Get Your Gaudy On With Persian Shield

July 24, 2014 | By | Comments (5)
Persian Shield

Photo: Steve Bender

For lasting color in your garden, don’t get hung up on flowers. Plants with brilliant foliage can add just as much impact for a much longer time. I saw a great example of this yesterday in a beautiful garden in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Tucked in amid the black-eyed Susans and “Diamond Frost’ euphorbia was a mesmerizing foliage plant called Persian shield.

Can you believe that color? Growing 6 to 8 inches long, the stunning, variegated leaves are bright pinky-purple with iridescent silver sheen. The leaf undersides are bright purple. Persian shield can grow 3-4 feet tall and wide over a summer, but just pinch or prune it back to keep it lower and bushy.

I have no earthly idea how Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyeranus) got its name. It’s not native to Persia, but Burma. And I doubt that ancient Persian warriors charged into battle against the Greeks carrying gaudy pink shields. Pink hair ribbons with matching lipstick, maybe, but not shields!

How to Grow
Persian shield likes full to part sun and moist, well-drained soil. You can grow it in a flower bed or a pot. In my Lower South garden (USDA Zone 8A), it’s survived a mild winter, but I wouldn’t count on that if the temps drop much below 20. Fortunately, it’s easy to save indoors over winter by rooting cuttings in water or taking a pot inside to a bright window.

Look for Persian shield in garden centers now. It’s time to get your gaudy on.





  1. Helen Hovan

    Love the amazing color, was not aware that it could survive the winter??? wow thanks!!

    July 31, 2014 at 7:23 am
  2. Joyce Stevens

    I just bought one today at the garden center. It is beautiful. I’m going to plant in a large pot with some annuals to make a big splash of color.

    July 30, 2014 at 8:05 pm
  3. Vickie Chappell

    Cathy, I live in Spartanburg, S.C. and it does very well here.

    July 30, 2014 at 4:25 pm
  4. Cathy

    Will it grow in Columbia, SC? It gets so hot here in the summers.

    July 25, 2014 at 11:55 am
  5. Dea

    Oh, wow! This is beautiful! Headed to my garden center now to see if they have any in stock; will cry and moan and make them order it if not.

    July 25, 2014 at 10:43 am

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