Outdoors a Purple Velvet plant (Gynura, a very unique plant that originated in Indonesia, is a woody perennial that can often grow up to 4 ft. wide and 2-3ft in height. Indoors this plant, also called a Purple Passion plant or a Velvet plant, makes a very attractive trailing plant that can sit on a table or be placed in a hanging basket. Although the appearance of the plant may start to deteriorate after a few years, it’s very easy to propagate plant.
Purple Velvet Plant Description
Indoors, a Purple Velvet plant quickly becomes a bushy plant one to two ft tall (.3m -.6m) with leaves as long as 6″ (15.2 cm). The plant has beautifully shaped green leaves covered in velvety purple hairs. The leaves have a reddish-purple underside. A Purple Velvet plant produces small, yellow/orange, dandelion like flowers that have a rather offensive smell and should probably be removed as soon as they appear. Although the appearance of the plant may start to deteriorate after a few years, it’s very easy to propagate using stem tip cuttings.
Popular Purple Velvet Plant Varieties
Gynura aurantiaca is the most popular variety sold as a houseplant. It is an upright, green plant with trailing vines . The shiny purple hairs on the leaves give it a gleaming appearance in bright light.
Gynura sarmentosa has smaller leaves but with even more purple hairs which make the leaves look velvety.
Quick Care Tips
Bright light is needed to maintain the purple color
Prune aggressively to keep the plant looking full
Be careful not to over water and cause root rot.
Warm temperatures and high humidity help the plant grow faster
There are several other plants that are sometimes referred to as a Velvet plant such as the Alocasia Black Velvet, White velvet plant (Tradescantia sillamontana), Velvet Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron Micans), and the Jungle Velvet Calathea (Calathea Warscewiczii)
A Purple Velvet plant needs bright indirect light. The intense purple color in the leaves starts to fade when the plant is not getting enough light.
Always allow the top 25% of the soil to dry out before watering. A Purple Velvet plant has fragile roots and is very susceptible to root rot, so be very careful not to over-water. Reduce your watering in the spring and fall when a Purple Velvet Plant is not actively growing. Try to keep the foliage dry and do not mist this plant.
Feed Purple Velvet plant every other week with a balanced fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Feed monthly during the fall and every other month during the winter when the plant is resting.
Temperatures between 65°-85°F (18.3°-29.4°C) are best.
Purple Velvet plants like high humidity.
A Purple Velvet plant produces small yellow/orange flowers in the spring or early summer. Many people find the smell of these flowers offensive so I would recommend cutting them off as soon as they appear.
Whitefly, mealybugs, spider mites, scale, and aphids can be a problem.
A Purple Velvet Plant is fairly disease resistant. Root rot caused by over watering is the main problem.
Use a good, basic, indoor potting soil that holds moisture but still drains quickly. Be sure there are drainage holes in the bottom of the pot to prevent over-watering and root-rot.
Purple Velvet plants grows much better when kept root- bound in small pots.
Aggressively prune before the plant starts to get too long and leggy. New growth develops wherever you trim the plant, making the Purple Velvet plant look much fuller. The cuttings can be used to propagate new plants.
A Purple Velvet plant is easily propagated by stem cuttings. These cuttings can be rooted in water or planted directly in the soil.
Poisonous Plant Info
There are different opinions as to whether or not this plant is a poisonous houseplant. While it is often listed as a non- poisonous plant, I would recommend that it still be kept away from pets and small children. It has also been noted that some people have an allergic reaction from just touching the plant.
Misting a Purple Velvet is not a good idea since water gets trapped in the hairs on the leaves and thus encourages bacterial and fungal infections. Try placing your plant on a wet pebble tray to increase the humidity, just be sure your plant is sitting on the pebbles and never in the water itself.
The ASPCA and other experts say that a Purple Velvet Plant or Purple Passion as it is sometimes called is not poisonous to cats.