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