Height: 24-36 in. (60-90 cm) 36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
Spacing: 15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
Hardiness: USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F) USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F) USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F) USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F) USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F) USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F) USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)
Sun Exposure: Full Sun
Bloom Color: Pink Purple
Bloom Time: Mid Summer Late Summer/Early Fall Blooms repeatedly
Other details: May be a noxious weed or invasive Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season
Soil pH requirements: 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic) 6.6 to 7.5 (neutral) 7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
Patent Information: Non-patented
Propagation Methods: By dividing the rootball From herbaceous stem cuttings From seed; direct sow after last frost
Seed Collecting: Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored
On Nov 3, 2012, ritak41 from McNeil, AR (Zone 8a) wrote:
My friend gave me a bunch of the tall plants, and, yes, they DO multiply, which is good for me. The deer keep mine "pruned" so I seldom get to see the blooms. They bloom during the day, purple, long slender leaves with a purple stripe down the center. Leaves are about 3" long.
I have just been given some of the short variety; will plant them today. MAYBE the deer won't like these. They eat petunias, pansies,kale/cabbage, day lilies. Rita in SW Arkansas
On Jun 17, 2012, NorfolkTransplant from Norfolk, VA wrote:
Can this Mexican petunia hybridize a Canna?
About two years after introducing one mexican petunia, my whole garden (approx. 14 x 30 feet) was full of the mexican petunia and I noticed for the past two year the Cannas have very spindly looking blooms. My uncle took cannas from me before my mexican petunia and his cannas look normal.
On Jan 16, 2012, jyaroch from Fairacres, NM (Zone 8a) wrote:
I consider this to be one of the best perennial flowers in my garden. Most of the garden gets extremely hot in the summer, with withering bright sun. The soil is mostly sand, rather alkaline. The first ones we planted appeared to die after an exceptional (for this area) hard freeze. But they came back in the summer, even spreading a little bit from root suckers. I understand that they can be invasive in more hospitable settings, but in our garden, they spread so slowly -- a few inches per year -- that it won't be a problem.
On Oct 12, 2010, aggiebot5 from College Station, TX wrote:
I hate to badmouth anything so dependable and beautiful, but it really can be invasive. We're finding it in Texas now well away from yards, and when it gets near a waterway, it can spread very rapidly. Please don't plant this.
On May 16, 2009, Bairie from Corpus Christi, TX (Zone 10a) wrote:
They ARE invasive, but the white & pink ones seem to be the least invasive, and they are beautiful. The purple ones grow in my yard, but are mowed or weedeated down, then they start blooming the same height as the grass. I love them anyway!
Probably wouldn't be invasive at all in a cold climate. This is South TX where a lot of things try to take over the world!
On Feb 3, 2009, Jon0523 from Green Valley, AZ wrote:
I have grown both the dwarf and tall forms of Ruellia brittoniana here in the Sonora Desert of southern Arizona. This is zone 9A. Drip irrigation is absolutely required here so invasiveness has not been a problem. I very much like the tall form. The dwarf form does not appeal to me because it appears messy and dirty once in bloom for a few weeks. This is because the spent blossoms collect on top of the plant. They are difficult to remove.
On Dec 28, 2008, steadycam3 from Houston Heights, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:
These plants make a LOT of seed. They have the curious habit of when you water them or it rains, this triggers the seed pods to pop open. You can hear the clicking as you water. If you're standing close enough, the popped seeds will sting your bare leg as they hit, so powerful is the trigger. It's like they are shot from a sling shot. I think dealing with them is a lot like the sculptor who said, "you just chip away everything that does not look like a horse." With these, they are everywhere so you just pull up everything but the ones that are where you want them to be. They dont spread very fast at all underground here in Houston. They make neat clumps but the SEEDS, wow, that's another thing entirely.
On Jul 10, 2008, Tetrazygia from Miami, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:
I have a tall, purple-flowered variety that does not set seed, and it is still pretty invasive. The tiniest piece of stem will root and grow a new plant, and the jumble of roots and trailing stems it forms underground make this impossible to tear out without missing pieces that will once again root and grow a new plant. It is pretty when contained, but it will otherwise spread and take over. Also, I can't believe they call these "Desert Petunia," because come wintertime (my dry season) these look like poo! They flower all year, and so will keep flowering just fine for me, but the foliage really suffers without regular water... and the last thing I need in my garden is a plant that spreads and grows like crazy and looks bad all winter.
On Apr 30, 2008, KristifromDavie from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote:
Terrible, terrible, terrible. Invasive. Can't kill. Vinegar, weed kill, nothing has worked. One inch of this plant in the ground is enough for it to survive.
