Ruellia, Desert Petunia, Florida Bluebells, Mexican Petunia, Mexican Blue Bells 'Mexican Carpet'

Ruellia simplex

Family: Acanthaceae (ah-kanth-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ruellia (roo-EL-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: simplex (SIM-plecks) (Info)
Cultivar: Mexican Carpet


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun




This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


15-18 in. (38-45 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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:


Medium Purple

Bloom Characteristics:

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

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Blooms repeatedly

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

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

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Alabaster, Alabama

Albertville, Alabama

Auburn, Alabama

Dothan, Alabama

Elmore, Alabama

Gaylesville, Alabama

Henagar, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama

Russellville, Alabama

Green Valley, Arizona

Mesa, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

Cabot, Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas

Clovis, California

Fresno, California

Long Beach, California

Los Angeles, California

Palm Springs, California

Perris, California

Stockton, California

Aurora, Colorado

Bartow, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida

Clearwater, Florida(2 reports)

Deltona, Florida

Dunedin, Florida(2 reports)

Fernandina Beach, Florida

Fountain, Florida

Hobe Sound, Florida

Holiday, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Interlachen, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida(4 reports)

Lake City, Florida

Largo, Florida

Merritt Island, Florida

Milton, Florida

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

North Fort Myers, Florida(2 reports)

Ocoee, Florida

Oldsmar, Florida

Ormond Beach, Florida

Pompano Beach, Florida(3 reports)

Riverview, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Tarpon Springs, Florida

Titusville, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Winter Springs, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida(2 reports)

Atlanta, Georgia

Barnesville, Georgia

Brunswick, Georgia

Dallas, Georgia

Leesburg, Georgia

Patterson, Georgia

Rincon, Georgia(2 reports)

Rutledge, Georgia

Townsend, Georgia

Greenville, Indiana

Sigourney, Iowa

Derby, Kansas

Baker, Louisiana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Covington, Louisiana

Gonzales, Louisiana

Homer, Louisiana

Lafayette, Louisiana

Metairie, Louisiana

New Iberia, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Slidell, Louisiana

Vacherie, Louisiana

Bay Springs, Mississippi

Florence, Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi

Madison, Mississippi

Mathiston, Mississippi

Petal, Mississippi

Saucier, Mississippi

Carthage, Missouri

Henderson, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

Andrews, North Carolina

Camden, North Carolina

Concord, North Carolina

Jacksonville, North Carolina

Kure Beach, North Carolina

Rutherfordton, North Carolina

Sanford, North Carolina

Columbus, Ohio

Toledo, Ohio

Edmond, Oklahoma(2 reports)

Noble, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Pocola, Oklahoma

Anderson, South Carolina

Beaufort, South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina

Conway, South Carolina

Florence, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Leesville, South Carolina

Lexington, South Carolina

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Pelion, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina

Sumter, South Carolina

Knoxville, Tennessee

Sweetwater, Tennessee

Aransas Pass, Texas

Arlington, Texas(2 reports)

Austin, Texas(2 reports)

Azle, Texas

Beaumont, Texas

Belton, Texas

Blanket, Texas

Brazoria, Texas

Brownsville, Texas

Bulverde, Texas

Celeste, Texas

Cibolo, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

Dallas, Texas(2 reports)

Dickinson, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas(2 reports)

Georgetown, Texas

Harlingen, Texas

Houston, Texas

Humble, Texas

Irving, Texas(2 reports)

Jacksonville, Texas

Katy, Texas

Killeen, Texas

La Marque, Texas

Linden, Texas

Lufkin, Texas

Midland, Texas

Mont Belvieu, Texas

Murchison, Texas

New Braunfels, Texas

Portland, Texas

Rockwall, Texas

San Antonio, Texas(5 reports)

Seagoville, Texas

Spicewood, Texas

Spring, Texas

Sugar Land, Texas

Tyler, Texas

Hampton, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 13, 2020, alpacatex from Caddo Mills, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

We inherited this plant at our previous residence. Luckily, it was bordered by concrete footings and walkways. It invaded the entire planting area under a tree. It reliably came back each spring and I enjoyed the plants during the summer. I just would not ever plant it with other garden plants. They stay bushy and around 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall. They were not evergreen for me, but they were perennial. I knocked back the old stems in the fall before they started new growth.

