How to Grow and Care for Browallia

This long-blooming annual flower brightens up shady spots

Browallia plant with small deep purple flowers and bright green leaves

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

If you are looking for a low-maintenance annual flower in a shady location and one that blooms prolifically, and for an extended period, consider browallia. Botanically, browallia (Browallia speciosa) is a tropical perennial but it’s mostly grown as a warm-weather annual. Boasting bright blue, purple, and white blooms, it's a moderately fast grower with a cushion-like growth habit. Browallia is especially pretty when cascading down a wall, and its deep green foliage nicely fills a flower bed or rock garden in the summertime. Its flowers attract hummingbirds and it's a popular plant for containers and hanging baskets. Please note that this plant can be toxic if pets ingest it.

Botanical Name Browallia speciosa
Common Name Browallia, Amethyst flower, Bush violet, Sapphire flower
Family Solanaceae
Plant Type Perennial
Mature Size 1-2 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide 
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Sandy, clay, loamy
Soil pH Neutral to acidic, acidic, alkaline
Bloom Time Summer, fall
Flower Color Blue, purple, white
Hardiness Zones 10, 11
Native Area South America
Toxicity  Toxic to pets 

Browallia Care

Except for pinching back the plants to encourage bushiness, browallia requires little maintenance. Whether you buy browallia seedlings from a nursery or start your own from seeds, make sure that when planting browallia in flower beds or borders, space them at least 9 inches apart. Browallia can reseed itself but will only reach the flowering stage in USDA hardiness zone 10 or 11; in all other zones, the growing season is too short.

Browallia plant with deep purple flowers on bright green leaf stems in sunlight

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Browallia plant with small deep purple flowers on dark stems with bright green leaves closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Browallia plant with small purple flowers on bush-like stems in garden

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova


In hot climates, browallia should be grown in partial or dappled shade. It prefers afternoon shade. In cooler locations, it can tolerate full sun.


Browallia needs rich soil high in organic matter with good drainage. Acidic to slightly alkaline soil is best.


Make sure the soil does not dry out and keep it evenly moist but not soggy. Too much water will result in mainly foliage and few flowers.

Temperature and Humidity

Browallia is a tropical heat-loving plant. Only plant it outdoors after all danger of frost has passed and temperatures have warmed. Even a very light frost can damage the foliage.


If you start with good, rich soil, browallia will only need moderate fertilization. Apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer a couple of times during the growing season. As with too much water, excess fertilizer will result in mostly foliage instead of flowers.

Grown in containers, however, browallia needs more frequent fertilization, about once a month depending on the frequency of watering.

Browallia speciosa in its natural tropical habitat
Ananta Dhungana / Getty Images

Types of Browallia

Another popular browallia species is Jamaican forget-me-not (Browallia americana). It is often referred to as Amethyst flower or Bush violet—the same common names as Browallia speciosa. It is also grown as an annual that blooms prolifically until the first frost. The difference is that Browallia americana plants have a shrubbier growth habit and might require staking; they also tend to attract butterflies and bees.


Though pruning is not necessary for this plant when grown outdoors, if you choose to keep it in containers, pruning is essential to maintaining the appropriate size. Simply give it a gentle shear near the end of the summer. Pinch back gangly vines at any time.

Propagating Browallia

Browallia doesn't grow well from cuttings, so most gardeners find it easier to propagate the plant from seed.

How to Grow Browallia From Seed

Start seeds indoors eight to 10 weeks before the last frost in your area. Because the seeds require light to germinate, just press them lightly into the soil and keep the soil evenly moist and the temperature around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. A grow light can help with germination. The seedlings emerge in seven to 21 days. Before planting them outdoors, the young plants must be hardened off.

Potting and Repotting Browallia

This makes an excellent container plant. It can tolerate a small pot of only 4 inches, assuming it's the only variety in the pot; if planted along with other shade-loving perennials, make sure the pot is large enough to accommodate the roots of all plants as they grow. Potting in a container ensures more blooms through late in the season, as it can come indoors at the first sign of frost.

In most cases, repotting will not be necessary. Many find it is easier to simply remove the plant from the container when it becomes woody and stops offering blooms.


It is possible to overwinter your container plants if you have a large, south-facing window. Bring them indoors before nighttime temperatures fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and cut the plants back to a manageable size. Keep the soil consistently moist but not wet.

In hardiness zones 10 and 11, you can also sow browallia in pots in the fall for winter blooming. Start the seeds in small pots and move them to larger containers as they grow.

Common Pests

Browallia does not have serious disease issues. They might be visited by soft-bodied insects such as aphids, thrips, spider mites, leafhoppers, and whiteflies. These can be controlled with insecticidal soap but browallia is especially sensitive to chemicals in warm weather, which can lead to leaf damage. Weigh whether it’s a real infestation that needs to be treated, or whether the insects can be removed simply with water from the hose.

How to Get Browallia to Bloom

Give each plant 6 to 8 inches of space for growth in the garden, as it can spread out about 1 foot. Ensure they are in dappled shade or even full shade conditions, depending upon the climate. Keep in mind that they bloom readily in zones 10 or 11, but to get blooms from them in other zones, it might be necessary to keep them as indoor container plants. This allows use of the warmth of the home as a way to extend the growing season and get the coveted blooms from Browallia.

  • How long does Browallia live?

    Though a single plant might not last more than a season, it reseeds quite readily in the garden, so expect to see many volunteers in the seasons to come.

  • What are alternatives to Browallia?

    Impatiens walleriana can make a great alternative to this plant. Begonia and sweet potato vine make lovely companions.

  • Where should I place Browallia in my house?

    If you choose to grow Browallia in containers indoors, choose an area of the home where the plant receives indirect sunlight. Make sure the temperature stays at a balmy 75 degrees Fahrenheit or so for the best potential growth.