It will grow through the root systems of your trees, other plants and you will forever be seeing them pop up in your garden and in time they will start growing through your grass.
I cringe at the site of this plant knowing of its invasive nature.
Florida gardeners or anyone in a warm climate, stay away from this nuisance ground cover!
I loved them at first, but five years later regret planting them and spend way too much of my gardening time yanking these things out! I strongly discourage using this plant.
On Jun 2, 2007, dawnonrnez from Loxley, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:
This plant has been a dependable bloomer dispite heat and drought. Every day there are new blossoms to replace the ones from the day before. It does spread but one must use a little common sense in choosing the right place for a plant.
On Jan 21, 2007, biskutmkr from Crystal River, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:
Although it is a beautiful plant, I wish the literature I read about it would have told me that it reseeds itself prolifically. I am a landscaper new to Florida and learning about the plants that grow here and trying to re-establish my business here from a move from Jacksonville, NC to the nature coast of Florida. I definitely will not use this plant in my designs. And, when customers want it in their beds, I will tell them that they will have a heck of a time taking care of and trying to control these plants.
On Oct 8, 2006, Alan_Taylor from Macon, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:
Our Ruellia brittoniana has been in the same location for three years, and it has not spread much at all. Our is of the larger, purple variety. It stands about 4 1/2 feet tall.
It is an amazing plant, producing new blooms every day. Perhaps 8a is the perfect zone for growing it. We don't have to thin it, we don't have to contain it, we don't have to water it, and we don't worry about it. We just enjoy it ... a lot.
On Sep 4, 2006, flhardatworrk from Longwood, FL wrote:
I planted four 'Purple Showers' originally and through cuttings have appx. 2 dozen in different places, as backdrops, all over my garden. Great dark green foliage to front with color with deep purple flowers each morning. By evening all the days flowers have dropped with tomorrows flowers set and ready to open with the first hint of dawn. Fortunately, I was able to locate a 'Sterile-Non Invasive' variety for my original plantings so I'm not having the seeding problem some have experienced. I really enjoy the daily blooms, ease of rooting and low-no maintenance they offer. They seem to be tough little guys (3-4' mature) that LOVE the heat requiring only a brief watering when several days of 90+ temps causes a slight wilt to the top foliage. They also thrive in ANY of several unprepared soil types found around my garden with only low monthly liquid feedings. Mine have been blooming continuosly for nearly a year now. Must be exhausting!! I LOVE them.
On Mar 9, 2006, SisterClay from Hurst, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:
This plant was listed on a xeriscape list for North Texas. I planted it in full sun and although it did grow, I rarely saw any flowers on it. It seems that the flowers would bloom and then fall off within a few hours. It also looked pretty pitiful, like it was dying for water.
On Jul 16, 2005, jestelleoan from Tyler, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:
My Mexican Petunias are the dwarf kind They make small clumps and do not reseed but come back from their roots. I have had mine for 4 years and they multiply very slowly. They make a good border plant because of the low small mound which is about 8". I live in East Tx. where it is muggy and rains a lot. Also they are growing in shade and part shade. Mex. Petunias don't start blooming until late July (maybe because they are in the shade). I have never had trouble with bugs or mildew. You do not have to do anything to them. They just grow.
On Jul 16, 2005, Kameha from Kissimmee, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
I got a sterile variety of purple ruellia, so it won't be invasive. The butterflies love the slightly sweet smelling beautiful flowers. The flowers fall on the ground and leave a purple carpet around the plant hence a common name of it "purple shower".
My favorite thing about this plant is it brought back a colony of white peacock butterflies that got wiped out by last year's hurricanes. Apparently its leaves are a food source for the caterpillars.
On Jun 28, 2005, QueenB from Shepherd, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:
I love this plant's tall form, not the short mounding cultivars. It seems to me that the shorter ones are more invasive. I have both purple/blue and pink, and I too, have noticed that the pink makes all sorts of seeds, but the purple doesn't. I have a white form too, which seems to be right down the middle--it makes some seed, but not nearly as much as the pink. This plant needs SEVERE neglect to die, and even then you just can't be sure!
On Apr 18, 2005, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:
As previously reported here, I have found this plant propagates easily from cuttings. I have successfully rooted new plants by just sticking the cut end of a pruned stalk into moist soil and letting it grow on its own. I find a few seedlings scattered around my yard that self-sowed, but not at all to the point that I would consider it invasive.
I've had better luck with the taller variety than the dwarfs, but both do grow here in NE Fla. I use the tall variety at the back of borders. It is especially effective for me as a backdrop for my pink and white dianthus (carnations). It flowers more profusely in full sun, but will tolerate shade.
