Mexican Petunia

sugar_magnolia(z6 Hamilton, NJ)September 5, 2005

Has anyone had luck with this plant overwintering in zone 6? I planted three plants this year and later read they aren't hardy unless in a warmer zone--maybe 7??? However, I've seen them planted in Central Park. Can I overwinter the plants here w/o digging them up and bringing them in the house? I'd hate to lose them, they are so pretty and tolerated the icky humid summer we had just fine.

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annebert(6b/7a MD)

What is the Latin name? I'm not familiar with that common name.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 6:37PM
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Mandyvilla(7a No.VA)

Not sure how they will do. I picked up one myself and have been wondering the very same thing. Suz

    Bookmark   September 8, 2005 at 9:08AM
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gardenpaws_VA(z7 NoVA)

I think you're talking about Ruellia. There's a southeastern native one, and then a couple of showier sorts that have become popular as "fancy annuals". I don't know how hardy the FA kind are.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 9:04PM
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annebert(6b/7a MD)

OK, now I know what you're talking about. My sister in zone 5 grows the "wild petunia" kinds (see Carolina petunia on the link) and they self-seed vigorously, even if they don't really overwinter. She's given them to me, and I really don't care for them. But the Mexican petunia kinds I just noticed in containers on a recent visit to Annapolis. They're gorgeous, but looks like zone 8 might be their limit. Doesn't mean you can't buy new ones every year and set them out (which is probably what they do in Central Park), but I doubt they'd overwinter.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ruellia

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 4:13PM
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sugar_magnolia(z6 Hamilton, NJ)

The plant I have looks like Ruellia, Desert Petunia (Scientific Name: Ruellia brittoniana Leonard). I guess I'll need to dig them up and put them in pots. I have a heated sunroom where I can put them over the winter and then move them to my patio in the spring. What a shame I can't leave these guys in the garden. I don't typically like tropical flowers but I really like these. Thanks for the help.

BTW -- Home Depot had these mixed in with the regular gardening plants; they usually keep the tropicals inside by themselves whereas the stuff outdoors is meant for zone 6.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 1:31PM
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surrealgarden(z7b NC Asheville)

There are two different kinds of Mexican Petunias- tall and short, pink and purple. I have tall purple ones which a friend gave me last year. I tossed 3 dried out roots in a pot with other flowers just to "see what they were" and ended up with dozens of 18" flowers. They flower every day, dropping seeds. (That is why if the roots don't survive, the seeds should.) When snow came, I simply cut them back to about 2 inches and waited. They came back just fine in Charlotte, NC. If you plant these somewhere, be aware that the roots are as invasive as almost anything you have seen. Plant them in a bed or pot which is physically separated from the rest of your environment, or you will fight them. Make sure you give these plants plenty of sun, since the more sun they get, the more blooms and return success you will have. By the way- they are SO hardy, I have wrapped the roots in saran wrap, curled 2-3 plants into a snug circle and stuffed them into a small envelope for mailing. The recipient unfurls them, plants in shade for 2 weeks, then moves them into direct sun with success- no worse for wear. Tremendously hardy in NC. If you notice yellowing leaves or leaves dropping, reduce water and give more sun. Planted in beds I have noticed them growing taller- more like 24". You can cut off 6-7" of plant and root them directly in soil, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: DavesGarden Mexican Petunia description

    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 12:46AM
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I have a cutting of ruellia brittonia that I started in June; it's rooted and flourishing. My question: I've heard it is marginally hardy here in Zone 7. But I live in the heart of the City with the heat island effect; will it overwinter here or do I have to carry it over inside till Spring? I would hate to lose this; a stunning plant, and I don't care about the invasiveness.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 4:11PM
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