|My Kind of Weed
The hairy wild petunia, Ruellia humilis, usually blooms for me mainly in July, but this year its still going strong. The plant is actually no relation to its namesake, but the light-purple, 2-inch, trumpet-shaped flowers do resemble small delicate petunias. Each is short-lived, but the plant puts out a steady succession.
Green leaves and stems carry short, soft, pale fuzzy hairs, which stick straight out from the edges, resulting in one of the plants common names: fringeleaf petunia. Growing one to two feet high, the plant branches well, making an attractive, bushy mass. It thrives in any well-drained soil, in sun or part shade. Not a flashy plant, but dependable and charming.
A perennial wildflower, it ranges from Florida to Texas, up to southern Wisconsin and Michigan, throughout the Midwest prairies and into eastern states as far north as Pennsylvania. Im off the map, but it loves my garden.
Originally I bought one, but now I consider it a weed. Seedlings pop up everywhere in my yard, except deep shade. The plant breaks off at the crown when I try to pull it, leaving roots that quickly sprout new top growth: I have to loosen roots with a shovel or trowel before pulling.
Could this plant become invasive? I hope not. I read it will root along prostrate stems, but I dont see that in my garden. Since there are many natural varieties, all somewhat different ... perhaps mine wont? The New England Wild Flower Society very careful about what they introduce sells plants and seeds. In Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, its not only rare but endangered.
At one time I thought it was a bother, but after my recent struggles to remove euonymus and lamiastrum; after learning how bad cypress spurge was right after I planted it ... ruellia just doesnt seem so bad. Its fun to see where it will appear next. When Ward hasnt mowed in a week, one blooms in the middle of the lawn. Its happy with grass, commonly found in meadows (grazing animals like it).
When one gets in the way I know I can get rid of it, and when I want one, I can go find one. Its handy to fill in bare spots. Studying it today, I just thought where I want to put one. Theres room next to some perilla, whose deep red-purple leaves will emphasize the light purple ruellia flowers.