Ruellia Colorata/Ruellia Colorata
At its best from December through to February, Ruellia colorata is an attractive flowering plant that makes an excellent addition to the range of short-term house-plants for Winter colour. Other Ruellia species cannot compare with R. colorata in the rich colour of the flower head; the combination of scarlet and orange contrasts well with the deep green of the foliage. From tropical regions of Brazil, the perennial Ruellia colorata needs a high degree of humidity to thrive as a long-term plant in the home; only the most green-fingered of enthusiasts – or those with warm, humid conservatories -might expect to keep it growing from one season to the next.
This tropical plant needs warm conditions to perform well: during the growing period, provide a minimum temperature of 13°C (55°F), with a preferred temperature of 20°C (68°F) and above – given a complementary increase in humidity. To help induce the plant to rest after flowering, keep it on the cool side for about four weeks.
As a plant which is most likely to be used in the home in mid-winter, this plant needs good light; if kept for the remainder of the year, grow in good, bright, but indirect, light. Using tepid water, water Ruellia colorata thoroughly, then allow the surface of theto begin to dry before giving the next thorough watering: do not allow the roots to dry out when the plant is in bloom. Long-term houseplants should be rested after flowering: reduce the amount of water given during this period.
This plant needs a high degree of humidity to thrive: do not mist the flowers, but increase the level of humidity in the plant’s vicinity by standing it on a tray of moisture-retentive pellets.
Feed R. colorata every two weeks, from the end of the rest period through to the appearance of the flowers: use a general-purpose house-plant feed. No feed is needed if used as a short-term houseplant.
Grow Ruellia colorata in a free-draining, loam-based compost: if necessary, repotting can be carried out at the end of the plant’s rest period. Any over-large stems or straggly growth should be removed at the same time.
As young plants flower more freely, older plants should be replaced every two years: take softwoodin Summer.
Leggy growth: If the Winter growth becomes leggy, the level of light provided is insufficient.
Whitefly: The growing conditions preferred by this plant may encourage an invasion of Whitefly; control these pests with a suitable insecticide.