The Purple Passion Plant is also known as the Velvet Plant or Purple velvet. Its scientific name is Gynura aurantiaca.
This color perennial is best known for its dark green leaves that are covered with tiny purple colored hairs. This makes it look purple from afar with some green background.
The plant is native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia and commonly grown as a houseplant.
How do you care for the Purple Passion Plant? Give the plant medium to bright indirect light for optimal growth. Avoid strong, direct sunlight especially during mid-day.
It enjoys warm weather and humid environments. Water regularly to keep the soil moist. But avoid overwatering as it is susceptible to root rot.
Purple Passion Plant Plant Care
Velvet Plant Light Requirements
The Purple Passion Plant enjoys bright, indirect light. Lighting is very important to maintain its beautiful purple colors.
The brighter the light it gets, the more vibrant the colors. In contrast, you’ll see a lighter, duller color in low light.
In fact, when there’s too little light, its purple hue can become very faint or almost disappear.
So, if you can’t find a bright enough spot in your home, you can use artificial lights to supplement the natural light.
LED grow lights work really well.
That said, it does best in morning light because the sunlight during this time is gentle.
On the other hand, it can only tolerate short hours of direct sunlight. Therefore, be wary of the sun’s afternoon rays as these can scorch its beautiful leaves.
As such, you want to distance the plant from the west or south facing windows especially from late morning to mid-afternoon when the sun is the harshest.
Alternatively, if you want to keep your Purple Passion Plant near the windows in these directions, make sure to filter the light coming in. You can use sheer curtains or a thin layer of filter to block out some of the sun.
Outdoors, partial shade is best. And avoid full sun.
Thus, the best location are in the balcony, patio or porch with some kind of cover overhead. Another good option is under a tree or a larger plant that shades the direct sunlight.
Velvet Plant Temperature
The Purple Passion Plant is native to Southeast Asia. As such, it is a fan of consistently warm climates with no winters.
The plant has also gotten acclimated to normal room temperature.
So, it can tolerate temperatures between 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, try to keep conditions between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit for best growth.
This makes it easy to care for the Velvet plant indoors since you don’t have to worry about climate conditions.
That said, you still need to be aware of the plant’s intolerance to the cold. It does not like conditions below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once you reach this level, its growth will slow down.
And the longer it stays there or the colder it gets the more issues will start to show up.
On the other hand, you also want to be careful with very warm conditions.
If kept in conditions above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the Purple Passion Plant will grow faster. Unfortunately, this can result in a leggy plant due to the excessive growth rate.
Therefore, this is something to watch out for.
If you see it start to become leggy, prune the leggy stems and move the plant to slightly lower temperatures.
Outdoors, the Purple Passion Plant thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 12.
Gynura Aurantiaca Humidity
The Purple Passion Plant loves moderate to slightly high humidity. It prefers 40% to 60% humidity which is where it will grow the fastest.
Again, this has to do with its native habitat.
Its preferred humidity makes it somewhat easier that other houseplants to care for. But it still can pose a challenge depending on where you live.
So, if you have dry air or low humidity in your home, it is a good idea to mist the plant a few times a week.
If you’re very busy and find that you don’t have the time or happen to forget every now and then, you can opt for a humidifier.
Should you prefer a free option that’s hands-free, you can make a pebble tray or a humidity tray.
How Often to Water Purple Passion Plant
The Gynura aurantiaca enjoys moist soil especially during the warmer months. However, it does not like wet feet and is prone to root rot.
Therefore, it is always important to allow the soil to dry slightly between watering.
Doing so will prevent the potting medium from staying wet or soggy. It also keeps the roots from sitting in water for long periods of time.
To make sure that you don’t overwater the plant, always check the soil before watering.
Feel the surface of the soil, if it is still moist don’t water.
If the soil surface is dry, stick your index finger into the soil down to your second knuckle. This comes out to around 2 inches from the top of the soil.
If the soil at this depth feels completely dry, it is time to add water.
Never add water until the at least the top 2 inches of the soil has dried. Otherwise, you increase the risk of overwatering and root rot.
On the other hand, it is also important to know that the Gynura aurantiaca hates drought.
It is not a fan of dryness. So, avoid letting the soil go completely dry.
Try to water the plant at (at the latest) when the soil is 50% to 75% dry. This will keep the plant happy and hydrated.
If you let the plant dry out for a long time, its leaves will eventually start dropping.
Once you see this, check and feel the soil. If it feels very dry, water the plant.
Last but not least, make sure to water the plant directly on the soil. Don’t wet the leaves or water above the plant where the leaves end up all wet.
They don’t like this. And it can increase the risk of rotting and fungal infections.
While the water droplets will eventually slide off the leaves, it can take a long time. Additionally, some water will get stuck or absorbed by the leaves or the crevices in the stems.
This will harm the plant and you’ll have no choice by the prune any rotted parts to keep them from spreading.
Purple Passion Plant Potting Soil
The best soil for the Gynura aurantiaca is moist, well-draining soil. It prefers neutral to acidic soil with pH between 5.5 to 6.0.
The good news is that it should do okay with standard houseplant potting soil.
