With more than 300 species of shrimp found world-wide and in a variety of flavors. From boil and peel shrimp to shrimp cocktail, to shrimp kabobs, shrimp stir fry, or deep fried shrimp, there are perhaps as many ways to eat it as there are types of shrimp; all, however, have one thing in common — you simply do not eat the heads. Fresh or frozen, it is a simple process to de-head your shrimp, although it is a little easier when the shrimp is fresh.
- Pinch and Pull
- Off With the Head
- The Rest of the Mess
- Shrimp Plant Care and growing conditions.
- Plant Database
- How To Grow Shrimp Plants – Growing Information And Shrimp Plant Care
- About Shrimp Plants
- Growing Information and Shrimp Plant Care
- Shrimp Plant in Pots
- Shrimp Plant Propagation
- How to Care for the Shrimp Plant
Pinch and Pull
Grasp the shrimp firmly, but without squeezing. Place your fingers with the thumb on the upper side of the shrimp, holding it with the tail towards the palm of your hand, and your remaining fingers underneath the body. Your fingertips and thumb should rest about 2/3 of the way up the shrimp’s body, near the head, for best control.
Reach over with your free hand and grasp the shrimp head firmly, but without squeezing. Use a twisting motion to break the head free from the body; you may find that slightly pinching or pulling downwards at the same time helps the head come off.
Pull the head away gently until free. Rinse away any black matter present under the head; the long, black line that runs the length of the shrimp’s body, attaching to the head, is the shrimp’s digestive tract. With very fresh shrimp this often will come out of the shrimp with the head, if done properly.
Off With the Head
Place the shrimp on a clean, flat surface. Position the shrimp so that its head faces your dominant hand to make it easier for you to work with.
Use either a sharp knife or a tin can to chop the head off, cutting through just behind where the head ends; this spot is evident when looking at the shrimp. Scrape the head away without lifting the knife or can, then toss the shrimp aside and place the next in position.
Rinse de-headed shrimp under cold running water. Make sure any black matter — the shrimp’s digestive tract — that is exposed washes away as well.
The Rest of the Mess
Grab the shrimp legs, all at once, between your fingers and pull firmly away from the shrimp’s body to remove the legs. Pull any remaining legs individually as necessary.
Remove the shell, if desired, by peeling it slowly, like an egg. Begin at the top of the shrimp and work your way down the length of its body. Leave the shell on, if desired; shells help retain moisture and flavor in shrimp, and come off readily after cooking.
Pull the tail, pinching as you tug, to remove. Cut the tail, alternatively, just above the tail where it joins with the shrimp’s body. Removing shrimp tails is merely a matter of preference and may also be left on for display purposes.
Cut down the length of the shrimp’s back, either through the shell or with the shell removed, to eliminate the digestive tract. Use either a sharp knife or de-veiner to perform. Pull back the edges of the incision to help remove the matter, digging it out as needed. Pulling on one end of the digestive tract may also work, depending on how sturdy the tract is.
Rinse, again, with fresh cold water. Swish the shrimp around underneath the water, then toss in a bowl to collect while you clean the remaining shrimp. Cook or freeze as desired.
Clean all work surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water to prevent cross-contamination and food borne illness. These same methods work with frozen shrimp, once thawed, but the digestive tract removal is more difficult the older the shrimp is.
Discard shrimp that smell like anything but ocean water; an ammonia smell or any unpleasant odor is a symptom of shrimp spoilage. Likewise with color — shrimp should have a clear, fresh color absent of black spots or murky coloring. Promptly wash hands and proceed only with gloves if red splotches or hives develop on your hands; some people are allergic to shrimp and should not handle them with exposed skin.
Justica brandegeeana – The Shrimp Plant
With the common name of Shrimp Plant, Justicia brandegeeana is the botanical name for this shrub from Mexico and nearby areas.
The name Shrimp Plant comes from the appearance of the flowers, especially the pink ones which are said to look like the crustaceans that are named after.
This is a plant that has been grown for many years and is found in older gardens. It will grow in full sun, however other conditions may suit it a little better.
These are a shade loving plant, and flowers come in a number of colours including yellow as well as the more common pink. Commonly grown as potted indoor plants, they will grow well outdoors in warmer climates.
Flowering period is long, and if they are pruned back after the first flush of flowers will bloom again in around 4 – 6 weeks. Pictured right is Justicia brandegeeana ‘lutea’ with its yellow flowers is in our mind the nicer of the two forms.
These plants thrive in Sydney and further north, and yes they will grow as far south as Melbourne given a warm position.
Shrimp Plant Care and growing conditions.
Best suited to warmer climates, Justicia brandegeeana will grow well in cooler area of Australia in a protected position.