I also had one plant of some species of the native Ruelia (check the DG plant files for "wild petunia" for examples), with a nice blue flower, but I've lost track of where I transplanted it.
On Feb 8, 2005, trunnels from Plano, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:
This is a beautiful plant, flowering approximately 5 months of the year. However, it is highly invasive and babies pop up everywhere (including beds where they were not planted). It is a constant struggle trying to keep them from taking over.
On Jan 30, 2005, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:
Britton's Wild Petunia or Mexican Bluebell (Ruellia tweediana or Ruellia brittoniana) is highly popular as a landscape plant or shrub/hedge in Florida, especially in central and southern Florida (zones 9a through 11). It is one of the most oftenly sold commercially at nurseries plant in central and southern Florida. It thrives in zones 8a through 11 and can survive mild (possibly moderate) freezes. It is valued highly for it's attractive purple or purple-violet to pink-purple flowers. However, it is famous for it's invasiveness in the landscape and was recently added to the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's Pest Plant List Category One (FLEPPC), since it is invading wild natural areas from the landscape. It can be difficult to eradicate. Also, during the first month of planting, it is vulnerable to pests and often dies. Once established, however, it can be hard to get rid of. However, many homeowners and buyers and nurseries continue to sell this perennial (may be an annual in zone 8a) in the Deep South of the United States. It loves full sun or shade. It is an upright shrub/perennial with herbaceous leaves. The leaves are thin and pointed.
On Dec 23, 2004, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
Native to Tropical America this plant has become popular in Florida landscapes. It readily escapes cultivation and is becoming increasingly frequent in the Everglades region, outcompeting native flora.
On Aug 25, 2004, cheryldawn from Lakeland, FL wrote:
I have the taller pink variety of Mexican petunia. I love it! It looks different then my sisters purple wild variety. Hers are pretty but they over run her yard. I like the look of the foliage on mine better. It gets about 24" tall and has stems that resemble skinny bamboo type canes. It looks like a tropical plant. I have it in Pink and it hasn't gotten invasive so far and I had it four years.. I got about six little plantlets from it in four years. And 13 plants I took from cuttings.I could have had more if I'd wanted.
This early summer I got Katies Dwarfs in three colors. I don't know if they will be invasive or not. I've read conflicting views. Some say the Dwarfs take over and some say they behave in their gardens.
I'll find out soon I guess.
I'd love to find the colors of white and purple in the taller variety. The kind with the bamboo looking stems, ( not the wild variety.)
If anyone has it in that variety and colors that I am looking for, and would like to trade for some of my seeds.
or trade cuttings please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Of cuttings I have Katie's Dwarf in three colors and the taller pink Mexican Petunias "Chi,Chi" ( the kind with the cane stems) and night blooming jasmine cuttings.
Of seeds I have morning glory vine, pink and blue mixed. Night blooming jasmine And magenta colored 4 O'Clocks and purple orchid tree seeds
On Aug 21, 2004, randi_rives from Lubbock, TX (Zone 7a) wrote:
This plant grows beautifully in the Lubbock area. It self sows readily, filling in bare spots and has constant blooms. I can see where it would be invasive for other type os beds, but it works fine for me. Reminds me of oleander foliage. The moneywort I have growing underneath seems to like the company.
On Aug 4, 2004, KDePetrillo from North Scituate, RI (Zone 6a) wrote:
This is a very nice plant - I grow it in pots, so I avoid the invasive properties. They are not hardy in my area, so I bring them into a greenhouse for the winter. I have both blue/purple and pink (I prefer the pink) currently in 6" pots. I wonder if they will outgrow the pots . . . does anyone know the ultimate pot size for these plants?
On Mar 11, 2004, bayshoregarden from North Fort Myers, FL wrote:
author - june My blue ruella are great but right now they are struggling to flower. They were planted by nursery last Sept. 2003. They were amazing. I have just watered when weather is hot and dry. Hope they bloom soon as some nearby gardens are in bloom early morn.
On Feb 8, 2004, diablo2003 from Mission, TX (Zone 10b) wrote:
I have both, the dwarf and the adult variety.
Dwarf - Scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most invasive, I would rate it as a 9.0. What is scary is that birds/wind/boogie man carries the seeds to the outdoor container plants as well. The one thing that they seem to adore is excess water or over watering. I noted that in summer due to our drought conditions,their growth rate was stunted and their self propagation was insignificant.
Adult - this one (so far) has not shown similar aggressiveness as the dwarf. I rate it a 4.
