Are you looking for a new ornamental plant to spruce up your landscape? Look no further than Ruellia Humilis!
Ruellia Humilis, commonly known as Wild Petunia, is a herbaceous perennial featuring pretty blooms that resemble small, thin-textured petunias. Like most species from the Ruellia family, it is a hardy plant, which makes it incredibly easy to grow and care for.
Ruellia plants are not closely related to Petunias, although both genera belong to the same clade, which means that they have a common ancestor. Ruellia plants have earned their name in celebration of Jean Ruelle, a herbalist and physician to Francis I of France and the translator of several works of Dioscorides.
Ruellias, particularly Wild Petunia, are very popular ornamental plants. Some species also have medical benefits, but some species are considered or suspected to be toxic. One interesting fact to know about Ruellia plants is that their leaves are the preferred meal for caterpillars of numerous flying insects like butterflies and moths. But don’t be scared by the fact that pollinators find Ruellia attractive as these insects are beneficial for your garden.
Ready to learn more about growing and caring for Wild Petunia and Ruellia plants? Keep reading below!
About Wild Petunia
- Wild Petunia is native to most of the eastern US, preferring prairies, dry open woods, limestone glades, and sand flats.
- Ruellia belongs to the family of Acanthaceae, and it is closely related to the Acanthus species.
- The botanical name of Wild Petunia is Ruellia Humilis. Other popular names for Ruellia include Common Ruellia, Fever Root, and Christmas Pride. Wild Petunia is also commonly known as Fringeleaf wild petunia, hairy petunia, and low wild petunia.
- Ruellia plants like Wild Petunia offer unique beauty to any landscape they are grown in. Wild Petunia is notably a fantastic addition to prairies and meadows. Ruellia Humilis also perfectly finds its place in native plant gardens and rock gardens.
- Wild Petunias can be paired with Smooth Aster, Foxglove Beardtongue, Tall Coreopsis, Gray Goldenrod, Sideoats Grama, Purple Love Grass, Indiangrass, and Little Bluestem.
- Ruellia Humilis, like all Ruellia species, is a sun-loving plant. Wild Petunias perform best when grown in full sun but can also adapt to partial shade. Full sun encourages the best blooms.
- In terms of soil, Wild Petunia prefers to grow in soil that is average dry to medium moisture. It is essential to provide the plant with well-draining soil.
- Although like all Ruellia plants, Wild Petunias love warm temperatures – the ideal temperature is of about 75°F (23°C), it can survive winters with cold temperatures of about 20-30°F (-6,6, -1,1 °C).
- Ruellia plants like to grow in relatively moist soil, not soggy soil. So, it is essential to water your Ruellias regularly. It would be best to water your Ruellias every 2-3 days in summer and reduce watering to once a week in the cold season. After they establish, Ruellia plants become drought tolerant.
Wild Petunia Features: An Overview
- Wild Petunia is a herbaceous hardy perennial, featuring evergreen, dark green foliage and woody stems. It grows up to 12 to 48 inches (30-120 cm) high.
- In late spring, Wild Petunia produces blooms that last for several months into fall. The flowers produced are bell-shaped, resemble petunia flowers and have a lavender purple colour.
- Ruellia flowers are about 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) long.
- Wild Petunia is relatively pest and disease-free. It is also resistant to deer, rabbits, and livestock because it has an unpleasant taste for them. Some Ruellia species can be sensitive to spider mites.
- Some members of the Ruellia genus are toxic, while others aren’t. Ruellia Humilis is considered to be non-toxic to humans and pets. So, you don’t have to worry about planting your Wild Petunias in areas that are hard to reach by your kids and pets. You can grow your Wild Petunias wherever you want them in your outdoor space.
Growing Wild Petunia
Caring for Wild Petunias isn’t a difficult task. These plants are hardy and very resistant to various things that would typically threaten other common garden plants. More precisely, once established, Ruellia Humilis plants are drought-tolerant. They can adapt to both full sun and partial shade and are resistant to most common pests and diseases.
Wild Petunias can easily be grown by both experienced and novice gardeners. All you have to do is to keep in mind the ideal growing conditions of these plants.
First of all, remember that Wild Petunias are sun-loving plants. They prefer to grow in full sunlight, and this encourages denser and quality blooms. Wild Petunias can also adapt to partial shade, but it is best to plant them in a sunny spot or your outdoor space. If you grow your Wild Petunias indoors, place them on the east or west window for bright, diffused light conditions.
