It is a plant that is easy to care for, and it will grow quickly – however, it does have a few huge “no no’s.” It will also surprise you with its blooms in more than one way.
Gynura aurantica goes by several names such as Purple velvet, Purple passion, or velvet plant. One look at this small beauty, and you quickly understand why it got its name – and rest assured – photos don’t do this plant justice.
Its deep green foliage covered in tiny purple hairs that really come into play when light hits this plant, giving the plant a purplish glowing appearance.
The leaves are ovate with pronounced serration along its leaf blade, giving the plant a very uncommon look. The purplish stems of this plant are similarly covered in dense velvety hairs. During the early stages, the plant grows upright and eventually adapts to a vine-like growth pattern as it matures.
The Purple velvet plant is native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia and Africa. It is a member of the family Asteraceae where daisies are classified as well. Similar to its other relative plants, it is a flowering species that produces an odd-smelling inflorescence.
If their conditions are met, and they really aren’t fussy plants, the purple passion plant will grow like a weed.
How To Care For Purple Passion Plant – Gynura Aurantiaca
- Bringing the plant home
- Light conditions
- Humidity and temperature
- Toxicity Information
- Pests and other common issues
Plant name: Gynura aurantica
Common names: Purple velvet, Velvet plant, and Purple passion plant
Native to: Tropical regions of Asia and Africa, as well as subtropical countries
Lighting: Very bright, indirect light, it does benefit from limited exposure to direct light
Care: Soil must be well-draining as Gynura likes moist soil but not wet. Enjoys high humidity but will tolerate lower levels. Water frequently during the growing season, less in winter. Prune the plant to keep it from going leggy which will also serve as your propagation cuttings.
Common problems: Root rot, common houseplant pests
Toxicity: Considered safe for humans and pets.
Bringing the Plant Home
When you bring your new plant home, inspect it for any signs of pests or disease. The leaves and stem’s fuzzy nature might make this harder, but better to be safe now than sorry later.
Even if your purple passion plant seems pest-free, keep it away from other plants in your home for 2 weeks – giving the larval or egg stages of pests, if any on your plant, time to develop enough for you to notice them.
Some plant owners opt for treating all their new plants with pest repellents (either natural or chemical) – this is entirely a personal choice.
What Kind of Light Does Purple Passion Plant need?
The bright color of this plant is greatly influenced by the amount of light is receives.
This plant loves to be near a bright source of soft light. Full morning sun is really beneficial for this plant. With the right amount of bright, indirect light, the leaves are bound to become more vibrant. Consequently, a lack of sunlight will dull the color of its leaves.
Harsh and scorching sunlight, particularly in the afternoon, may burn the foliage of your plants. Provide a thin layer of filter on your windows to soften the light on your plant. Placement is crucial for the growth of this plant. The stems follow where the light is brightest. Thus, placing it too far from a wide light source will cause it to be leggy.
If your home lacks a good place for your Purple velvet, you can invest in grow lights as the plant will react positively to it. When grown outdoors, protect your Purple velvets by planting them underneath a taller plant to provide shade from the direct sunlight.
How Often to Water Gynura Aurantiaca Plant?
Loves moist soil, hates sitting in water. Avoid watering the leaves.
You need to find the balance with your watering schedule as the fragile root system of the Gynura plant is very prone to root rot. When watering, make sure all the excess water runs out of the pot.
The plant also reacts very negatively to drought. The leaves begin to droop and eventually fall off when you forget to water them for a long time. The moment you notice the leaves start dropping, check the soil, and if it’s getting dry, it’s time to water your plant. The key thing to remember is that this plant prefers to be in moist media, not sitting in too much water.
Water your plant from the base while avoiding the foliage. Although water trickles down the plant’s velvety leaves, it is also prone to absorb the excess droplets of water if it sits too long on the leaves and along the crevices of the succulent stems. This promotes rotting and will damage your plant.
