watered. Only water the plant once the top layer of soil has dried out. Otherwise, you risk drowning your plant and causing root rot.

Pay extra attention to your plant’s watering needs in the winter, when indoor heating systems may cause the soil to dry out faster than usual. For outdoor plants, moist soil should also be maintained. Water regularly throughout summer, especially in times when rainfall is lacking.

Outdoor Persian shields will probably need to be watered more frequently than those kept as houseplants, as the summer heat will cause the moisture from the soil to evaporate more quickly. To battle this, you can mulch the topsoil of your Persian shield, as this helps to prevent moisture from evaporating.

As these are thirsty plants, you will need to ensure they are grown in well-draining soil to prevent them from sitting in waterlogged boggy conditions. Add grit or sand to your soil to increase its drainage capacity, though don’t go overboard because a soil that drains too quickly will struggle to meet the Persian shield’s demand for water.

Add organic matter such as well-rotted compost to your soil, as this will help to hold onto water near the plant’s roots while still allowing it to drain effectively. It will also help to replicate the plant’s natural environment, as it is used to growing in rich soils in its native habitat.

Light

When grown outdoors, the Persian shield can tolerate full sun, though it prefers partial shade. In its natural habitat, it would grow under the partial shade of overhead trees, so it’s best to try to replicate this as best you can in your own garden. Ideally, recreate this environment by planting the Persian shield under the protection of other trees, which can provide dappled shade.

If you must plant it in a sunny spot, ensure it gets afternoon shade to protect it during the hottest time of the day. If the plant gets too much sun, it will struggle to produce the vibrant purple foliage it is loved for.

If you find that your Persian shield is dull in color, consider moving it to a position with more shade. When grown as a houseplant, set the Persian shield in a window that receives bright, indirect light. You will need to try to provide a good balance between bright light and shade. Too much shade, and the plant will lose its color, but too little sun, and it will become leggy as it tries to find a source of light (Royal Horticultural Society).

Temperature

Persian shield is hardy from USDA growing zones 9 through 12, where it will grow as a perennial. It can be grown in zones 7 and 8, though it will grow as an annual. In these cooler climates, the plant will die back in the winter, but as long as the root system doesn’t freeze and die, then it will bounce back to life in the spring.

To help prevent the roots from freezing, you can insulate the soil by mulching it over before the first frost or use a horticultural blanket to protect the plant from cold temperatures. Alternatively, if the plant is grown outdoors in a container, you could bring it indoors during cooler months to overwinter it.

In cool climates, the Persian shield is most commonly grown as a houseplant, where it will provide bright foliage all year-round. In some instances, if the plant is warm enough, it will flower during winter, though most people agree that the flowers are insignificant compared with the colorful foliage. When kept indoors, the plant should be kept at a temperature above 60 °F.

Humidity

Persian shields rely on high humidity to thrive. This is fairly easy to replicate if your Persian shield is kept as a houseplant, and there are a few options you can choose from when it comes to increasing the humidity levels in your home.

If you enjoy tending to your plants, then daily misting might be a good option. This simply involves lightly spritzing your plant’s foliage with water, though if you are a busy or forgetful person, then this method isn’t for you, as a few missed days of misting could negatively affect your plant’s health.

For a less involved option, use a pebble tray to increase humidity. Simply set your plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water. The water level must be lower than the tallest pebbles so that it does not reach the base of the plant pot and get sucked up through the drainage holes. This method works because as the water evaporates from the pebbles, it increases the humidity around the plant. You will just need to ensure that the water in the tray is kept topped up.

Another easy, though a more costly option, is to use an electric humidifier. These can be plugged in and will increase the moisture content of your air throughout the whole room. Finally, always group your humidity loving plants together, as this also helps to improve humidity.

Dry air tends to become more of a problem during the colder months when heating systems dry out the air in our homes, so pay extra attention to increasing humidity during these times. Also, take care to keep your plant away from any heating vents, which will dry the plant out.

