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How to Grow Persian Shield — Strobilanthes

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Strobilanthes–commonly called Persian shield–is an upright tropical shrub that is cultivated for its tubular, 2-lipped, often hooded blue to purple, white, and rarely yellow flower.

The stems of Strobilanthes are furry and bear pairs of narrow, triangular leaves from 6 to 8 inches (15-20cm) long. The upper leaf surfaces are dark green flushed with purple and the undersides are purple.

Strobilanthes include both tropical and temperate species. Hardy species can be grown in an herbaceous border. Tender species can be grown as summer bedding. One species, Strobilanthes dyerianus, is commonly grown as a houseplant.

Strobilanthes is a genus of about 250 species of evergreen and deciduous perennials, Strobilanthes is native to woodland margins in Asia and Madagascar.

Get to know Strobilanthes 

  • Plant type:  Perennial
  • Growing zones and range:  Zones 5-15 depedning on the varitye
  • Hardiness:  Tender
  • Height and width: 3 to 6 feet (1-2m tall and 3 feet (1m) wide depending on the variety
  • Foliage: Ovate to lance-shaped or elliptic, entire or toothed leaves
  • Flowers:  Tubular to funnel-shaped, 2-lipped, hooded blue to purple, white flower on spikes
  • Bloom time:  Summer
  • Uses:  Herbaceous border, summer bedding, houseplant
  • Common name: Persian shield
  • Botanical name:  Strobilanthes
  • Family name:  Acanthaceae
  • Origin:  Woodland margins in Asia and Madagascar
Persian shield, Strobilanthes dyerianus
Persian shield, Strobilanthes dyerianus

Where to plant Strobilanthes 

  • Light outdoors: Grow Strobilanthes outdoors in full sun or partial shade.
  • Light indoors: Strobilanthes requires bright light. 
  • Soil outdoors: Grow Strobilanthes in light, fertile, free-draining soil.
  • Soil indoors: Pot Strobilanthes in all-purpose soil mix. 

When to plant Strobilanthes 

  • Set container-grown Strobilanthes outdoors  in spring or autumn.

Planting and spacing Strobilanthes 

  • Space  Strobilanthes 

How to water and feed Strobilanthes  

  • Water: The soil should be allowed to dry slightly between thorough watering. 
  • Feeding: Fertilize Strobilanthes regularly in spring and summer. 

Strobilanthes care  

  • Water Strobilanthes moderately in winter.
  • Pinch Strobilanthes to induce bushiness.

Growing Strobilanthes as a houseplant

  • Strobilanthes requires bright light, average to warm room temperature and high humidity.
  • The soil should be allowed to dry slightly between thorough waterings.
  • Fertilizer can be applied regularly in spring and summer.

Strobilanthes pests and diseases  

  • Strobilanthes is susceptible to attack by spider mites and aphids. 
  • Strobilanthes is sometimes affected by root rot.

Strobilanthes propagation  

  • Strobilanthes can be propagated from stems cuttings, and a rooting hormone should be used to encourage root development. 

Strobilanthes varieties to grow  

  • Strobilanthes anisophyllus. Small subshrub; lance-shaed, toothed dark green leaves; tubular, lavender blue flowers.
  • S. atropurpureus. Erect branching perennial; long-stalked dark green leaves; bears dense spioke of tubular indigo or purple flowers.
  • S. dyerianus, Persian shield. Grows to 2 feet tall; stems are furry and bear pairs of narrow, triangular leaves from 6 to 8 inches long; upper leaf surfaces are dark green flushed with purple and undersides are purple. 

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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