Justicia carnea or commonly known as the jacobinia is a native South American flowering plant. It is also generally called the Brazilian plume flowers, flamingo flowers, the blood of Jesus flower, flamingo flower, etc.
This flowering plant belongs to the Acanthaceae family and is a perennial plant with origins in the Atlantic forest Eco regions located in eastern Brazil.
It grows in warm and sub-tropical climatic areas. These plants have unique dark and vibrant flowers of various shades. The plant is well known for its medicinal qualities and is a to-go herb for many localities.
This plant is an evergreen shrub with upright growing stems, long dark green foliage, bushy and attractive flower plumes with tightly packed pink, red, and crimson tubular flowers into a cluster.
This plant usually flowers during the period from summer to fall. These plants are said to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. These make an amazing addition to a tropical garden and give a different and pleasing look.
The lush green foliage, richly colorful and fully bloomed flowers make a great houseplant and add to your home décor.
They are easy to grow and care for and can be planted in containers as well. Maintaining this plant is easy and on top of that, this is an excellent showy addition to your gardens. Let us know about various tips and tricks to grow and care for a Jacobinia plant at home.
Growth patterns of the Jacobinia Plant
Jacobinia usually grows up to a height of almost 4ft – 6ft long and spreads wide to around 2ft – 3ft. This is a bushy shrub type plant and is also available in more indoor friendly sizes in various garden stores or online gardening platforms.
When in a pot it usually grows up to a meter long. The dark green leaves of the Jacobinia are around 8 inches long. As a perennial plant, the Jacobinia must be updated every 2 – 3 years depending on its lifespan.
It bears attractively colored flowers at the top of the foliage in dense tubular clusters. The colors of the flowers can be varied, such as – red, pink, mauve, apricot, orange, magenta, etc. These flowers attract pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds and are also sterile. The flowers have a subtle scent to them too.
Growing and Caring for your Jacobinia (Justicia) at Home
1. Temperature Requirements
As this plant is a South American native, it thrives in warm and sub-tropical temperatures. A slight humidity in the environment is also generally preferred by this plant.
These plants stay fresh and live all summer till fall time. They do not survive well during the winter season and are intolerant of cold temperatures.
During the warm season, these plants require a minimum of 25 and above. When it comes to wintertime, the ideal range of temperature is around 15to 18. These plants must not be planted in low temperatures as they won’t make it to a good grow plant version.
2. Light requirements for this plant
Coming to the sunlight exposure for these plants, they prefer a partially shaded source of light. The Brazilian plumes do not grow well in harsh sun and thus, they must not be exposed to direct sunlight.
Placing it indoors allows a good lighting supply which isn’t too harsh and works just fine. When placing in an outdoor location, they can be planted under the shade of another plant to block the harsh and direct rays of the sun.
According to the plant’s light needs, it is optimal to place it by your east window as in that way it can receive the less harsh morning sun and indirect light for the rest of the day.
3. Soil conditions required for the Jacobinia
These tropical bushy shrubs can make do with a variety of soils and can also bear acidic to somewhat alkaline soil conditions. Sandy, loamy and clayey soils are good enough for this plant.
The Jacobinia requires well-drained soil with proper aeration. Breathable moisture-retaining soils are preferred by this Brazilian shrub. Agents such as sand, peat, or perlite can be added to make the soil airier and less dense. It is better to choose a well-draining pot as well as this will facilitate lighter and aerated soil conditions.
4. Watering and humidity for this plant
As these plants are native to tropical regions they prefer humid climates and continuous moisture. During the initial days after planting, these plants must be watered daily for a few weeks.
Slowly as the plant starts to establish good roots and adjusts to the settings, it can be watered at gaps of 3 – 5 days. During summers, the plant grows, and thus, it must be thoroughly watered with water which is at room temperature.
Do not let the soil in the pot or the garden dry completely; make sure you water at regular intervals as these plants enjoy moisture.
The soil must be kept well moist during the flowering time. Balance the watering and avoid overflowing the pot as the soil may be clogged and this hampers the drainage as well as the supply of air to the roots.
In the wintertime, these plants can be sprayed with water directly on the leaves to supply enough moisture and maintain the humidity so that the dry air does not disrupt its growth. The leaves can also be wiped with a wet cloth to maintain humidity. Pebbles can be placed in the pot to hold water for the plant.
5. Fertilizing the Jacobinia plant
Fertilizing the Jacobinia plant is an easy task and does not involve a lot of difficulties. In summers these plants can be provided with a nutrient-rich fertilizer once every 3 – 4 weeks. Liquid fertilizer with slow-release properties or a granulated fertilizer can be used too.
To encourage flowering and healthy growth a food supply with an NPK balanced of around 5-10-5 works well enough for this summer blooming plant. Fertilizing must not be overdone as it may render harmful effects on the jacobinia. The usage of fertilizer must be according to its stated instructions for the best results.
