Guest Author - Lisa Beth Voldeck
Gynura aurantiaca is one of those plants that when youíve seen it, you absolutely must have it. Purple Passion, Purple Velvet, Royal Velvet and Velvet Plant are all names for the same gorgeous plant and each one gives a wonderful idea of how special this plant is. The lush purple fuzz of the deeply colored leaves is very unique and the plant itself is so easy to grow that it would almost be a shame not to give one a home.
Lighting is pretty important for the Purple Passion plant. The more sun this plant receives the more brilliant its coloration will be. Full sun is desirable but anything part shade and brighter will work. Sun is also needed if flowers are desired. The flowers of Purple Passion plant are very pretty to look at: they are bright orange puff-balls that appear near the end of spring. However, the flowers have an atrocious smell. The leaves of this plant are spectacular all on their own, so donít feel bad about snipping off the flowers before they open.
Purple Passion likes to have its soil a little moist, but will tolerate some drying out. Watering every seven to ten days will generally suffice, but water more frequently if the plantís roots fill the pot completely. Water with a water-soluble fertilizer at every watering during the growing season to get thick, healthy growth.
Aphids and spider mites are big fans of Purple Passion. Practice good preventative medicine: donít bring infested plants into your home if you can avoid it. Check new plants out carefully before purchasing and quarantine them before putting them near your existing plants. If these unwanted guests show up at some later time, neem oil based products or insecticidal soaps are your best weapons.
Propagation of Purple Passion is extremely easy. Cuttings can be rooted in water or directly in potting mix. This can be done any time of year, although it is smart to do it when the plant needs pruning anyway. It doesnít make sense to toss out those clippings; start some new plants for your friends. Pruning your Purple Passion plant will make it fuller and bushier in the long run, so donít be afraid to go for it. Make your cuts at the third or fourth nodes from the base of the plant. If left alone to grow, this plantís vines will get very long (making for a nice hanging basket), but the attractive coloring doesnít last on the older growth.
Gynura aurantiaca is not known to be toxic. It can be considered safe to grow in a home with children or curious cats like mine.