Like with all other plants from this family, purple waffle plant care comes with its quirks and it can be a very, very dramatic plant. In general, however, purple waffle plant care isn’t necessarily hard and its dramatic personality will always tell you when this house plant needs attention.
If your home is already filled with various colorful indoor plants, and you’re seeking something unique yet manageable, the purple waffle plant (Hemigraphis alternata) might be the perfect addition to your collection. This tropical plant looks great in a regular pot or in a hanging basket.
Purple Waffle Plant
The Purple Waffle Plant, scientifically known as Hemigraphis alternata, is native to tropical regions of Asia. Unlike some houseplants known for their intricate leaf patterns (like Calatheas), the purple waffle plant boasts its uniqueness with its leaf shape and color.
This plant features striking leaves that are deeply lobed and have a slight resemblance to the texture of a waffle, hence its common name. The leaves exhibit vibrant shades of purple or green, depending on the variety. With the right care, this plant can thrive and impress your guests with its pretty looks. It’s a great plant that you can grow indoors but it can also thrive as an outdoor plant where conditions allow it.
How To Care For Purple Waffle Plant
- Bringing the Plant Home
- Light Conditions
- Cleaning and Maintenance
- Toxicity Information
- Pests and Common Issues
Plant name: Purple Waffle Plant (Hemigraphis alternata)
Common names: Purple Waffle Plant, Red Flame Ivy, Red Ivy, red ivy plants
Native to: Java
Lighting: Bright indirect sunlight; can tolerate some shade
Care: Maintain evenly moist soil, provide high humidity, moderate warm temperatures, protect from drafts, avoid direct sunlight, use filtered or distilled water
Common problems: Browning or yellowing leaves, root rot, fungal diseases, sunburn
Toxicity: Considered non-toxic to both humans and pets
Bringing the Plant Home
Before introducing your purple waffle plant to its new home, it’s essential to inspect it for any signs of pests or disease. New plants, even if they are bought from the most reliable sellers can sometimes come with unwanted guests. As this plant has lush foliage it might be challenging to inspect, but it’s worth it.
Even if you determined you have a healthy purple waffle plant, in order to minimize the risk of introducing pests to your other plants, keep your new purple waffle plant isolated for at least two weeks. During this time, closely monitor its health and trim any unhealthy leaves or stems as needed.
Keep in mind that the plant may experience some stress as it adjusts to its new surroundings, which can result in minor leaf discoloration or wilting. While you should keep a closer look, do not be super concerned if the plant struggles a little.
The purple waffle plant thrives in bright, indirect light. While it can tolerate some shade, providing enough light is essential to maintain its vibrant foliage. Now depending on where you live the amount of light might differ (and the direction where the windows are facing plays a role too). Find a bright spot, with lots of indirect natural light and see if your plant likes it. You can always move it closer or further to the window to find just the right spot.
Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight, as this can scorch its delicate leaves.
How often should you water the Purple Waffle Plant?
Maintaining the right moisture levels in the soil is critical for the health of your purple waffle plant. Unlike some plants with specific watering schedules, this one requires a more flexible approach. Rather than adhering to a fixed routine, monitor the soil’s moisture content and adjust your watering frequency accordingly.
That said, you should be careful to not overwater the plant as it should not be waterlogged.
Factors such as pot size, soil type, and environmental conditions will influence how often you need to water. To determine when it’s time to water, check the top inch of the soil – it should feel damp but not soggy.
Keep in mind that the type of pot you use can also impact watering. Terra cotta pots, for example, allow moisture to evaporate more quickly than plastic ones. Therefore, plants in terra cotta pots may require more frequent watering.
Trial and Error
It may take some time to establish the ideal watering routine for your purple waffle plant. Regularly check the soil’s moisture level and observe the plant’s response, if it needs water it will dramatically drop its leaves.
For the best results, use room temperature, filtered, distilled, or rainwater for your plant. Some tap water with a high mineral content can harm the leaves and lead to tip burn. If you must use tap water, allow it to sit for 24 hours before watering to allow chlorine and other chemicals to dissipate.
Humidity and Temperature
The purple waffle plant thrives in environments with high humidity conditions, ideally exceeding 50%. While it can tolerate temporary periods of lower humidity, prolonged dry conditions can cause the plant to dry out and exhibit symptoms such as drooping leaves and leaf tip browning.
If you’re growing this plant in a home with lower humidity, consider placing it in the kitchen or bathroom, where humidity levels are typically higher. Alternatively, investing in a humidifier can help maintain the optimal humidity for your purple waffle plant. Setting it on top of a pebble tray filled with water will also help this plant get the humidity it loves.
In terms of temperature, the purple waffle plant prefers temperatures ranging from 65°F to 90°F (18°C to 30°C). While it can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures, it’s best to avoid exposing it to temperatures below 65°F (18°C) for extended periods, as this can hinder its growth and overall health.