This year I am planting them in large containers and will see how that goes. They have beautiful purple blooms in the morning, drop them mid-day, and gear up for another new bloom-fest the next morning. I do water them daily since they are in containers, and if they droop I give them a drink, but gen... read more


On Nov 2, 2015, SharinTheHeron from New Braunfels, TX wrote:

This was one of my first successful plants in the tx hill country, so I was delighted by its generous bloom and loyalty to me. So in appreciation for that fact I will always keep some in the yard. If received as a cutting , I find a straight cut just before a node eventually roots when resting on the bottles floor. That's easier for me then tending to it after sticking it in my clay soil. I figure it must have about 4" of stem in a bottle,but can have a much longer stem, just be sure to remove any leaves on stems in the water refill or replace water as needed, it either roots right away or eventually. I plant it where I want it. In wet years it grows profusely, but I just use a pitch fork on larger clumps and transplant to ground or pot I keep it under control. It will grow where no othe... read more


On Sep 23, 2015, islay from Long Beach, CA wrote:

I planted a small purple one in an enormous pot in our Southern California garden. It has taken off , I've divided it a few times . The foliage is attractive , dark lance shaped leaves and mine are always in flower.
To all people who think that they have killed it , it's drought tolerant once well established until then you need to water it . In our drought impacted area this means twice a week. Mine droops but a watering brings it back ,the original plant has developed good roots . It fills in gaps and the flowers seem to glow .


On Jun 17, 2014, Corsetiere from Columbus, OH wrote:

I bought a Ruellia that was braided into a "standard" or topiary shape and it is gorgeous. I'm actually growing it as a marginal aquatic plant. I have a side pond that I grow lotus in and it works very well there, potted and set in a few inches of water - much like canna does. I'm in Ohio, so I think I will take it inside in the winter.


On Mar 4, 2013, HatcherTiger from Lafayette, LA wrote:

Zone 9a, Lafayette LA. Invasive and difficult to pull up.


On Aug 21, 2012, VioletDumplin from Mobile City, TX wrote:

My original Mexican petunia has done well in the same spot for 4 years here in Rockwall, Tx without being too invasive. The surrounding roses and annuals are fine. I pulled up two of the root stems and planted them elsewhere in my gardens and they have done well and readily re-established themselves.They bloom profusely, dying back only once extrem cold sets in but growing back at the first sign of spring. I don't know where the plant got its name, but unlike Mexicans, they are not overly invasive; however, like Mexicans they have a beautiful exotic look to them.


On Jul 10, 2012, Misslott from Florence, SC wrote:

Help! I purchased 2 Mex Pet blooming plants last year and left them in pots all summer, wintering them in my garage. I planted them this spring, in a sunny area, and they have grown into beautiful plants, but with no blooms. A neighbor gave me another plant this spring that I put into the ground, that was blooming when planted, and it stopped blooming as well. Any suggestions on how to make them bloom?


On May 31, 2011, baitbucket from Brownsville, TX wrote:

Give this plant plenty of room. If it is not pruned, it can sprawl across a large area and fill everything with beautiful folliage and flowers. The purple flowers appear every morning and fall off in the late day with the heat, leaving the ground covered in purple. Two plants easily covered an 16-square foot area of my garden. When first planted, the leaves can look a bit droopy at times, but after the roots settle in to their new homes, this plant will take off like magic in the heat and sun. Butterflies and hummingbirds like them. The plants are fairly hardy. My dogs have gotten into them and trampled them and dug nests underneath their shade, and the plants continue to thrive--while providing the dogs an area to rest out of the sun.


On Mar 27, 2011, Omegatop from Hampton, VA wrote:

I was given a small rooting from this plant by a friend. I was warned that it could be invasive. I planted it between my house, driveway and walkway. It is effectively trapped in a 5ft. by 3 ft. bed. The bees love it and it looks wonderful on the hottest of Summer days. I cut it to the ground after the first frost. Frost turns it into a mass of brown and black stems.


On Mar 17, 2011, sunnydaze45 from Mesa, AZ wrote:

I have to give this plant a neutral. I think the flowers are beautiful and they do well here in the AZ desert. It got cold here this winter and froze them back to the ground. Will see what they look like in a few months.