Note that you want to avoid heavy soils or those that tend to retain moisture. While this kind of soil works well for some plants, it will increase the risk of overwatering and root for the Purple Passion Plant.
As such, avoid this kind of soil at all means.
When using regular potting soil, try to monitor drainage at least initially to see if things are okay.
If you feel that the soil is holding a bit too much water, you can add a few handfuls of perlite, pumice or vermiculite to improve drainage.
However, in most cases you won’t need to.
Another important thing to make sure is to choose a pot that has drainage holes at the bottom.
This will allow excess moisture to drip out and exit the container.
In doing so, it will prevent root rot and fungal disease.
And like all houseplants you bring home from the store, always make sure to quarantine your Purple Passion Plant for 2 weeks before allowing it to join your plant collection.
This is a safety precaution in case the plant in the store has pests or diseases.
By quarantining it, you can monitor to make sure that it is well and good with no problems before integrating it with your houseplant collection.
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Velvet Plant Fertilizer
The Purple Passion Plant will appreciate fertilizer. And it will grow vigorously when given plant food.
However, you want to know how much to give it and when to feed it as well.
Avoid over fertilizing the plant as this can lead to problems.
You can use an all-purpose, balanced or complete fertilizer. All of them work quite well. Only apply during spring and summer when the plant is actively growing.
Dilute the fertilizer by half the recommended strength and apply every 2 to 4 weeks.
With fertilizer, always begin with the most conservative application.
If the plant is growing well, keep it at that. But if you feel it is not growing as expected, you can move up to bi-weekly applications.
Velvet Plant Pruning
The Gynura aurantiaca will eventually reach about 3 feet high and about 3 feet wide.
How you maintain the plant is really up to you and what you prefer its look to be.
However, it tends to grow outwards to the sides more than upwards. As such, after a while it can long and flat.
This is why many home gardeners prefer to keep it compact.
They prune it to maintain the shape they prefer.
The Gynura aurantiaca is quite versatile in that you can keep it in a pot, hanging basket or planter.
The plant also produces orange flowers which complement its green and purple leaves. However, be aware that when it blooms, the flowers have an unpleasant smell.
At least I know I don’t like the odor.
As such, many growers prune the flowers. Again, this is up to you and whether you like how to flowers look.
I also prune the flowers so the plant can focus on its leaves which for me are the most beautiful part of the plant.
How to Propagate Purple Passion Plant
The Purple Passion Plant is easy to propagate via stem cuttings.
Since it is a fast growing plant, you’ll have quite a few opportunities to do this. Additionally, stem cuttings allow you to grow multiple new plants at the same time.
Here’s how to propagate the Purple Passion Plant from stem cuttings.
- Begin by taking healthy stem cuttings. Choose stems with at least 1-2 nodes and a few leaves on it.
- Cut the stem using a sterile knife, scissors or pruning shears. Make sure to cut below a node.
- Allow the cuttings to dry. This usually takes anywhere from 2-5 days.
- Once the cut end of the stem scabs over, apply rooting hormone on the side you cut the stem from.
- Plant the cuttings in a pot with well-draining potting soil. Keep the soil moist and leave the pot in bright, indirect light.
- If your home does not have good humidity, you can cover the plant with a plastic bag.
- It will take a few weeks for the cuttings to root.
How to Repot or Transplant Purple Passion Plant
The Purple Passion Plant is a fast grower. And at some point, you will need to repot it if you want to let it keep growing.
When this happens, move the plant to a container that is one size bigger.
Avoid overpotting the plant since it is prone to overwatering. And a much larger pot means excess soil volume.
When you water the soil, there will be too much moisture for the roots to handle. Addition, the more soil there is, the longer it takes to dry after watering.
Also, when repotting, replace the potting mix with a fresh one. This will avoid compacting and give the plant new nutrients in the soil to help it grow more.
Spring is the best time to repot your Purple Passion Plant.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
The Purple Passion Plant is non-toxic.
Therefore, you can keep the plant around the house even if you have young children, dogs and cats running around and playing.
However, the plant is not edible. Therefore, it is still a good idea to prevent them from eating parts of the plant.
Purple Passion Plant Problems & Troubleshooting
Gynura aurantiaca Pests
The Purple Passion Plant can experience the common houseplant pests.
Aphids particularly like the thick stems of the plant as they enjoy feeding on the sap. Similarly, you may see mealybugs, spider mites and scale come around.
Each of these bugs look different and hide in different places. But they pretty much do the same thing.
That is to feed on the plant’s sap.
Also, they tend to grow in number fairly quickly which makes them dangerous.
So, if you see damage to the leaves and stems, you can pretty much guess that these pests are robbing the plant of its previous sap which contains moisture and nutrients.
Root rot is the biggest thing to watch out for since the plant is prone to overwatering.
This makes it very important to allow the soil to at least dry slightly between watering. This way you don’t end up adding more water to soil that is still moist or wet.
Additionally leaf spot and other infections can occur is you’re don’t mindful of how and when you water.
Therefore, watering is very important to avoid these problems.
Also, making sure the plant gets enough light and air circulation will help the leaves and soil dry faster.