This is a frost tender plant and is often grown as an indoor plant. A position on a patio with plenty of filtered light and some warmth will do nicely. In the warmer climates these wonderful flowering plants can be grown outdoors.
In deep shade the Shrimp plant tend to get very leggy in growth and flowering can be limited, the balance between shade and sun is the key to happy bushy flowering plants.
Watering is the other key, a deep soaking twice a week will generally keep the plant growing well, more often in very dry hot summers.
Pruning The Shrimp Plant
Pruning on a regular basis will help keep the plants bushy. Early in spring is a good time to prune them back a little harder to keep them even more compact.
Prune away any thin spindly growth from the base at any time. Hard prune back to the basal growth at the end of winter.
Yellow Shrimp Plant
- Height – To around 1m
- Spread – To around 1m
- Humus rich moist soil.
- Filtered light.
- Fertilise regularly.
- Mulch well to maintain a cool root run.
- Protect from frosts.
Easy to propagate from cuttings, when taken from late spring through to late summer the cuttings seem to strike fairly easily although a hormone powder can hasten root formation.
Justica brandegeeana or Shrimp Plant, is readily available for sale during the summer months.
Shrimp Plant flowers
Shrimp Plant flowers
(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)
Height: 3 feet
Spread: 3 feet
Hardiness Zone: 8b
Other Names: Justicia Brandegeeana, syn. Beloperone guttata
This clump forming plant produces bright rose-pink to salmon flower bracts that look like shrimp; evergreen in frost free areas; an excellent choice for containers and hanging baskets
Shrimp Plant features showy white tubular flowers with pink bracts at the ends of the branches from early to late summer. It has green foliage which emerges light green in spring. The oval leaves remain green throughout the winter. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.
Shrimp Plant is a dense multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.
This is a relatively low maintenance shrub, and should only be pruned after flowering to avoid removing any of the current season’s flowers. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;
Shrimp Plant is recommended for the following landscape applications;
- Mass Planting
- General Garden Use
- Container Planting
- Hanging Baskets
Planting & Growing
Shrimp Plant will grow to be about 3 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 3 feet. It tends to fill out right to the ground and therefore doesn’t necessarily require facer plants in front. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 10 years.
This shrub does best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers to grow in average to moist conditions, and shouldn’t be allowed to dry out. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This species is not originally from North America.
Shrimp Plant makes a fine choice for the outdoor landscape, but it is also well-suited for use in outdoor containers and hanging baskets. With its upright habit of growth, it is best suited for use as a ‘thriller’ in the ‘spiller-thriller-filler’ container combination; plant it near the center of the pot, surrounded by smaller plants and those that spill over the edges. Note that when grown in a container, it may not perform exactly as indicated on the tag – this is to be expected. Also note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.
Blooming golden shrimp plant.
Golden shrimp plant is an evergreen shrub popular as a landscape plant in tropical and subtropical areas. In the Midwest it is easily grown as an interesting flowering houseplant or seasonal annual during the summer months. Also called golden candle or lollypop plant, Pachystachys lutea is a soft-stemmed, broadleaved plant in the acanthus family (Acanthaceae). It is native to lowland areas of Central and South America from El Salvador to Peru.
Golden shrimp plant has heavily-veined, dark green leaves.
In warm climates golden shrimp plant can grow 3-6 feet tall, but in container culture it can be kept much shorter. The opposite, lance-shaped leaves that grow 2-6 long are heavily veined, giving a corrugated appearance. The branching, woody stems are covered with simple, dark green leaves that create a stunning contrast with the bright flower spikes.
The bright yellow bracts vaguely resembles the crustacean we eat (shrimp).
The overlapping, bright yellow bracts of the 4-sided, 3-5″ long conical inflorescences give this plant its common name, as they vaguely resemble the crustacean we eat. The flower spikes are held upright, above the dark foliage. The individual flowers are narrow, white, two-lipped tubes that partially protrude from the showy bracts. Each raceme has numerous flowers that open sequentially up the spike.
The actual flowers are white, two-lipped tubes that protrude from the bracts.
In the tropics this plant will bloom throughout the year; in temperate areas it is more seasonal, blooming primarily in summer, unless kept in very high light conditions. In the tropics small capsules containing numerous seeds follow the flowers.
Golden shrimp plant is an exotic addition to the Midwestern garden. Use it as an accent plant on the patio in a mixed container or as an individual potted plant arranged with other containers.
Golden shrimp plant is grown as a landscape perennial in the tropics, but can be used seasonally outdoors in the Midwest.
In tropical and subtropical areas it is used as a hedge, for a foundation planting, added to borders and used in mass plantings. Some of these effects could also be achieved in temperate areas on a temporary basis if planted in the ground. Since they have a tendency to get leggy, underplant with complementary annuals or other plants to hide the sparsely-leaved lower part of the plant. Or just grow this attractive plant as a houseplant year-round!
