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Plant Profile: Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana)

Ruellia brittoniana Mx petunia 2This tender perennial is a native of Mexico, South America and the Caribbean but grows vigorously in southeastern United States and has become invasive in Florida where it is especially destructive in wetlands. It has green to purple erect stems that from clumps from sturdy rhizomes. The lance shaped leaves, six to twelve inches long, are dark green but take on a blue metallic tinge when grown in full sun. The trumpet-shaped flowers are 1.5 to 2 inches across, have five petals and may be blue, purple, white, or pink. Each flower only lasts one day but is quickly replaced over a long bloom period from late spring through summer. Butterflies love them. Plants readily self-seed. Mexican petunias are very adaptable, grow in a variety of conditions and are attractive in borders as well as containers. Plants can be moved indoors for winter in cold climates. Dwarf varieties are available that are less aggressive than the full sized ones and can be used as a ground cover or edging.

Type: Tender perennial

Bloom: Purple, blue,k white or pink trumpet-shaped flowers are produced over a long bloom period from late spring through summer.

Size: 3’ H x 3’ W (dwarf varieties 6-12” H)

Light: Full sun but tolerate considerable shade

Soil: Fertile, moist but tolerate much less once established.

Hardiness: Zones 8-11

Care: Cut back by half after flowering in warm climates to get a second bloom

Pests and Diseases: None of significance but snails and slugs may be a problem

Propagation: Seed, cuttings, division

Companion plants: Pentas, purple verbena, dwarf fire bush (Hamelia patens ‘Compacta’), East Friesland Salvia, blue star creeper
(Isotoma axillaris ‘Blue Stars’).

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