Updated: July 2, 2023

Shrimp plants, also known as Justicia brandegeeana, are vibrant and beautiful flowering plants that can add a pop of color to any garden or indoor space. Native to Mexico and Central America, these plants have become popular among gardeners due to their unique shrimp-like flowers. However, knowing the optimal time and technique for harvesting shrimp plants is crucial to ensure the best results. In this article, we will explore when and how to harvest shrimp plants for maximum beauty and longevity.

Understanding Shrimp Plant Growth

Before diving into the harvesting process, it’s essential to understand the growth cycle of shrimp plants. These plants typically bloom from late spring through early fall, with peak flowering occurring during the summer months. The flowers start off as small green buds that gradually turn pink or white before fully blooming into their distinctive shrimp-like shape.

The flowers of shrimp plants are short-lived, lasting only a few days before fading away. However, the plant continuously produces new buds throughout the blooming season, ensuring a constant display of color. To maintain a healthy and blooming shrimp plant, it is crucial to remove spent flowers regularly.

Identifying Ripe Flowers

To determine the best time for harvesting shrimp plants, you need to identify ripe flowers. Ripe flowers are those that have fully opened and reached their peak coloration. For shrimp plants, this means the flowers should have a vibrant pink or white hue, depending on the variety.

When examining the flowers, look for signs of petal shriveling or discoloration. If the petals are starting to wilt or turn brown, it indicates that the flower is past its prime and should be removed. Harvesting ripe flowers not only keeps the plant looking fresh but also encourages new growth.

Harvesting Techniques

When it comes to harvesting shrimp plants, there are two primary techniques: deadheading and cutting for arrangements.


Deadheading is the process of removing spent flowers from the plant. This technique is essential for maintaining the plant’s appearance and promoting continuous blooming. To deadhead a shrimp plant, follow these steps:

  1. Locate a spent flower that is ready to be removed.
  2. Trace the stem down to the nearest set of leaves or side shoot.
  3. Using a pair of clean pruning shears, make a clean cut just above the set of leaves or side shoot.
  4. Dispose of the removed flower appropriately.

By deadheading regularly, you not only keep the plant looking tidy but also redirect its energy towards producing new buds and blooms.

Cutting for Arrangements:

If you want to enjoy the beauty of shrimp plant flowers indoors, you can harvest them for arrangements. However, it’s crucial to do this correctly to avoid damaging the plant. Follow these steps to harvest shrimp plant flowers for arrangements:

  1. Choose a fully bloomed and vibrant flower that you want to harvest.
  2. Trace the stem down to where it connects with the main stem or branch.
  3. Using sharp scissors or pruning shears, make a clean diagonal cut just above a leaf node or side shoot.
  4. Place the harvested flower in water immediately to maintain freshness.

When cutting for arrangements, avoid removing too many flowers from a single plant at once. Harvesting multiple flowers at once can put stress on the plant and hinder its ability to produce new blooms.

Caring for Harvested Flowers

Once you have harvested shrimp plant flowers for arrangements, it’s important to provide proper care to ensure their longevity. Here are a few tips for caring for harvested shrimp plant flowers:

  • Trim the stems: Before placing the flowers in a vase, trim the stems at an angle to allow for better water absorption.
  • Remove excess foliage: Remove any leaves that will be submerged in water to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Change the water regularly: Refresh the water in the vase every few days to prevent bacterial contamination and extend the lifespan of the flowers.
  • Display away from direct sunlight: Shrimp plant flowers are sensitive to heat and direct sunlight, so keep them in a cool, shaded area for longer-lasting blooms.

By following these care tips, you can enjoy the beauty of shrimp plant flowers indoors for an extended period.


Harvesting shrimp plants at the optimal time and using the correct techniques is essential for maintaining their beauty and promoting continuous blooming. Whether you are deadheading to keep the plant looking fresh or harvesting flowers for arrangements, following proper procedures will ensure the best results. By understanding the growth cycle of shrimp plants, identifying ripe flowers, and providing care to harvested blooms, you can enjoy the vibrant colors and unique charm of shrimp plants both indoors and in your garden.