Sticks, black sticks

With all of my winter preparations: bringing potted plants into the garage, into the house, digging up dozens and dozens of elephant ear bulbs, digging non-hardy rootballs for storage over the winter -- somehow I forgot about one plant. I seem to do this every year. (Thankfully it's not the same plant each year -- I like to spread around the neglect.)


This year the forgotten one was my large pot of Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana). Although our weather has been extremely mild so far this winter, we have had some hard freezes, including one night that got down to 14ºF (-9ºC).

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To be honest I didn't completely forget about this plant. I know that although it can't take our zone 6 winters, it is hardy to zone 8 (or 7 with protection according to several sources), so I figured it could take a couple of freezes. (Zone 8 is an average of 10ºF-20ºF or -12ºC to -6ºC, which is about what this plant experienced that night.)

Besides, I have a few other pots of this plant, have dug up a couple of rootballs, and have several cuttings rooting in water. If this plant in the now-crowded pot doesn't make it, it's not the end of it in my garden. It would be a shame to lose this large specimen though.


So the top growth has all been freeze-killed now. The stems (even while alive) are a deep purplish-black color that is matched by only two other plants in my garden: the black-stemmed taro and the black bamboo. Beautiful!

My plan is to overwinter the pot in the garage as I did last year, so all of the annoying stems must come off.



As far as I can tell the growth near the soil surface (and by extension the parts below ground) seems to be fine:


I won't really know if it survives until the spring when I bring this plant outside again, but I have a good feeling I'll see it sprouting again when I do.




I really love these stems. Pity that some of the most beautiful stuff has to be put into the compost pile sometimes.

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Lancashire rose  – (December 20, 2011 at 10:03 AM)  

I have several varieties of Mexican ruellia and they survived a brutal winter here two years ago. However, I am not sure about the tall variety. I never had that one until this year when someone did a plant swap with me for iris. It tends to be a little weedy here sending out those underground runners. But then I grew pink primrose in St Louis and it was very mannerly. Here, it is out of control.

Gerhard Bock  – (December 20, 2011 at 12:48 PM)  

These *are* beautiful stalks. Too bad you can't preserve them somehow.

I've got to grow a Mexican petunia next year. We used to have one before we remodeled the house, and it was completely hardy here.

Christine @ The Gardening Blog  – (December 20, 2011 at 3:17 PM)  

I love the Mexican petunia - I bought one a while back after I saw it on your blog. Mine is still quite small(ish) and I'm waiting for it to flower. Its a great looking plant, even without the blooms. Mine has very dark purplish leaves. I'm guessing though its going to survive here outside in the winter.

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