A. Mexican-petunia, Ruellia simplex (Acanthaceae family), a native to Mexico and western South America, was introduced to Florida in the 1940s. The dwarf Mexican petunia is a small plant that is perfect for ground cover. Mexican-petunia (also known as Mexican bluebell or Britton’s petunia) is described as a “hardy perennial edging plant for flower beds and as colorful groundcovers.” Scientific names include Ruellia brittoniana, R. coerulea and R. tweediana, but taxonomists now use the name Ruellia simplex, which was the first name used to describe this species. Each flower only lasts one day, but during the long blooming season, the plant produces so many flowers that you will never be short on the pretty purple blossoms. A: Mexican petunia, Ruellia simplex, should grow perfectly well outdoors in the Atlanta area. Be aware that the common “tall ruellia” can be a bit invasive unless contained. Soil, which is high in nitrogen, will see the Mexican petunia produce lots of dark green foliage in favor of flowers. If you are growing these plants in a cooler climate, they should be protected from cold winters, either by moving them to a protected position out of the cold breeze, by bringing them indoors or by covering them with gardening fleece. The wild form has purple flowers, and is native to Mexico, Western South America and the Antilles. However, they’re produced almost continuously, so the plant is always showy. After the flower fades, it will develop into a pod resembling a bean pod, containing a cluster of seeds. The Mexican Petunia is classified as a Category I Invasive in FL due to its tendency to get out of control and be very difficult to eradicate. Mexican petunias are incredibly tolerant of any watering conditions. The plants are winter-hardy from Zone 7 southward in Texas. As long as you follow a basic desert garden to-do list and keep to a conventional summer watering schedule, you should have no problem raising bushels of these purple blossoms. With some care to protect it in the winter, it will also survive zone 7. If you have a history of poor watering habits or have experienced plants that die from either overwatering or from lack of water, then the Mexican petunia would be a great feature in your garden, as it will not have a problem with inconsistent watering. Shrubby perennial native to Mexico. It is so tolerant of soggy soil that it can be grown in up to 6 inches of water, along with other bog plants in shallow streams and waterlogged riverbanks. In bright light, their stems will be purple, while plants kept in partial shade will have bright green stems (SF Gate). Mexican petunias are a very hardy plant in many aspects, and they will tolerate a wide range of suboptimal growing conditions, but the one area in which they fall down is in very low temperatures. It prefers Full sun and that’s the reason it is grown in the USDA hardiness zones 8-11. They last but one day. During winter, you shouldn’t need to water the plant so long as there is sufficient rainfall. The patio zone is 4a-11 which means the potted plant will flourish over the summer months in colder zones but must be brought inside … They can be propagated from divisions, by stem cuttings or even by seed. A: Mexican petunia, Ruellia simplex, should grow perfectly well outdoors in the Atlanta area. Mexican petunias (Ruellia brittoniana) are considered invasive plants in some areas since they easily spread seed and grow. It was introduced to Florida in the 1940s. We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Mexican petunias thrive in full sun. These plants are cold hardy. Currently Reading Neil Sperry: The best way to treat for dandelions Because pruning encourages more blooms, some experts, such as those at the University of Florida Nassau County Extension, do not recommend pruning Mexican petunias. A: Mexican petunia, Ruellia simplex, should grow perfectly well outdoors in the Atlanta area. If you would rather not have your garden taken over by Mexican petunias, you will need to deadhead the blooms once they fade. They have also naturalized in Florida, where they grow so aggressively that they are able to choke out other plants that are native to the state. Examine the plants thoroughly for pests before you … Can I leave it out for the winter or do I have to take it inside? Being cold hardy to zone 8 it would normally be grown in you location as an annual. Mexican petunias are a pretty flowering evergreen perennial that can be grown in containers, as shrub-like plants, or as ground cover. Often confused with Ruellia tweediana, but its leaves are a bit shorter and wider. Those planted in sheltered places are rarely killed or even injured. Look for a spot in your garage or basement where … If you plant it at one end of a big flower bed it will spread a couple of feet outward each year. As the Mexican petunia will grow in both dry or wet soil, the soil quality isn’t terribly important for this plant. They will still flower even in nutrient-deficient soils, though if a soil has a nutrient