Ruellia – Velvet Leaves and Touching Flowers-Care

Outwardly, it looks more like the Gesnerian ruelia – an unusual plant. Velvet variegated leaves, touching flowers with delicate colors and dense bushes give little indication of belonging to the Akantov family. But the ruelia’s character exactly matches the brothers. She does not need a special wintering for lush flowering, but lighting, high humidity and careful care are important. This velvet star is well worth the effort. And it quickly becomes a favorite of even the most sophisticated collectors.

Ruellia – velvet leaves and touching flowers. Farmer Dr. Alexey Yakovlev

Description of the plant

Decorative leafy, variegated, velvety-leaved, beautifully flowering, textile, ornamental, modern – it is far from easy to describe ruelia. This is the most atypical plant from of the Acanthus family (Acanthaceae), which came to us from the humid tropics.

With a height of only 20 cm, the most popular руэллия Дево (Ruellia devosiana) (still popular old name Dipteracanthus devosianus) – a rapidly degenerating perennial herb with no tiny size. The thing is that the bushes are not developing at all in height. Hanging shoots up to 30 cm long create sprawling, lush, voluminous bushes. Ruellias are formed both as “living bouquets” – straight slender bushes, and as ampels. But over time, any ruella stretches and still partially hangs along the edges of the pot.

Ruella is prized primarily for the beauty of the leaves. Oval, with a pointed tip, with a length of up to 7 cm, the leaves seem strikingly elegant – dark and velvety, with pubescent veins. Various shades of green are luxuriously accentuated by light veins. Their lower surface is always reddish.

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Ruellias bloom under comfortable lighting when all competitors go into hibernation – in October. But in regions with harsh winters, they often bloom from the end of winter. Solitary, located in the axils of leaves and at the tops, tubular flowers with a modest length of 5 cm resemble the flowering of streptocarpus. A dark or light throat and the finest veins in the center of the petals only emphasize their beauty.

Unfortunately, the charming ruellas bloom amazingly quickly, unable to last even until the end of the day. But on the other hand, new ones are blooming almost tirelessly.

Even abundant flowering does not hide the leaves. Shining snow-white, candy pink, bright fuchsia-raspberry, rich dark purple as if specially chosen by nature to emphasize the dark velvet of the leaves with their purity.

Ruella fruit boxes ripen very quickly and are famous for their ability to “shoot” seeds when cracking.

Ruellias are formed both as "living bouquets" - straight slender bushes, and as ampelsRuellias are formed both as “living bouquets” – straight slender bushes, and as ampels. Farmer Júℓiα

Types of indoor ruellas

Ruellias cannot boast of an enviable variety. As a greenhouse or indoor plant, in addition to the legendary Deveaux ruelia, only a few species are grown:

  • ruella makoya (Ruellia makoyana) with slightly larger leaves and a dazzling purple color of their back;
  • nice ruelle (Ruellia amoena) – large-leaved species with very bright colors and panicles of red tubular flowers;
  • Ruella of Formosus (Ruellia elegans) Is a unique species with straight, drooping shoots only with age, lanceolate leaves and wavy bells of flowers.
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A large selection of varieties invites everyone to find their own variegated beauty. They are recognized simply by the color of the flowers – white, pink, purple, but it is worth taking a closer look at the leaves. Brighter or paler veins, emerald, dark-gray or blackish-brown shades of dark green always look luxurious, but still clearly differ from each other.

Ruellia MakoyanaRuellia Makoyana. Farmer Ashley Millet
Ruellia pleasant (Ruellia amoena)Ruellia pleasant (Ruellia amoena). Farmer floreznursery
Ruellia Formoskaya (Ruellia elegans)Ruellia Formosan (Ruellia elegans). Farmer Annette Wright

Growing conditions for indoor ruelles

Perfectly adapting to room temperatures, ruelia is light dependent.

Lighting and placement

The ability of ruelia to grow well in light partial shade allows designers to use this non-standard plant to decorate interiors. Ruellia is quite light-requiring and does not tolerate strong shadows, but within the framework of bright places it adapts perfectly, showing more intense color patterns on the leaves.