On Oct 26, 2010, themikeman from Concord, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

I love this plant, not just for its lush dark green long thin foliage, but because it blooms all Summer and all Fall for me here in rural North Carolina, its small beautiful purple button like flowers are refered to as summer petunias here and look almost like a tropical african viole,t but on these long, dark green stems of foliage, very very hardy plant as mine thrives in poor soil, i purchased mine at Lowes several years ago and at the time i believe it was listed as an annual, but most certainly it is the hardiest of perennials here in the southeast and comes back with a vengence year after year after year healthier each time..mike


On Jul 21, 2010, AnnaMarie5 from Anderson, SC wrote:

I think this plant is beautiful, but it does grow fast. I can see where it might be invasive. Hopefully I will not have that problem in my area (zone 8), because I have really enjoyed it this year.


On Jul 13, 2010, Miso from Clearwater, FL wrote:

Oh no, did I actually manage to kill this plant?!
I am totally new to gardening. I have my first yard ever here in Clearwater, FL.
I bought a Mexican Petunia this morning because it was so pretty and labeled "easy to grow". I just looked out the window this afternoon and the flowers were closed up and the leaves all wilted!
I have not even put it in the ground yet!
Help :(

Edit: I guess I should have read more reviews. So the flowers will be back tomorrow right?

I am soooo inexperienced with plants. I have lived in the city so long, the most I ever had was a tiny cactus.


On Jun 20, 2010, palmclueless from Walnut, CA wrote:

I just bought the purple one just now and planted it. I live in Walnut, CA (Los Angeles). After being in a dry part of the sandy front yard for 2 weeks, my plant almost died! It was wilting away. And, the nursery label said it was a water/drought tolerant plant! I dug it back up and put it in a pot in a shady part of the backyard. Now, after 2 weeks there and daily watering, it has come back to life and all the leaves sprung back, except for the flowers.
2 conclusions: This plant is very water thirsty and likes the shade! It is definitely not water wise in my part of California.


On Jun 10, 2010, Peedeer from Melbourne Beach, FL wrote:

This atrocity was at my home before I moved in. Invasive indeed. After shoveling up an entire 8 X 10 ft area of it, sifting through the dirt thinking I've gotten rid of it, then soaking the dirt in vegetation killer and burning it with a 6 hour long campfire, it still came back. And forget about getting down to the roots when it starts growing near your palms. It doesn't even look good. It looks all scraggly and out of place. If anyone knows how to get rid of this thing, please let me know.


On Dec 6, 2009, pg73068 from Noble, OK wrote:

I noticed this plant at a local garden center and thought it was just beautiful. I planted 8 of the plants in mid-July and they bloomed beautifully all summer and just this week (1st week in December) the frost got them. I don't plan to cut them back this spring since I want to see how well they come back. I'll be very disappointed if they don't bloom again this spring. I really do love this plant.


On Oct 6, 2009, jerry31557 from Patterson, GA wrote:

I have 3 plants that I started 5 years ago and still only have 3 plants. For me it does not spread like I wanted it to and as a matter of fact it seems they get smaller every year. Some say it does seed and others say it don't. Wish I knew.


On May 24, 2009, floy from Baker, LA wrote:

I absolutely love this plant--as a matter of fact I have 2 dozen growing in various places in my yard--front, back and sides. They will NOT let you down--easy to propagate--just cut off a stem and root in water, plant and you have a new beautifully blooming plant. I have both purple, which will grow taller and larger blooms, and the blooming pink, which is shorter. They are easily cared for and clean themselves, as the blooms drop off in the late evening, but, you wake up to new blooms. They love fertilizer a couple of times each month. I find they bloom more if in partial sun, or full sun. Very hardy--if a colder than usual winter, just trim off dead stems in the Spring--and wala--you still have a beautiful plant. I've never had one to die.


On Mar 28, 2009, Scogebear from Boca Raton, FL wrote:

Added this plant to my landscape about 4 years ago and really regret it. It grows uncontrollably, cut it back and it gets leggy, it grows into the grass, spreads everywhere and is VERY hard to get rid of. If you plant it near anything, it will grow right up into it...ruined a cat palm I had. Grows into my hibiscus bushes and it is then impossible to pull the roots out from around the hibiscus roots. I DEFINATELY say DO NOT plant this weed.


