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How to Grow Lollipop Plant — Pachystachys

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Pachystachys is a tropical evergreen perennial that is grown for its tubular, 2-lipped flowers that are borne in erect terminal spikes with large, overlapping, usually brightly colored bracts.

Pachystachys flowers can be scarlet or white; bracts can be pale green or bright golden yellow. Flower spikes are 4 to 6 inches (10-15cm) long. Leaves are ovate to lance-shaped and mid-to dark green.

In tropical regions, Pachystachys is a colorful addition to a border. Where temperatures fall below 50°F (10°C) grow Pachystachys as a houseplant.

Pachystachys is a genus of 12 species of evergreen perennials and shrubs native to tropical woodlands in the West Indies and Central and South America.

Get to know Pachystachys

  • Plant type: Tropical evergreen perennial
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 11-15
  • Hardiness: Half-hardy to tender; where temperatures fall below 50°F (10°C) grow Pachystachys as a houseplant
  • Height and width: 3 to 6 feet (1-2m) tall, 18 to 36 inches (45-90cm) wide
  • Foliage: Simple, ovate to lance-shaped mid- to dark green leaves
  • Flowers: Tubular, 2-lipped flowers borne in erect, terminal spikes with large overalapping bracts
  • Bloom time: Spring, summer
  • Uses: Border plant, houseplant
  • Common name: Lollipop plant, Cardinal’s guard
  • Botanical name: Pachystachys
  • Family name: Acanthaceae
  • Origin: Woodlands from West indies and tropical Central and South America
Pachystachys lutea
Pachystachys lutea

Where to plant Pachystachys

  • Light outdoors: Plant Pachystachys in full sun.
  • Light indoors: Plant in full light with high humidity.
  • Soil outdoors: Grow Pachystachys in fertile, moist, well-drained soil.
  • soil indoors: Grow in a soil-based potting mix.

When to plant Pachystachys

  • Set container-grown Pachystachys outdoors in spring.

Planting and spacing Pachystachys

  • Space Pachystachys 18 to 36 inches (45-90cm) apart.

How to water and feed Pachystachys

  • Water Pachystachys freeling during the growing period.
  • Fertilize Pachystachys with a balanced liquid fertilizr monthly.

Pachystachys care

  • Where temperatures fall below 50°F (10°C) grow Pachystachys as a houseplant.

Growing Pachystachys as a houseplant

  • Grow Pachystachys in a warm room with bright light and high humidity.
  • The growing medium should be soilless and well drained.
  • Water to keep the medium evenly moist at all time.
  • Fetilize monthly during the growing and flowering period.

Pachystachys pests and diseases

  • Whiteflies, spider mites, leaf spot, and root rot may occur.

Pachystachys propagation

  • Root softwood cuttings with bottom heat in summer.

Pachystachys varieties to grow

  • Pachystachys coccinea, Cardinal’s guard. Erect shrub, sparsely branched, ovate strongly viened dark green leaves to 8 inches long; tubular , 2-lipped scarlet flowers are borne in terminal spikes to 6 inches long.
  • P. lutea, lollipop plant. Grows to 12 inches tall indoors; leaves are oval, 5 inches long and dark green with depressed veins; flower spike is 4 inches long; flowers are white, 2 inches long and open goledn yellow.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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