Ruellia Makoyana: How To Cultivate The Colorful Monkey Plant

Ruellia Makoyana pronounced [roo-EL-ee-uh mak-koy-AH-nuh] is a colorful houseplant choice, even when it’s not in bloom.

It’s an evergreen with hairy dark green leaves and silvery veins, providing an attractive display throughout the year.

Ruellia makoyana - trailing velvet plantPin

It belongs to the family Acanthaceae of tropical plants and is native to Brazil.

While it prefers warm, humid climates, it’s commonly grown indoors across the world.

The common name for Makoyana include:

  • Monkey plant
  • Trailing velvet plant

Ruellia Makoyana is grown for its foliage and flowers and makes a great addition to any home. Like it’s cousin the “Mexican Petunia” Ruellia simplex, given the right conditions, it’s an easy plant to grow.

Ruellia Makoyana Care

Size and Growth

The trailing velvet plant is a short shrub. It typically reaches about 12” inches and produces leaves measuring up to six inches.

The leaves of Ruellia Makoyana are velvety and hairy, with light yellow or silvery veins providing a contrast to the dark green leaves.

Flowering and Fragrance

The flowers are pink and tubular shaped with red markings. They are typically about two inches long and grow from the tops of the stems.

The plant blooms in late fall and often lasts through winter. The flowers don’t produce a fragrance.

Light and Temperature

The Ruellia makoyana is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11.

It’s rarely grown outdoors year round, but may be set out during the warm, humid months.

The plant needs warm temperatures throughout the year. It also requires high humidity.

Plenty of sunlight is also recommended for optimal growth, even during the colder months.

Set the plant near a window so it receives lots of sunlight throughout the day.

It can even tolerate direct sunlight if high humidity levels are maintained.

Watering and Feeding

Water the plant regularly throughout the year. If the tap water is alkaline, use purified water.

Water with high alkalinity can lead to leaf chlorosis, a condition causing the leaves to yellow due to a lack of chlorophyll.

Soil and Transplanting

Ruellia Makoyana grows best in regular potting soil with good drainage.

When growing in containers or pots, ensure that the bottom has drainage holes.

Transplant young plants at the end of spring, after the bloom.

Mature plants need transplanting every other year.

Grooming & Maintenance

To control the spread of the plant, cut the plant back after the flowers wilt, typically around early spring.

Groom the Ruellia makoyana plant a couple of weeks before or after transplanting.

Repotting the plant adds stress, as does pruning the stems. Space these events out to avoid placing too much stress on the plant.

Related: Like Ruellia Makoyana, the Persian Shield plant is part of the family Acanthaceae. Can they be propagated in water? Yes, Persian shield plants can be started in water. Take a cutting, place it in a jar of water. Change the water every few days and wait for roots to develop before transplanting the cutting into the soil. More on growing Persian Shield Strobilanthes here.

How To Propagate Trailing Velvet Plant Ruellia

Propagate Ruellia makoyana from seed or cuttings.

  • Take tip cuttings with stems with at least one pair of well-developed leaves.
  • Take cuttings in the early spring and plant in moist soil.
  • Cover the pots in plastic to achieve higher humidity levels and set in a bright spot.
  • The plants should begin rooting within several weeks.
  • Wait for the young plants to take root before removing the plastic.

Purchase seeds or obtain them from the flowers after the bloom.

  • Use fast-draining soil or propagation mix in a seed tray.
  • Scatter the seeds over the soil.
  • Set the tray in a warm spot where temperatures remain above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep the soil moist, but not overly wet. Lightly cover the seeds with soil.
  • When the seedlings appear, move the tray to a sunnier spot, but avoid direct sunlight.
  • After the leaves start to appear, the plants can be separated and placed in their own containers.
  • Ensure that the soil and container provide fast drainage.

Ruellia Makoyana Plant Pests and Diseases?

Before growing the Ruellia Makoyana outdoors, check if it’s considered invasive in your region.

It’s currently invasive in Florida and may get classified as invasive in other areas.

The plant is not considered toxic or dangerous to people or pets. It’s also highly resistant to threats from pests and diseases.

The main problem to worry about is dry air. If the air remains too dry, the plant may attract spider mites.

Treat mild infestations by rinsing away the insects and move the plant to a more humid spot.

Regular misting can also help boost humidity temporarily, but may be needed daily to maintain moisture.

The plant also requires good air circulation when kept indoors.

If the room features poor circulation, high humidity, and warm temperatures, the plant is more likely to grow mildew and stem rot.

Suggested Uses For The Monkey Plant Ruellia

As the monkey plant needs high humidity, greenhouses and glass-covered porches are perfect choices.

It’s easier to maintain the right conditions while providing the plant with plenty of sunlight.

In warm, humid regions, grow the plant in containers and set it on porches or balconies to add more color to the property.

JOIN Our FREE Plant Care Newsletter 

By entering your email address you agree to receive a daily email newsletter from Plant Care Today. We'll respect your privacy and unsubscribe at any time.