Ruellia brevifolia

Ruellia brevifolia

The various members of the Ruellia genus belong to the broad Acanthaceae family. They are good subjects for shaded, frost-free gardens. They are generally small shrubby perennials, which cope well with dry conditions under trees, but will be grateful for occasional water and fertiliser.

This species (which has synonyms of Ruellia amoena and Ruellia graecizans) is a small shrub about 60cm tall from South America. It has long narrow leaves and clusters of brilliant orange-red funnel-shaped flowers. The flower colour has a neon quality which really glows in shaded places. It does self seed to some extent but the excess seedlings are easily removed. It flowers mainly in late summer and autumn but there may be flushes of bloom at other times. It associates well with other bright colours which grow in shaded places, such as red-centred and red-flowered bromeliad species (including Vriesea cultivars), Salvia splendens and Salvia miniata, as well as tropical foliage plants.

Ruellia brevifolia, lemon-flowered form

In recent years, I was given a pale yellow form of this plant, which is very pretty in other part-shaded parts of my garden with blue flowered plants such as Browallia americana, and yellow-variegated foliage specimens. It self-seeds true to type, but perhaps not as prolifically as the red version!

Flowers in March, April, May, June.

 Out now in my Sydney Garden.