Overview of Persian Shield:
Leaves: The leaves are elliptical and grow to about 6 inches long. They are puckered and the tops are washed in purple-pink and silver. The undersides are all purple. Stems are square.
Flowers: Pale blue tubular flowers are born on short spikes
Common Name:Persian Shield
Persian Shield is often grown as both an outdoor annual and an indoor houseplant.
Mature Plant Size:
Bloom Period:Usually fall / winter. Strobilanthes does not always bloom, when grown as an annual, but you won't miss it with all that colorful foliage.
In USDA Zone 10 and higher, Persian Shield can get quite bushy and makes a wonderful focal point. It may even over-winter some years in cooler climates.
Even when grown as an annual, Strobilanthes make an eye-catching addition to borders and containers. Bring a plant or two indoors, and grow as houseplants through the winter.
Growing Tips for Persian Shield:
Soil: Strobilanthes grows well in the neutral range of soil pH and can handle anything from about 5.5 through to 7.5.
Planting:You can start Persian Shield from seed or cuttings. Seeds require somewhat warm conditions ( 55–64 degrees F. (13–18 C.) to germinate.
Plants can easily be started by softwood cuttings, but some bottom heat will keep them from rotting before they establish roots. Spring and early summer are the best times to take cuttings.
Maintenance:Persian Shield prefers moist soil and some shade during the hottest parts of the summer. The less water it gets, the more shade it will need. Cold water may spot the leaves.
Since Persian Shield is grown for its foliage and the flowers are not particularly showy, many gardeners like to pinch back the leaves, to create a fuller plant. If left to grow on its own, it can get tall, leggy and floppy.
The exception would be immediately after flowering. The leaves may look sad at this point, but that is because the plant has gone dormant for the remainder of the winter. Resist the temptation to pinch at this point, to avoid disturbing dormancy. Resume pinching when the plant starts growin in earnest, in the spring.
If grown in rich soil with plenty of moisture, Persian Shield should only need light feeding at the start of the season and again about mid-way through the summer.
Growing Stobilanthes as a House Plant:
- Indoors, Persian Shield needs bright light, to keep its color, and temperatures above 60º F (15.6ºC).
- Make sure it has humid conditions. Dry air will cause the leaves to dry and drop. Misting daily is recommended, but be sure to use soft water. Chlorine will damage the leaves.
Pests & Problems:
Aphids and Whiteflies can become pests, especially when the plants are drought stressed.
Strobilanthes is not usually susceptible to fungus disease or other problems with the foliage, except water stress.