How to Care for (and Propagate) Your Purple Passion Plant

purple passion plant

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Purple passion plant is one of the most unique-looking houseplants you can grow. Also known as purple passion vine or purple velvet plant because of its soft, fuzzy leaves, this plant will add a vibrant pop of color to your collection. 

Thanks to the fine, velvety purple hairs on its shiny green leaves, the purple passion plant almost appears to glow in the sunlight. The stems and undersides of this tropical plant are deep red or purple. 

Young foliage will show more of its signature color than more mature leaves. You should be able to get two or three years out of your purple passion plant before it flowers at maturity and begins to die back.

There are two species of plants in the Gynura genus that are sold as purple passion plants. The typical upright variety is G. aurantiaca. Because of its trailing, vine-like growth habit, G. sarmentosa is great to plant in hanging baskets or as trailing plants in containers. A variegated cultivar of G. aurantiaca, with white stripes on green leaves in addition to purple, is also available. 

Best Growing Conditions for Your Purple Passion Plant

Your purple passion plant needs to grow in a bright, sunny spot—ideally by a window—to look its best. Without sufficient light, the leaves will appear green instead of its signature purple, and the stems will get long and leggy as they try to grow towards the sun. 

Brown or curling leaves are a sign that your plant is getting too much direct sunlight. If this happens, trim off the damaged leaves and move your plant a few feet further back from the light source. 

Choose a spot for your plant with night temperatures no lower than 65 degrees. Its ideal daytime temperatures are between 75 and 85 degrees. All-purpose potting soil works well for purple passion plants. 

How to Care for Your Purple Passion Plant

Be sure to keep the soil of your purple passion plant evenly moist but not soggy. When watering, be sure to apply the water directly to the soil to keep the leaves from getting wet. 

Since these plants can get root rot easily, take care not to overwater. Check the soil moisture regularly when you get your plant home and water as needed to figure out the right watering frequency.

Feed your purple passion plant once per month with standard houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength, cutting back to every other month during winter when growth slows. When your plant gets overcrowded in its pot, you can repot it into a new container one size larger using all-purpose potting soil. 

Purple passion plants will start to look weedy and unkempt if allowed to grow freely, so it’s important to pinch back excess growth regularly. This creates a bushier shape and promotes new growth of young, bright-purple leaves. 

Like Tradescantia plants, purple passion plants may start to look a little rough after repotting or heavy pruning, so you may want to use those cuttings to start new plants instead. 

If growing conditions are good, your plant will produce small, orange flowers when it hits maturity—however, they spell pretty bad, so most gardeners simply snip them off. Flowering is a sign that your plant has hit maturity and will soon die back—meaning that it’s time to take cuttings for propagation.

How to Propagate Your Purple Passion Plant

While purple passion plants can be rooted in water, rooting these rot-prone plants in soil tends to bring about better results. Take cuttings for propagation during the spring or summer growing season to get them to root more quickly.

You’ll need sharp pruners or shears, a small planter, seed-starting mix (or your own rooting blend, which you can make by combining one part chopped bark, one part perlite or vermiculite, and two parts peat moss), a plastic bag or small clear plastic bottle, and optional rooting hormone.

Use rooting hormone when propagating plants from stem cuttings to help new roots establish more quickly.

Step 1: Prepare your small pot with seed-starting mix or rooting blend. Lightly water the soil and poke a hole in the center a few inches deep with the end of a chopstick or pencil.

Step 2: Using a clean, sharp blade, cut a portion of healthy stem with several leaves that’s around three inches long. Trim all but the top four leaves off the cutting. Apply rooting hormone to the cut end of the stem, if using. 

Step 3: Plant the cutting in the hole you poked in the soil and gently press the soil around the stem so that it’s stable. Moisten the soil with water. 

Step 4: Create a humid environment for the cutting by tenting a clear plastic bag over the pot (make sure that the leaves aren’t touching the plastic). You can also cut off the top or bottom portion of a clear plastic soda bottle that will fit over the plant and within the planter’s circumference and use that to hold in moisture. 

Step 5: Place the cutting in a space with bright, indirect light—they need less sunlight than a mature plant. Keep the soil evenly moist. Remove the plastic cover occasionally to allow the leaves to dry out. When you see new growth, the cutting has rooted properly and can be cared for as usual.

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