Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Desert Petunia, Florida Bluebells, Mexican Petunia, Mexican Blue Bells
Ruellia squarrosa 'Blue Shade'

Family: Acanthaceae (ah-kanth-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ruellia (roo-EL-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: squarrosa (skwa-RO-suh) (Info)
Cultivar: Blue Shade

Synonym:Ruellia brittoniana

One member has or wants this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

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:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
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:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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By JoanneAW
Thumbnail #1 of Ruellia squarrosa by JoanneAW

By htop
Thumbnail #2 of Ruellia squarrosa by htop

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Thumbnail #3 of Ruellia squarrosa by htop

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Thumbnail #4 of Ruellia squarrosa by htop

By sunkissed
Thumbnail #5 of Ruellia squarrosa by sunkissed


4 positives
No neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive sunkissed On Jan 26, 2011, sunkissed from Winter Springs, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have this ground cover under a Philodendron for well over five seasons. It pretty much stays in the one spot spreading a very small amount each season. It get mostly filtered shade, at some points gets some pretty direct sun, but not for more than an hour a day. It makes it through the freezing temperatures with minimal damage if any at all, but I believe it is because it always has a blanket of leaves from the Turkey Oak on it. If it does freeze it will always come back. I've never found it to be invasive at all.

Positive tchappuis On Jan 24, 2004, tchappuis from Baton Rouge, LA wrote:

Great for filling in empty spaces. I filled one side of my yard with them, and though they took over the area, the result was striking. A day doesn't go by that someone walking by doesn't tell me how unbelievably pretty they are. I don't have to mow that area of the lawn any more-it's become a ground cover, a large mass of nothing but vivid purple. It's January, and it's just now stopped blooming.

Negative blumzalot On Aug 21, 2003, blumzalot from Trussville, AL wrote:

Way too invasive for me! I have been trying to get rid of this plant for two summers. It is a beautiful, striking plant, foliage and bloom, but was taking over my gardens. Spreads by roots and also by seed -- indestructable! Be sure you want it before you plant it.

Positive htop On Aug 21, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, TX
Blue shade is an excellent ground cover that is a naturalized native plant in Texas. Mine are planted where they receive morning sun and mottled afternoon shade. They die to the ground in the winter if hard freezes occur, but appear again in the spring. I have found that they will spread more rapidly and in the directions you want them to go if you water out a distance from the plant (about 6 inches) in the spots you want them to reach. Last summer, I had fun experimenting with this technique. An easily transplanted and/or propagated plant (by stem cuttings), I have been sharing them with neighbors, relatives and friends. They are easily thinned (do not have deep, hard to pull roots as do many ruellia) when they start taking over a flower bed and you may wish to prune them from around other plants that they start to cover. Not picky about soil, not needing a lot of water, appearing to be insect pest free, fast growing, nice foliage and beautiful flowers make this an excellent ground cover.

Positive JoanneAW On Jul 5, 2002, JoanneAW wrote:

We live in zone 7, in the desert southwest and sometimes have 100+ degree weather during the summer.

They bloom from June to and sometimes through Sept. in our area. They drop their flowers daily.

Blue Shade grows 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.

There does not seem to be a source for the selling of seeds as of yet.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Trussville, Alabama
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Winter Springs, Florida
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Belle Chasse, Louisiana
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Bulverde, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Haltom City, Texas
New Caney, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Willis, Texas

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