On Oct 20, 2008, Dirty_Thumbs from Clearwater, FL wrote:

This plant spreads very quickly. Though it never gets thick in foliage, always has a roomy/airy look to it.

One feature that has had me perplexed is that it always has just 1 Pink Flower. The other flowers are a nice deep purple. I've had it for about 3 years now & it is easy to keep under control.

The other feature that is sorata odd, but it seems normal to me now. It's the fact that between 3pm - 5pm everday, the flowers drop off & there are always plenty of buds ready to open up the next morning. I've seeen them open as early as 4am.

But, there is always just one Pink flower...that is just wierd...but funny to see day after day. And, it is always on the same side of the plant. (Which is currently the right hand side if you are standing right ... read more


On Mar 12, 2008, Zingy from New Port Richey, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Plant this where you want it to totally take over. Gets "singed" here in Titusville Florida from the cold weather and [after cutting back] comes back with a "vengence"!!!
I have the dwarf and the tall types.
The tall type spreads by seed and "creeps" -- very invasive.
The dwarf type spreads in mounds and by seeds.
They're ok if you don't want to plant anything else in the bed, or are committed to "taming" them.


On May 16, 2007, MarthaMoye from Jacksonville, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I planted the "Mexican Petunia" a couple of years ago in my Jacksonville, NC garden. In full sun it grows to 3' and blooms like crazy, even in cruddy soil. In our pinestraw bed, it has spread to the point of being invasive. (It's gone from a 1' spread to a 15' spread in two years...and that's WITH pulling up the outer ring of plants on a monthly basis! It's quite a traveler.) Keep this one contained or stick to the pink, smaller size ruellia. It's tamer. (I'm bordering on checking off "negative" for this one. Only it's pretty blooms are keeping it in the "neutral" category.)


On May 8, 2007, gldandrews from Andrews, NC (Zone 6a) wrote:

I live in Zone 6b and was very suprised to see this plant emerging this spring. Info states cold hardy to 8b. Didn't mulch or do anything special as I thought it wouldn't come back in my zone. So far it is one of the healthliest plants in the garden this year as everything else got bit hard with the late freeze. Go figure.


On Oct 11, 2006, jnana from South Florida, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I made the mistake of planting this plant when I moved into this house 8 years ago, After a short year, it spread everywhere. I decided then to get rid of it. 7 years later I'm still pulling out seedlings. It may be attractive, but I consider it a nuisance invasive. It is now listed as a category I invasive by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. I don't recommend planting this plant in FL.


On Aug 12, 2005, pdwren from Aurora, CO wrote:

I got mine in Lake Charles, LA where my father has them all over his yard. They are just wonderful to look at. I like how tall they get and just great for in a flowerbed along the back side. I brought a couple home with me to Denver CO. I have it in an area that gets lots of morning and day time sun. It stayed alive, but really didn't do anything till out temps hit the 100's a few weeks ago. WOW, it just shot right up. I know it will not survive our winter here, but i plan to try and keep it as warm as i can. It's a lil bit of home


On Feb 13, 2005, jestelleoan from Tyler, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant grows well in Tyler. It just takes care of it self and looks good all summer. It dose not take over the rest of the bed.


On Feb 12, 2005, twiggybuds from Moss Point, MS (Zone 8b) wrote:

I love this plant. It is pretty and blooms like crazy without any care at all. It performs even in dry sandy soil in full sun.


On Oct 5, 2004, susieqdawn from San Antonio, TX wrote:

I'm really enjoying my plants. The flowers are a beautiful dark purple. The plant is very low-maintenance. It has done well in dry conditions as well as wet ones. I have done nothing special to care for it and it looks great. I am anxious to see how my roses will re-act to it with time. I've only had it for a few months. So far, they are doing well together. It is also doing well with some of my 'grassy' plants. I am curious as to what "rosemarysims meant by it wreaking "havoc on the gulf coast".


On Sep 16, 2004, librarianlanell from Spring, TX wrote:

This plant grows too well in Houston, Tx. Once established it is even drought tolerant. It spreads everywhere and does not pull up easily.