Golden shrimp plant grows 3-6 feet tall in warm climates.
Golden shrimp plant is easily grown in the ground as a summer annual in rich, moist soil in full sun (light shade in southern states) or as a houseplant. Plants in containers can be moved outside during the warm months and returned indoors to overwinter in a greenhouse or bright window. Being a tropical plant it cannot tolerate cold temperatures, and may drop leaves if air temperatures go below 60F. Any plants that are to be overwintered need to be moved indoors in late summer or early fall before nighttime temperatures get into the low 40’s. In-ground plants may survive a light frost, but will be leafless and take a long time to recover.
Indoors water sparingly in the winter and increase watering as the plant begins to resume growth in the spring. Keep plants evenly moist when in bloom. Plants can be heavily pruned to maintain a reasonable size and to shape the plant. If left unpruned, the plants will get leggy and top heavy. Deadheading will encourage bushiness and additional blooms. Pinching the growing tips will encourage branching for a fuller plant. They should also be fertilized regularly to maintain good blooming; blossom booster fertilizers are recommended.
This plant has few pests, but is susceptible to the common insects that often infest houseplants, including aphids, mealybugs, scales, spider mites and whiteflies. It is easily propagated from softwood and semi-ripened stem cuttings taken in early summer. Use 4″ long stem tips and use rooting hormone to increase the success rate.
– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison
How To Grow Shrimp Plants – Growing Information And Shrimp Plant Care
Before we talk about how to care for a shrimp plant, let’s talk about what a shrimp plant is. Read on to learn more.
About Shrimp Plants
The Mexican shrimp plant, or Justicia brandegeeana, is a native of Guatemala, Honduras, and as its name implies, Mexico. It is an evergreen shrub that rarely grows more than 3 or 4 (1 m) high and about as wide and thrives in the understory, a partially shaded area of tropical forests.
The plants grow in many stemmed clumps and in USDA plant hardiness zones 8-11 growing shrimp plants in gardens has become so prevalent, it has now naturalized in many areas. This is largely due to the ease of shrimp plant propagation. The stems, which tend to become leggy with age and the sparse oval, green leaves, sometimes speckled with white, are not particularly attractive, but the bracts, which hold tiny and insignificant white flowers, are definitely eye catching. Each stem is tipped by a spike of light pink to rusty red bracts that arch into a form that looks remarkably like shrimp. There are cultivars of yellow and lime green as well.
If you live in zone 8-11, growing shrimp plants can be a welcome addition to your landscape. They are easy to grow and will thrive in the warm temperatures of the south. Once established, they will even survive the occasional hard
frost, dying back to the ground and sprouting again when warm weather returns.
Growing Information and Shrimp Plant Care
While these beauties aren’t fussy, there are a few things you should know about how to care for a shrimp plant to get the most from your shrub. It does best in loamy or sandy soil that is well drained. It doesn’t do well with wet feet.
Well rooted plants are fairly drought tolerant, but like most tropicals, it thrives in high humidity. While they will grow in full sun to partial shade, growing shrimp plants where they receive morning sun is ideal. They need the sun to bring out the brightest colors and, yet, too much sun will cause the colors to fade too soon.
Shrimp plant care should also include frequent trimming to encourage fuller growth and more bloom. Once the first bracts appear, a shrimp plant will bloom for months and then will rest for a short time before blooming again. The best time to trim and prune is when blooming begins to slow.
Shrimp Plant in Pots
For those gardeners beyond Zone 8, planting shrimp plant in pots can give you the same tropical effect as your southern neighbors. They make wonderful patio plants or their pots can be nestled in among the other flowering plants in a bed. Planting shrimp plant in pots has the additional benefit of being able to bring this blooming beauty indoors when the weather turns cool.
They will continue to bloom all winter long in a bright, sunny window; and as for indoor shrimp plant care, all they require is a good potting soil and an occasional dose of fertilizer.
Like their outdoor brethren, they need to be trimmed regularly to keep from becoming too straggly.
Shrimp Plant Propagation
Now that you’ve seen the ease of how to care for a shrimp plant, you’ll want more than one and maybe a few for neighbors and friends. Shrimp plant propagation is as easy as shrimp plant care.
Division of clumps is the best method for outdoor plantings. Shrimp plant in pots can also be divided when they become pot bound, but why wait that long? Cuttings are the easiest method of shrimp plant propagation.
When you trim your plants, make sure a few of those cuttings have at least four sets of leaves. Dip the fresh cut ends in rooting hormone and poke them into the soil. Keep the soil consistently moist and in six to eight weeks, you should have roots.
