Purple passion plants are a popular choice for indoor gardeners due to their unique features and low-maintenance needs. Also known as purple velvet plants or purple velvet vines, it is a member of the Asteraceae daisy family. Purple passion plants are remarkable for their green, silky leaves covered in tufts of soft purple hair. They get an odd combination of yellow flowers that make them look even more eccentric from time to time. Surprisingly enough, despite its vibrant purple shade, this plant is not poisonous and is considered edible.
When they’re young, purple passions tend to grow upright. But as they mature, these plants spread out more and present more vine-like characteristics. This progression makes them great plants to put in hanging baskets or small trellises. They can also make excellent potted plants to place on windowsills in bright rooms. A unique feature they have is helping purify the air around the house.
If you’re looking to raise purple passion plants indoors, this guide will teach you all you need to know.
Varieties of Purple Passion Plants
The purple passion plant is native to Java and other regions of Southeast Asia. It comes in two varieties: the Gynura aurantiaca and the Gynura sarmentosa. The Gynura aurantiaca has white- and green-striped leaves under its purple fibers and typically grows upright. Meanwhile, the Gynura sarmentosa has vibrant colors and looks more like ivy.
Many regard its purple fuzz as simply part of its decorative appeal. However, the hairs on purple passion plants protect their leaves from high levels of light.
Additionally, when purple passion plants begin to flower, it usually means it has reached full maturity. The flowers that emerge from this plant are often bright yellow and resemble the appearance of dandelions. Unlike other flowers, these have an unpleasant aroma, leading most people to snip them off to reduce the odor indoors. In some cases, the smell can be severe but is not considered toxic.
If you prefer your plants to be more compact, pinch off the ends of the new growth. Pruning will make branches grow with a more “shrubby” appearance as opposed to resembling vine-like sprawls.
Optimal Growing Conditions for Purple Passion Plants
Like any plant, purple passion plants have specific needs that, when met, will make them grow beautifully to their total capacity. Since they’re hardy and relatively easy to grow, these plants are ideal for beginning gardeners. Overall, these plants need moderate light and water to be happy.
Below are specific details on the optimal growing conditions needed for purple passion plants:
Purple passions tend to have sensitive roots compared to other indoor plants. This sensitivity often causes root rot. To prevent this from happening, use slightly acidic soil as opposed to regular soil. Additionally, you can prevent overwatering by investing in a pot that has ample drainage. Keep in mind that overwatering is a primary cause of root rot, so watch out for soggy soil.
Purple passion plants flourish when under indirect or moderate amounts of sunlight. You’ll want to keep it away from strong, direct sunlight as the leaves will get scorched. However, too little light will make your plant weak and leggy as it attempts to find more sunlight.
When finding a spot for your purple passion plant, consider a south-facing window with partial shade. You want to find a bright spot without overexposing your plant. If your south-facing window receives sunlight that’s too harsh, consider hanging a sheer curtain to mitigate the sun’s intensity. Keep in mind that the brighter the spot, the more vibrant the purple shade of the plant’s leaves will be.
These plants tend to grow quickly, reaching a height between 1 and 3 feet. The plant will reach full maturity in two to three years. If you want to maintain the plant’s bushy shape, trim the growing tips, which you can later use for cuttings.
However, even though these plants are beautiful, they can only last for a few years. This short lifespan is the case even if you meticulously care for them every day.
Feeding and Fertilizer
This plant can enjoy a fair amount of fertilizer. A standard kind will do, provided that it’s diluted to about half the prescribed dose. During the warmer months or the growing season, also add all-purpose indoor plant food every few weeks. Come wintertime, cut down on the plant food, feeding every one to two weeks or every few months.
Since these plants last for only a few years, constant repotting won’t be necessary. However, they still need fresh soil to survive. When you choose to repot them, practice extra caution as their roots can be delicate and fragile.
A naturally humid environment of 40% to 60% will make your purple passion plants happy. One way to make this happen is to place your purple passion plant next to a humidifier. You can also consider misting, but they usually don’t like water on their leaves. The fuzzy nature of their leaves traps moisture and may expose your plant to a higher risk of fungal infection.
