by johnah on January 7, 2021
What Is Ruellia Wild Petunia?
Ruellia wild petunia (wild carrot) is a small annual or perennial herbaceous plant native to Mexico. It grows up to 3 feet tall with dark green leaves that are 2 inches long and 1 inch wide. Its flowers are white, trumpet shaped, and appear from June through August. They have 5 stamens and 4 pistils each containing one yellowish seed which produces a single flower with red berries at maturity. The plant is found growing along streamsides, in dry rocky areas, and occasionally in disturbed habitats such as roadsides.
The name “ruellia” comes from the Spanish word “ruegar”, meaning “to turn over”. Wild carrot was first cultivated in Spain around 1500 AD and it became popular throughout Europe during the Renaissance period.
Wild carrot is considered a useful food crop because of its high nutritional value and low water requirements compared to other vegetables. It is also used in folk medicine to treat diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, flatulence and constipation.
How To Prune Ruellia Wild Petunia?
It is best to keep your ruellia wild petunia short and compact when pruning them. You can do this by using a sharp knife or scissors to trim off any dead or diseased branches. It is best to prune them in the fall after they have gone to seed. It can also be done anytime during the growing season as long as you don’t remove more than a third of the plant at a time. When pruning, take care to leave any lateral branches you want to keep so they will thrive and fill in the spot you just trimmed.
After your plants have bloomed, allow them to set seed. The seeds can then be collected and replanted the next year. Also, anytime you’re out in the fields and see a plant you like, pick its seed head, let it dry out, then replant it in your garden the next spring.
Where To Find Wild Ruellia?
Ruellia wild petunias are a common sight on roadsides and vacant lots throughout much of Florida. It is a very attractive plant and the flowers are quite colorful. It can also be found in disturbed sites, dry sandy fields, pine woods, and rocky woodlands. The plant grows from a long slender root or caudex that is edible. The sharp tasting leaves can be eaten as a pot herb or cooked like spinach.
How To Winterize Mexican Petunia?
The mexican petunia or ruellia are easy to winterize and can be dug up and stored just like daylilies. Once you’ve harvested all the blooms, let the plant re-growth develop for a couple of weeks, then dig it up while its still putting on some growth. Cut the flower stems on the topside about 6 inches above the crown and fertilize the plants with some balanced fertilizer before storage, then place them in a cool dry place until next spring.
This plant likes full sun to light shade, and well-drained soil. It tolerates sandy soils and drought very well. It prefers warm summer temperatures and even does well in warmer climates. It will do poorly in heavy wet soils, but will tolerate some water logging after it is established.
Ruellia flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies and the leaves are attractive to birds and other critters. The caterpillars of some colorful iridescent butterflies, such as Question Mark butterflies, like to eat the leaves.
Like most plants, ruellias can develop various types of diseases and pests and therefore need to be monitored periodically. Some of the common pests include aphids, spider mites, mealy bugs, lace bugs and plant suckers. Common diseases include leaf spots, root rots, wilts, blights and tumors.
You can propagate ruellia wild petunia from seed, division and cuttings. Seeds are hard to come by and seeds collected from commercial plants may be Hybridized. Therefore it’s best to divide and replant the new plants you buy.