If your Persian shields are growing outdoors, you can place bowls of water near the base of the plants as this will have a similar effect as a pebble tray.

Propagation

Persian shields can be propagated from seed or through stem cuttings. Seeds need to be kept warm in order to germinate, so you can sow seeds outside in spring in warm climates, or sow them indoors with the use of a bottom heater. Ideal temperatures for germination of these seeds is between 55 and 65 °F.

To propagate from stem cuttings, take a cutting of around 3 inches in length from the end of a stem, cutting at the point just below a node. Dip the raw end in rooting hormone, then plant it in a moist growing medium and cover over with a plastic bag to mimic the conditions of a greenhouse. Check on the cutting every day, misting to keep it moist if necessary.

After a few weeks, roots will have formed, at which point you can remove the plastic bag. Let it grow uncovered for another week or two, then transplant it into a larger pot. You can then keep the cutting to grow as a houseplant, or plant it outside.

Repotting

When kept in a container, the Persian shield will need to be repotted every year when young. The best time to do this is in early spring, moving the plant to a container just one size up from its current container. Once the plant is older, you can reduce repotting to every other year. If kept indoors, you may want to slow the growth of the plant to keep it at a manageable size. To do this during repotting, you can trim back the root ball. Doing this will stunt the growth of the plant without causing it any damage.

Pruning

Persian shields have a tendency to grow leggy and spindly, which can look unattractive. To prevent this from happening, pinch back the leaves in early spring to encourage a fuller and more bushy growth. If your plant blooms, you may wish to remove the flowers as they appear. Most people find the flowers uninteresting compared with the colorful foliage, and pinching off the flowers will ensure the plant’s energy focuses on leave production rather than blooming.

Do you have any questions about Persian Shield? If so, leave us a comment, and don’t forget to this page with other growers!

Are you into purple plants? Do you like the notion of a plant which is low-maintenance, rarely has any pest or disease issues, and which will brighten up a room? In that case, consider Persian shield!

This tropical, which originates in southeast Asia, makes a fantastic plant whether indoors or out. The leaves are nearly iridescent or metallic purple when it’s in full color, edged in a deep, dark green, and it can really liven up a room!

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Good Products For Growing Persian Shield:

  • Neem Oil
  • Garden Safe Houseplant & Garden Insect Killer

Persian shield. Source: TexasEagle

Common Name Persian shield, royal purple plant
Scientific Name Strobilanthes dyeriana
Family Acanthaceae
Light Full sun to partial shade
Water Keep soil evenly moist, water when top couple inches of soil are dry
Temperature 60 degrees Fahrenheit and above
Humidity High humidity preferred
Soil Rich, well-drained soil with lots of plant matter, pH range 5.5-7.5
Fertilizer Diluted half-strength balanced liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks in spring/summer, less in fall, none in winter
Pests Spider mites, fungus gnats
Diseases None are problems for this plant

Persian shield quick care illustration by Seb Westcott.

Strobilanthes dyerianus, Persian shield, is sometimes known as the royal purple plant. Unlike many other plants, there aren’t any cultivar variations with additional names, as it’s all the same basic plant. Native to Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), it comes from Southeast Asia.

This lush tropical has lance-shaped, dark green leaves that flush to a brilliant purple. A silvery, iridescent sheen can sometimes coat the purple flush, making the purple look metallic or iridescent. Each of its leaves can grow to reach 7 inches in length and up to 3 inches wide.

It often grows to be three to four feet tall, and two to three feet in width. It’s primarily grown for those brilliant purple-flushed leaves, but does produce some tiny flowers in the winter months in zones 10-11 or when overwintered indoors.

The flower is blue-violet in coloration, tiny and funnel-shaped. They’re often lost against the stunning foliage, and many growers pinch off flower stalks when they appear.

While it’s is often grown as an annual, it can be grown as a perennial if you have the right conditions. Rainforest plants such as this purple and green plant prefer a humid environment and warm temperatures, and seldom tolerate cold well.

