Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Desert Petunia, Florida Bluebells, Mexican Petunia, Mexican Blue Bells
Ruellia tweediana 'Katie'

Family: Acanthaceae (ah-kanth-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ruellia (roo-EL-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: tweediana (twee-dee-AH-nuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Katie
Additional cultivar information: (aka Katy, Nolan's Dwarf)

Synonym:Ruellia brittoniana

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

6 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

under 6 in. (15 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)

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
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
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

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

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There are a total of 12 photos.
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9 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive txsage On Apr 30, 2011, txsage from Katy, TX wrote:

This one grows like a weed - healthy and blooming most of the time, Houston heat and cold tolerant. Freeze kills foliage, but not roots, comes back every year, often in new places.

Positive Riverland On Nov 18, 2007, Riverland from Northeast, LA (Zone 8a) wrote:

I absolutely love this plant stays contained in clumps for me. This is not the mexican Petunia that is considered invasive , It does not develop seed and throw them all around like it's tall cousin.
Vossner I'll take your excess. Trades well cause it travels well. Vossner sent me white and it pouted a day or two and recovered to its beauty.

Positive vossner On May 26, 2007, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant annoys me sometimes because it does spread; however, they are very easy to remove at any stage of growth.

Excellent for front of border, fillling bare spots, container gardening

Positive WUVIE On May 24, 2007, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Recently I acquired "Katie Bluebells" from an aquatic
plant source. It was thriving in a shallow pond, so I found
it odd that information above mentions not to overwater it.

The plants were all blooming and beautiful, sitting in
tight little pots of kitty litter in a short few inches of water.

The plants I purchased, brought home and stuck into the
pond are doing quite well.

For those concerned with it's 'invasive' qualities, it can always
be planted in pots, or in pot-in-pot designs in the ground. Very
easy to solve.

Positive MizCharlie On Jun 13, 2006, MizCharlie from Winter Garden, FL wrote:

I tried to add a note regarding the danger of this plant. Here's what the Florida Dept of Ag says about it:

"Mexican petunia has been designated by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council as a Category I invasive plant. That means it has the ability to displace native plant species so as to alter native plant communities. While it is not illegal to plant it, unintended consequences can last for ever."

Positive cheryldawn On Jul 16, 2004, cheryldawn from Lakeland, FL wrote:

I live in lakeland Florida. I bought a pink Mexican petunia four years ago . It's now almost 2 1/2 foot high. I have 13 plants now from cuttings and some from little baby plants that came from it. It must be the less invasive variety as mine has little cane like stems and are compact and very
attractive and tropical looking where as my sisters are on long grass like stems and they spread all over.
I live in Florida where it gets hot and humid and lots of plants get cooked in the summer. This plant just blooms spring till summer and nothing seems to bother it. I've never had a plant bring me so much happiness.
I bought two purples ones a few weeks ago at Home depot, but don't know if they're dwarfs or going to get 2 1/2 foot tall like my pink ones or not. It didn't say on the sign over it, and there was no tag in the flower pot.
Today I bought seven Katies Dwarfs in colors of purple and white. It says on the tag they will get 6-10 inches.
Has anyone ever had a Katies Dwarf grow taller then 10 "?
I'd like to get purple and white in the taller variety. not the invasive variety, but like my pink one.
Also, although I can make plants easily from cuttings. I'd like to know how to collect seeds from them. What do they look like, and how and when do you harvest them?
I know alot of plants being sold now days are hybrids that are sterile and you can't harvest seeds from them.
You may email me privately at

Positive sweezel On Mar 11, 2004, sweezel from McKinney, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Much more interesting and much less invasive than the other cultivars. I planted my transplant in May and it had expanded to at least twice it's original size by frost so it is good for filling in spots quickly. Also, it is very easily divided if it spreads out because the stalks pull up separately. Also comes in white or pink blooming varieties.

Positive CDauphinet On Sep 26, 2003, CDauphinet from New Iberia, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

It's easy to divide and share this plant: pull the extra stems off, making sure there's a bit of root attached. Just stick it in the ground - very easy to grow. I also have the pink and grows just as well!

Positive htop On Sep 25, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

"Katie" is sometimes called Nolan's dwarf. Shortly after Lynn R. Lowrey, a well known Houston horticulturalist and collector (considered to be the founder of the native plant movement in Texas) sold his nursery in Conroe, Texas, to his friend Katie Fergerson, two employees, Herbert Durand and Nolan Guillot, discovered a short growing natural hybrid Ruellia. After it was brought to Lowreys attention, he began testing, cultivating, sharing and promoting it after naming it after his friend. Both Katie Fergerson and Lynn Lowery are now deceased, but their contributions to horticultural endeavors live on.

It is a plant which forms clumps 6-10" tall and 12" wide, it is a super border and/or ground cover plant which begins blooming profusely in mid-summer to late summer and continues into fall. The bluish-purple, petunia-like, 1.5" blooms standout against the deep green sword-shaped foliage which is beautiful without any flowers. Tolerating shade, the plants will flower more in full sun. Once established, they are drought-tolerant, but perform best with regular waterings. Apply a high phosphorus fertilizer to encourage bloom production (needs no deadheading).

A few new plants may spring up from seed (I have had none do so), but this species is not invasive and does not self-sow endlessly as do the larger types. It has no serious insect or disease problems. In mild winters, it is evergreen, but it will die to the ground after a hard freeze and return in spring from the roots. I protected mine last year with white colored frost protection sheets purchased at a nursery and they are 1.5 feet in heighth and width. It has been named a Texas Superstar by Texas A&M University because it withstands hot, dry areas and needs no pesticidal sprays. In colder climates it must be grown as an annual.


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

Dothan, Alabama
Loxley, Alabama
Chandler, Arizona
Goodyear, Arizona
Marana, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Scottsdale, Arizona
Yorba Linda, California
Brooksville, Florida
Delray Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Ormond Beach, Florida
Alpharetta, Georgia
Decatur, Georgia
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
New Iberia, Louisiana
Shreveport, Louisiana
West Monroe, Louisiana
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Conway, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Smyrna, Tennessee
Alvin, Texas
Austin, Texas
Baird, Texas
Bellville, Texas
Brownsville, Texas
Converse, Texas
Denton, Texas
Elgin, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Garland, Texas
Houston, Texas
Katy, Texas
Mc Kinney, Texas
Missouri City, Texas
New Caney, Texas
Portland, Texas
Richmond, Texas
Rowlett, Texas (2 reports)
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Santa Fe, Texas
Kalama, Washington

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