The picture below shows the plant’s damage as the leaves were in contact with the water for too long. This can happen fairly quickly. If you notice this on your plant, you can be sure the leaf’s rotting will continue, so it’s best to prune the leaf.
Perfect Humidity and Temperature for the Purple Passion Plant
The Purple velvet enjoys moderate to high humidity levels. Despite this, it will still grow well in areas with lower humidity levels. It’s a very forgiving plant. If the humidity of your home is insanely low, the leaves will begin to dry.
While misting can benefit this plant, it can also harm it – if the water collects on the leaves.
Although this plant can tolerate lower humidity levels, if this condition is paired with high temperature, then that is bad news for your plant. Being native to tropical regions, this plant is normally acclimated to an average warm room temperature – ideally above 60°F / 15°C most of the time.
It does not tolerate frost. Move your plant indoors during winter if you decided to grow it outside.
Pruning and cleaning your Gynura Aurantiaca
When these plants mature, the leaves’ vibrant color does become duller; the purple is most prominent on younger leaves. Pruning your plant will promote new growth.
As this plant’s flowers come with quite a unique and unpleasant smell, you can prune them away, even before they bloom. If you choose to let the blooms be, this plant produces vibrant orange blooms that add a nice contrast to the leaves’ color. Your plant will start to bloom when it has matured enough and it receives adequate sunlight.
Do not worry because you can easily snip the flowers, and it won’t upset your plant. In fact, this allows your plant to focus more on producing leaves.
You can gently wash the leaves if you need to clean the plant. However, it is extremely important to remove excess water – gently shake it off, making sure there aren’t larger water quantities left on the leaves.
How Often to Fertilize Purple Velvet Plant?
Because the Purple velvet is a vigorous grower, it will enjoy the support of fertilizing throughout spring and summer.
Use a complete, liquid fertilizer with half the recommended strength and use as often as indicated on the box.
Do You Need to Repot the Purple Passion Plant?
As this plant is a fast grower, it might quickly outgrow its pot. If you want to see it grow more, repot the plant into a slightly bigger pot. Spring is ideal for repotting as it’s the start of the new fast-growing season.
Your Purple velvets do not need any special media. The key thing in choosing the correct media for your plant is that it should be fast draining while retaining enough moisture around the roots.
General houseplant potting soil will be OK.
As this plant grows fast, it will give you many chances to propagate it.
Propagation is done with stem cuttings and they will root fairly quickly and more often than not, successfully.
Stem cuttings can either be planted in moist soil or rooted in water before planting.
Is Purple Passion Plant Safe for Cats, Dogs or Humans?
Despite the exotic look of this plant and its unique-smelling flowers, the Gynura aurantica is a non-toxic plant and is completely safe to keep around pets inside the house.
* There have been no negative health issues reported with purple passion plants. Keep in mind toxicity information on plants can change. This is something that is best talked about with your veterinarian. Even with non-toxic plants, nibbling plants should be avoided, and keeping plants away from pets, especially if they like to eat them, is best.
Most Common Pests and Problems for Purple Passion Plant?
Although relatively easy to care for, these plants can be victims of any common houseplant pest.
These pests include aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites, and leaf scales. If you start to see droplets of sap-like fluids along the stems of your plants, then aphids are not too far away. On the other hand, mealy bugs are seen as small, white, and cottony insects that drink the nutrients and moisture of the plant until the leaves and stems turn limp and die. These insects are usually seen underneath the leaves of the plant and sometimes leave traces of powdery, white substance.
Spider mites also prey on the Purple velvets. The leaves of your plant may have evident light-colored trails that tell you pests are present. Another sign is the small webbing, but once you see the webbing the infestation is probably already large.
In addition to pests, other diseases such as root rot and leaf spots have the tendency to attack your plant especially when there is no proper air circulation around and the soil imbibes too much water.
Purple Passion Leaves Curling?
If you notice the leaves are curling (not drooping) and even drying out, your plant is getting too much direct sunlight.
If the leaves are curling and drooping, check the soil if it’s dry – your plant might be due for some watering.