Perfect Persian Shield Guide

1 Oct 2022

This plant gets its name partly from its shield-shaped leaves, almost metallic and shiny as though it were a piece of armor.

It gets confusing because it’s native to Myanmar, not Persia.

This herbaceous perennial is relatively easy to grow, and we have developed a comprehensive guideline around how to do this.

Key Characteristics and Features

The Persian shield’s botanical or scientific name is Strobilanthes dyerianus, and it is a member of the Acanthaceae family.

Fun fact: the Persian shield got its name as it resembles little battle shields that seem to glow and glisten like metal.


Strobilanthes is a large genus with hundreds of species within it. While there are no cultivars currently of this plant, here are a few favored species:

  • Strobilanthes alternata: also known as the waffle plant. This species has a few notable cultivars, such as ‘Belgian waffle’ and ‘snow-white.’
  • S. maculates: native to the Himalayas and has splotchy leaves.
  • S. lactates: a Brazilian native with splotchy leaves just in a shade of white.

How Big Does It Get?

If a mature plant is flourishing in its environment, it will reach 3 – 4 feet (91.44 – 121 cm) in height and about 2 – 3 feet (61 – 91.44 cm) in width.

How Fast Does It Grow?

The Strobilanthes dyerianus will take around 5 years to reach maturity and is a relatively quick grower, especially if given the right humid conditions.

This plant grows around 1 foot (9.44 cm) annually in height each year when growing indoors.

How Long Does It Live?

Given the right warm and humid conditions, this plant can give you up to 10 years of leafy life.

It is important to note that it will lose its vibrancy and color after a few years and that many people will choose to discard their houseplant.

Giving the Persian shield proper care is key to the colors lasting as long as possible.

Fun Fact: another name for this houseplant is a Bermuda conehead

Toxicity Information

Knowing whether a houseplant contains toxins and potentially harms you or your pets is a critical buying consideration.

This section deals with whether or not a Strobilanthes dyerianus is poisonous.

Is It Toxic to Cats and Dogs?

As with the Elephant Bush, the Persian shield is a non-toxic houseplant and is safe to have around your pets and animals.

Is It Poisonous to Humans?

As with Orchids, Persian shields are perfectly safe to handle and have at home as they are non-toxic. This is a lovely houseplant in a family home with children and older adults at risk around toxic plants.

Persian Shield Care

While this is a relatively happy-go-lucky kind of plant, it does, of course, have specific requirements to ensure it thrives.

The houseplant enjoys a warm and humid environment and will offer its full beauty in these conditions.

Here is a guideline on caring for your Strobilanthes dyerianus to ensure you get the best out of it.

How Often to Water It

This is a thirsty plant. It needs plenty of water and attention in this regard. This houseplant requires watering once a day in the warm season, sometimes twice on hot days.

You will know quickly if it requires more water as the leaves will droop. They recover very soon after watering, so there is no need to be alarmed.

During the winter and cooler months, you can reduce this watering to once every second day but keep an eye on it.

Fun Fact: this plant is one of the few that does better when grown as an indoor plant versus an outdoor one.


In terms of drainage, this houseplant requires well-draining soil inside a pot with a layer of stones at the bottom. The pot should also have ample drainage holes at the bottom of it.


Indoor gardeners pinch the leaves to encourage a bushy form rather than a tall and leggy one. This pruning practice should happen mainly during the spring and summer months when it is active.

Resist the urge to prune the plant’s leaves just after it has flowered, as this is when it enters its dormant phase, and it’s not the right time to prune.

When and How to Repot It

The Strobilanthes dyerianus grows happily within a container of any shape, material, and height. Choose a pot roughly 10 inches (25.4 cm) in height and width for your plant. Repotting every three years is excellent for managing growth.

Here are a few steps to potting your Persian shield:

  1. Turn your potted plant onto its side and loosen the mass from the pot.
  2. Remove the houseplant and lay it gently to one side. Remove as much of the sand from it as possible.
  3. Trim the root ball back to manage the size and shape in which the plant will continue to grow.
  4. Fill a new pot, roughly 2 inches wider than the last, with a layer of drainage stones and then three-quarters of the way up with peat-based soil.
  5. Replant your houseplant and fill the top section with more soil.
  6. Pat down the top layer gently without compressing the soil too much.

