Native Plant of the Week: Wild Petunia ~ Ruellia humilis

Wild Petunia ~ Ruellia humilis

Other Common Names: Fringeleaf Ruellia, Hairy Wild Petunia

We just planted Wild Petunia in our yard last summer in the area where we acquired a grant.

It is a very attractive perennial native with light blue-purple, 5 parted tubular flowers that are around 2 inches in width. After planting our 1 gallon sized plants in June, it started to flower almost immediately and continued to do so throughout July and August.

"The colorful flowers open during the night and fall off without fading the following night or sooner if the plant is shaken." (Native Grasses, Legumes and Forbs, Phillips Petroleum Company, 1956)

We planted ours in sandy dry soil in full to part sun. The leaves are blue-green in color, with fine long white hairs. It can reach heights to about 2 feet but more commonly it is shorter in poorer soils.

The seed is an especially hard smooth brown capsule that I had to break open by crushing it with two stones. The capsules will open when mature and shoot the seed a fair distance.

"Fringeleaf ruellia is found throughout the plains and prairies of the central and eastern United States where it grows on a wide variation of soils. It is especially noticeable in the bluestem belt and adds considerable beauty to the range aspect." Native Grasses, Legumes and Forbs, Phillips Petroleum Company, 1956)

In Minnesota, we are on the western edge of its range, its main range is from Iowa and Indiana southwards to Texas.