How to Grow and Care Ruellia Plant

How to Grow and Care Ruellia Plant
How to Grow and Care Ruellia Plant

More like Gesneriaceae rueglio in appearance, it is an unusual plant. With its Ruellia-like mottled foliage, delicate flowers, and dense undergrowth, it is barely noticeable that it belongs to the prickly tree family. But Ruellia has the same characteristics as its brothers. It does not require any special overwintering to produce abundant flowers but does require light, high air humidity, and meticulous care. This Ruellias plant is more than worth the effort. And is quickly becoming a favorite of the most sophisticated collectors. You will learn how to grow ruellia plants in ThumbGarden’s article.


Ornamental foliage, mottled foliage, Ruellia-like foliage, beautiful flowers, textiles, ornamental, modern – describing Ruellia is far from easy. It is one of the most atypical plants of the spurge family, coming to us from the humid tropics.

The most popular Ruellia devosiana (Dipteracanthus devosianus) is still popular, reaching heights of up to 8 inches (20 cm), and is a fast-growing perennial herbaceous plant that is not small in size. This is because these shrubs do not grow to any height. Instead, overhanging branches up to 12 inches (30 cm) in length produce a spreading, lush, massive shrub. Ruellii can form “living bouquets” – straight, slender shrubs – or form amplexus. However, over time, any Ruellia will stretch out, still partially hanging over the edge of the pot.

Ruellia is prized first and foremost for the beauty of its foliage. Oval leaves with pointed tips up to 2 inches (10 cm) long look amazingly decorative – dark and Ruellia, with pubescent veins. The lighter veins richly accentuate different shades of green. Their lower surface is always reddish.

Ruellia blooms in comfortable light when all competitors go into “hibernation” – in October. However, in areas with harsh winters, they are more likely to flower from late winter. The single, tubular flowers, located in the axils and tops of the leaves, are a modest 2 inch (5 cm) in length, similar to the flowers of forsythia. The dark or light-colored throat and subtle veining in the center of the petals only accentuate their beauty.

Unfortunately, the attractive Ruellia blooms surprisingly quickly and doesn’t even last a day. However, the new flowers bloom almost relentlessly.

Even the abundance of flowers cannot hide the presence of foliage. Its brilliant snow-white, candy pink, bright fuchsia, and rich deep purple seem to have been specially selected by nature to emphasize the dark Ruellia color of its leaves.

Ruellia fruits ripen quickly and are known for their ability to “shoot” seeds when they split open.


Ruellias do not possess an enviable variety. As greenhouse or indoor plants, only a few species are grown, except for the legendary Ruellia Devo.
Ruellia makoyana, with slightly larger leaves and a dazzling purple color on its back.
Ruellia amoena, a large-leaved species with very brightly colored panicles of red tubular flowers.
Ruellia elegans (Red Ruellia), a unique species with straight branches that only droop with age, lance-shaped leaves, and wavy flowers.
The wide range of varieties makes it possible for everyone to find their own variegated beauty. You can recognize them simply by the color of their flowers – white, pink, purple – but it’s worth taking a closer look at their leaves. Bright or pale veins, emerald, dark blue or dark brown dark green, always look gorgeous, but still clearly different from each other.


Growing Conditions for Indoor Ruellia Plants
Growing Conditions for Indoor Ruellia Plants

Perfectly adapted to room temperature, Ruellia is light-dependent.

Lighting and Placement

Ruellia’s ability to grow well in light shade allows designers to use this non-traditional plant to decorate interiors. Ruellia is quite light-loving and does not tolerate heavy shade, but it adapts well in bright places and shows stronger leaf coloring patterns.

A reduction in light usually affects the number of flowers, but the green plants are more decorative. In winter, with the onset of cold weather, it’s not just winter flowers or major plants that need to be extended: with short daylight in the shade, greens suffer as well. A northern windowsill or similar location indoors is considered ideal. ruellia should be kept out of direct sunlight, as its bushy ruellia leaves are susceptible to excessive light reactions.

Temperature and Ventilation

You don’t have to make any compromises to find the ideal location for Ruellia: this plant grows well at room temperature year-round and will flower without a cool overwinter. Ruellia does not tolerate as low as 55 °F (13°C). A stable temperature of 64-66 °F (18-23°C) is optimal. Ruellia is afraid of ventilation and sudden temperature Ruellia is afraid of sudden changes in ventilation and temperature.


Caring for Ruellia Plants at Home
Caring for Ruellia Plants at Home

This plant does not need anything but regular care. Maintaining proper humidity is difficult, but otherwise, this easily propagated plant can hardly be classified as capricious.

Watering and air humidity

Water Ruellia with warm water only, let the substrate dry out, and ensure constant light humidity. This crop does not like too much watering and will soon lose its decorative qualities due to drought. The ideal humidity can be achieved by draining the water from the tray immediately after watering and drying only 1 inch (2.5 cm) of soil between waterings. In winter, watering can be reduced, but only by observing how quickly the soil dries out.

Maintaining a constant medium to high humidity is the most difficult part of caring for Ruellia. Despite their Ruellia-like nature, Ruellia cannot tolerate dry air and immediately respond with curled leaves. While they will return to their original state, repeated mistakes in care cannot be repeated.

Since Ruellia will also be content with the medium, simple measures such as placing the plant on a tray with a moist material, placing the simplest humidifier pot nearby, or frequently spraying with a tiny nozzle to keep water droplets from accumulating on the leaves will suffice.

Feeding and fertilizer composition

Ruellia is a suitable plant for fertilization all year round. From September to February, fertilize with half of the fertilizer every 1.5 months. And from March to August, feeding should not be excessive: a half amount of fertilizer applied every 2-3 weeks is sufficient.

Pruning and shaping the Ruellia

To keep the bush compact, you can follow the practice of flower centers and treat it with growth inhibitors. But it is much better to shape the plant correctly. The main purpose is to encourage tillering and prevent shoots from pulling off. Then, pinching off the tips or pruning off the top part of the branches is all that is needed. Pruning is usually done in the early summer or spring.

Transplanting, containers, and substrates

Ruellia is grown in compact, classic containers that match their status as living bouquets. The rapid growth rate allows the plants to master containers in 1-2 seasons, and adult shrubs should be transplanted or replaced frequently. The best time for transplanting is in early spring.

Breathable, light soil – any general-purpose substrate with a loosening agent such as coarse sand or perlite – will suit Ruellia.

Repotting is not a problem for Ruellia. This plant is suitable for hydroponics and greenhouse composition. In addition to other moisture-loving plants, it can be used as a ground cover and a flowering waterfall.

Pests and problems in cultivation

The unusual foliage of Ruellia is very attractive to whiteflies. If there is the slightest doubt about this pest in the collection, Ruellia should first be isolated. The best way to control the insect is to spray the plant with an insecticide immediately. In the shade and without normal light, Ruellia becomes deformed in winter and will drop its leaves and wilt if not properly watered.

Spreading Ruellia

Although Ruellia seeds are increasingly available on the market, it is best to propagate this plant asexually. The tips of shoots cut from strong branches or left after pruning can be cuttings. They are easily rooted in water and soil as long as sufficient moisture is in the air.

The long shoots of Ruellia can be separated by rooting in the soil and then as a separate plant.

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