1254 Ruellia graecizansCommon Names: red Christmas pride Family: Acanthaceae (acanthus Family)
Red Christmas pride is a subshrub or returning perennial that can get 2-3 ft (60-90 cm) tall and a couple feet (60 cm) across. It has spreading semi-woody stems that bear 5-7 inch (12-18 cm) narrowly oblong leaves that are purple on their undersides. Scarlet red flowers, tubular-funnel shaped and around an inch (25 mm) long, are borne in clusters carried on slender arching peduncles arising from leaf axils. The flowers are closed up at first, but some of them open up to display five shallow lobes after a couple days of sunshine. There is a form with white flowers.
Ruellia graecizans is native to South America, and is well known in Argentina and Brazil. It is widely grown as an ornamental and has become naturalized in parts of Australia, Hawaii and some other Pacific islands.
Light: Red Christmas pride tolerates light shade and thrives in full sun. Indoors, it should be placed near a window. Moisture: This little subshrub can tolerate rather dry conditions, but does best with regular watering. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 12 . Red Christmas pride is a small shrub in frost free areas. It is killed to the ground by moderate frosts and freezes but usually grows back in spring. Here in zone 8B, Red Christmas pride eventually comes back from winter freezes but doesn’t bloom until late autumn. Propagation: Red Christmas pride is easily propagated by seed, and in fact will usually self-seed, although it does not appear to be invasive. Red Christmas pride also is easy to start from cuttings of young fast growing tips.
Red Christmas pride is often grown as a houseplant. It is best positioned near a south, east or west window where it gets bright indirect light. As its name implies, this is a winter blooming plant, and is well suited to display during the Christmas season along with the ever popular poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima). Be sure to pinch back fast growing shoots regularly to maintain a bushy shape with maximum flowers.
In areas that do not freeze, red Christmas pride is used in flower beds and semi-shady sites under and around large trees and shrubs. Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the red tubular flowers.
Red Christmas pride blooms all year in its native range, but tends to be more of a winter bloomer in cultivation. During the dry season in South America, it blooms with cleistogamous flowers (flowers that do not open) and is self pollinating. In the wet season it produces normal flowers that are pollinated by various hummingbirds and butterflies.
Steve Christman 2/28/16