How to Grow Ruellia Plants

Guide to Growing Wild petunia, Common Ruellia, and Fever root.

Ruellia are hardy and half hardy perennial sub shrubs that reach from 30 to 90 cm in height.

There main blooming period is from Spring to summer, but many Ruellia will also carry sporadic flowers at later times of the year.

The flowers of Ruellia are wide ranging in size but are usually tubular in shape. A common name for Ruellia is Wild Petunia.

Ruellia tweediana by Carl E Lewis.

Ruellia Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Ruellias, Wild petunia, Common Ruellia, Fever root, Christmas pride.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial. Half-hardy perennial.
  • Height: 12 to 48 inches (30—120 cm).
  • Native: Americas, Asia.
  • Growing Region: 8 to 10 as a hardy perennial; 4 to 9 as a half-hardy perennial.
  • Flowers: Spring through to summer.
  • Flower Details: Purple, red. Tubular. Showy.
  • Foliage: Evergreen. Woody-stems. Linear-lanceolate dark green leaves.
  • Sow Outside: Cover seed. Spring.
  • Sow Inside: Germination time: one to two months. Temperature: 70 to 75°F (21-24°C). Nine or ten weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors well after the last frost when temperatures do not drop below 65°F (18°C). Space at 18 to 24 inches (45—60 cm).
  • Requirements and care: Full sunlight (for best blooms) to full shade, most species perform well in partially shaded hot areas. Fertile, organic soil. Does well in hot humid environments. Very versatile, performs best in wet/boggy soils, though can also grow in average soils with good drainage that are kept moist, and becomes drought tolerant once established. Can spread aggressively through self-seeding and via rhizomes. Propagate: by dividing in the spring in cooler areas or in the autumn in warmer areas. Alternatively take cuttings in spring or summer.
  • Family: Acanthaceae
  • Closely Related Species: Acanthus.
  • Miscellaneous: Classified as invasive in many areas, and is especially a problem in Florida and other South-eastern US states. For this reason consider growing a sterile cultivar such as Ruellia simplex cv. Purple Showers. Attracts brush-footed butterflies (Nymphalinae). Some members of the genus are poisonous, whilst others are used as herbal remedies for urinary problems and as an anthelmintic to destroy parasitic worms.

How to Grow Wild Petunia

If planning to grow Petunia outdoors from seed then sow in the spring time; lightly cover the wild petunia seed once sown.

Ruellia genus members like to grow in an organic and moist soil, and as they are woodland species should be grown in shaded or partially shaded areas.

If staring off wild petunia indoors then start about 10 weeks in advance. Wild Petunia seeds take from one to two months to germinate at a temperature of 18 to 24 degrees centigrade.

Once ready transplant outdoors in the middle of spring at about 50 cm apart.

Caring for Wild petunia - Ruellia

It is fairly easy to look after wild Petunia (Ruellia); they like a moist yet well drained soil so keep well watered and apply a spring mulch. If you require more Ruellia plants then Wild Petunia can be propagated by taking cutiings towards the end of spring and summer.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Ruellia plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Acanthus and Thunbergia plants.