Ruellia macrantha

Ruellia macrantha (left) with Aechmea gamosepala

This is a soft-wooded shrub from Brazil, a member of the Acanthaceae plant family, which is called Christmas pride in northern hemisphere gardens. It has gorgeous large, bright purplish-pink flared funnel-shaped blooms from winter into early spring. It grows in sun or part-shade and reaches 1.5-2m in height. It seems to prefer to have a few hours of autumn and winter sun each day for optimum flower production. It should be cut back quite hard after flowering to keep it from becoming straggly. It is frost sensitive. In colder areas, it could be tried in a pot and kept in a protected spot. Growing it in a pot also allows it to be moved around to take advantage of shade in summer and sun in winter. It will grow easily from cuttings. Its petals are exactly the same colour as the winter-blooming bromeliad Aechmea gamosepala (ht 50cm) - also from Brazil - with its thick bristles of purplish-pink bracts tipped with iridescent blue bead-like flowers (pictured above right).

Flowers in June, July, August, September.