As a longtime gardener, I’m always happy to find a new and unusual plant. When I found the Persian shield plant at our local high school’s greenhouse, I was thrilled. Not knowing anything about the plant, I purchased it; not something I usually do. You might say I was instantly infatuated with the multi-colored leaves and deep, shimmering color of the Persian shield plant.
Facts about Persian Shield Plant
When I searched Persian shield on the internet, I learned that it is a hardy perennial in USDA Zone 10, possibly surviving outside year round in Zones 8 and 9. Since I’m at the northern edge of Zone 7, I thought it could just grow here as an annual. Upon further investigation, I learned that in more northern areas of the country the plant grows happily indoors as a houseplant.
Care When Growing Outside
Grown outside, Strobilanthes dyerianus reaches up to four feet, as a bushy colorful shrub that flowers in autumn. The spread of this specimen sometimes grows to four feet.
Locate the plant in full shade or in a place where it gets early morning sun. The hotter your climate, the more shade the plant needs. Keep the soil slightly moist at all times. Allow soil to dry on the top two or three inches before re-watering. Moisture is especially important while the plant is becoming established. Persian shield is drought tolerant, but even drought resistant plants need water sometimes.
Locate this specimen in well-draining soil. If you’re in Zones 8 or 9 and want to encourage the plant to last through the winter, plant it in a sheltered location. Protection from winter cold and winds combined with a mild winter may encourage the plant to remain or return next spring. Mulch heavily for more winter protection.
Pinch back new growth at the end of stems to encourage a bushy shrub. Take off leggy stems from the top and root them in moist sand for more plants. You’ll want to take cuttings yearly, in spring. Older plants tend to fade and lose vigor. Lifespan is usually about three years.
Persian Shield as a Houseplant
Bring well-rooted cuttings inside when temperatures begin to cool. Ideal temperature for keeping this plant inside is 60-75 degrees F. High Indoor humidity is necessary. Mist regularly and place the plant on or near a pebble tray.
When growing as a houseplant, locate this plant in bright but indirect light. Feed a couple times a month with liquid houseplant fertilizer at half strength.
Some sources suggest pinching off buds as they appear. I like to see the indoor blooms, however and can’t bring myself to take them off before blooming. Blooms take energy that could be directed toward new leaf growth.