On Dec 27, 2003, janetplanet from Saint Petersburg, FL wrote:
I planted mexican petunia's last summer and thought they were great but then they started getting spider mites. I treated them once with soap and seemed to alleviate the problem but I saw a few new spots yesterday.Has no one else had this problem? Zone9
On Nov 19, 2003, mrsmitty from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:
These plants bloom in the afternoon and lose the flowers the next day... kind of like a Four O'Clock. So I mix them with Four O'Clocks. The foliage looks like an oleander and they mix well with dwarf Oleanders and look great together.
On Sep 28, 2003, nipajo from Dallas, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:
I just planted mine in August. I thought it would not bloom until the following spring or summer, but after the shock of being transplanted was over it has started blooming for me. Mine is three feet already, and I know that they will be invasive but eventually they will start clumping together. I live in Dallas, Texas (U.S.); although our summers are fierce, this plant seems to thrive with total neglect.
On Sep 18, 2003, margaretx from Houston, TX (Zone 9b) wrote:
I'm in Houston and it's as invasive as the orange Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans) It travels by seeds and runners and breaks off when pulled. I have seen it sheared into a hedge and that was attractive but I know they have to constantly work on keeping in line. Ruellia cultivar 'Katie' is much better behaved.
On Sep 17, 2003, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:
Everyone who says this plant is invasive in Florida is right, but no more so than the native beautyberry or saw palmetto. And it can be a nusiance if you're into no-maintenance gardening. But it's also very pretty, especially when planted in beds of allamandas and jatrophas--a fantastic color combination that has, on two or three occasions, actually stopped traffic. It also provides a colorful understory for mature shrubs with ugly legs, such as older hibiscus plantings. Finally, it is a terrific cut flower. The stems will bloom as long as they have buds, and then the stems will root in the water and you'll have plants to give away.
On Aug 22, 2003, Cajun2 from (Carole) Cleveland, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:
This is only my second year to garden, so I have only learned about this plant when I received it as a bonus in a trade. I love purple flowers anyway, but this one... OH MY! I LOVE how it blooms daily for me! And in the heat of a Texas summer!! What a JOY! I will NOT be without this plant in the future. I can hardly wait to see more and more of it in my garden.
Like someone else said, I think I might have a slightly different variety since mine seems to be taller than the others, with narrower, less sparse leaves.
I can't wait to try rooting cuttings of this one to share with others!
On Aug 2, 2003, CDauphinet from New Iberia, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:
This plant is the easiest of the easiest to care for. I took a cutting from our other house and moved it when we moved to our new house with wonderful results! I have the pink and the purple. Yesterday I found a little one coming up across my yard - nature just amazes me!
I use my Ruellia like Lirope (Monkey grass) to outline my flower beds. When they get too bushy, I thin them out and plant in other areas of our yard. Wonderful show when they bloom!
On Aug 1, 2003, KactusKathi from Goodyear, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:
This plant is VERY INVASIVE. When watered or rained upon it shoots seeds all over the garden. Has a deep root system and can not be easily pulled out. I have a beautiful golden barrel cactus that has this plant growing up and around the spines. My husband likes it for the color and foliage. I dig it up whenever I can. The only way to control it is to spray a pre-emergent so that the seeds do not germinate.
On Jul 17, 2003, Bairie from Corpus Christi, TX (Zone 10a) wrote:
I have both the tall and the short ones. The tall ones are all around my yard in purple, and can be invasive, but that's OK with me; we just mow around the edges. I also have some white ones, but they are not as prolific as the purple--I encourage them. In the short ones I have purple, white and pink all mixed up in one flower bed. They are somewhat brittle, so when pieces are broken, I root them in water, then plant them somewhere else. I really appreciate flowering plants that don't need to be pampered!
On Jul 15, 2003, ranch45 from Interlachen, FL wrote:
This plant is excellent in areas where height and color is needed. I have mine now for two years and they are spreading throughout my front garden (western exposure; afternoon sun). I've never had seed pods on mine, however, knowing that they will come back in the spring, is my solace.
I just purchased them in the color pink and she is doing very well on the opposite side of the house (eastern exposure; morning sun).
There seem to be two plants called Florida Bluebell. That which interests me grows profusely in the Florida Keys. It propagates by pushing up its own shoots from the ground surrounding itself. Its one remarkable feature is that it blooms during the night EVERY night and sheds its blooms at around 4.00 pm EVERY day. Blooms are small but profuse and come in light and dark blues and dark pinks . I am not a knowledgable gardener but have tried a few shoots in southern England with no sucess ; even indoors in England it flourishes greenery but never a flower in sight.
In the Florida Keys it just looks after itself but appreciates watering in dry spells.