6. Re-potting a Jacobinia
These plants are naturally bushy and can spread out when growing in a pot. They can be repotted in a bigger pot or a part of the jacobinia plants can be transferred to another pot for better and spacious growth.
The soil must be mixed and readied in a separate pot with good amounts of humus, sand, peat, and perlite to make it airy and fertile. Slow-release fertilizers and organic matter can also be added to make the soil rich in nutrients for the jacobinia plant.
The existing soil should be broken up and tilled using garden equipment and then the organic matter and soil agents must be added. The jacobinia plant with the roots must be carefully transplanted to the pot and must be well placed in the soil.
Fill the empty spaces around the root with soil and press it down. Water the plant well in the initial days of transplanting and then switch to a more relaxed watering schedule once the plant is well established in the new pot.
7. Pruning and grooming of the Jacobinia plant
This tropical flowering plant does not necessarily need grooming but can be trimmed according to your choice and display preferences. Prune and trim the stems and foliage freely to maintain your desired shape, length, and appearance of this bushy shrub.
The wilted and yellowed leaves can be trimmed whenever they start to appear so. Once the flowering season is over, the jacobinia plants can be trimmed to encourage better growth and flowering in the next growing season.
This gives rise to better flowers, along with denser and bushier growth of the foliage. Removing old and worn-out flowers can be done to avoid self-seeding and it also keeps the appearance of the plant fresh and healthy.
8. Keeping away pests and diseases from the Jacobinia plant
These plants are generally not extremely prone to pest infestations. The foliage is usually not vulnerable to any disease or pest’s concerns. Nevertheless, few insects and nematodes can hamper the plant at times.
At times caterpillars can be a problem as they might climb onto and feed on the foliage of these plants. Although this does not affect the growth of the plant, it certainly hampers the display of the leaves. Caterpillars can be controlled by regularly available pest sprays from your nearest garden nursery.
Other pests like the – Red spider mites, whiteflies, etc. can also, be intruders on your jacobinia plants, and they can be controlled easily by spraying them off with water or with pesticides that are fit for this use.
How is the Jacobinia propagated?
To propagate a jacobinia, shoots from the previously existing plant is taken and transplanted. Stems that haven’t been pruned yet and are still freshly shooting can be used for acquiring the stem cutting from.
It is best to carry out this process in the spring season when the mother plant has bloomed perfectly. Healthy and active stems can be chosen for the work to propagate into a new and fresh jacobinia plant.
Cut portions of the stem that have not yet blossomed should be taken and you must make sure that these stems have two or more leaves.
This shoot can then be placed in a growing. The shoot can either be placed in the soil with all the necessary nutrition, fertilizers, and organic matter, or the cut stems can be placed in a mixture of well-moisturized peat and perlite to facilitate the further growth of the plant.
Humidity and temperature must be maintained according to the growing needs of the new jacobinia plant for its proper establishment. The pots with new shoots for propagation must be kept away from direct sunlight and in a shaded area protected under glass or some kind of light cover.
For the few following weeks after propagation, the cut stems must be regularly watered to encourage root formation.
Proper roots will develop and be established well enough within a month. After the stem has started to root and is growing properly, the regular needs of the plant must be directed accordingly.
Once the new plant starts growing, it can be fed with fertilizers to pace up the process of maturation.
A Jacobinia plant can also be grown from seeds that are available in gardening stores.
Signs your Jacobinia is not healthy
Due to certain light and watering conditions, your Jacobinia shrubs can appear unhealthy.
Watch out for withering leaves and dried ones as they are signs that you have been over-watering the plant. Too much water can also spoil the flowers and they may tend to rot and wither off.
During cold temperatures, leaves from the bottom of the plant may fall. It is a good option to shift your plant in a warmer location during the winter months.
Insufficient lighting or clogged up soil can also stunt the blossoming of the clustered and colorful flowers of this plant.
If your jacobinia leaves are losing its color and appearing dull and faded, they can be provided with a good fertilizer to provide good nourishment to the plant and encourage healthier blooms and fresher display.
Uses and Benefits of the Jacobinia
This Brazilian perennial plume flower plant is also popular for its various qualities. First and foremost, the evergreen shrub is famous for the tropical look that it brings to the gardens with its dark green and long foliage and pleasantly colored clustered flowers.
It is easy to grow and care for and also less vulnerable to damage by disease or pests. The shrubby bushy plant can be efficiently grown and kept either indoors in pots and containers or the outside gardens.
This plant is claimed to be useful to treat respiratory problems, inflammation, gastric and intestinal diseases, anemia, etc. The extracts from this plant are generally only used by local folks for medicinal purposes.
This is a common ornamental variety of indoor plants and suits as well as embellishes your rooms, porches, gardens, driveways, gates, and so on. Get your Jacobinia today to add that modern tropical touch to your gardens and homes.