Persian Shield: An Exotic Specimen Plant

STROBILANTHES DYERIANUS

Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus) is a stunning ornamental plant that originates in the warm and humid nation of Myanmar, where it grows as an evergreen perennial.

It is a member of the Acanthaceae family, which consists mostly of flowering tropical plants.

Close of the purple and green leaves of Strobilanthes dyerianus or Persian shield.

With its unique iridescent purple leaves, S. dyerianus had no difficulty attracting the attention of U.S. gardeners, and is now grown here as an annual, perennial, and houseplant.

Exotic and Intense

Sometimes called Bermuda conehead, this striking tropical species thrives on heat and humidity, yielding its most brilliant color in partially shaded locations.

Learn how to grow and care for Persian shield plants | GardenersPath.com

Its foliage positively shimmers in neon shades of purple, veined with green. With too much light, the colors are less impressive.

The leaves of S. dyerianus are approximately six inches long, and stems may reach three feet. In regions where the plant thrives year-round, small, tubular, cone-shaped blue flowers bloom in fall or winter. They remind me a little of Virginia bluebells, and make an unusual accompaniment to the lustrous tropical foliage.

In cooler regions, where it grows as a summer annual, Persian shield usually succumbs to frost before blooming.

If you live in a cool climate zone, bring Persian shield plants indoors to overwinter: https://gardenerspath.com/plants/ornamentals/persian-shield/

For indoor cultivation, use a good quality potting soil and a container with adequate drainage holes. Keep the soil moderately moist with weekly watering. Fertilize quarterly with a slow-acting fertilizer, per package instructions.

I propagate new plants by cutting off young stems at a length of about two inches, placing them into a cup of water until roots form, and then planting them in soil.

Where to Buy

Plant S. dyerianus outdoors in the garden, or cultivate them indoors as houseplants.

Persian Shield Plant

Find these plants at Hirt’s Gardens via Amazon.

Strobilanthes Dyerianus Plant Facts

  • Grows easily from seeds or cuttings
  • Iridescent green-veined purple leaves, small blue flowers
  • May exceed three feet in height
  • Organically rich well-drained soil
  • Part to full shade; tolerates sun in cool areas
  • Thrives in heat and humidity
  • Tropical species that makes an excellent houseplant or garden specimen
  • Zone 8 to 11 perennial, annual in cooler regions

Versatile and Vibrant

Persian shield is a stunning plant that may be enjoyed in several ways.

Enjoy Persian shield as a tall plant, or cut it back for a bushy specimen | GardenersPath.com

Let it reach full height, recklessly spreading its bright, tropical foliage across a garden bed, and providing a gleaming backdrop for foreground plantings.

Or, pinch it back, sacrificing height, but achieving a bushy and compact plant, for a more formal.

And finally, if you’re in a cool climate zone, bring plants indoors for the winter, or keep them inside as easy-to-tend houseplants. Pinch back as desired.

If you live in the South, you may have the pleasure of seeing the blue blossoms of Persian shield in your autumn or winter garden.

For additional late-blooming flower ideas, consult our article “Fall Annuals for the South.”

Does Persian shield grow in your garden, or in a container indoors? Share your experiences with this unusual tropical species in the comments section below.


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A collage of photos showing the colorful pink and green leaves of the Persian shield plant.

Product photos via Hirt’s Gardens. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

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About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!

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Reid Wauchope
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Reid Wauchope

Hi, my name is Reid Wauchope and i have had one of these Persian shields for about two years now and I have been wanting for a long time to get it vibrant as it was when I first bought it. It’s percing up to the sky looks happy but is in peat moss soil and direct light being fed vf-11 almost every watering. The color dies off about two or three leaves down the plant from the top that is a semi vibrant purple. So I guess I’m asking should I transplant in new dryer soil along with indirect… Read more »

Allison Sidhu
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Allison Sidhu

Thank you so much for your question, Reid! It sounds like a few things could be the problem, and knowing a little more about your growing setup could be helpful to isolate the cause of the issues that you’re having. First, where are you located, and what environment are you growing in? How many hours per day of sun is the plant getting? And when you say “peat moss soil,” is this a combination of peat moss with potting soil and other elements, or peat moss on its own? Persian shield likes humidity, and it prefers to be brought inside… Read more »

Reid Wauchope
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Reid Wauchope

Thank you for your response and input Allison! I realized I had slightly been switching to Botanicare Pro Grow for soil and some additives like Cal-Mag and Liquid Karma as well. This was around 6 months ago but I have moved twice recently, however the plant has been quite white I think ever since I brought it inside. Before my first question here in October the plant was perky for months and in direct window sunlight for plenty of hours a day. After my last question I moved the plant to a dark shady spot in my new living room,… Read more »

Allison Sidhu
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Allison Sidhu

Hi Reid,

Thanks for your reply! Indoor light is almost definitely the culprit in terms of pigment, though you could consider supplementing with grow lights. Though light coming from a window may be direct, it is still filtered in comparison to what a plant would get outdoors – but not during the winter in Washington!

Keep up the good work. Be sure to avoid watering or feeding too much in the winter, and best of luck with the cuttings. We’d love to see photos- feel free to share them on the Gardener’s Path Facebook page. Happy Gardening!

