Jacobinia/Justicia carnea is a beautiful and popular flowering plant that originates from Brazil. It has several other common names, including Brazilian plume, blood of Jesus flower, and flamingo flower.
Growing and caring for this plant is reasonably straightforward, making it suitable for beginner gardeners. It can be grown indoors or outdoors, directly in the soil or in containers.
Justicia carnea has a distinct appearance with large leaves and colorful, tubular flowers that bloom in clusters. Read on to learn more about this plant and our advice on growing and caring for it.
An Introduction to Jacobinia/Justicia Carnea
Jacobinia carnea can be grown in most locations but prefers warm and sub-tropical conditions. It’s a perennial, evergreen shrub with upright growing stems and dark green foliage. Flowers typically bloom from summer to fall and can be in many colors, including red, crimson, and pink.
When outside, Justicia carnea can grow to a height of 1.8 meters (6 feet) and spread up to 1 meter (3.3 feet) wide. It can be grown to more indoor-friendly sizes in containers.
The attractive flowers on this plant grow in dense, tubular clusters. They attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies and have a subtle scent.
Jacobinia/Justicia Carnea Plant Overview
- Botanical/Scientific Name: Justicia carnea
- Common Names: Jacobinia carnea, Brazilian plume, blood of Jesus flower, flamingo plant, paradise plant
- Family: Acanthaceae
- Genus: Justicia
- Other Classifications: Perennial, Evergreen, Shrub, Flowering Plant, Indoor
How to Grow Jacobinia/Justicia Carnea
You can grow Jacobnia carnea indoors or outdoors, in containers or directly in the soil. You can propagate the plant from cuttings or seeds.
Cuttings and seeds are both available at most gardening stores or online nurseries. If you’re taking your own cuttings, do so in late spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing.
Growing Requirements and Optimal Conditions for Jacobinia/Justicia Carnea
- Soil: Can tolerate most soil types, prefers the soil to be moist and well-draining.
- Sunlight: Partial shade is ideal as the plant needs light but does not grow well if over-exposed to the sun.
- Water: Water the plant as necessary to keep the surrounding soil moist but not soggy.
- Temperature: Justicia carnea plants require a minimum of 25 degrees celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) during the warm season and a minimum of 15 degrees celsius during the cold season.
- Growing Season: Spring to summer, flowers bloom late summer and early fall.
Most containers are suitable for growing Jacobinia carnea. You should think carefully about the best size to use, though, and ideally use containers that drain well.
These plants prefer slight humidity, so consider that when deciding whether or not to grow Justicia carnea. The humidity requirements should also be considered when choosing a location.
Propagating Jacobinia/Justicia Carnea Using Seeds
We advise using cuttings to grow Jacobinia carnea if possible. If you prefer to use seeds for some reason (or have no other choice), here’s our recommended course of action.
- Start by soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours before planting.
- Fill a pot or seed tray with a well-draining potting mix or cactus mix and place the soaked seeds on the surface.
- Cover with a thin layer of vermiculite or sand and mist with water.
- Place the pot or tray in a warm location out of direct sunlight and keep the soil moist but not wet.
Seeds should germinate within 2-3 weeks. Once seedlings have sprouted, we suggest transplanting them into individual pots.
If you want the plants in your garden, gradually acclimatize them to outdoor conditions over 7-10 days before planting them in their final location. You can move them straight to their final location if you’re growing them indoors.
Propagating Jacobinia/Justicia Carnea Using Cuttings
If you’re propagating from an existing plant yourself, use a sharp knife or scissors to take 10-15 centimeter (4-6 inch) cuttings from new growths at the end of stems. Try to find stems that look healthy, have at least two leaves, and have not yet blossomed.
Follow the steps below once you’ve got your cuttings or if you’ve purchased them. Use individual pots for each cutting.
- Remove any leaves and dip the cut end into rooting hormone powder.
- Fill a pot with a well-draining potting mix or cactus mix, and make a hole with your finger or a pencil.
- Insert a cutting into the hole and firm the soil around it.
- Water the soil gently to ensure it’s moist but not too damp.
- Place the pot in a warm location out of direct sunlight.
You should water every day while the roots are developing. You may also want to add a little fertilizer of plant food during this stage. Proper roots should develop within a month.
