mexican petunia | ruellia simplex)

Mexican petunia (Ruellia simplex) is listed as a category 1 invasive species in Florida. If this plant is not currently in your yard, there are better plant options to choose from and it is best not to buy it.

white Mexican petunia

substitute plants for mexican petunia

Check out some of these more beneficial native species that you could plant instead of Mexican petunia.

  • wild petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis)
  • blue curls (Trichostema dichotomum)
  • butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
  • swamp milkweed (Asclepias perennis).
  • starry rosinweed
  • Silphium asteriscus
  • Blue-eyed grass
  • Sisyrinchium angustifolium
  • Stokes aster

There are also Mayan Purple or Purple Showers, which are sterile varieties of Mexican petunia created by UF. These will not spread by seed, but will still send off runners and spread rhizomatically.

about mexican petunia

This plant grows in almost any soil or sun condition. although it prefers wet soil. It quickly spreads underground by rhizomes, it spreads by seed and will even return after a harsh frost. Once established, this plant is hard to eradicate which is why it is considered invasive.

It is an evergreen shrub (meaning it will stay green over the winter). After the flower blooms, it will fall off and a hard seed pod will form in its place. Once completely dry, that seed pod will pop open and shoot seeds everywhere.When cut back to the ground, they will return with new growth a short time later. The best way to remove them is by digging up the root mass with a shovel.

why we grow it

Prior to knowing it was on the invasive species list, I bought Mexican petunia and spread it all over the yard. I appreciated its long, straight stems that make it an awesome chop and drop plant. I like to throw it in walkways to keep weeds down and I pile it around my raised beds as makeshift borders.

great for chop and drop

Another benefit of this plant is that it is edible for our Sulcata tortoise and chickens, who eat the Mexican petunia leaves and flowers.

I do my best to prevent it from spreading too much by cutting it back before the flowers go to seed, and digging the clumps up as they spread outside of their designated planters.