On May 29, 2004, christyla from Lafayette, LA wrote:

Hi all, I wanted to know if anyone has heard of being alergic to the Mexican Petunia plant. I had some growing in a seperate garden from it's original place so I pulled it up to transplant it. It's the variety that is about 3 feet tall. A couple of days later I had a bunch of small flesh colored bumps on my forearm and the front of my legs above my knees. I could not figure out what I had gotten myself into, then I remembered planted the petunias. What do you think? It doesn't itch too much and it's going away now. I wanted to know if any of you have heard about this happening to anyone else. Thanks and happy planting. Christy


On May 17, 2004, squeaky from Fort Lauderdale, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I Love this flower. In South Florida I have noticed them all over the neightborhood. I was lucky enough to have a neighbor who was cutting them back and gave me a handful of the clippings. I set them in a bucket of water for a few days. Once roots appeared I set them in dirt and now they are giving me plenty of beautiful flowers. I have since purchased a few of my own and they are doing wonderful. Very easy to care for. They line my driveway in a place where previously plants had not done so well.


On Mar 5, 2004, Tomyslady from Zolfo Springs, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

How do you care for the mexican petunia?
Thank you,


On Dec 18, 2003, watergarener from Denison, TX wrote:

I am a proffessional water gardener, we have found it to be an excellent marginal or bog plant for ponds. we can use it on the inside of our ponds we install and on the outside landscape. It's wonderful but can get out of hand. It grows great around Denison Texas(north Texas)


On Nov 19, 2003, rosemarysims from Mermentau, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

It's a great plant to start with but over time it's quite a pest. A better choice might be some of the other Ruellias which don't have such a tight,rooty invasive tendency. This is an impossible plant to remove if you make a mistake and it creates havoc so very fast on the gulf coast. It's also terribly weedy because it shoots its seed everywhere.


On Aug 28, 2003, CDauphinet from New Iberia, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I love this plant! I also have a pink variety, and it grows very well here, too. I take cutting from my plants and just stick them in the ground and add a little water, and they're off. They make wonderful borders - a very great plant around here!


On Aug 27, 2003, meggsydgm wrote:

I loved mine. I had two purple ones in South Carolina, and now I am back in southern California. I'd like to get a couple to try here.


On Jul 20, 2003, texasplantlady from Dickinson, TX wrote:

Easy, no care plant, but spreads profusely. I have the taller variety up to 36". Forms seed pods that pop open if not caught in time. Propagates by seed and underground roots. Leaves are slender and blooms appear when plant reaches about 2' tall and continues well into October. I cut mine back to the ground in the spring and it comes back with a vengence. Blooms best in full sun.


On Jul 17, 2003, SILady from Enterprise, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

They are a fantastic, no-care plant! They flower year round here, and will get thicker if you cut them back. I love watching the butterflies go from one bloom to another.


On Jul 13, 2003, patp from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Plant dies in winter and returns in late spring and blooms all summer and early fall. Blossoms die nightly to be replaced by new blossoms the next day. We've not found it hard to control. Like this plant!
Oops, we didn't find it hard to control until we moved some to a location with loose soil, and its roots intertwined with other plants....won't do that again. It also got very tall. 5/30/04


On Jul 13, 2003, jojo63 from Jacksonville, NC wrote:

In zone 8 it's growing well. I have the tall variety acquired from seed from East Texas, and it is reseeding well so far.

In full sun and with lots of rain this year, it's doing better than the past two years. I hope to see a large bed develop after a few years. It appears to be hardy to this area.


On Jul 13, 2003, MizD from Lufkin, TX wrote:

Here in East Texas, I have three varieties of Mexican Petunia: tall, short and trailing. The tall ones are about 36", and do multiply rapidly, from re-seeding I think. The short ones are clumps about 6-8 inches tall and started out from three passalong plants a couple of years ago. The clumps just kept expanding to about 12" across and I kept dividing them, now have about 100 feet of border plants planted a foot apart in two beds. The trailing variety is technically a groundcover, but I use it in hanging baskets. Pretty.


On Jul 12, 2003, gregspam from Dothan, AL wrote:

This one multiplies like bunnies! Be careful or it will take over anything around it; a beautiful flower though!


On May 31, 2003, debbiesc from Columbia, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Flowering is light dependent. I had better luck with the plant in full sun, even though the plant may wilt. The plant likes generous watering. Beautiful purple flowers.