imbalance, then this is where problems can occur. The stems will die back to the ground after the first frost. It will grow in almost any condition, including poor quality soil, but for best results, you should use a well-draining and fertile soil. If you find insects, treat the plants before bringing them indoors. It might not, however, be winter-hardy in north Georgia. Sun or partial shade; herbaceous, often freezing back in winter. Remove all flowers, buds, and seed-pods, too. 9 Different Indoor Tropical Plants - Growing Guides & Photos. Native to Mexico and the southwestern U.S. Care Ruellia needs a warm climate. When grown in the garden, the best way to manage their watering is to maintain moist, but not soggy, soil. It might not, however, be winter-hardy in north Georgia. The fruit is not ornamentally significant. Best grown as a container plant and given shelter during frosty weather. If you prefer a well-manicured style, then prune the plant to your desired shape. In Florida the question is not how to keep Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana ) alive, but how to get rid of it. Learn more. Mexican Petunia plants tolerate a variety of conditions and once established, can be drought tolerant. ‘Katie’ is a low-growing Mexican petunia branching from the ground with woody stems and long willow-like leaves. There are several improved and shorter ruellia varieties on the market, like ‘ChiChi’ and ‘Purple Showers’, that might be less tolerant of cold than tall ruellia. Mexican petunias will propagate easily from stem cuttings in the summer months, but this is not something that most gardeners have to do, as the plants readily self-seed to supply the garden with an endless supply of new Mexican petunias. If you have a Mexican petunia that is struggling to flower but has lots of lush foliage growth, then you may need to test your soil for nutrient imbalance. Double Knockout Rose - Varieties, Care & Planting Information, 10 Best Perennial Flowers For Your Garden, 8 Exciting Japanese Flowers - Photos, Uses, and Care Guides, 9 Mexican Flowers with Photos & Growing Guides, Mexican petunia, Mexican bluebell, Florida bluebell, Desert petunia, Britton’s wild petunia, Purple ruellia. Individual blooms are the size of quarters. I. f you want to keep it under control in your garden, then allow the plant a little less water. In terms of frequency of watering, this will depend on lots of variables, including the lighting position that your plant is grown in, the climate, the type of soil, and whether it is growing directly in the ground or in a pot. The blue flowers are attractive in late summer through fall. mexican petunia ruellia malacosperma. Mexican petunias are very heat-tolerant, so don’t feel the need to shade them to protect them from the heat. The foliage often turns burgundy in fall. Answer: Mexican petunia is considered an herbaceous perennial, which means it freezes to the ground if it gets too cold and grows back from the base. They will also grow in partial shade, though plants grown in a partly shaded position may experience less flower development than those grown in full sun. Native to Mexico and western South America, Ruellia simplex, also known as R. tweediana, R. brittoniana , R. coerulea, and R. malacosperma, is cold hardy to USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11. When allowed to grow in these conditions, they will produce an abundance of flowers. It might not, however, be winter-hardy in north Georgia. In the northern end of their grow zone Mexican Petunia plants should be brought indoors or protected during the winter months. It’s a hardy plant that be grown in zones 8 to 11. They will survive both drought and flood, with no noticeable detrimental effects. They can survive drought, flood, heat, and poor soils, which will be a blessing for many gardeners. If you experience a fairly dry winter, then you can continue to water the plant whenever the soil appears visibly dried out. Dwarf Mexican petunia will grow in full sun to partial shade (though you'll get the most flowers in more sun). The flowers reach 2½ to 3 inches across. Upon bursting, the seeds will be dispersed onto the ground, where they will sow themselves. If your soil is nutrient deficient, your Mexican petunia should still produce a good number of flowers, but you can help it along by adding a balanced fertilizer if you wish. Rather than leave a bare area for winter, I plant iris, hardy amaryllis, and daffodils in their garden spot. They resemble petunia’s, as you would expect from their common name, but in fact, the Mexican petunia is not a petunia at all. The Ruellia, Mexican petunia, is a perennial in zones 8 to 11. If you grow these plants in containers, you have the option of moving them throughout the year to a full sun position during summertime, then a more protected and potentially shaded position during cooler months. Site in partial shade and fertile, consistently moist, but well-drained soil. 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