Caring For Purple Passion Plant

Gynura aurantiaca [jy-NYOOR-uh, aw-ran-ti-AYE-kuh] is a woody based evergreen perennial hailing from Indonesia and Java and is a member of the Asteraceae family (composite). 

Its common names include:

  • Royal Velvet Plant
  • Purple Velvet Plant
Popular purple passion plant

One cultivar is known as Purple Passion or Purple Passion Vine. 

This variation has twining, trailing stems.

The plants’ genus name is derived from two Greek words: Gyne means female, and oura means tail. 

This refers to the flowers’ long, rough stigma. 

The specific epithet aurantiaca means orange in color.

Purple Passion Plant Care

Size & Growth

Royal Velvet Plant grows to a height of 1′ or 2′ feet and has a spread of 2′ to 4′ feet. 

The foliage is the main attraction for Purple Velvet. 

As the name suggests, the evergreen leaves are covered with velvety, purple hair. 

The leaves may grow to be 8″ inches long and may be either elliptical or oval. 

They are coarsely toothed along the edges and dark green in color.

As individual leaves age and grow larger, the hairs spread, and the purple appearance diminishes.

Flowering & Fragrance

This winter-blooming plant produces clusters of tiny, showy orange and yellow flowers in the wintertime, from November to February. 

Plants grown in lower light tend to bloom less.

Although the flowers are lovely to look at, many people remove them when they appear because they do not smell good. 

Furthermore, they create a great deal of litter.

Light & Temperature

The foliage color is most attractive when the Purple Passion Plant is kept in bright, filtered sunlight. 

Direct sunlight will damage the leaves. 

Brighter light results in deeper, more intense shades of purple.

The best temperature for Purple Velvet Plants is a comfortable room temperature ranging between 60° and 70° degrees Fahrenheit (15° – 21° C).

Purple Passion Plant is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 12.

Watering & Feeding

Moderate watering is advised. 

Keep the soil slightly moist at all times, but do not overwater. 

Purple Velvet’s roots are quite sensitive and will rot easily.

Water from below, and avoid getting the leaves wet because moisture can become trapped in the hairy leaves and cause leaf and stem rot.

These plants are heavy feeders and may be fertilized as often as once a week with a 50% solution of a good quality water-soluble houseplant fertilizer throughout the growing season (spring through fall). 

In the wintertime, you should fertilize once a month.

Soil & Transplanting

Use a rich, soil-based potting mix which both retains moisture and provides good drainage. 

Be careful not to over pot. 

Purple Velvet does well root bound and will appreciate being kept in a smaller pot. 

When you do repot, just go up to the next size.

Grooming & Maintenance

Trim and pinch back the tips of the plant stems to prevent a leggy appearance. 

You may occasionally need to provide a heavy pruning. 

Be sure to save the cuttings for propagation.

How To Propagate Gynura Aurantiaca

Cuttings may be rooted in water or vermiculite or perlite. 

When roots appear, transfer your new plants to their permanent pots and treat them as mature plants.

Gynura Aurantiaca Main Pest or Disease Problems

With the right amount of water, light, and ventilation, you should not experience any problems. 

Plants overwatered, or overcrowded may experience problems with:

Excessive watering will also cause root rot, and overhead watering can cause damage to stems and foliage.

Low lighting may cause leaves to lose their purple hue and appear entirely green.

Is This Plant Toxic Or Poisonous?

Purple Passion plant is listed as being non-toxic by the American Society for the prevention of cruelty to animals.

Anecdotal accounts indicate some animals may be sensitive to the plant. 

Bear in mind this plant is entirely an ornamental plant and is not edible. 

For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep it away from animals and children.

Is This Plant Invasive?

While not formally listed as invasive, Purple Velvet does naturalize easily in tropical areas and has naturalized in Florida. 

It could easily adapt and become invasive in warm climates, so care should be taken to keep it contained when planted outdoors. 

Purple Passion Plant Uses

In conducive climates, Purple Passion makes a nice outdoor groundcover. 

In cooler climates, it will grow outdoors as an annual landscape plant.

Purple Velvet is most commonly used as a hanging basket plant on protected porches and patios in the summertime and indoors in the winter. 

It makes a nice house plant year-round.

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