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

Ruellia simplex

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


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:

Medium Purple

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

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

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; direct sow after last frost

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

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors 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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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.


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.


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.


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 ... read more


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.