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- Petunias are one of the most populars flowers gracing flower beds and borders, window boxes, hanging baskets, and planters of all shapes and sizes. These annual flowers grown in USDA Zones 3 - 8.
- Petunia hybra mix will reach approximately 16 inches in height and have beautiful flowers in an array of white, pink, salmon, scarlet, blue, and rose colors.
- These flowers prefer full sun to partial shade, rich well-drained soil, and an occasional trimming of spent blooms will encourage a continuous full display of color.
- Their brilliant color and long bloom season make them very rewarding flower to grow.
- Plant 2 to 3 heirloom, non gmo seeds per plant to begin growing these wonderful flowers in hanging baskets, containers, flower beds, and more.
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Another important thing you should know about growing Wild Petunias in your garden is that they require some feeding to thrive and to produce attractive blooms. We recommend using a liquid fertilizer, in half a dose, once every 2-3 weeks. This will ensure that your Ruellias have enough nutrients to grow healthy and produce dense blooms.
Generally, the only pruning your Wild Petunias will need is an annual pruning in late winter or early spring. All you have to do is to remove damaged, weak, or undesirable stems back to the base of the plant. Cutting back spent flower stalks during the flowering period will also help maintain the neat appearance of the plants.
Planting Wild Petunia
Planning Wild Petunias in your outdoor space or in containers is not difficult at all. As long as you keep in mind the plants’ ideal growing needs, you should enjoy successful planting.
First of all, don’t forget about choosing sunny spots to plant your Wild Petunias. It would be best if you’d find an area of your garden where your Ruellias will get full sun all day long.
Nine or ten weeks in advance, before you estimate the risk of the last frost will pass, plant your Wild Petunias in containers. Transplant them outdoors only after you are sure that frost is out of the question and temperatures will not drop below 65°F (18°C).
Know that Wild Petunias aggressively self-sow, which is why growing these plants in containers is a good idea if you want to contain the plants from spreading uncontrollably.
Another essential thing to know is that Wild Petunias prefer organic, fertile soil that provides good drainage. For this reason, you should avoid using heavy clay soils because they do not allow good drainage. You can use coarse sand or perlite to make your soil well-draining.
If you plant your Wild Petunias in pots, use containers with an opening to ensure that plant roots don’t sit in water.
Watering Wild Petunia
Generally, Ruellias require abundant watering. These plants like to grow in average moist, not soggy soil. Plus, they also like high levels of humidity. Humidity prevents the leaves of the plants from losing turgor and hang.
So, it is essential to have a frequent and constant watering schedule for your Wild Petunias. We recommend watering your plants every 2-3 days in the hot season and cut back on watering to once a week in the cold season.
It is essential never to let the soil dry out completely, especially during the first few seasons of the plant. Drought will make the leaves fall off. Once established, Wild Petunias become drought-tolerant, meaning that they can survive short periods of drought.
Propagating Wild Petunia
If you want more Wild Petunias in your outdoor space or in indoor containers, know that propagating these plants is really easy. Wild Petunias can be propagated via cuttings towards and seeds.
In spring and summer, take cuttings of 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) long with 2-3 knots and place them in moist sand with peat. When roots start to make their appearance, plant them into small pots and, as they grow, pinch the tops twice. This will encourage better branching.
To propagate your Wild Petunias by seeds, sow the seeds in spring in a tray with a mixture of peat and sand. Sprinkle the seed slightly from above and cover them with glass or a film. Keep the seeds in a dark area for germination and only after transfer them to light. When the seeds start to grow, transfer them to different pots.
Ruellia plants, including Wild Petunias, make excellent companions in your outdoor space. These hardy and half-hardy evergreen perennials are resistant to many things, and they are incredibly easy to care for, especially once established. Wild Petunias are resistant to deer, drought, really low temperatures and can adapt to various light conditions.
Wild Petunias attract all types of butterflies and other pollinators, making your outdoor space look full of life and vibrant. The long-lasting blooms of Wild Petunias and the unique-looking foliage can make these flowers a fantastic focal point in your outdoor or indoor space. So, if you are looking for a friendly plant that will reward you with attractive blooms, why not give Ruellia a chance?
Are you already growing Ruellia? Share your experience in the comments below!