Look for a spot in your house with high humidity levels, such as the bathroom, and consider placing them there.
Indoor settings with a temperature of about 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit will please your plants. Depending on how your plants develop, some may need an average temperature of about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. But while purple passion plants like a relatively cool room, ensure that temperature levels don’t drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Watering and Moisture
Because of their fragile roots, purple passion plants are susceptible to root rot, so overwatering should be avoided. In terms of watering and moisture, what they need is moist but not soggy soil.
This balance can be tricky to achieve, especially when it comes to how frequently you should water your plants. However, between overwatering and supplying not enough water, the latter can cause less damage. Thus, the top inch of soil feeling dry is a good indicator of when you should water.
Further, also take into account the change in seasons. During spring and summer, your purple passion plant should have more water. Alternatively, fall and winter are when the plant goes dormant. Let the soil dry out a bit during this time.
A good rule of thumb is to water your plants once a week. However, if your house or indoor setting is often dry and hot, consider watering your plant twice a week. One trick you can also try is the ice cube trick. Simply place three or four ice cubes over the top of the soil. When the ice melts, your soil gets enough water and moisture without oversaturating it.
How To Propagate Purple Passion Plants
Because of their attractive appearance, many plant owners want to propagate their purple passion plants. Propagation is a method that involves using a parent plant to create clones through the process of regeneration. Like caring for one, propagating this plant is not that difficult, so even beginning gardeners can try. For optimal results, propagate your purple passion plants during the warmer months like summer or spring.
Stem cutting is the primary way to propagate. Stem cutting involves taking a piece of the plant’s stem or the central straight part where leaves attach themselves. Then, insert the stem into a growing medium to eventually take root to form a new plant. Like most indoor plants, you can propagate these plants through stem cutting.
Choosing Between Soil or Water for Rooting
There are two ways that stem cuttings from purple passion plants can root: in soil or water. In the water rooting method, the stem of your plant is kept in water until roots develop. Don’t transfer it into soil until roots appear. For the soil rooting method, begin by putting the stem on the soil itself and waiting until it takes root.
The water rooting method tends to be less successful since purple passion plants have delicate roots susceptible to rot. The soil rooting method will likely have more positive results.
Tools You Need To Propagate Your Purple Passion Plants
If you’re ready to propagate your purple passions, there are some things you will need, such as the following:
- Healthy stem
- Sharp pruners or shearers
- Pot or planter
- Clear plastic bag or clear plastic bottle
- Rooting hormone (optional)
- Soil or a seed-starting mix
- Chopstick or pencil
Steps To Propagate Your Purple Passion Plants
- Step 1 – Check if the plant is healthy: First, check if your stem would be a healthy host. Since purple passion plants are prone to mealybugs and spider mites, check if the leaves are in good shape. Don’t forget to check underneath to make sure there aren’t any bugs hiding there. Similarly, check and observe whether your purple passion plant has fungal infections.
- Step 2 – Cut the stem: Using your sharp pruners or shears, cut a healthy portion of the stem at an angle. Your cutting can be around 3 inches long with a few leaves still attached to it. Make sure the stem has a few intact inches that aren’t soggy. Trim all but the top four leaves. Apply rooting hormone if desired. Rooting hormone powder protects the cut edge, helping your cuttings root more easily.
- Step 3 – Prepare your soil: Take your pot or planter and fill it with seed-starting mix, soil, or a rooting blend. To make a rooting blend, combine equal parts chopped bark and perlite or vermiculite with two parts peat moss. Lightly water the soil, then create a hole in the center using the tip of your pencil or chopstick,
- Step 4 – Plant your cutting: Plant the cutting in the hole you made in the soil. To make it more stable, gently press down the soil around the stem. Moisten the soil with water.
- Step 5 – Create a humid environment: Place a clear plastic bag over your pot to create a humid environment for your cutting. Make sure the leaves are not touching the plastic. Alternatively, you can cut off the top of a clear water bottle and fit it over the planter. Another way to create a humid environment for your cutting is to create a humidity tray. Place the pot on a saucer filled with rocks, and fill the saucer with water. The water level should not touch the pot. You can also grow your cuttings in a greenhouse or a small enclosed terrarium for more stable humidity levels.
