These New World natives are grown chiefly for their tubular, tightly clustered flowersor, in the case of J. brandegeeana, for showy spikes of bracts. Blossoms of all species attract hummingbirds. Leaves are paired, opposite each other on the stems.
J. americana. AMERICAN WATER WILLOW. Perennial. Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11. Aquatic species native to eastern half of U.S. Upright, 15-in. stems are clothed in willowlike deep green leaves with a white midrib. Small, white to pale violet flowers with splashy purple markings appear atop stems from early summer into fall. Spreads by creeping rhizomes to form large colonies. Plant at edge of pond for a natural look; grows best in shallow water or very moist soil. Full sun.
J. aurea. YELLOW JUSTICIA, BRAZILIAN PLUME. Evergreen shrub. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. From Mexico and Central America. To 610 ft. tall and 68 ft. wide, with dark green leaves to 1 ft. long, half as wide. Blooms in summer; bright yellow blossom clusters reach up to 1 ft. long and look something like ginger flowers. Remove faded flowers to prolong bloom period; cut whole plant back hard in spring. Watch for snails. Best in partial shade. Moderate water.
J. brandegeeana (Beloperone guttata). SHRIMP PLANT. Evergreen shrub. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11; elsewhere as annual or indoor/outdoor plant. Native to Mexico. To 34 ft. high and wide. Apple-green, oval to elliptic leaves to 2 in. long. Tubular white flowers spotted with purple are enclosed in overlapping coppery bronze bracts to form compact, drooping, jointed-looking spikes 3 in. long (eventually lengthening to 67 in.). Spike formation somewhat resembles a large shrimp. Blooms mainly from spring to fall, sporadically rest of year. 'Chartreuse' has chartreuse yellow bracts that sunburn more easily than the coppery kind.
Good in pots and for close-up planting near terraces, patios, entryways. To shape, pinch young plants continuously until compact mound of foliage is obtained, then let bloom. To encourage bushiness, cut back stems when bracts turn black. Leaves often drop in cold weather or if soil is too wet or dry. Give moderate water (less in winter) and feed with a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly during active growth. Takes full sun, but bracts and foliage fade unless plant is grown in partial shade. Give at least half-day shade in hottest climates.
J. carnea. BRAZILIAN PLUME FLOWER. Evergreen shrub. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11; elsewhere as annual or indoor/outdoor plant. From South America. Erect, soft-wooded shrub to 46 ft. high, 23 ft. wide. Medium green, prominently veined leaves to 10 in. long. Dense, 6-in.-long clusters of pink to crimson, tubular, 2-in. flowers from midsummer to fall. Hybrids between this and other species may have yellow, orange, apricot, or white blooms. 'Huntington Form' is a more compact plant (34 ft. high) with deeper pink flowers and leaves that are bronze colored on lower surfaces. Cut back plants in early spring to encourage strong new growth. Upper portions of branches freeze at 29F. Give partial or full shade, rich soil, regular to ample water.
J. leonardii. ORANGE JUSTICIA. Evergreen shrub. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Exotic-looking Mexican native reaching 3 ft. tall and wide, with gray-green stems and velvety dark green leaves to 6 in. long. Small clusters of reddish orange, 1-in. flowers appear at branch tips and along stems off and on through warm months. Full sun. Little water.
J. runyonii. RUNYON'S WATER WILLOW. Perennial. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. From Texas and northern Mexico. Rare. To 23 ft. tall, with stems sparsely clothed in soft, narrow leaves that may turn from green to deep maroon when temperatures drop. Small purple flowers with white markings are held above foliage in fall. Cut back hard in winter. Full sun. Needs regular water.
J. spicigera. MEXICAN HONEYSUCKLE. Evergreen shrub. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. From Mexico and Central America. To 3 ft. high, 4 ft. wide, with light green, smooth or velvety leaves. Few-flowered clusters of 1-in. orange or orange-red flowers appear nearly year-round, peaking in spring and fall. Full sun or partial shade. Little to regular water.
6 in. long. Small clusters of reddish orange, 1-in. flowers appear at branch tips and along stems off and on through warm months. Full sun. Little water.