Ruellia elegans

Ruellia elegans

A Mexican member of the family Acanthaceae, this is a sprawling perennial (ht to 1 m) with brilliant red funnel-shaped flowers in spring, summer and autumn. It tends to take root wherever it touches the ground. It enjoys a sunny position, with protection from very hot sun in summer. Cut back by half at the end of winter.

Lycoris aurea with golden form of Brugmansia and Ruellia elegans in the garden of Anne Prescott in Sydney

I have seen it in a friend's garden (pictured) looking fantastic with red Dahlia and yellow Lycoris underneath a golden Brugmansia. I have planted mine to spill over the edge of a retaining wall, nearby some lime-coloured foliage, against which the flowers really zing. I also like to grow such red flowers near to dark purplish-bronze leaves - a vibrant combination.

Ruellia elegans Firebird

When visiting a friend in Brisbane several years ago, I obtained a cutting of a hot pink version of this plant, which was labelled 'Firebird' - pictured below left. It grows just as well as the species in my garden. I have never seen it anywhere else.

Flowers in January, February, March, April, May, October, November, December.


** See my special booklet on Acanthaceae ...