Flamingo plants, also called "jacobinia" and "justicia carnea", are evergreen shrubs with fragrant flowers. Their flowers grow in clusters and come in a variety of colors, including white, red, orange, yellow, apricot and rose-purple. This plant grows best in warm climates, like Florida and other coastal states along the Southern U.S. Gardeners should not confuse anthuriums, which people sometimes call "flamingo flowers," with flamingo plants.
Flamingo plants can grow in USDA hardiness zones 8b through 11. These zones encompass areas with minimum winter temperatures ranging from 15 degrees Fahrenheit to over 40 degrees. Gardeners in cooler climates should not plant flamingo plants, since the shrubs will die when temperatures drop during winter.
The University of Florida Extension recommends planting flamingo plants in shady areas. They can grow in areas with partial shade and a bit of sun, but will not grow well with lots of direct sunlight, especially from intense mid-day sun. They like fertile and moist soil and can tolerate slightly acidic or alkaline pH levels, as well as sandy, loamy and clay soils. Flamingo plants will not, however, grow well in salty soil. Space flamingo plants 2 to 3 feet apart.
Flamingo plants like fertile and moist soil, so water them during dry weather whenever the soil beneath the surface becomes dry to the touch. Before planting a flamingo plant in an area with unknown soil fertility, send a soil sample to a nursery or university lab for nutrient level testing. If the soil tests show low levels of nutrients, till several inches of compost or organic material into the soil before planting to improve soil fertility.
Flamingo plants generally require little pruning, but gardeners should prune off dead flowers. Do not prune flamingo plants in late spring because pruning too late removes the new growth that the plant's flowers grow on. A little bit of pruning on old branches very early in the spring can help the plants branch out and stay healthy. The University of Florida Extension recommends pruning the oldest stems on old flamingo plants close to the ground to help rejuvenate the plants. As with most plants, trim branches on flamingo plants to a spot right above a branch node.
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Justicia carnea Jacobinia, Flamingo Plant; Edward F. Gilman; May 2007
- Penn State Live: Flamingo Plant
- USDA: PLANTS Profile for Justicia Carnea (Brazilian Plume)
- University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service; Flowering Perennials for Florida; Sydney Park Brown, et. al; June 1996
- U.S. National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
- National Gardening Association: Improve Soil Fertility with Compost