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Desert Petunia, Florida Bluebells, Mexican Petunia, Mexican Blue Bells 'Colobe Pink'

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: Colobe Pink
Additional cultivar information:(aka Bonita, Poquito Pink, Katie's Pink)
Synonym:Ruellia brittoniana


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

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

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

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:

Pale Pink

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

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:

Eufaula, Alabama

Fairhope, Alabama

Foley, Alabama

Brooksville, Florida

Hobe Sound, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Panama City, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Starke, Florida

Winter Springs, Florida

Alexandria, Louisiana

New Iberia, Louisiana

White Castle, Louisiana

Waynesboro, Mississippi

Longs, South Carolina

Alice, Texas

Arlington, Texas

Atlanta, Texas

Broaddus, Texas

Bryan, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

Denison, Texas

Desoto, Texas

Houston, Texas

Red Oak, Texas

Richmond, Texas

Rowlett, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Petersburg, Virginia

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 Aug 3, 2009, kafka00 from Alexandria, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Invasive! Too many babies! Advantages are that the Dwarf Katie Pink has lots of very pretty, cool pink flowers. Hardy in zone 8b Central Louisiana: we cut down to a few inches after our first frost. Roots are extensive, plant easy to grow, grows rapidly. Disadvantages: like a daylily, blossoms last only 1 day and I spend the next day taking off the previous day's numerous blooms or they get brown and ugly. Main disadvantage is all the baby plants that spring up and could overrun us! See picture that I am posting today of baby plants in pots. I am intentionally growing these but I will weed out new ones. Our wet Louisiana climate may favor babies coming up.


On Aug 18, 2008, Dedda from Petersburg, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Bought both pink and purple version of this plant 3 years ago, set some out in the garden(alleged zone 7) It has come back every year from the spreading root clumps.I have it placed in 2 seperate areas in garden one is heavily mulched the other barely.
Will do fine in very dry conditions , but you get most growth and flowers by keeping it well watered and fed, pot or in ground, very quick to become extremely potbound!
First frost it has a 'melt down', but will start come back by late April.


On Nov 21, 2006, SudieGoodman from Broaddus, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Zone 8b, Deep Southeast, TX on Lake Sam Rayburn Lake
All Lazy Gardners, listen up! This is your plant to love. It takes care of itself.

Brought rooted cuttings from North Texas with Alkaline p) soil tomy retirement home in deep east TX with acidic soil.

For nine years it has bloomed profusely each year!
Hummers, butterflies, honey bees, etc love this lady.

Try it you'll like it.

Wonderful gardening


On Oct 27, 2005, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is one of my plants I love to hate, because it crops up everywhere. It is easy to pull off, but you have to keep your eyes open for unwanted seedlings. At blooming time, everything's forgiven, as the pink display is just wonderful. I have mine planted in a mix with the white variety, and it is quite a pretty sight.


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

San Antonio, Tx. Addendum
"Bonita" 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 light pink, petunia-like, 1.5" blooms standout against the deep green sword-shaped foliage which is beautiful without any flowers. Once established, they are drought-tolerant, but perform best with regular waterings. These plants need no deadheading.

A few new plants may spring up from seed but after 3 years none have done so. After 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... read more


On Jun 18, 2003, brensaun from Panama City, FL wrote:

We have "Texas petunias" here and they are the rage on the beach with dry sand. They spread and are said to be very intrusive. I bought the bright purple one and a white one. I would like to swap for a light pink one. I live in Panama City near the coast. Dry and sandy. I want my yard to look like an english cottage garden, knee-deep with flowers/wildflowers. This is my first season and it is coming along. I depend on Lantana, wild varieties as well as the nursery versions of the ground cover. We hate to mow, no need to fertilize this dry sand and then have to mow. I planted Seminole pumpkins in a bed in the middle of the front yard and now the huge leaves are vining all over. Hope it kills all the weeds and grass.


On Jun 18, 2003, froghill from Eufaula, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

I planted my first Mexican petunia last summer and it bloomed consistently until frost. Here in Eufaula, Alabama we are borderline Zones 8a and 8b and we get a number of freezes a year so it dies back to the ground. It came back but has not yet bloomed but the plant is larger.


On Jun 17, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

This dwarf Mexican petunia does not exhibit the self-seeding problems that the larger varieties do (plants that are hard to remove once well rooted coming up everywhere). Its dark green graceful foliage and light pink blooms make it attractive as a border or in clumps. It is not picky about sun exposure and does well in sun to shade. However, it blooms more prolifically in partial sun to full sun. It can withstand a light freeze, but will die back during extreme cold. If it does so, prune the injured areas or cut to ground level. It will resprout. I covered my plants this winter during our three freezes and they are twice the size they were last year.

Grasshoppers and locust love this plant. Sprinkle with Sevin dust as soon as you see any eaten leaves. Do not over water (ye... read more