Little Wild Petunias Near An Onion Patch
Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis) is a lovely little perennial native to most of the eastern half of the United States. It has Petunia-like lilac flowers, but it is not really a Petunia. It’s not even in the same family of plants – R. humilis is in the Acanthus family, while Petunias are in the Nightshade family, along with tomatoes and tobacco.
In our garden, we grow Wild Petunia mostly in the Lamppost Bed, but there’s also some in the Left Bank Bed and the Parkway Bed. For us it grows about a foot tall. It emerges fairly late and doesn’t start blooming until July. Flowers open in the morning and fall to the ground by evening.
Wild Petunia likes poor soils that are well-drained. It can adapt to other conditions, but it does not compete well against larger or more aggressive plants in rich soil. In the right location it will seed itself about and create nice patches. Oh, and it’s a host plant for Buckeye butterflies.
We have too many Wild Petunias for them to be lonely. And they don’t actually grow in an onion patch, but I do have quite a few Allium lusitanicum ‘Summer Beauty’ as well as Nodding Onion (A. cernuum) growing nearby. In the picture above you can see a couple of Nodding Onions mixed in with the Ruellia.
A word about the title of this post. While trying to come up with a title, I googled “songs about Petunias” and was surprised when a whole bunch of links were listed that related to a song called “Lonely Little Petunia in an Onion Patch”, which I had never heard of .
I asked Judy if she was familiar with it. “Of course,” she responded, in a tone that implied everyone learned this song as a child. So I listened to the song, and it’s been maddeningly running through my mind ever since. But if you would also like to hear it, play the clip above. Just don’t say you weren’t warned.
That’s all for now.
I have seen these wild petunias in the wild. Usually when I see it it isn’t in a clump this big. This clump looks gorgeous. Is it in full sun? I have plenty of poor soil but not a lot of sun. Don’t feel too bad. I have never heard of this song either.
I’d say almost full sun.
Interesting! You have so many plants I’ve never even heard of before!
Lovely little petunia, even if it isn’t a petunia and you don’t have an onion patch. As for the song…why yes, I’ve heard it many times when I was young and now it is maddeningly going through my head 😉
Such a lovely little plant! They are starting to pop up in my lawn here and there and I wince each time I mow over them!
I’ll bet they’ll keep coming back, and spread.
Oh yes, that song, started running through my head the minute I read the title of your post. My elder (8 – 17 years older) siblings used to taunt me (lovingly) with that song when I cried. I remember reading Henry Mitchell’s fond thoughts of this plant but this is the first time I’ve seen pictures of it. Far out!
Now that you mention it, I can see that this is a good song for teasing younger siblings.
I’ve never seen the plant or heard the song.
Ruellias are great summer bloomers. I grow R. drummondiana and it looks quite a bit like the R. humilis. Great plants.
I’ll have to look up R. drummondiana.
I’ve never heard this song before but I do love ruellia! I love lots of it through my garden. I let it self-seed so I never know where it will pop up.
I also let it go wild. Hasn’t been too aggressive so far.
I planted ruellia once, but unfortunately it did not survive. I also planted acanthus once, actually twice. Same story. Obviously something in my garden is not right for it. By the way, that song is obnoxious!
Not as obnoxious as “The Song That Never Ends”, from Lamb Chop’s Play Along. Ever heard that one?
A dear gardening friend gave me one of these just this week. I have yet to plant it in the garden because I’m trying to figure out the perfect spot for it. 🙂
What a pretty little flower, never heard that song before!xxx
I thought these looked familiar, thanks for this post! I’m still trying to figure out everything that’s in my front yard, now I know what this is.
My very young grandsons love this song, and regularly listen to it. It’s very cute, and catchy, as you rightly warn. This flower is nicer than the bred petunias that used to very popular here, but you don’t see them so much now. Maybe they need too much water.
We still see plenty of regular Petunias here, though Calibrachoa is catching up in popularity. regular