February 8
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Plant Genus of the family Acanthaceae

Genus Description Cultivation
Barleria Belonging to the large and mainly tropical acanthus family, Barleria consists of around 250 species of shrubs, subshrubs and scrambling climbers. They occur in all tropical continents except Australia, many occurring in dry, often rocky habitats and showing adaptations such as small, thick or densely hairy leaves, and prickly stems. The leaves are simple and smooth edged, arranged in opposite pairs on the stems. The flowers are more or less trumpet-shaped but distinctly 2-lipped, in shades from white through yellow, orange, pink, mauve and violet; they emerge from between stiff bracts that, in many species, are edged by spiny teeth. Flowers are often produced in succession over a long season and are followed by inconspicuous club-shaped seed capsules that snap open elastically, flinging away the small seeds. Only a small number of Barleria species are cultivated. CULTIVATION: They are readily cultivated in most warm climates and are mostly fast growing but short lived, easily renewed from cuttings. Best growth takes place in a fertile, well drained soil and a sunny but sheltered position. In cool climates they make good conservatory plants, but need strong light. They can be trimmed as hedges or cut back hard, responding with denser, more vigorous foliage. Propagation is most effective from cuttings, which strike rapidly.
Justicia This largely tropical and subtropical American genus encompasses over 400 species of perennials, subshrubs and shrubs, with relatively few features common to all. A small number of species can be found in other warm areas of the world. The shrubby species are evergreen and their leaves are usually simple pointed ovals in opposite pairs, sometimes hairy or with a velvety surface. The flowers are clustered, sometimes in upright panicles at the branch tips; in other species they may be in looser, more open heads. The flowers can be large and very bright but in many cases the true flowers are small and the flowerheads are made colorful and showy by the large bracts that subtend the flowers. CULTIVATION: A feature of warm-climate gardens and popular house and greenhouse plants elsewhere, all but a few justicias are very frost tender. Some can tolerate being frosted to the ground, reshooting in spring, but most need mild winter conditions. They prefer moist well-drained soil in sun or partial shade and also need shelter from strong winds. They should be kept compact by regular tip pinching or a light trimming after flowering. Propagate from seed or half-hardened cuttings.
Ruellia Mostly from tropical and subtropical regions, with a few species in temperate North America, this is a genus containing some 150 species of evergreen perennials and soft-stemmed shrubs. They are grown either indoors or out for their showy funnelform flowers, usually red, pink or mauve, that may occur singly, or in dense terminal panicles or axillary clusters. The attractive, smooth-edged, oblong to lance-shaped leaves have prominent veins. CULTIVATION: Although some species from temperate America are quite frost hardy, most need a warm climate and a fertile, moist, well-drained soil in partial shade. In cooler areas they are grown indoors or in a greenhouse. Water potted specimens adequately during the growing season and keep just moist during winter. Trim excess growth regularly and especially after flowering to maintain density of foliage. Propagation is from seed or softwood cuttings in spring.

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