Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’, otherwise known as Katie Ruellia, is an attractive tropical perennial plant in the Acanthaceae family.
It is native to Mexico and commonly used as a houseplant in the United States. This small pond plant is known for its evergreen foliage, vibrant violet–purple spider–like flowers, and its ability to tolerate a range of light conditions from low to bright.
Katie Ruellia is widely known for its versatility, making it a great choice for gardeners and plant enthusiasts alike!
Scientific Name: Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’
Common Names: Katie Ruellia, Britton’s Wild Petunia, Mexican Petunia
Habitat: Hot and Dry Mexican Highlands
pH Range: 6.1-7.8
What Is Katie Ruellia?
Katie Ruellia is a tropical perennial shrubby plant belonging to the Acanthaceae family. It is native to Mexico and is also known as ‘Mexican Petunia’ in the areas it is grown in.
The plant features 4 to 8” evergreen leaves that vary in shape and color, with shades of green, yellow, and red.
Its violet-purple flowers bloom in summer and stay all through fall, providing the plant with its ‘Mexican Petunia’ nickname.
Katie Ruellia Facts
Katie Ruellia is a low-maintenance plant, popular among gardeners for its drought tolerance, low-maintenance care needs, and ability to tolerate high and low-light conditions.
It also forms colonies by underground runners called rhizomes and can spread easily in the right soil and light conditions.
As a result, many plant keepers find them to be valuable groundcover, especially in areas where other plants fail to grow.
Katie Ruellia is a low-growing sub-shrub that grows up to 3 feet tall.
Its perfect, long, and narrow evergreen leaves are 4 to 8 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide, with wavy edges and an attractive variegated look of yellow, green, and red.
Its flowers are 3 to 4 inches long and trumpet-shaped, with five petals and a delicate mauve-purple color.
Katie Ruellia is mostly found in the hot and dry regions of Mexico, from the Baja California peninsula to Texas and Florida.
It thrives in well-draining sandy soils and can grow in both sun and partial shade.
Katie Ruellia prefers slightly acidic soils that are moist, with a pH range of 6 to 8.
If the soil is more on the alkaline side, the plant will still survive but its growth may be reduced.
The Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’ is quite an easy-going species. With that in mind, it will not be too complicated when it comes to choosing the type of enclosure it is grown in. It is best to try and replicate the plant’s natural habitat as much as possible.
Doing so will make it easier to provide this foliage plant with its basic needs. The proper setup and theme of the enclosure will make a big difference to the overall look and health of the plant. Be sure to choose setups that are moist and high in humidity.
Here are recommended vivariums it will do well in:
- Paludariums – Half aquatic/ half terrain-based enclosure.
- Terrariums – Fully terrain-based enclosures with little to no aquatic features.
- Ripariums – Mostly aquatic-based enclosures with some terrain features present.
Katie Ruellia is a great choice for ponds and vivariums due to its size, low maintenance needs, and vibrant flowers.
This plant works well as a ground cover, so it can be placed as a filler between other vivarium plants, an edging around the base of larger plants, or as an accent to play up certain features.
Katie Ruellia can grow in a variety of substrates, from pure sand to regular potting soil. It can also grow in containers, as long as the pot has enough drainage.
Sandy or garden soil mixed with added organic material will help achieve the best results.
Katie Ruellia can tolerate both bright to low light conditions, so it can do well in almost any vivarium.
It grows best in bright, aquatic light but can also tolerate partial shade.
Buy Katie Ruellia
When buying Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’, there are a few things to keep in mind. Making sure the plant is healthy when purchased is essential for its success in a vivarium or pond. Vegetation that is already in poor conditions will have a very hard time adjusting to new environments.
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Katie Ruellia Care & Propagation
Katie Ruellia has very low maintenance care needs and can make a great addition to many vivariums.
This plant doesn’t require much pruning, but it can be pinched back to keep it in shape. It can be propagated easily from cuttings or by division.
How To Grow
Katie Ruellia prefers slightly acidic soil and can be propagated easily from cuttings or divisions.
Cut off a stem with a couple of leaves at the end and leave it to dry in the shade. Plant the stem in a container filled with soil and water it regularly.
The stem should root within a few weeks and you can then transplant it into a permanent spot in the vivarium.
Katie Ruellia is a drought-tolerant plant and does not require frequent watering.
For the best results, water it only when the soil is completely dry, then water deeply from the base of the plant.
Plants Similar To Katie Ruellia
Adding diversity to an enclosure is key to an aesthetically pleasing setup. Try mixing up the look of your vivarium with different flora that can easily co-exist in the same types of environment.
Furthermore, if for some reason you find the Katie Ruellia hard to acquire or would like to consider something similar to this plant… Here are other foliage plants you might find will do well with or in place of Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’:
Katie Ruellia is a great addition to any vivarium or near ponds, providing evergreen foliage and vibrant purple flowers throughout the year.
It is also a low-maintenance plant with a wide range of light tolerance and is a great option for novice plant keepers or for those looking for unique ground cover.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Katie Ruellia (Ruellia brittoniana) is an invasive plant species. It has been classified as an “invasive exotic“ by many states, including Georgia, Virginia, and Texas. It spreads quickly and forms dense monocultures, making it difficult for native plants to compete.
Ruellia brittoniana is a perennial plant.
Katie Ruellia‘s height can vary, as individual plants typically range from 2–3 feet tall.
A Katie Ruellia is a low–growing, evergreen perennial plant with purplish–pink trumpet–shaped flowers and dark green foliage. It is native to tropical areas in Central and South America.
Yes, Ruellia species are known for their rapid spread and are considered invasive in some areas.