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Mexican Petunia

October 20, 2018


Can I overwinter Mexican Petunia in medium pot near Arkadelphia?



There are two common species of Mexican petunia or Ruellia.  The hardiest one is the taller and somewhat invasive purple species – Ruellia simplex.  I would think it would overwinter just fine without added protection.  The dwarf ruellia – Ruellia ‘Katie’ comes in pink, purple or white and is less hardy.   Winter hardiness in a container does have multiple variables, as to type of container, size of container and exposure.  I have a few plants in pots that are marginally winter hardy and I move them between my shrubs and my house as winter weather sets in. Then I pile some leaves around the base.  I have had great luck doing this.

June 30, 2018


Are Mexican Petunias invasive with deep root systems? If I put them in a pot, will that work?




Mexican petunia is a plant in the Ruellia genus.  There are several different varieties available and some are more aggressive than others.  The standard Mexican petunia is Ruellia brittoniana, and it can spread if given a chance, especially in good soil with ample water. While containing the root system in a pot will keep its roots from spreading, it still has the potential to seed itself.  It’s more diminutive cousin is dwarf ruellia often sold under the name ‘Katie’.  Another slow growing easy care ruellia is a small-flowered red variety called ‘Ragin Cajun’.  The butterflies love them all and if you do grow the large one, just learn to recognize it and contain it if it begins to spread.


March 19, 2016


QuestionI have a very small Mexican Petunia. When and where should I plant it? Is it invasive?



Mexican petunia or ruellia is a drought tolerant perennial for full sun.  The standard variety can grow three feet tall or more and in the right conditions, can get a bit too happy and spread. The dwarf from commonly called ‘Katie’ is much better behaved and is a great perennial. I like both of them, but just be aware of the spread of the standard one.  


August 2012

QuestionThe city of Little Rock has incorporated a plant into their landscapes and I need your help identifying it so that I can include it in my garden. It grows to about 3 feet tall. The stems are woody and dark brown. The leaves are long and narrow. The blooms are deep purple and the size of a half dollar. From what I can tell, the blooms open in the morning and are closed by mid-afternoon. I have enclosed a picture. It was taken in front of the Jim Dailey Fitness and Aquatics Center.


AnswerThe plant in question is commonly called a Mexican petunia-- Ruellia brittoniana. The standard variety is what is in the picture, and can be a bit aggressive, spreading to other areas of the garden. A dwarf variety, called Katie dwarf comes in purple or white and is much better behaved in the garden. Both are very drought tolerant and are perennials.      

October 2010

QuestionI was given a Mexican petunia plant that is bare root and I plant to plant soon. What can you tell me about it? I have never heard of it before, am told it is very hardy and blooms well. It has 2 purple blooms on it now.


AnswerMexican petunia is Ruellia. It is an extremely heat and drought tolerant perennial. There is a standard variety that grows about three feet tall and has purple flowers and is very hardy. It can also get a little too happy in the garden and spread, so pay attention to it. There is also a dwarf ruellia that gets no taller than 6 inches and is marginally hardy in NW Arkansas. Plant yours in full sun and water and mulch it and it should survive the winter.


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