En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


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
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
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


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.


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

Blooming time in Austin for wildflowers
March 12, 2007 - Hi Mr. Smarty Pants!! I am a wildflower artist coming for my first spring visit to Austin to exhibit in the Artisan's Festival. As a wildflower fanatic, I am hoping to see and photograph some of "...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen groundcovers for NE NC
April 20, 2015 - Can you please provide a list of evergreen native groundcovers for Northeastern NC?
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
May 02, 2006 - How are bluebonnets used by wildlife?
view the full question and answer

Are Texas wildflowers dying out from Portland, TX
January 27, 2011 - I am doing a school project on whether or not wildflowers are dying out in the state of Texas or not. I need to find a specialist who specializes on this subject. Could you help me??? Please contac...
view the full question and answer

Questions about Clematis virginiana in Austin, TX.
August 26, 2011 - Hello! I have a few questions regarding Clematis virginiana. Is it scented? Does it attract birds and butterflies? Do only female flowers get the feathery plumes? If yes, how do I know if ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center