The golden Shrimp, Pachystachys lutea, is an evergreen shrub. The more common name for this plant is Golden Candle or Lemon Lollipop Flowers. This gives you a big hint as to what the flowers look like. The leaves are dark green, deep veined and about 6 inches long. The golden yellow flowers grow on stalks that tower above the foliage. Although the flowers don’t last long the bracts last for several weeks. It is hardy in the U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 10 through 11, but some people can grow them in the southern most portions of zone 9. For those of us living in colder zones, we can grow it as a houseplant.
Wet Paper Towel
You can go out and buy this plant, but if you or a friend has this plant growing, you can propagate it from cuttings. Before you gather the stem cuttings, take along a damp paper towel and place it in a big plastic bag. By wrapping the cut ends in the wet paper towel and keeping them in a plastic bag, the stems will remain hydrated for a more successful propagation.
Early in the spring, examine the golden shrimp plant for healthy, softwood stems. Cut the stems at 3 to 4-inches in length, just below the leaf node. Remove or cut off all the foliage, except for the top three or four leaves.
Prepare the pots. Fill 2-inch pots with well-drained potting soil. You can use plastic pots, clay pots, or disposable cups. No matter what kind of container you use, make sure there are drainage holes at the bottom. The excess water has to drain away or the stems will rot.
Poke a hole in the soil with a dibble, a pencil, or even your finger will work. Remove one of the stems wrapped in the damp paper towel. You can insert the end straight into the potting soil and firm the planting medium around the stem with your fingers. Or, you can coat the cut end with a light dusting of rooting hormone first and then plant the stem. Everyone has his or her own thoughts when it comes to rooting hormone. If the plants are hard to propagate, I will use the rooting hormone. Golden shrimp plants root easily, so I usually skip this step. Caution: don’t use too much rooting hormone or coat the entire leafless stem, because you can burn the plant. Dip only about 1/4 inch of the stem in rooting hormone. Tap or blow away any excess, because more is not better.
Once you have the stems in potting soil, fill a tub with 1.5 inches of water. place the pots in and leave them to soak until the soil is visibly moist. The water level should come up close to the top of the pots, but not over flow into them. When the soil is moistened, place the pots into a plastic bag and close or tie the bag shut.
Find a bright location to place the pots, but keep them out of direct sunlight. The plastic bag acts like a hot house and you don’t want to cook the plants; you only want to provide warmth and humidity. The ideal temperature of the soil should around 75° Fahrenheit. If you have a heat mat, use that to help maintain soil temperature. Check the soil to make sure it stays moist, but not soggy.
Check for Roots
In three weeks, check the cutting for roots. New growth is usually a good indication that the cutting has rooted, although sometimes it can be a false lead. Very gently, pull on the cutting. If you feel any resistance, that tells you that the roots have formed. If the stem pulls out easily, then it needs more time to develop a root section.
Remove the plastic bag when the roots have formed. Only open the plastic bag a little at a time over the course of one week to get the cuttings accustomed to the environment. At the end of one week, keep the cuttings in the open bag for another 2 to 3 days. After that, remove the bag. Place the plants in a bright window. Transplant them when roots appear growing out the bottom drainage holes.