Plants

Ruellia

Flowering plants are one of the elements that look great anywhere. The reason is simple: they are big or small, many of them have such colorful colors that we can use them as an excuse to do something as simple as smile.

In addition, we can consider ourselves lucky, because there is a great variety of genera that produce beautiful flowers. The Ruellia is one of them.

Origin and characteristics of the Ruellia

The Ruellia genus is comprised of about 900 species of perennial herbs and shrubs belonging to the Acanthaceae family. They are especially distributed throughout the Americas, specifically, from Mexico to Central America.

If we focus on its characteristics, it must be said that its leaves vary greatly in shape depending on the species: some are elliptical, others ovate, some others are obovate and there are even some that have oblong-spatulate. The margins are also different, being able to be created, dentate or whole.

The flowers can be solitary, that is, one sprouts on the flower stem, or on the contrary appear grouped, something we call inflorescence. They are bell-shaped, and their color is blue/ purple, white, yellow or red.

Main species

As there are so many, we are going to keep the most popular ones:

Ruellia brittoniana

Its current scientific name is Ruellia simplex. It is a perennial plant native to Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America known by the common names Mexican petunia, Britton’s wild petunia, and Mexican bluebell. It grows to 0.90 meters in height, and its flowers are bluish to purple in color, with a diameter of 7.6 centimeters.

Ruellia makoyana

Image – Wikimedia/ Stan Shebs

It is a perennial plant that grows as a bushy, rounded bush. It is native to South America, and grows up to 60 centimeters in height. Its flowers are a beautiful pink color, and are about 4-5 centimeters in diameter.

Ruellia tuberosa

Image – Wikimedia/ Vengolis

Known as jaquita or yuquilla from Venezuela, it is a perennial herbaceous plant native to much of Latin America, from Mexico to Peru. It also grows in Southeast Asia and Africa. It reaches between 30 and 60 centimeters in height, and its flowers are bluish.

What are the care to be taken?

When the weather is good, Ruellia is wonderful, since it can be grown outdoors, thus also attracting some insects that can be of great help in the garden, such as bees. But if in our area the winter is rather cold, we should not worry too much. Its usefulness as an indoor plant is very interesting, due to its maintenance, as we will see next, it is not complicated.

Location

Let’s start with the location. Where should our Ruellia plant be? Whenever possible, it is best to have it outside, in an area exposed to the sun.

But as we said before, it can also be enjoyed at home, but for this the chosen room must meet certain characteristics:

  • There must be a lot of clarity, that is, it must have windows through which a lot of (solar) light from the outside enters.
  • There must be no drafts. If there are, the plant must be located in a corner where they will not reach you.
  • The humidity around the Ruellia must be high. This is achieved with a humidifier, or by placing containers filled with water around the pot.

Soil or substrate

Image – Flickr/ peganum// Ruellia humilis

  • Garden: if it is going to be planted in the ground, the soil must be rich in nutrients, and light.
  • Pot: the substrate must be light, porous. It is essential that the pot has holes in its base, since otherwise the plant would not survive.

Irrigation

Irrigation is the most difficult task to master. On the one hand, it is necessary to avoid that the earth remains flooded too long ; I mean, it is normal for watering to get a little puddled, but the earth has to be able to absorb it and drain it as quickly as possible. If more than two minutes pass, we will have to improve the drainage of that soil, mixing it with perlite or clay, for example.

On the other hand, it is also not good for the Ruellia plant to go thirsty. If the land is dry for a long time it will have a bad time (this time will vary depending on the season of the year, since the water needs will not be the same in a summer with a maximum of 38ºC, as in a winter with 10ºC; the higher it is the temperature, and the drier the environment, the fewer hours the land should be dry).

Therefore, the first few times it is preferable to check how wet the earth is. For this you can simply dig a bit with your fingers, or use a thin wooden stick.

If you need to know more or less how many times to water, tell yourself that if the weather is very hot and dry, it will be necessary to do it every 2 or 3 days.

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While the plant is growing and flowering, it is advisable to fertilize it with a fertilizer for flowering plants, although it is also interesting to add a little earthworm humus.

Multiplication

Ruellia multiplies by seeds from spring to summer. Once you get them, plant them in seedbeds outside, where the sun hits them directly.

Pruning

It is not necessary to prune it, but you do have to remove the withered flowers and dry leaves as necessary.

Rusticity

Ruellia are plants very sensitive to cold. It is highly recommended that the temperature does not drop below 10ºC.

Image – Flickr/ Barry Hammel// Ruellia inundata

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