For the truly ambitious, you can grow your shrimp plants from seed.
How to Care for the Shrimp Plant
The Shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana) derives its name from arching, bronze-coppery flowerheads. It can bloom all year long, which makes it into a popular houseplant. It’s very easy to grow so it’s great even for beginner gardeners. You can put your Shrimp plant on a patio or a deck to decorate it. Hummingbirds love them!
These plants can grow about 12 inches in height when grown in pots. They are low and compact plants that can be encouraged to produce more flowers. They can also be grown in a tree form, but in this case, it’s important to keep the head tight for flowering.
This plant is mainly grown for its decorative flowers which resemble shrimp. The plant has white, tongue-shaped flowers with no fragrance. They last for a short time and then are replaced with new flowers.
How to Care for These Plants
The Shrimp plant needs plenty of light but not direct sunlight. If you keep them outdoors in summer they can handle both sun or shade as long as the sun is not too strong. The plant prefers fresh air and temperatures in the 65 to 75 degrees F. Ideal winter temperatures are about 55 to 65 degrees F.
This plant requires well-drained soil. If you keep it outdoors in summer you should water it 1 or 2 times per week. During winter, it’s important to keep the soil damp. Make sure to never let the plant dry out completely. It’s best to water it with a solution of liquid plant food during warm months. In case the plant flowers during winter, cut the amount of food in half (or cut it out completely). The Shrimp plant should be repotted yearly. Alternatively, you may give it new top soil each spring to make it thrive.
Pests and Other Problems
The shrimp plant sometimes displays certain problems. The most common are:
- Pale leaves. This is a sign that your plant needs more food. Feed it slowly at first.
- Blackened flower bracts heads. It happens when the flower heads get wet during watering or rain. The solution is to remove affected flower heads.
- Yellow leaves. This is a common sign of overwatering. In case the soil is dry, it’s possible that the cause is red spider mite, which can be found on undersides of leaves. If you find the pests, treat them with approved miticide spray. It’s important to keep humidity up.
- Pale drab flower heads. If you see them losing color and turning yellow, it’s usually a sign that your plant needs more light.
- Straggly growth. This can mean that your plant receives too much heat and not enough light. The solution is to move the plant to a brighter, cooler place.
Photo credit: Mauricio Mercadante via photopin cc
Justicia brandegeana, formerly known as Beloperone guttata, is an awesome plant to have at home. Just like the name suggest, the flowers, or actually the bracts, are positioned in a way that it looks like a shrimp.
The actual flowers protrude from the bracts and can be different colors, though usually are white with red markings. The cultivar “fruit cocktail” has yellow bracts and red flowers (not pictured in this article). There are varieties that have yellow bracts, pick-orange bracts or dark red bracts. Some shrimp plants have variegated foliage. They can be grown as a shrub, or trained into a tree.
Justicia brandegeana originates from Mexico. It grows to about 3 feet, but can be maintained smaller with pruning. This plant is quite easy to grow. In it’s native environment it likes part shade. In a home it can tolerate lower light, but you will get the best results with higher amounts of light.
Moderate watering is required. This plant likes to dry out between watering. Justicia brandegeana can be kept evenly moist in the summer, but the rest of the time you should let it dry out to prevent root rot. I have grown this with a hygrolon set up, where the soil moisture is kept almost constant and it seems to like that as well.
This plant can tolerate lower light levels, though how well depends on the particular cultivar. It grows and flowers the best at full sun when grown in the north. I have grown this on a north facing garden window, though a normal north facing window will not be sufficient for flowering. East/west and south facing windows will produce the best results. The plant will get leggy with lower light, flower less and the bract color will be paler. Here is a shrimp plant flowering on a north facing garden window in the winter time.
The shrimp plant can tolerate lower humidity level and some neglect, but it will make it more susceptible to spider mites, aphids and mealy bugs.
Soil Type and Fertilizer:
I use generic potting soil, and add extra per-lite to make it lighter and faster draining. This plant is not very fussy about it’s requirements and quite easy to grow. It’s a moderate feeder, and you can use generic fertilizer spring to fall.
The shrimp plant is very easy to propagate though cuttings.
Other Care Tips and Personal Observations:
Justicia bandegeana is quite easy to grow, flowers constantly if enough light is provided, and has quite intriguing flowers. I do take it outside in the summer months where it gets 5-6 hours of direct sun. Be sure to slowly accustom your plant to higher light levels to avoid sunburn. Pruning is important for maintaining shape. The plant tends to grow long leggy stems, and likes to flower at the tips of those, so pruning will not only keep the shape and size of the plant good, but will also help with having more flowers. The shrimp plant is very easy and fun to grow :). I highly recommend it!