Garden Musings from Memphis Area Master Gardeners

January 22, 2013 – 02:08 pm

Mystery plant

I love alliteration!

A friend sent me this picture (how do you like the disembodied hand?) that she took in Jackson, MS and wondered if I knew what it was. Thanks to the miracle of Google Images, I identified it as perennial Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana.)

Known by several common names (Desert Petunia, Mexican Bluebells, Mexican Petunia), this plant is hardy to Zone 7a, likes full sun to partial shade, and will grow from one to three feet depending on conditions. It likes moist, but well-drained soil. Each bloom lasts only one day, but it flowers from spring to fall. The flowers are a pretty purple-blue.

You can propagate from seed or from cuttings. Be aware that in good conditions it has been known to self-seed "aggressively, " meaning invasive! Does anyone in Memphis have experience with this plant?

Fettuccine with Pistachio-Mint Pesto and Tomatoes

Last Sunday night I cut some mint from my garden and used it in a recipe from this month's issue of Cooking Light: Fettuccine with Pistachio-Mint Pesto and Tomatoes. (Have you noticed that I love Cooking Light?) It was delicious and easy! You can add chicken or shrimp if you want.


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Royal Icing Flowers - Petunia
Royal Icing Flowers - Petunia

I'd include sweet alyssum with the petunias

I have white sweet alyssum planted with white petunias at the top of my retaining wall, and it's a pretty combination: tiny, snow-flake alyssum flowers with larger, delicate petunias. It would look very nice in the pots next to your mailbox: two alyssum plants and two petunia plants in each pot. I got the idea from an upscale nursery here in Seattle. They had that combination in a gigantic pot, and it looked just beautiful. I don't know if this matters to you as a beginner, but sweet alyssum attracts many beneficial insects to your garden, and that reduces problems with pests.
I've always found the light blue petunias with the dark blue veins to be very pretty

Rambling Star Petunia Seed Pack, 100 Seeds
Lawn & Patio ()
  • Fresh seeds
  • Colorful
  • Get for borders, beds and planters
  • Lovely blooms! Make your neighbors jealous!

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  1. Petunia flowers as Indicators
  2. Petunia flowers in India
  3. Impatiens flowers perennial