Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Mexican Petunia
Give a thumbs up Desert Petunia
Give a thumbs up Florida Bluebells
Give a thumbs up Mexican Blue Bells
Give a thumbs up Dwarf Mexican Petunia

Botanical names:
Ruellia simplex Accepted
Ruellia tweediana Synonym
Ruellia brittoniana Synonym
Ruellia coerulea Synonym

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Wet Mesic
Dry Mesic
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 8a -12.2 °C (10 °F) to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 11
Plant Height: 3 to 4 feet
Plant Spread: 3 to 4 feet
Leaves: Evergreen
Fruit: Other: Bean-like pod.
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: Lavender
Other: Violet-purple
Bloom Size: 1"-2"
Flower Time: Year Round
Underground structures: Rhizome
Suitable Locations: Xeriscapic
Bog gardening
Uses: Provides winter interest
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Resistances: Humidity tolerant
Drought tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Other info: Self seeds prolifically.
Propagation: Other methods: Division
Other: Dividing rhizomes.
Containers: Suitable in 3 gallon or larger
Awards and Recognitions: Texas Superstar®


This plant is tagged in:
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Posted by plantladylin (Sebastian, Florida - Zone 10a) on Jan 27, 2017 1:32 PM

Although Ruellia simplex has lovely blooms, due to its invasive tendencies it is not a good plant for Florida gardens. We moved into our current home nine months go and I've been trying to eradicate this plant from two separate areas of my yard ever since. It is a difficult task to remove and must be dug up due to the fact that that it travels via underground rhizomes; if you try to pull it by hand, the stems break off and you are still left with pieces of rhizomes in the soil. Mexican Petunia is a popular landscape plant because it is a prolific bloomer, it tolerates many different landscape conditions, from shade to sun, and it even thrives in poor soil. The plant is listed by the FEPPC (Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council) as a Category I invasive here in the state. To deter its spread, it is best grown in containers in Florida.

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Posted by LarryR (South Amana, IA - Zone 5a) on Sep 30, 2012 11:06 AM

I grow this plant in a pot in Iowa, where it has zero chance of escaping.

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Posted by theprynce (Myrtle Beach, SC - Zone 8b) on Oct 29, 2015 12:45 PM

I have had them in a container with a Black Diamond crepe myrtle for two years now. They died back last winter and got a much later start than I expected.

Fortunately, I decided to see whether it could be propagated from cuttings and it can! I took four cuttings and they all have roots coming in within a week of floating in water! I'm really stoked about using these as mothers to get more mature plants in other containers as soon as it's safe to set them out next year!

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Posted by Dutchlady1 (Sunny Naples, Florida - Zone 10a) on Sep 23, 2011 10:09 AM

While attractive, this is a Category 1 invasive plant in Florida. It has been used extensively in landscaping, which is now heavily discouraged.

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Posted by MamaIve12 (Florida - Zone 10b) on Jul 25, 2012 5:56 AM

This plant produces plenty of flowers and is pretty much maintenance-free. It can be planted in the ground or in containers. Enjoys full sun.

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Posted by flaflwrgrl (North Fl. - Zone 8b) on Aug 28, 2012 8:06 PM

There is a petunia native to Florida that is a much better choice than Ruellia tweediana. The native is Ruellia caroliniensis
Carolina Wild Petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis subsp. caroliniensis)

This R. tweediana is one tough cookie to get rid of. And if you think you can control it --- well, you might want to think again. It spreads willingly by seeds, which have no dormancy mechanism, and also by rooting wherever the stems touch the ground. It will also send runners underground. It may be pretty and it may be drought tolerant, as well as able to grow in wetlands, but it is also an invasive nightmare.
This has become a problem in many states; not just Florida.

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Plant Events from our members
lovesblooms On February 11, 2015 Seeds sown
winter sown
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Discussion Threads about this plant
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take care to contain this plant by Dutchlady1 Aug 29, 2012 9:03 AM 6
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