On Apr 24, 2003, Nurafey from Polk City, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
Mexican Petunias are one of the easiest plants to grow that I have planted. I saw some purple flowering ones along a busy street and immediatley went to the local Target to buy some. You can almost ignore these plants. I added the pink flowering kind a year later. Both of these are prolific bloomers.
I have not seen a single seed on the purple flowering one, but the pink flowering one is full of them. I propagate the purple kind by cuttings, usually with a rooting agent, but they will take root without it. I haven't lost a cutting yet. I started with two plants and now I have about two dozen.
These are very drought tolerant. They do occasionally get a little bit wilty in the worst of the heat, but just a little bit of water brings them back almost before your eyes.
I really like these plants, they give a wonderful splash of colour. I use them as background plants, since they do tend to reach around three feet in my area (zone 9a.)
Added: I am wondering if I don't have a different variety of these plants, as mine are 3 feet tall. The pictures look more like the ones in my parent's yard, which are shorter and more dense. Theirs also come in a white flowering kind. I would like it if someone would correct me if I have a different variety. (email@example.com)
We live in zone 7, in the desert southwest and sometimes have 100+ degree weather during the summer; our winters usually do not get below 20 degrees. Heat does not bother the Mexican Petunia.
We have hard desert alkaline soil. We do not improve the soil or mulch for these plants. They are hardy. They can take direct sun or morning sun/afternoon shade. We water daily when the temps get into the 90's.
The plants bloom all season (from June sometimes through Sept. in our area.) They drop their flowers daily and they reseed. The seeds can be planted in the fall or in early spring.
Mexican Petunias grow pods that burst open, scattering seeds in all directions. Collect seeds only when pods turn black but before they burst. The heat from your hands will cause them to break open.
I have been searching nurseries and websites for a source of Mexican Petunia seeds for about two years now, plus I have sent out emails asking for sources, but there does not seem to be a source for these seeds as of yet.
These plants can be transplanted easily. Pinching makes them bush out and look better.
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
, Fairhope, Alabama Kinsey, Alabama Loxley, Alabama Goodyear, Arizona Green Valley, Arizona Phoenix, Arizona Scottsdale, Arizona Macneil, Arkansas Clayton, California Concord, California Davis, California Boca Raton, Florida Campbell, Florida Dunedin, Florida Dunnellon, Florida Ferry Pass, Florida Fort Lauderdale, Florida Fort Myers, Florida Fruitville, Florida Glencoe, Florida Interlachen, Florida Inverness, Florida Jacksonville, Florida (4 reports) Keystone Heights, Florida Lake City, Florida Lakeland, Florida Lauderdale-by-the-sea, Florida Lehigh Acres, Florida Ocoee, Florida Palm Shores, Florida Pembroke Pines, Florida Ruskin, Florida Sebring, Florida South Venice, Florida Summerfield, Florida Suncoast Estates, Florida Sunset, Florida Town'n'country, Florida Wesley Chapel South, Florida Brunswick, Georgia Jesup, Georgia Macon, Georgia Tucker, Georgia Whitemarsh Island, Georgia Wahiawa, Hawaii Galena, Indiana Taylorsville, Kentucky Belle Chasse, Louisiana Bossier City, Louisiana Broussard, Louisiana Gonzales, Louisiana Lafayette, Louisiana Metairie, Louisiana New Iberia, Louisiana New Orleans, Louisiana North Vacherie, Louisiana Florence, Mississippi Mathiston, Mississippi Waynesboro, Mississippi Las Vegas, Nevada Fairacres, New Mexico Roswell, New Mexico Elizabeth City, North Carolina Raleigh, North Carolina Kingston, Oklahoma Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Tulsa, Oklahoma Vieques, Puerto Rico Scituate, Rhode Island Bluffton, South Carolina Conway, South Carolina Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (2 reports) Islandton, South Carolina Lexington, South Carolina Lincolnville, South Carolina Saint Helena Island, South Carolina Cordova, Tennessee Piperton, Tennessee Abilene, Texas Abram-perezville, Texas Alice, Texas (2 reports) Belton, Texas Brownsville, Texas Bulverde, Texas Dallas, Texas Dalworthington Gardens, Texas Elgin, Texas Fort Worth, Texas Garland, Texas Houston, Texas (4 reports) Hurst, Texas Jacksonville, Texas Lampasas, Texas Lubbock, Texas Midland, Texas New Braunfels, Texas Orange, Texas Plano, Texas Port Lavaca, Texas Redwood, Texas Richmond, Texas Roman Forest, Texas San Antonio, Texas Shady Shores, Texas Shepherd, Texas Wells Branch, Texas Winters, Texas Norfolk, Virginia