As with propagating from seeds, the plants should be acclimatized gradually to outdoor conditions if you’re moving them to the garden.
Repotting or Planting in Soil
As Jacobinia carnea plants are naturally bushy and can spread out, you may want or need to repot them in larger plants at some point. Alternatively, you may want to plant them directly in the soil outdoors.
Either option will help the plants grow further and can help make the flowers look more attractive. There are just a few things to bear in mind.
- If repotting, ensure that you use the same or similar soil.
- If planting outdoors in the ground, break the soil up for aeration and ideally add some compost and/or slow-release fertilizer.
- Take care not to damage the plants when transplanting, especially the roots.
- Ensure that the roots are firmly planted and not exposed. Fill any empty spaces around the roots with soil and then compact it.
- Water more regularly than usual for the first few days after replanting.
Caring for Jacobinia/Justicia Carnea
Once your plants are in place, you can start to think about the general care they will need. Jacobinia carnea is reasonably easy to take care of, but there are a few things to be aware of if you want your plants to look the best they can.
Here’s some information and advice to help you care for your Justicia carnea effectively.
General Care Tips for Jacobinia/Justicia Carnea
- Justicia carnea needs bright, indirect light to thrive. Too much sun can scorch the leaves, and too little will result in fewer flowers.
- This plant is somewhat drought-tolerant once established but looks best with regular watering during periods of extended dry weather. Water your plants deeply during growth periods, allowing the soil to dry out somewhat between waterings.
- Reduce watering during winter when growth slows down.
- Fertilize every 2-3 weeks with a half-strength solution of liquid fertilizer during the growing season. Avoid fertilizing in winter.
- If you’re growing Jacobinia carnea indoors, you can provide extra humidity by misting the leaves or placing the pot on a pebble-filled tray of water.
- Pruning is usually unnecessary but can help shape the plant or remove any damaged or diseased stems. If pruning, do so in late winter or early spring before new growth appears.
- Removing old flowers can prevent self-seeding if that’s something you want to avoid.
Signs Your Jacobinia/Justicia Carnea is Not Healthy
- Withering and/or dry leaves are signs you might be overwatering your plants.
- Yellowing leaves can indicate too much sun or a lack of nutrients.
- Pale leaves may be a sign of too little sunlight.
- If your plants are not flowering, they may need more light or fertilizer.
Pest and Disease Problems for Jacobinia/Justicia Carnea
These plants are not especially prone to problems from garden pests or diseases. However, there are a few potential issues to keep an eye out for.
Caterpillars, aphids, and whiteflies can all feast on the foliage of Jacobinia carnea. Although this likely won’t affect growth, it can affect the visual appeal. The best way to control these pests is with insecticidal soap.
Red spider mites can also be a problem. These can simply be sprayed off with water or treated with appropriate pesticides.
Powdery mildew can be a problem in especially humid conditions, and this can be treated with fungicide if necessary. Bacterial leaf spot and root rot can occur if the plants are overwatered or if the soil does not drain well. Improve drainage and/or reduce watering to help prevent these.
Benefits and Uses of Jacobinia/Justicia Carnea
Jacobinia carnea is a stunning plant, thanks to its lush foliage and vibrant flowers. It’s primarily grown for ornamental purposes, indoors and outdoors. It’s one of the best houseplants for brightening up the home and can add an authentic tropical look to gardens and other outdoor areas.
This plant also makes an excellent cut flower for fresh bouquets. It can be used as a hedging plant or as a groundcover in landscaping projects, too, and its nectar-rich flowers attract pollinators like bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies to the garden.
Justicia carnea may also have some health benefits. In some parts of the world, the leaves are used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments. In Nigeria, for example, they are used to treat anemia and other blood-related problems. There is also some evidence to suggest they can treat liver damage.
Alternatives to Jacobinia/Justicia Carnea
The best alternatives to Jacobonia carnea really depend on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for bright and colorful flowers for your garden, for example, various orchids and roses will serve you well.
If it’s low-maintenance houseplants that you’re after, then the string of pearls plant is a great option. If it’s medicinal benefits you want, then giloy or aloe vera are both well worth considering.
In short, you have a lot of choices! You can check out our plants section to learn more about some different plants and decide if they are right for you. We also make recommendations of the best plants in various categories and offer advice on choosing the right plants.