As the color of the plant can fade with age as well, most grow this plant as an annual. Alternately, you can heavily cut it back to encourage new growth and color.

Persian Shield Care

Being a tropical plant, it can occasionally be a little picky, so it’s essential to know the best conditions to grow them in. Here’s a short checklist of what you need to do.

Light and Temperature

Persian shield leaves. Source: McAli333

It can handle full sun to partial shade, but if you’re at all in doubt, opt for slightly shadier conditions. As these often grow under the cover of trees, dappled sunlight is just fine.

People in hot desert environments where the sun is blindingly hot should also plan on going for partial shade conditions when growing this outdoors. At the very least, ensuring the plant has afternoon shade during the hottest part of the day is wise.

If your plant is getting too much sunlight, it won’t develop that vibrant, iridescent purple tone, and you should move it somewhere shadier.

Growing your Persian shield as a houseplant? If so, you’ll need a grow light or a sunny window to ensure your plant’s catching enough rays. You’ll also want to turn the plant regularly to ensure it doesn’t become leggy as it reaches towards the light.

You can grow it outdoors in zones 8-11, but does best in zones 10-11 as it more closely resembles the plant’s natural habitat. Overwintering should only be done in zones 10-11 or on warm years in zone 9. Zone 8 should plan on having it indoors during the cold months.

Temperatures for this plant should remain above 60 degrees to maintain that brilliant coloration. While light frosts will cause the plant to die back, it may recover in the spring if it never got to hard frosts or freezing conditions.

Water and Humidity

Your royal purple plant will like having consistent, even moisture in its soil. Water when the top couple of inches of soil are dry, which indoors is often twice a week (and may be more often outside).

Indoor growers need to monitor their soil moisture regularly, especially throughout the winter months when we’re all running our heaters.

Persian shield does like to grow outside as well, but when doing that, be sure that the soil also remains consistently moist, and add mulch to keep the soil moisture from evaporating.

This is a high humidity plant — it likes damp air! To increase that, place your pot on top of a tray of pebbles and water. The water will evaporate and provide more humid conditions. Outdoor growers can set bowls of water next to their plants for similar effect.

Soil

A larger specimen. Source: The McGee

As a tropical plant, your Strobilanthes dyerianus is naturally accustomed to rich soil filled with plenty of plant matter that retains water. To simulate this, you’ll want to opt for a rich and well-drained soil. Consider adding extra compost, vermiculite, or peat moss to help keep it moist.

The pH level should be between 5.5 and 7.5 for best growth.

These are extremely good as container plants, and most people grow them that way. However, they can work as bedding plants too provided that you’ve developed a well-drained planting location for them.

Fertilizer

For most of the year, fertilizing should be done every two weeks with a half-diluted, low-NPK liquid plant food. Aim for one which is balanced NPK, as it requires the nitrogen to grow and the rest to develop healthy root structure and provide its brilliant color.

Slow down feeding as you move into the fall to once a month, and withhold fertilizer through the winter. Once the spring comes again, return to a regular 2-week pattern.

it’s easy to propagate from seeds or cuttings, but I find that cuttings work best.

Preparing your cutting is simplicity itself. Select a stem which is 6″ long and remove all but the uppermost leaves. Place the cut end into either a glass of water or some moist rooting medium of your choice. If using water, change the water daily. In rooting medium, keep it evenly moist.

Place your plant in a shaded location where it still gets some indirect light, and ensure that the humidity is kept up around the plant (a plastic bag placed overtop can help with this). It will develop roots in 2-5 weeks depending on the plant’s vigor and the season.

A closeup of a leaf. Source: monteregina

Many people seldom repot these Persian purple plants if they’re thriving, because they simply don’t need it. If your plant looks healthy and happy, then you’re doing just fine!

However, if you want to encourage your plant to expand in size, it’ll need more root space. Also, if it seems to be going through water very quickly, switching to a pot that’s 1-2 inches larger will add more soil and help retain more moisture.

