UACES Facebook Mexican Petunia

Mexican Petunia

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.


All links to external sites open in a new window. You may return to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture web site by closing this window when you are finished. We do not guarantee the accuracy of the information, or the accessibility for people with disabilities listed at any external site.

Links to commercial sites are provided for information and convenience only. Inclusion of sites does not imply University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture's approval of their product or service to the exclusion of others that may be similar, nor does it guarantee or warrant the standard of the products or service offered.

The mention of any commercial product in this web site does not imply its endorsement by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture over other products not named, nor does the omission imply that they are not satisfactory.