Give Your Lollipop Plant Some Sweet Care
The lollipop plant is a gorgeous plant with showy yellow flowers that will make it a centerpiece for any room. It will continue to flower as long as you give it adequate light and moisture. It’s not a picky plant, so it should fare well in most indoor settings. As long as the room stays above 60 degrees, it’ll do just fine. Read on to learn more about this attractive houseplant.
What Is the Lollipop Plant?
If you can say anything about the lollipop plant (Pachystachys lutea), it’s that its name is a conversation starter. We’re sure that you, like us, have a lot of questions. There has to be a story with a plant by this name that is also known as the golden shrimp plant. Let’s just say that our curiosity is piqued. The lollipop plant is a member of the Acanthaceae or Acanthus Family.
The group includes a variety of plant from diverse habitats from forests to wetlands to coastal areas. It includes plants that undoubtedly have a story. Polka dot plant? Peristrophe? These plants are primarily tropical plants that have evolved to fulfill specific niches, hence, the unusual names. That also may explain the strange shape of its flower which grows on a stalk called a raceme.
Planting the Lollipop Plant
You can grow the lollipop plant in your garden if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 through 11. Otherwise, you can grow it as an indoor houseplant. It is a subtropical evergreen plant. It fares better in stable indoor conditions than the variability of gardens. Its small range of hardiness zones is an indication that there is a narrow range of its optimal conditions too.
Care and Maintenance
The striking feature of the lollipop plant is its yellow flower head with its accompanying white flowerets. Its other common name, the golden shrimp plant, refers to the yellow bracts that some say resemble shrimp. We’ll leave it to you to decide that one. The flowers stand upright on the plant like candles, giving it a striking appearance.
The lollipop plant will reach a height of nearly four feet, given the right conditions. You’ll need to space plants about three feet apart. As the plant grows, it’ll take on a bushy kind of appearance. It is a perennial plant, so you can enjoy it for years to come.
Light and Temperature
It prefers bright indirect light. Full sun is fine as long as it isn’t direct light. It’ll do well in light shade. The thing to remember is that it will keep rewarding you with its beautiful blooms as long as it has enough light. Indoors, an eastern or western exposure is ideal. Average household temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit will keep the lollipop plant happy.
The lollipop plant isn’t a fussy plant. It does, however, prefer moist soils that you can allow to dry slightly between waterings. Don’t let it dry out though or it might not recover if it wilts. During the winter, you can water it less frequently. Average household humidity is fine as long as it’s at least 50 percent. You can mist it during the warmer months to keep it humid.
Soil Conditions and Fertilizing
You can use any good quality soil mixture for indoor plants. It just needs to be well-draining to prevent root rot. The lollipop plant grows fast, so you’ll likely find it will outgrow a pot quickly. Because of its rapid growth, you might want to consider less expensive containers until it reaches its mature size. If the roots are peeking out from the drainage holes, it’s time to repot.
As you may guess, a plant that grows fast needs the nutrition to support it. You should fertilizer your lollipop regularly, especially during the growing season. A balanced fertilizer is an excellent option. Your plant will let you know when it needs a nutritional boost when leaves begin to yellow and drop. Plan on fertilizing at least every two weeks, perhaps even weekly.
Its fast growth will also mean pruning to keep it confined to its space, especially in the spring when it grows most rapidly. Doing so will prevent it from becoming leggy in appearance. Use a sharp shears to trim branches at an angle above the point where the leaf meets the stem. The angled cut will prevent water from pooling at these sites.
You can train it to maintain its attractive form and encourage it to take on a fuller appearance by pinching the tips of the plant. It’ll grow outward rather than upward. You can also deadhead the flowers once they’re spent. It’ll keep the plant looking tidy while encouraging new blooms. The lollipop plant will handle your grooming well and will thrive because of it.
This video from the Mississippi State Extension explains how to deadhead flowers to encourage new growth using the rose as an example.
Special Care Notes
While it is generally hardy, the lollipop plant is susceptible to whitefly infestations. An infected plant will look sickly. Its leaves will yellow and drop. You should always inspect a plant for whiteflies before you bring it home. You’ll find them on the undersides of the leaves or even swirling around the plant. Take a pass on any infected plant.
You might have trouble getting rid of whiteflies. They can develop resistance to insecticides. You can use an insecticidal soap or an insecticide containing permethrin to get an infestation under control. You can also create your own DIY fly trap with petroleum jelly to get rid of them. And of course, you should isolate an infected plant from any other houseplants.
The lollipop plant makes a welcome addition to your garden or any room where you want to create a focal point. Its beautiful yellow flowers will bring a bit of sunshine to your home. And with plenty of light and moist soils, you’ll enjoy a continual display of attractive blooms.