Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - November 08, 2004

From: Beaumont, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Smarty Plants on Katy Ruellia
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What can you tell me about Katy Ruellia? I need something with color that will take the hot southeast Texas summers and the cold/wet winters that stays decent and will flower.

ANSWER:

The Katy Ruellia, Ruellia brittoniana, is an introduced species from Mexico. Other common names are Mexican petunia and Britton's petunia. It comes in a variety of flower colors--bluish purple, pink, and white. Its foliage is evergreen and it is resistant to freezing. With a hard freeze (mid-20s) the leaves will die back but return quickly. It is drought tolerant but can be agressively invasive when it receives abundant moisture. The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council considers it a Category I invasive species which means that it is "altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives." You can read a Plant Profile for Ruellia brittoniana on the USDA Plants Database. You can also read about it on the web page for University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension and at the Floridata Marketplace web page.
You might consider using instead wild petunias native to Texas. For example, Carolina wild petunia, Ruellia caroliniensis, has showy violet flowers, is a perennial and cold hardy (occurring as far north as Pennsylvania). The wild white petunia, R. metziae, has white flowers and is considered evergreen. You can see a list and read about some of the wild petunias native to Texas in the Native Plants Database on the Wildflower Center web page.
 

More Wildflowers Questions

Native flowers and plants for landscaping in March in Austin
February 18, 2004 - What are the best flowers and plants to landscape with in the Austin area in March?
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets in East Texas
April 18, 2009 - I would love to introduce Bluebonnets onto a piece of property in East Texas. We have very sandy soil. Which species should I plant, the Lupinus Texensis or the Lupinus Subcarnosus?
view the full question and answer

Creating a wildflower meadow
May 18, 2013 - I have an area 1-6 acres worth that is currently grass that I would like to overseed with wildflower seed. The local native plant nursery says that would be a waste. I don't really want to kill gra...
view the full question and answer

Time for planting wildflower seeds in East Texas
August 06, 2007 - I live in northeast Texas, and we have had abundant rains here. Can I plant some wildflower seeds now, and if so, what plants would be appropriate?
view the full question and answer

How and when to harvest bluebonnets.
April 30, 2010 - A previous answer mentioned harvesting bluebonnet seeds by pulling up the whole plant when the seed pods turn brown. Two clarifications - when do the seed pods turn brown as these plants are hard to ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.