This Petunia is No Pig

Guest Blog post by Rachel Shaw

Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis) is a charming and tough native blooming now in my yard. The delicate pale purple flowers last only about a day, but are constantly replenished. Wild Petunia, like many common names, is a bit misleading; they are no relative of cultivated petunias, though the flowers do have some similarity in appearance.

Like half the plants in my front yard, my Ruellia were dug up on short notice this spring to be transplanted back following replacement of a broken sewer line. The Ruellia took this disruption in stride. They weren’t fussy about the poor quality clay soil brought up by the dig, and didn’t seem to need much in the way of supplemental water following transplant.

Previously they had coexisted happily in amongst the Closed Gentian, and with a somewhat more upright appearance in the moister, richer soil. Now in the more sparsely planted and drier yard, they have stretched themselves out, with a look that is more that of a ground cover. Note to the horticulture trade: promote Wild Petunia instead of Periwinkle!

What native plants are blooming in your yard or nearby?

About the Author
Rachel Shaw focuses on vegetable gardening and growing native plants in her small yard in Rockville, Maryland. She blogs at

Check back here on the 10th of each month for the next installment in this guest blog series on Mid-Atlantic native plants.


We are growing and selling Ruellia humilis at Herring Run Nursery in Baltimore for the first time this year, and we are excited to see how well it does.
Botania said…
That's great! I hope it is popular.
Sam Droege said…
On the surface it would appear to be a possible periwinkle ground cover replacement?
Botania said…
Well, I suppose it might be a bit of a stretch to claim it as replacement for periwinkle. Periwinkle likes more shade, and also is evergreen, so that can make it attractive, depending on what people are looking for. Periwinkle is also aggressive and hard to get rid of. Ruellia has that very attractive deep blue-lavender color like periwinkle, and also seems to have a spreading habit, at least under the conditions I described in my post, so that is what made me think of the comparison between the two.
rockypandora said…
I think Packera aurea, golden groundsel, would be a great replacement for periwinkle. It is aggressive, beautiful, native, and semi-evergreen.
Botania said…
I am not familiar with golden grounsel; sounds like it has some good traits. How tall does it get?

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