Best Environmental Conditions

Ultimately this houseplant will thrive in a warm and humid environment. While easy to grow, the plant does require a fair amount of attention due to its need for frequent watering.

Here is a list of key topics relating to the Persian shield’s care routine and needs.

Light Requirements

Find a sunny spot in your home for this pot. It can take much more light than many other houseplants, including a fair amount of direct or bright light.

Bright light is one of the critical factors in keeping its lovely iridescent bright color for as long as possible.

During the winter months, it’s a good idea to find an even sunnier spot to offer the Persian shield even more direct light. This will help maintain those beautiful neon veins and bright purple leaves.

Best Soil

Persian shields require a soil rich in nutrients and moisture. Find a soil type with a pH of between 5.5 and 7.5.

These houseplants can also handle a little more acidic soil.

You can make your mix for this houseplant by combining:

  • two parts peat moss
  • one part houseplant soil
  • one part perlite


This houseplant appreciates some feeding. Feeding the plant during its active growing period with a half-strength liquid fertilizer every 2 – 4 weeks is advised.

Pot Size

The Persian shield lends itself to any pot in terms of material and shape. Choose anything from terracotta to plastic, whichever you prefer.

What’s important is that the pot has suitable drainage holes at the bottom and that it’s around 10 inches (25.4 cm) in height and width for your houseplant.

Temperature Tolerance

Your Persian shield will thrive at a warm temperature of around 60°F (15°C) and above.

The balmier, the better for this tropical-loving beauty. Try not to place it near a drafty door or window and keep it far away from an air conditioning unit.

Humidity Level

The Strobilanthes dyerianus loves humidity. A 50% humidity level or above will create the steamy state that these plants love.

Consider creating a little pebble and water stand for the pot or using a humidifier to make a bit of steamy bliss for this houseplant. This will be the ultimate spot for your Persian shield if you have a lovely bright bathroom.

Can It Live Outside?

This plant can live outside during the warm season and will be very happy in a spot that will serve it up with lovely sun – a combination of indirect, dappled, and direct will suit it perfectly well. It will thrive in USDA hardiness zones 8-11.

Just make sure you don’t forget to keep your eye on it in terms of watering. This plant will still require the same daily dose and sometimes twice a day on those scorching days.


Persian shields do flower. However, they are mainly cultivated for their beautiful leaves instead of their little blossoms.

Unlike the goldfish plant, the Persian shield is not known for its glorious blooms. If you are looking for beautiful bloomers, try getting your hands on a bird of paradise or poinsettia.

When Do They Bloom?

If the conditions are right, your houseplant will bloom in the fall for a short period. The flowers will appear as pale blue little buds, eventually opening up.

How Long Do the Flowers Last?

The pale little flowers will last a few weeks if watered according to their daily requirement.

It’s important to note that not all potted indoor Persian shields will bloom and that their flowering period will impact the bright color of the leaves, causing them to fade a little afterward.

Resist the urge to pluck off any leaves that may droop after the blooming period is over.

How to Make It Bloom

If your plant lacks flowers and won’t seem to bloom, it is likely caused by a lack of water and sunlight.

Move your plant to a sunnier spot and ensure it receives water daily. If you notice the leaves still look limp, the watering schedule should increase to twice in 24 hours.

How to Grow It

Here are some tips and tricks to growing your very own Persian shield plant.


Plants can be recreated through cuttings as per most perennials.

Spring and summer months are the best time to work on these cuttings. Sometimes indoor gardeners will create cuttings in the fall to have new plants ready for the following spring season.

Here are the steps to achieve these cuttings:

  1. Using a sanitized pair of scissors, cut a 2.5 – 3 inch (6.4 to 7.6cm) cutting from a stem section. Cut the stem just below a node.
  2. Remove any leaves at the bottom of the cutting.

