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 funnels from winter into early spring. It grows in sun or part-shade and reaches 1.5-2m in height. 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. 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.