Cleaning and Maintaining
Regularly prune damaged and dead leaves.
Due to its dense and intricately shaped foliage, the purple waffle plant may require more effort to keep clean. Periodically showering the plant with lukewarm water will help remove dust and keep the leaves free from debris. When showering the plant, be mindful of water pressure to prevent damage to the delicate foliage and avoid washing away the soil.
Misting the plant can also help in maintaining its cleanliness.
Alternatively, you can clean the leaves with a soft, damp cloth and a diluted solution of mild dish soap and water. This method can also help deter pests and keep the plant looking its best. Be cautious not to use excessive soap, as this can harm the plant.
Does the Purple Waffle Plant Need Fertilizing?
The purple waffle plant does not have high fertilizer requirements. Over-fertilizing can harm the plant, so it’s best to use a cautious approach (less is more). During the growing season, which typically spans from spring to early fall, you can fertilize your plant with a general houseplant fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength (liquid fertilizer is the easiest to handle). Do not fertilize during winter months.
While not absolutely necessary, fertilizing can enhance the color and growth of the foliage. Be cautious not to overdo it, as excessive fertilizer can lead to salt buildup in the soil, potentially harming the plant.
When should you repot the Purple Waffle Plant?
If your purple waffle plant is healthy and growing, you can consider repotting it every two years or so into a larger pot. Repotting provides the plant with fresh soil and additional space for growth. Choose a pot that is slightly larger than its current one to accommodate its expanding root system.
If you notice that your plant has become root-bound, meaning its roots are densely packed and circling the pot’s interior, consider repotting it even if it hasn’t been two years. In this case, select a pot that allows for adequate root expansion.
What kind of soil does the Purple Waffle Plant need?
The purple waffle plant thrives in well-draining soil that retains moisture. You can find pre-mixed soil formulations designed for plants like the purple waffle plant at most gardening stores, making it convenient for potting. Alternatively, you can create your own mix by combining materials like moss, rice hulls, orchid bark, and perlite with regular potting soil. These additions help retain moisture while ensuring proper aeration of the soil.
Propagation of the purple waffle plant is typically done through division during the repotting process. Gently separate the plant into smaller sections, ensuring that each section has roots attached. Repot these sections into individual pots, and they should develop into new plants over time.
You can also propagate it with stem cuttings, just make sure you cut below the stem nodes as your cutting does need a node in order for a new plant to grow. You can pop it in water, soil or sphagnum moss and you should soon see new roots growing. This is the best way to propagate this plant if you are a beginner and aren’t as versed with repotting plants.
Is the Purple Waffle Plant safe for cats, dogs, or humans?
The purple waffle plant is generally considered non-toxic to both humans and pets (source ASPCA). While it poses minimal risk, it’s still advisable to keep it out of the reach of pets, as the unique leaf shape may entice them to investigate or nibble on it. Ingesting any plant, even non-toxic ones, in significant quantities can cause digestive discomfort for animals.
* Please note that information regarding the toxicity of plants can change, so it’s always a good practice to consult with a veterinarian if you have concerns about your pets interacting with houseplants.
What pests and problems should you look out for?
In general, maintaining high humidity levels around your purple waffle plant should help deter the most common pests. While it’s relatively pest-resistant, it’s still essential to monitor your plant for potential issues. Pests such as spider mites, mealybugs, and leaf scales can occasionally become problematic, even in high-humidity environments.
If you notice visible infestations of pests like mealybugs or spider mites, you can use a diluted alcohol solution to treat affected areas, although this may cause some leaf damage. Additionally, you can apply an insecticidal solution and remove heavily-infested leaves to control pest populations.
Fungal diseases, such as leaf spots, may occasionally affect the purple waffle plant. These can manifest as discolored spots on the leaves. To prevent fungal issues, avoid overwatering and ensure proper air circulation around the plant. If fungal problems arise, consider using a fungicide recommended for indoor plants.
Leaf Spots on Purple Waffle Plant Leaves
If you notice leaf spots on your purple waffle plant, they may be the result of exposure to direct sunlight combined with misting. The combination of sunlight and water drops can cause sunburn-like spots on the leaves, which are irreversible and permanent.
Drooping Leaves or Leaf Yellowing
Occasional yellowing of leaves is normal as older leaves naturally die off. However, persistent yellowing may indicate overwatering, which can lead to root rot. Be cautious not to allow the soil to become waterlogged, as this can be detrimental to the plant.
Why is my purple waffle plant leggy?
Healthy healthy hemigraphis alternata should not have leggy, long stems. There are two main reasons why your purple waffle plant exhibits leggy growth; overfeeding or too little sunlight. If you give this plant too much fertilizer it can become leggy, if this is the case wash out the fertilizer – water the plant a few times, allowing the water to run out of drainage holes. Another reason for the leggy growth is the plant not receiving enough light – you will notice the plant extends toward the source of light (natural or artificial lights). To fix this, move the plant to a brighter area.