Mexican petunia (Ruellia simplex) Purple flower plant ornamental live
Mexican petunia is a herbaceous evergreen perennial of the Acanthaceae family. It is sometimes named Ruellia brittoniana, but R. simplex is preferred, as it is the name first given to the plant when described in Cuba. Mexican petunia is a vigorous (some say aggressive), shrubby, woody-based plant that is easy to propagate by cuttings, division,and seed. While it seeds freely, keep in mind that some cultivars are sterile (‘Purple Showers’), in which case they may spread by rhizomes. It typically grows to 3 to 4 feet tall in the wild, but only to 2 or 3 feet tall in gardens.
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Mexican petunia prefers medium to wet soil that is fertile and well drained and full sun to partial shade, although flowering is best in full sun. It typically grows in zones 8-10 but can survive in zone 7 or even lower if grown as an annual. Mexican petunia is a tolerant plant willing to grow well in boggy wet conditions, soil that varies from wet to dry, high heat and humidity, and once established, does well in drought conditions. It is seldom damaged by deer. The flowers are quite dramatic, but each flower blooms for one day. Cut back stems after flowering to encourage new flowers.
What Does Tropical Plant Mean?
A tropical plant is a plant that grows naturally in a tropical climate. A tropical climate is typically hot and humid, with temperatures constantly exceeding 18 degrees Celsius / 64 fahrenheit with zero frost days.
In colder climates north of the equator, tropical plants can be grown as houseplants and set outside during the warm, sunny months. Commercially, tropical plants can be grown in colder climates, but they must be grown inside greenhouses and with other forms of controlled environment agriculture.
The term tropical plant refers to any type of plant that naturally flourishes in an environment that resembles the Tropics, a region of the Earth surrounding the equator.Ruellia simplex (Britton’s wild petunia, Mexican petunia, Mexican bellflower) is a species of flowering plant.
Steps for Planting
DO NOT PLACE THE TREE DIRECTLY IN THE SUN. JUST WAIT TWO WEEKS BEFORE MOVE TO THE SUN.
- Identify the trunk flare. •The trunk flare is where the trunk expands at the base of the tree. This point should be partially visible after the tree has been planted.
- Place the tree at the proper heigh •Take care to dig the hole to the proper depth – and no more. If the tree is planted too deep, new roots will have difficulty developing because of a lack of oxygen.
- Straighten the tree in the hole. •Before backfilling, have someone view the tree from several directions to confirm it is straight.
- Fill the hole gently, but firmly. •Pack soil around the base of the root ball to stabilize it. Fill the remainder of the hole, firmly packing the soil to eliminate air pockets that may dry out roots. Further reduce air pockets by watering periodically while backfilling. Avoid fertilization at the time of planting.
- Stake the tree, if necessary. •Studies have shown that trees establish more quickly and develop stronger trunk and root systems if they are not staked at the time of planting.
- Mulch the base of the tree. •Mulch is organic matter spread around the base of a tree to hold moisture, moderate soil temperature extremes, and reduce grass and weed competition.
- Provide follow-up care. •Keep the soil moist, but not water-logged. Water trees at least once a week, barring rain, and more frequently during hot, windy weather.
BEFORE YOU PLANT OUTDOORS
At the nursery these trees are grown under 20-40% shade cloth. If you plant this tree in a brightly lit area you may experience leaf burn. It is best to acclimate this plant to its environment by keeping it outside and slowly moving it into a sunny area over a week or two to avoid stress before planting.
All tropical plants grow very well in containers, indoors or on the patio. Smaller varieties grow best in 12″ to 16″ diameter pots while larger varieties need enough room for growth, generally a 16″ to 30″ diameter, 14 ” deep container will suffice. Remember the looser the roots, the taller and healthier your tree will be. When the tree becomes root bound its growth will slow, at that point it is time for a larger pot.
GROW ZONE & LIGHT
Best outdoors if grown in zone 10a-11. Depending on your location full sun is often best. The patio zone is 4b-11 which means the potted tree will flourish over the summer months in colder zones but must be brought inside before winter.
Trees enjoy a well drained, general potting mix easily found at your local box store. Remember try to stay away from arid or wet, mucky soils.
To help establish your new Tree, fertilize sparingly ten inches away from the base, tri-annually with a slow time released product. Unfertilized they will tend to grow at a slower pace. Note: The heavy salts in cheaper fertilizers will damage the roots and possibly kill the plant. Its best to use a brand you know and trust.
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