Monday, July 16, 2007
I've been recommending this plant for years! I never understood why it hasn't become a popular houseplant, but in my search today, i found a lot of information, some of which may tell me why :}
I've always called it "Monkey Flower". I'm not sure where i heard the name, or why it was called that, and doing a search with it turned up a totally different species, proving again that common names can be useless often in identifying and finding plants! It did show up as "Monkey Plant" or "Trailing Velvet Plant".
Ruellia is "commonly" known everywhere else as "Mexican Wild Petunia". And the colours it comes in!! Today i found brilliant red, purple, almost a blue, pink, white and variants thereof. Mine is magenta, a Ruellia Makoyana.
This little plant apparently *is* considered a wild "desert tropical". It can be invasive and in some states is considered a pest because of its abundant growth and easily spreading cutting and seed habits.
Mine has survived dark corners, forgetful watering habits, cold and hot direct sunlight, a terrarium set-up and as a table plant and a hanging basket. I pinch it back regularly and it rewards me with plentiful branches of dark green leaves with silver veining, a purple underside and a slightly hairy leaf. It flowers often, with no set time and grows like a monster! The magenta blooms are reminiscent of a 2" long tube with five petals at the end, a trumpet of a flower! I have detected no scent, though some do have a fragrance apparently. Pruned back, it can be quite a bushy plant, or you can let it get slightly longer and it will droop and trail, though not like a classic "hanging" plant.
Care indicates it needs bright light, can take sun, will grow in the shade (but not bloom as prolifically) and will tolerate drought or wet. (My experiences! "Real" instructions in link at bottom.)You often find them in florists or indoor plant stores. I have never seen them sold as anything but a 4" tropical plant. Rarely are they in bloom in the store, probably due to care and shipping, so they often are passed by. Small and "un-interesting" unless you know what they are capable of as a bloomer! The most you should ever pay for one is CDN$4!