If you do opt to repot, prepare your soil in advance and have it ready. You may wish to gently open up the roots of the plant if it seems to be a bit pot-bound, then replant at the same depth it was previously planted.

Try to avoid jumping drastically in pot size. A plant which was previously planted in a 4″ pot shouldn’t go up to a 12″ pot, as it’ll take forever for it to fill that much space.

Other than removing leaves that have died back, there’s little pruning that needs to be done.

Pinch back stems to encourage your plant to become bushier. This can be done at any time that it’s required.

Your plant can get leggy as it gets older, during the winter, or if it needs to be repotted. If pinching back does not discourage the leggy habit, consider repotting. For the winter months, pinch off flower stalks and occasionally pinch back excess stem growth.

While optional, some report that trimming the plant back to a foot tall (leaving enough leaves for photosynthesis) at the end of winter encourages their plants to burst forth with new vigorous growth in the spring.

Troubleshooting

This specimen of may have gotten too much light. Its leaves are faded. Source: c_nilsen

Diseases don’t seem to impact strobilanthes dyerianus, and honestly, most pests won’t bother it much either. It’s extremely easy to care for provided that it’s got the right growing conditions. Still, a few things may come to call; here’s how you handle them.

Growing Problems

Your plant will wilt quickly if it has too little water, and it’s immediately obvious. If this happens, increase your frequency of watering to compensate, being sure to keep the soil moist and humidity up around the plant. It bounces back quickly even when it bad shape.

As mentioned earlier, too much light can cause the leaves of your strobilanthes dyeriana to fade. Offering it some shielding from the direct sun can help to ease that problem. Older leaves will also fade in coloration prior to dropping off, which is not abnormal.

Pests

A Noctuid moth resting on a strobilanthes leaf. Source: dreed41

Very few pests can become an issue for your purple and green plants. However, there are still two that might appear, and it’s best to clear them out before they can wreak havoc.

Spider mites, especially red spider mites, are the most common indoor pest you’ll deal with. These little mites will pierce the flesh of the leaf and suck moisture out of it, causing spotting and leaf yellowing.

Similarly, fungus gnats are a potential issue. These gnats lay their eggs in moist soil, and the larvae will attack your plants if they have any signs of lowered resistance. The combination of mites and gnats together can be deadly!

Thankfully, both of these pests can be deterred by spraying neem oil on all plant surfaces and on the soil’s surface. While neem oil will not kill existing fungus gnat larvae in the soil, it can prevent the adults from laying their eggs there to begin with, and prevent spider mites as well.

An alternative that will penetrate the soil is a pyrethrin spray such as Garden Safe Houseplant & Garden Insect Killer. This will kill fungus gnat larvae, as well as eliminate both adult gnats and spider mites.

Diseases

Almost no diseases whatsoever seem to have any effect on this plant! As plants that are accustomed to hot, humid conditions, they even appear to be immune to powdery mildew or other fungal leaf issues. Keep an eye out for damage caused by the pair of pests instead.

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Persian Shield (bermuda conehead) is a broad-leaved evergreen perennial plant from the family Acanthaceae (ah-kanth-AY-see-eye) which the zebra (Aphelandra) and Ruellia plant belong.

The plant hails from Burma (Myanmar) and is winter hardy in the United States in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 11.

This compact plant attains a height and spread of 1′ to 3′ feet.

‘Dyerianus’ honors the late 19th century/early 20th-century botanist named Sir William Turner Thiselton-Dyer.

He was the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew from the late 1800s to early 1900s.

Persian Shield Strobilanthes Dyerianus Care

Size & Growth

In a frost free climate, it is possible to grow Persian Shield to heights of 4′ feet tall and 4′ feet wide.

Outside of USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11, it is unlikely to grow taller or wider than 3′ feet.

Flowering & Fragrance

It is unusual for this plant to flower outside of its native land. In very warm, humid settings, the plant may bloom during the autumn or the wintertime.

Persian Shield plant is a seasonal bloomer that occasionally produces small, five-lobed violet flowers.

