How To Grow and Care For Purple Waffle Plant

Botanically called Hemigraphis alternata [hem-ee-GRAF-iss, al-ter-NAY-tuh], Purple Waffle plants are native to India, Java, and Malaysia. 

attractive foliage of the purple waffle plant aka Hemigraphis alternata

They are herbaceous perennials and belong to the flowering plant family – Acanthaceae along with:

The genus name originates from the Greek words – hemi which means “half” and graphis means “brush” referring to the dense hair-like stamens of the plant.

It is a popular prostrate plant with intense green leaves and is easy to grow indoors in homes and offices. 

The herbaceous perennial has a few common names which are as follows:

  • Red ivy
  • Red-flame ivy
  • Cemetery plant
  • Metal leaf

Purple Waffle Plant Care

Size and Growth

The prostrate houseplant typically grows up to 0.5′ – 0.75’ feet tall and spreads up to 1′ – 2’ feet wide. 

The plant has a moderate to fast growth rate. 

As it grows, it develops colorful variegated foliage with toothed and wrinkled leaves. 

The upper part of the leaves boasts a rich green tone while the underside has an intense reddish rich purple color. 

The vibrant leaves usually extend up to 0.25’ feet wide in full sun or part shade.

Flowering and Fragrance

Purple waffle plants are characterized by their unique foliage and colorful leaves. 

They also produce tiny, bell-curved snow white flowers. 

These flowers typically bloom in summers up to 1” inches in height. 

In comparison to the leaves, flowers add no value to the plant. 

They also generate no smell.

Light and Temperature

  • The tropical plant enjoys indirect light to keep its colors vibrant. Avoid the direct sun at all costs. 
  • The plant usually requires six hours of light per day. 
  • However, be sure to check the plant from time to time. 
  • If it starts to lose its color, it may be receiving too much light.
  • The USDA hardiness zone of purple waffle plants is 10 to 11. 
  • They can grow indoors between 55° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit (13° – 27° C). 
  • Ideally, they require consistent temperature and humidity levels for healthy growth.  
  • The red ivy doesn’t do well in extreme temperatures. 
  • The plant fails to thrive in chilly winters. 
  • Therefore, it’s best to bring the plant indoors before the temperature drops below 40° degrees Fahrenheit (4° C).

Watering and Feeding

Purple waffle plants prefer high humidity. However, they shouldn’t be soaked in water all the time so use a misting system.

Make sure there is no standing water as this makes the roots susceptible to rotting. 

In hot, dry environments, the plant may have additional water requirements. 

Put in water crystals or a pebble tray to help maintain moisture. 

Water the soil when it is barely wet, ¼” inch below the soil surface.

Feed the plant in spring and summer during the growing season. 

This helps the plant grow rapidly in the fall and winter seasons. 

Add compost around the plant’s base to fill it with rich nutrients. 

A slow-release granular fertilizer or a diluted liquid is also used to grow a lush, healthy plant.

Apply a slow-release 6-12-6 houseplant fertilizer for a rich nutrient diet of potash, nitrogen, and phosphate.  

If using liquid fertilizers, make sure they are light and diluted. 

Fertilizing every two weeks or once a month for consistent feeding.

Soil and Transplanting

Belgian waffle plants prefer organic and humus-rich soil. 

It should be moist with a neutral pH level from 6.1 to 6.5. 

Avoid going above a 6.9 pH range as it may make the soil too soggy.

Repot the plant when its roots start to come out of the drainage holes. 

Be gentle as the stems may break easily. 

Use a butter knife or a spade to pull out the rootball. 

Transfer it to the next size larger pot and fill it in with high-quality potting soil.

Grooming and Maintenance

  • Provide adequate water to ensure moist soil. 
  • However, excessive watering or frequent watering may hinder the proper growth of the plant. 
  • In winters, the soil takes time to dry so water it less. 
  • Always use filtered water to prevent excess fluid buildups.
  • The plant shouldn’t get too much sunlight either. 
  • The leaves may lose their vibrancy. 
  • Always provide part shade for lush growth. 
  • During winters, make sure the plant is indoors. 
  • Bring plants indoors before frost or they will die.
  • Since red ivy is a small plant, it doesn’t require pruning. 
  • If stems become too long, prune them back a little.

How to Propagate Hemigraphis Alternata

It is easy to propagate purple waffle plants. 

  • Snip an end node of a shoot using a pair of sharp shears. 
  • Place this cutting in a large container. 
  • Make sure it is filled with potting soil. 
  • Water it to dampen the soil and see fresh growth from the cuttings.

Hemigraphis Alternata Pests and Diseases

Hemigraphis exotica are prone to a few grave insect problems. 

The plant often suffers from whitefly infestations

Pests leaving honeydew secreted saps and cottony matters may affect the underside of the leaves. 

Severe insect infestations of whiteflies and scales may turn leaves damaged and discolored.

Learn more about Sticky Plant Leaves

Purple Waffle Plants Uses

Purple waffle plants are used as indoor plants and hence are a perfect way to enhance indoor beauty. 

As hanging plants, purple waffle are used for decoration purposes and look great in hanging baskets or DIY terrariums.

Place this low-maintenance plant on top of a bedroom table, an office desk, or a kitchen countertop to make the space look beautiful. 

Since it’s a small, slow-growing prostate plant, it is often used as a groundcover for surface area under something like a Ficus tree and compliments other flowers such as the ti plant, exotic angel, or aglaonema.