Reid Wauchope
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Reid Wauchope

Thanks for the reply again! I wasn’t able to get pictures going yet but the mother plant is doing the same might be better new growth but the shoots are small.

I was curious what you recommend I put the three new cuttings into for soil, I think the peat moss I have the mother in isn’t something I want to put the new three in, they’re ready for transplanting any day now.

Thanks again I greatly appreciate all your input and help Allison!

Allison Sidhu
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Allison Sidhu

Hi Reid! You’re so welcome. I think a soil-less seed starting mix is great for rooting cuttings. Try a combination of vermiculite, perlite, and peat, or something similar. Happy planting!

Omolayo
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Omolayo

Hi, I left my Persian shield outside for just a day (it’s a houseplant but I want it to get some air and rain water since it was starting to look dull), after the rain, the sun shines brilliantly and I forgot to bring it in. Now my Persian shield is a very full greenish brown – but the underside of the leaves are still a brilliant purple, hence why I think the sun washed out the colors. Is it possible to restore its vibrancy? I plan to propogate one or two leaves and start new plants, but just in… Read more »

DONNA LOWRY
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DONNA LOWRY

I live in Southeastern Louisiana. I have several of the purple shield, for the first time this year. We have been very hot this year, and humid. I came here to look for information, because mine are growing like gangbusters so I was wondering how big they were actually going to get. I have the majority of mine planted in partial sun, and they are the deepest most beautiful purple. I will definitely relocate some of these since they will get very large, and some I will leave where they are and just cut back….thank you for the information!

Ellie
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Ellie

The pointed ends of my Persian Shield plant are turning brown and drying up. I’m growing it indoors due to my climate approximately 3 feet away from a very sunny window, at least for several hours a day.
Would misting help? It was so beautiful before.

Donna
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Donna

Like Ellie, I have one purple shield plant. I live in Cleveland, Ohio & it’s an indoor houseplant. I’ve had it for about 2 or so years. When I first bought it, the plant was very vibrant purple, but now, the pointed ends of my plant are turning brown and brittle. I *just* read how to really care for this plant as I was not given instructions when I bought it. What’s going wrong? Will my plant die or can I fix it so the brown edges go away??

Brandy
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Brandy

Hello-
Do you know if this plant is toxic to pets? We have some cold days coming up so I’d like to bring it inside but I have 2 very curious cats.

Debbie
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Debbie

Can you help me with this? I have a Persian shield that may be 2 years old or older, and I have also made a cutting from it. I overwinter quite a few plants, and live in New York. This week I experienced intense pain in my hand after picking up dead leaves in the room. The plants are under lights. The pain became an intense itching and I kept scratching my hand. After 2 days, the skin had covered it over but I know something is in my hand. Again yesterday I went touching all my plants and again,… Read more »

Allison Sidhu
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Allison Sidhu

Ouch- sorry to hear this, Debbie! As far as I know, Persian shield is not known for having thorns, so my first question there would be to confirm whether you’re able to positively identify this plant. But it is poisonous if ingested and is known for potentially causing contact dermatitis. If you like, you can send photos of the plant in question via our Facebook page. Hibiscus is not likely to cause a reaction and it does not have thorns or spikes, but individual reactions to skin contact with certain plants may vary. More importantly, pain and itching is a… Read more »

Rebecca Miller
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Rebecca Miller

Hello, My name is Rebecca and I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I planted a Persian Shield in my garden last year during the summer. It grew big and very vibrant and the winter came – no snow, just low temperatures. The plant lost its leaves and turned brown in days. Now the weather is getting very warm and humid as Virginia is, so my question is, will she come back or did she die? What is the best way to grow this very beautiful plant outside in my garden? Please help me because the garden centers around here are… Read more »

Allison Sidhu
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Trusted Member
Allison Sidhu

Hi Rebecca, In Virginia Beach you’re probably in USDA Hardiness Zone 8a, on the cooler end of climates where Persian shield may be grown as a perennial. But it thrives in warm, humid weather and will be killed off by frost. Sorry to hear that the cold got to your plant this past winter – it’s not likely that you will be able to save this one. Our best recommendation is to try some potted Persian shield plants again this year, planted in portable containers so they will be easier to protect from the cold. You might try wrapping and… Read more »

Jeanne
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Jeanne

First time for this plant.. put it in filtered light.. really hope it likes it there. Just to clarity.. I put in 3 outside.. I live in zone 8 , middle Ga..I really don’t want them 3/4 ft tall.. can you trim them?

Allison Sidhu
Admin
Trusted Member
Allison Sidhu

You can cut them back if you like, but keep in mind that they will get the most vibrant color in bright light.

Cathy
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Cathy

Why did my 3 yr old Persian Shield start dripping a clear sticky goo this winter and spring?

jeff larsen
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jeff larsen

very good article

Nathalie
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Nathalie

My husband bought me a Persian shield for mother’s day and 2 weeks or so later all the leaves were drying and falling off. Had it in the screen porch not in the sunlight. We live in central Texas and temps were 70-85. Watered and can’t seem to bring it back to life. Any tips….

JANIS KONIG
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JANIS KONIG

Hi, My name is Janis and I absolutely LOVE this plant – my question – it is poisonous to cats? I can’t seem to find a straight answer.

Thank you!