Plant Highlight

Persian Shield Plants (Strobilanthes dyerianus) Care Guide

When I went nursery hopping recently, I came across a few pots of stunning purple-leafed plants which I couldn’t get out of my mind. They were none other than Persian Shield plants, also known as royal purple plants.

I regretted not buying it on the spot (no thanks to pre-Christmas budget issues!). Eventually, a budget recovery paved the way for a new addition to my home. So I set about finding out how to look after it.

It is also worth noting that the sap of the plant is a mild skin irritant, so be careful when handling it.

Common Problems with Persian Shield Plants

The persian shield is a thirsty plant. However, it hates being water bogged.

The plant will lose its bright color if it’s in far too much shade.

Drought-stressed plants are susceptible to mites, gnats, aphids and whiteflies. A soap spray will help with this.

The plants also have a tendency to grow leggy and spindly, which can look unattractive. Pinching back the leaves will help it to grow into compact bushy plants.

Common Mistakes with Persian Shield Plants

  1. Overwatering – Although these plants love to be in moist soil, overwatering will result in root rot. You could dip your finger into the soil to find out whether it is ready to be watered. In winter, soil may dry out faster than usual due to indoor heating systems in use. Another way is to add grit or sand to your soil to increase its drainage capacity.
  2. Insufficient light indoors – If it does not get sufficient light, the foliage of the persian shield plant may become dull in color. Placing the plant next to a window which receives bright, indirect light will improve its color vibrancy.

Care Requirements & Guide for Persian Shield Plants

Watering: Maintain the plants in moist soil as they are not drought tolerant. If kept indoors as a houseplant, care must be taken to ensure that the persian shield plant is watered at least twice a week.

Light: When grown outdoors, they can tolerate full sun. However in their natural environment, they tend to grow in partial shade under trees. Dappled shade probably suit it best.

Temperature:  The plant is an annual in tropical climates which thrives in heat and humidity. But in cooler climates, it will die back in Winter. However, if the root system doesn’t freeze and die, it will bounce back to life in Spring. If kept indoors, it is best to keep the plant at a temperature above 60°F (about 16°C).

Soil: Persian shield plants prefer organically rich well-drained soil. Maintain the soil pH within the neutral range of 5.5 and 7.5.

Fertiliser: Feed every two weeks with a half dilution of liquid plant food especially if grown in pots. It will be prudent to suspend feeding in Fall/Autumn and Winter.

Propagation: You may propagate persian shield plants from seed or through stem cuttings. 

Fun Facts about Persian Shield Plants

The name is a misnomer as it is native to Myanmar, not Persia.

Persian shield plants are flowering plants but their leaves are more interesting than their tiny flowers.

We hope you enjoy your persian shield plant for many years to come. Send us your photos of your persian shield plants indoors or outdoors. We would be more than happy to feature them on Facebook or Instagram!