Reducing lighting usually affects the number of flowers, but the greenery of the plant is much more decorative. For winter, with the approach of cold weather, lighting for ruelia should be increased not only when they want to achieve winter flowering or stretch the main thing: with a short daylight hours in the shade, greenery also suffers. The ideal place is considered the northern window sills or a similar place in the interior.

Ruelia should be protected from direct rays of the sun, because the luxurious velvet of the leaves is very sensitive to too intense light.

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Temperature control and ventilation

In order to find the ideal place for ruelia, you do not have to go into compromises: this plant grows well all year round at room temperature and is able to bloom without a cool winter. Ruellia does not tolerate a drop in performance even to 13 degrees Celsius. Stable temperatures from 18 to 23 degrees are the best option.

Ruellias are afraid of drafts and sudden changes in temperature.

The ideal place for reellia is considered to be the northern window sills or a similar place in the interior.The ideal place for ruelia is considered to be the northern window sills or a similar place in the interior. Farmer Rhonda Winslade

Caring for ruella at home

This plant does not require anything beyond regular maintenance. It is not always easy for ruelia to maintain the correct air humidity, but otherwise this easily propagating plant is difficult to classify as capricious.

Watering and air humidity

Ruellias are watered only with soft, slightly lukewarm water, focusing on the drying out of the substrate and trying to create a stable light moisture. This culture does not like too abundant watering and quickly loses its decorative effect from drought. Immediately draining the water from the pallets after irrigation and drying only 1-2 cm of soil between waterings, you can achieve ideal humidity. For the winter, watering is reduced, but only following the rate of soil drying.

Maintaining a constant medium-high air humidity is the most difficult point in caring for a ruelle. Despite their velvety texture, ruelles cannot stand dry air and immediately react to it by rolling the leaves. And although they regain their shape, it is not worth repeating care mistakes.

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Since ruelia will be content with average indicators, simple measures are enough – put the plant on a pallet with damp materials, place the simplest humidifier bowls next to it, or carry out frequent spraying with fine nozzles, preventing a drop of water from accumulating on the leaves.

Top dressing and composition of fertilizers

Ruellia is one of the plants that is best fed all year round. From September to February, the plant is fed with halved portions of fertilizers, applying them once every 1 months. And from March to August, feeding should not be too intense: it is enough to use half-reduced doses of fertilizers 1,5 time in 1-2 weeks.

Ruelles hate dry airRuelles hate dry air. Farmer Stan Shebs

Trimming and shaping ruelia

To maintain the compactness of the bushes, you can follow the example of the flower centers and treat the ruella with growth inhibitors. But it is much better to form a plant correctly. The main purpose of pruning is to stimulate tillering and prevent shoots from pulling out. It is enough to pinch the tops or cut off the tip of the branches. Usually, pruning is done in the spring, early summer.

Transplant, containers and substrate

Ruella is grown in compact, classic containers, corresponding to their status as a living bouquet. Rapid growth rates allow the plant to master the capacity in 1-2 seasons, and adult bushes are transplanted or replaced quite often. The best time to transplant is early spring.

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Breathable, light soil – any versatile substrate with loosening additives (for example, coarse sand or perlite) – is suitable for Ruellias.

Ruella is not afraid of transplantation. This plant is suitable for hydroponics and greenhouse compositions. It can be used as a ground cover and for flowering cascades in addition to other moisture-loving plants.

Read also our article 10 best houseplants for a gift.

Diseases, pests and growing problems

The unusual leaves of ruella are very attractive to whiteflies. At the slightest suspicion of the appearance of this pest in the collection of ruelia, it is necessary to isolate first of all. It is better to fight insects right away by spraying the plant with insecticides. In the shade and without normal lighting in winter, ruelia deforms, with improper watering, it loses leaves and withers.

It is better to propagate ruella vegetatively.It is better to propagate ruella vegetatively. Farmer Fleurette Jardin

Also read our article Best Plants for a Cold North Room.

Reproduction of ruella

Despite the fact that ruelia seeds are increasingly found on the market, it is better to propagate this plant vegetatively. Shoot tops, cut from strong branches or left over after pruning, can be used as cuttings. They take root easily – in water and soil, subject to high humidity.

Long shoots of ruelia can be anchored to the soil by rooting the cuttings and then separating them as independent plants.

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Anna Evans

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