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Share to PinterestHow To Grow Persian Shield
GardenOrnamental Plants

How To Grow Persian Shield

By Staff Writer
Share to PinterestHow To Grow Persian Shield

Add a little magic to your green spaces with Persian shield, an iridescent purple-hued ornamental shrub hailing from Myanmar. There's an almost otherworldly look to this plant that's highly alluring. Its cold alien-like beauty could be plucked straight from Pandora. The glossy purple foliage introduces instant drama indoors and outdoors.

Persian shield can grow up to five feet tall and three feet wide, so plan accordingly, and this perennial can brighten your garden for years to come.


Your Persian shield’s new home

It's hard to get your hands on Persian shield seeds, but you may be able to buy them from specialty companies or collect some from a friend's winter-flowering indoor plant. Start the seeds indoors during the last part of winter. Or, make your life easier and head to the nursery for potted starts.


Planting your Persian shield

Persian shield requires nutrient-rich, moist soil that's slightly acidic to neutral and drains well. When the soil dries out, you'll notice wilting leaves, but overwatering can encourage issues too. Mulch near the roots for hydration.

If you're planting in containers, get pots at least 12 inches deep and fill them with potting soil. If you're growing your Persian shield in the ground, space the plants 18 inches apart.


A healthy start: sunlight requirements for Persian shield

Share to PinterestClose up top view of Strobilanthes auriculatus dyeriana Persian shield tropical flower.
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For those living in more northern parts of the country, plant your Persian shield where it will get full sun. In the south, you can look for a spot with partial shade. This plant likes being warm, and it enjoys dappled light.

Balance is the key: too much sunlight can result in washed-out foliage, and too little bright light indoors can also affect the color.


A healthy start: watering

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When new, the Persian shield plant should get a daily watering for two weeks. After that, it needs one inch of water per week—check to see if the top few inches of soil are dry. A more frequent drink is better if you notice drooping leaves between weekly waterings, most likely when it's sweltering.

The plant bounces back quickly after its thirst is quenched, and you'll see it perk up. Mist with soft water regularly to mimic the plant's humid native environment in Burma.


A healthy start: special nutrients

Share to Pinterestfertilizer
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You can fertilize your Persian shield twice a year and as frequently as monthly if it's potted. A light feeding of a slow-release fertilizer mix high in nitrogen is a good bet, so look for a 20-10-10 mixture or a 12-6-6 formula.

Assuming they're in the ground, fertilize when you first plant the Persian shield and halfway through summer.


USDA hardiness zone information

Share to PinterestClose up top view of Strobilanthes auriculatus dyeriana Persian shield tropical flower.
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Hardiness zones 8 to 11 are the sweet spot for Persian shield. In colder regions, you can grow it indoors throughout the year. The plant is a perennial and will return as one in warmer areas, flourishing again each spring. However, it's most often grown as an annual in the U.S.


Healthy growth: pruning your Persian shield

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Pruning will help this plant look denser with more abundant foliage. You can cut the entire plant back or pinch the stems. Left to its own devices, Persian shield can get leggy and look weak. Trim and remove dying branches during the summer growing season.


Preparing for winter

Share to PinterestStrobilanthes dyeriana,Persian shield or royal purple plant, is a species of flowering plant in the acanthus family Acanthaceae,photo taken in malaysia
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In most parts of the U.S., you'll want to dig out your Persian shield in the fall and keep it indoors in pots exposed to bright light. The plants can go back outside in spring. Alternatively, dispose of the plants when winter is on the horizon.

If you're lucky enough to live where it's warm enough year-round (zones 10 and 11), mulch will keep your perennial's roots alive over winter.


Can I propagate my Persian shield?

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You can quickly propagate Persian shield from stem cuttings retrieved in spring. Use a sharp, disinfected tool to get a three-inch cutting, and after discarding the leaves near the base, place your cutting in a small container full of peat moss, and water gently. You'll get roots within a few weeks.


Common diseases

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Persian shield is fairly resistant to fungal diseases, but overwatering and pots without drainage holes can lead to worrying root rot. Be wary too of heart rot, red leaf spot, southern blight, and botrytis. The latter two, for example, are caused by excess moisture and poor air circulation. Watering close to the soil instead of on leaves will help prevent problems.


Common pests

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Aphids might want to suck the sap out of your plant's beautiful leaves. When you spot them, wash them off with a hose, and if they return, you can apply a neem oil solution. Fungus gnats show up on Persian shield when there's excess moisture in the soil, and spider mites appear when the plant is too dry.


Showing off your Persian shield

Share to PinterestStrobilanthes dyeriana,Persian shield or royal purple plant, is a species of flowering plant in the acanthus family Acanthaceae,photo taken in malaysia
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Persian shield is such a visual treat that it does a lot of heavy lifting just by being in your space. Pop it in mixed beds with white impatiens or fill containers with a combo of Persian shield and dusty miller. The growth can complement lushly green snake plants and ferns along borders.


Similar plants

Share to PinterestA large bush of Tradescantia pallida grows on a flowerbed outdoors near the fence. Decorative climbing plant with purple leaves and stems on a brick wall background
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Other plants with purple foliage include purple hearts (tradescantia pallida), which have prettier flowers. There's also false goat's beard for a bright pop of color.


Cautions and additional information

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Persian shield should be safe in households with cats, dogs, and young kids. The sap can irritate the skin, and consumption may cause mild distress, but severe symptoms should not result from handling.


Varieties of Persian shield

Strobilanthes is a vast genus with hundreds of species, so even though there aren't Persian shield cultivars, you can try the waffle plant for a similar look. S. maculates has a silvery aesthetic if you're going for a cooler palette.



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