this petunia is caterpillar food


desert ruellia
ruellia peninsularis

  • PLANTS can get 4' TALL AND 6'WIDE

  • desert shrub

  • moderate zone (terrace zone)


  • HARDY TO 25º F

  • NECTAR PLANT FOR HUMMINGBIRDS, BUTTERFLIES, AND INSECTS, larval food plant for many butterflies. 

Heat tolerant, sun tolerant, drought tolerant, desert ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis) grows to about 4 feet tall and can mound to about 6 feet wide, though most often this species is seen at about 3' x 3'--probably because people always prune them. They take well to pruning, but as we always say, leave your English garden in England, and let our native plants sprawl and grow! We live in Arizona, ya dootiehead!

Purple (some times almost blue) pentunia-like flowers appear most heavy in spring to summer but can be seen any time of year, especially in warm microclimates. This plant is cold hardy to about 25º F. This plant takes full sun and once established, low water. Good soil drainage is best. 

This plant is native to Baja California and Sonora, Mexico.

Desert ruellia is a larval host to many butterflies including the malachite (Siproeta stelenes), white peacock (Anartia jatrophae), common buckeye (Junonia coenia) and Texas crescent (Anthanassa texana). It is a nectar plant for adult butterflies of all sorts, as well as bees and other nectar-loving insects. 

Katherine Gierlach