- Step 6 – Get light: Place the pot in a space that has bright but indirect sunlight. Keep in mind that cuttings require less sunlight than mature plants. A good place would be in the kitchen, near a window.
- Step 7 – Care for your plant: Dry the leaves occasionally by removing the plastic cover or water bottle. You will know if your cutting has rooted once you see new growth. This new growth can happen after a few weeks. Once this happens, you can regularly care for your new purple passion plant.
Challenges in Growing Purple Passion Plants
Signs and symptoms of issues with your purple passion plant will manifest quickly. This makes it easy to detect problems and determine what to do next. Here are some typical challenges you will encounter when growing this type of plant:
Pests and Diseases
Because of their fleshy leaves, purple passion plants are susceptible to a variety of insects, such as:
- Spider mites
If you find your purple passion plant infected with any of these, isolate the plant and treat it with insecticide. Frequently check the undersides of the leaves to keep an eye out for these pests. When detected early, you can simply wipe away spider mites and scale with a wet cloth. For mites, you can cut off the affected leaves and rinse the plant in the shower or with a hose. Dispose of the infected leaves outdoors using a plastic bag, and don’t forget to clean your cutting tools to avoid infecting other plants.
Scorching is easy to spot in purple passion plants as it will manifest as brown edges on your plant’s leaves. There are two potential culprits for this problem: too much direct sunlight or improperly diluted fertilizer.
To prevent scorching, move your plant to a spot that has bright but indirect sunlight. A sign that it needs more water is a leggy appearance or losing its bottom leaves.
If you notice there are still brown edges on your plant’s leaves, try skipping the fertilizer for a few weeks. Instead, gradually add diluted food.
Root rot is often the result of your purple passion plant getting too much water. Your plant likely has root rot if you notice brown spots developing on the leaves. Other symptoms include leaf curling, rotted, slimy roots, and the crown turning brown.
If you suspect that your plant has root rot, carefully remove it from the planter and rinse off the ends. Instead of repotting, as this may further damage the roots, let the roots naturally dry out.
A Purple Thumbs Up
Growing a purple passion plant can be relatively easy for beginning gardeners because it is hardy and easy to maintain. It only needs moderate sunlight and not too much water and can grow to about 3 feet in length. These traits make them one of the most favored indoor plants by many homeowners. You can place purple passion in pots or hanging baskets. You can also opt for small trellises since they take on a more sprawling, vine-like appearance when they mature.
However, as attractive and exotic-looking as they may seem, purple passion plants can only live for a few years. To keep this plant around for longer, consider propagating it through stem cutting. Root the cutting in soil instead of water since its roots are fragile and susceptible to root rot. With the right conditions and care techniques, you can enjoy these plants in your house for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions About Purple Passion Plants
Warm seasons like summer and spring are when purple passion plants thrive. The plant goes dormant in winter and needs less water during the colder months.
Overwatering your purple passion plant is the leading cause of root rot. You can identify this issue immediately if you see brown splotches growing on your plant’s leaves. Don’t worry about forgetting to water your plant, as this would cause less damage compared to overwatering it.
If root rot occurs, rinse off your plant’s roots and let them dry before putting the plant back in the pot.
Purple passion plants need bright but not direct sunlight. A good spot to place it in the house is on a window facing south. If there’s too much sun, you can try moving the pot to a place that has more shade. You can also place sheer curtains on your window to reduce the sunlight levels.
Watering your purple passion plants once a week is sufficient unless your house experiences low humidity levels. In this case, water your plant twice a week to keep it from drying up.
Avoid misting your plant’s leaves. This will make it susceptible to fungal infections because its soft, velvety hair can trap moisture.
Purple passion plants can root in both soil and water. However, in most cases, rooting them in soil has a higher success rate. This is because this type of plant has very delicate roots, which are prone to root rot. For beginners, it’s best to root your purple passion plant cutting in soil.