Persian Shield Propagation

Here are some simple steps to propagating your very own purple shield babies.

Propagation in Water

This sturdy and easy-growing plant is a joy to propagate as it tends to root quickly. Here are a few steps on how to root your cutting:

  1. Place your cutting in a little jar or vase of clean water, preferably distilled or filtered.
  2. Place your cutting in a warm and well-lit site.
  3. Change the water every 2-3 days.

You should see roots starting to appear after about a week.

Propagation in Soil

It is also possible to propagate your little cuttings in soil. To do this successfully, follow the guideline we have laid out for you:

  1. Dip the base of your cutting in rooting hormone powder.
  2. Bury the end of the cutting in well-draining potting soil.
  3. Keep the soil moist by watering weekly.
  4. Check after a week to see how the roots are coming along.

This method should yield success, but the water propagation route is the neater and more straightforward option.

Planting Guide

Here is a complete guide on how to plant your propagated plants and seeds.

How to Plant the Propagated Plants

Now that you have propagated your precious baby Persian shields, it’s time to plant them in their new pot and bring them into the container community in your home.

Plant your cuttings once they have roots roughly 1 inch (2.5cm) in length.

  1. Plant the cutting in some moist and peat-rich soil.
  2. Pat the soil gently above and around the little seedling.
  3. Water the plant daily and ensure its soil bed stays moist.
  4. Ensure there is enough light available for your new houseplant.

How to Plant the Seeds

As with the Zebra plant, Persian shields can be planted from seed in a good quality seedling mix.

This is quite a unique method of growing these plants as the seeds are difficult to come by and tricky to harvest from a mother plant.

If you get your hands on some, plant them in a seedling mix during the spring or late winter and keep them in a warm environment.

Fun fact: an indoor gardener is more likely to harvest seeds from their Persian shield houseplant than an outdoor gardener is with their Persian shields planted in a garden.

How to Revive It

A couple of nasty little problems can creep in with your Persian shield. Here are the symptoms, possible diagnosis, and what can be done to remedy the issues.

The Color Is Fading

The issue of the leaves losing their vibrancy is often the reason indoor gardeners throw away their plants, even if they are otherwise healthy.

The reason for color fade is usually a lack of warmth in terms of room temperature or a lack of humidity. However, if there is too much sun, this can also lead to the color washing out.

Try to find a spot with the optimal light environment – some direct and some indirect light is the perfect mix for this plant.

Another issue is that after the Persian shield has flowered, it can experience color fade. The continued propagation of new plants is usually how indoor gardeners maintain a glowing specimen. In other words, they just replace them.

The Plant Has Fallen Over

Persian plants can survive in dappled light areas but are likely to grow tall and leggy and eventually fall over if kept in this environment.

The suggested solution is to regularly prune by pinching back the leaves, which will encourage bushier growth. Improving the light source is essential to ensure the plant is situated near a window with a good mix of direct and filtered light.

The Leaves Are Wilting

Strobilanthes dyerianus requires a lot of moisture and watering. They are likely to droop and wilt if they are underwatered.

You will likely have to water your houseplant twice daily to keep the leaves lovely, lush, and standing to attention. Winter watering will be almost as frequent, to keep the leaves from wilting.

Luckily the leaves will bounce back quickly.

The Leaves Are Yellowing

This could be a sign of old age or of overwatering.

Check to see whether the soil feels overly sodden and waterlogged with your finger. If this is the case, reduce the watering schedule by half.

If the problem persists, there may be a drainage issue. Try to note how much water is draining or not draining from the pot.

You may need to repot the houseplant and add a fresh layer of drainage stones to the bottom of the pot. Root rot is a possibility if your plant has reached this stage. The plant may be salvageable, but you must remove any rotten roots and replant them in fresh soil.

In Conclusion

With its showstopper, the luminescent and almost metallic purple houseplant will be eye-candy as part of your indoor garden.

Give it lots of steamy warmth, bright light, and a generous watering schedule and your plant will glow for you and all its other admirers for days to come.

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