The flowers are individually quite small. However, they grow in cone-shaped bunches and are quite appealing.

It is the shape of these inflorescences that earned the plant its common name, Bermuda Conehead.

Foliage

Although the flowers are attractive and even showy, the main draw of this plant is it’s stunning silvery/iridescent purple foliage.

The purple leaves of these foliage plants are oval and somewhat lance-shaped. The base color is a deep green infused with a flush of silvery purple.

The undersides of leaves are very deep purple. Leaves may reach 8″ inches in length.

Light & Temperature

Persian Shield does well in a wide variety of light settings ranging from partial shade to full sun.

For the best foliage color, keep the plant in a partially shaded area.

If you’re in a cooler climate, the plant may need full sun in the summer for optimum color.

When overwintering keep the plant as a potted or container plant in a bright and sunny location.

Some sources say that this plant is hardy from USDA zones 8 to 11.

However, it may die back late in the autumn in zones 8 and 9.

In these zones, it’s a good idea to cut it back before cooler weather arrives and cover it during the coldest months.

Take cuttings as insurance, just in case your plant does not grow back from the roots.

Watering & Feeding

This plant has moderate watering requirements but does need consistently moist soil.

When growing as a houseplant, it’s a good idea to establish a weekly watering schedule to keep the soil evenly moist.

Fertilize several times a year (3) using a slow-release plant food. Follow packaging instructions carefully.

Soil & Transplanting

Persian shield dyerianus appreciates a very rich, organic soil.

It likes even moisture at all times, but cannot stand in water. Well-drained soil is essential.

To keep Persian Shield as a houseplant, use high quality of potting soil rich in organic matter. The container needs plenty of drainage holes.

Grooming & Maintenance

Very little maintenance is required during the growing season.

However, preparing Persian Shield for overwintering and keeping them sheltered through the winter can be something of a challenge.

These plants need very little care and grooming.

They may be left to grow to their full height and width, or pinch them back to promote more compact and bushy growth.

You may also like these plants from the family Acanthaceae:

  • Firespike Plant – Odontonema Strictum
  • Brazilian Red Cloak – Megaskepasma Erythrochlamys

How To Propagate Strobilanthes Dyerianus Persian Shield

Although the same plant grows from one year to the next by bringing it in as a houseplant through the winter and taking it back out in the summer.

It is really preferable to propagate new plants by taking cuttings annually.

As the Persian shield matures, they develop woody stems. This reduces the brilliance of the coloration and the quality of the leaves.

Take stem cuttings to propagate from new growth on overwintered plants to produce new ‘shields’ to set out in the spring.

Another option is to take cuttings from outdoor plants late in the summer to grow new ones to overwinter.

Persian Shield is easily propagated by cuttings.

  • Cut off stems a couple of inches long.
  • Remove the lower leaves and place the cuttings into fresh water.
  • Change the water every day or two until you see roots forming.
  • Once the cuttings have several sets of good roots
  • Plant them into their own pots or containers and care for them as mature plants.

Strobilanthes Persian Shield Pest or Diseases

This plant does not experience any serious disease or insect problems.

When overwintering plants, be on the lookout for spider mites.

Even though Persian Shield likes consistently moist soil, take care not to let it stand in water or root rot will ensue.

Is Strobilanthes Shield Considered Toxic or Poisonous?

Generally speaking, members of the Acanthaceae family are non-toxic.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the sap of Persian Shield may be irritating to skin.

Is The Persian Strobilanthes Considered Invasive?

There is no indication that this plant is invasive, even in very conducive climates.

Suggested Strobilanthes Persian Shield Uses

Persian Shield naturally grows in warm and humid settings.

In areas such as Florida, it can be kept as an evergreen perennial.

Throughout the United States, Persian Shield can be used as a summer annual in the garden.

It’s a great choice for a rain garden and for persistently damp, shady areas.

Persian Shield also makes an excellent houseplant year-round in any climate.

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