Desert Petunia, Florida Bluebells, Mexican Petunia, Mexican Blue Bells 'Blanquita'

Ruellia tweediana

Family: Acanthaceae (ah-kanth-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ruellia (roo-EL-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: tweediana (twee-dee-AH-nuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Blanquita
Synonym:Ruellia brittoniana


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

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

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 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:

Light Blue

Medium Blue

Dark Blue


Bloom Time:

Blooms repeatedly




Good Fall Color

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

From herbaceous stem cuttings

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

Seed Collecting:

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


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

Fairhope, Alabama

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Navarre, Florida

North Port, Florida

Pensacola, Florida

Pompano Beach, Florida

Safety Harbor, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Knoxville, Tennessee

Alice, Texas

Arlington, Texas

Austin, Texas

Lockhart, Texas

Midway, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Santa Fe, Texas

Spring Branch, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 28, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This species both self-sows weedily and also spreads underground aggressively by rhizomes.

The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council has listed this species as a Category l invasive, because it has been found to invade natural areas and displace native flora. The species is native to Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean. It has naturalized from Texas to South Carolina.

The accepted name for the species is Ruellia simplex. Synonyms include:
Ruellia brittoniana
R. coerulea
R. malacosperma
R. tweediana


On Apr 26, 2006, magnolia711 from Tampa, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I inherited this plant when I bought my house. Two years later, it is still blooming and growing. I don't fertilize it, I don't add fancy topsoil and I even forget to water it sometimes! I know it sounds terrible. This plant is very hardy. Mine is in partial shade, but I know people in my neighborhood that have it in full sun. It has not invaded the plants nearby, just grows up and out toward my lawn. Great plant for lazy gardeners who like color!


On Jul 25, 2005, Helentom from Leesburg, FL wrote:

I started with clippings from our golf course and now I have them growing along a fence and they just grow and grow and grow. I don't seem to be getting many flowers on some of them but they fill in a spot I like to cover. I don't know if I am supposed to cut them back so they grow more flowers. And, I don't know if I am supposed to fertelize them. They are easy to grow in this central Florida area


On Nov 14, 2004, Olwin from Knoxville, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Contrary to the database, this plant is a perennial for me in zone 7b, Knoxville TN, although it does die back in the winter. I was given a small piece 2 years ago, and it was huge this past summer, probably over 4' in some places. It's still blooming, and is quite lovely. I can see that it will get larger every year, but I don't mind because it's covering some old lattice in front of the AC. Mixed in with it is Indigo Spire, another enthusiastic grower. It should be interesting to see if they continue to get along.


On Sep 6, 2004, trois from Santa Fe, TX (Zone 9b) wrote:

These are lovely little plants growing wild all over. We dig up what we see in the ditches before the county works the ditches, and transplant them into our yard. All have thrived.
Great color and just a delight to have.


On Sep 5, 2004, LeBug from Greenville, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

A friend of mine gave me some of this wonderful Mexican Petunia, although it is not a perennial in my neck of the woods, I will difinately grow it again, there is no way I want to miss those beautiful big blooms and I love the foliage, over 3' high and I didn't get them till the first part of summer, thank you for the info on the taking cuttings and seeds :-) Gotta love this plant data base.

I agree with Killmerfl, I'm not all that excited about regular petunias, but this one is very special :-)


On Sep 3, 2004, frankentrina from Lockhart, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I really enjoy this plant. It grows well in the poorest of soils, and in almost any watering condition. I grow them in a very area with hard clay and rocks, my parents grow them in loose sand where theres a water leak from the kitchen sink drain.

They can become invasive, however. In our climate the roots and sometimes even the whole plant does not die back, and new ones come up from the seeds. It will continue to come up if it's dug up also, since it sprouts from any bits of the roots, stems or leaves. Good idea to dehead or remove the seed pods before they have a chance to dry and burst open, releasing the seeds everywhere.


On May 15, 2004, killmerfl from Jacksonville, FL wrote:

This plant a neighbor gave me some cuttings of last year and it is so wonderful. I live in upper Florida and we have a couple freezes a year and this plant has survived this and much more. It self seed and is easy to share with stem cuttings. I am so glad I gave it plant a chace I normally do not like petunias cause they are so lanky and unapealing but this plant is full and beautiful all spring, summer, and fall. I have had flowers on it all year except a month or so in the winter which to us is January. We only have two seasons Hot and Hotter!!!!!!
Mine has grown at least to 3 and 1/2 feet tall although when I got this plant they said that it should only get 10-12 inches tall so go figure.