Despite its hailing from Mexico, ruella britoniana can also be found throughout the south west USA and is particularly widespread in Florida, where it is on the list of invasive plants.
It is named after the French botanist Jean de la Ruellia and although its common name is Mexican petunia, it is not related to petunias at all, being a member of the Acanthacea family.
It has lance-shaped leaves reaching 15 – 30cm in length and 1 – 2cm wide. The main stem, semi-woody, can grow to 100cm. It produces purple-blue bell-like flowers some 3 – 5cm wide on its branches. Each flower lives for only one day but, as it produces flowers continuously, this plant will always provide an attention-grabbing display.
It prefers full sun but will also survive in part shade although may produce fewer flowers in a shaded position. White, pink and other shades of blue have been bred in hybrid varieties.
There is also a dwarf variety which only reaches 20 – 25cm in height. Bees, birds and butterflies are all attracted to this plant.
Ruellia britoniana prefers rich, damp soil although it can withstand high temperatures, drought and high levels of dampness. It spreads rapidly in swamp-like conditions and will adapt to survive in dry areas.
To increase flowering it should be pruned heavily. Once the flowering season is over the plant can be reduced to half its height. It is very hardy and resistant to disease.
In the garden it works well in a mixed border or planted in specimen groups. It can also be grown in containers and, if kept indoors, needs lots of light and regular watering.
The Palm Centre, Koycegeiz
For a wide range of special plants visit the areas best nursery, The Palm Centre at Köyceğiz.
It is open daily between 1st June – 31st October but you can visit at any other time by appointment.
Access to plant sales is free but a fee is payable to look around the extensive nursery.
Just ring or email (English is spoken):
Tel : +90 252 262 28 92
Fax : +90 252 262 51 61
Website : http://www.palmiyemerkezi.com