Purple Velvet Plant (Gynura Aurantiaca) Care Guide

The purple velvet plant, or gynura aurantiaca, is one of the most unique houseplants you can grow. This is due to the odd velvety purplish hairs that it produces on its green leaves.

Add the weird-smelling orange flowers to the equation and you have quite an interesting houseplant! Let's get into how to grow, care for, and propagate these funky plants.​

Purple Velvet Plant Overview

Common Name(s)Purple velvet plant, velvet plant, royal velvet plant
Scientific NameGynura aurantiaca
FamilyAsteraceae
OriginJava, Indonesia
Height1-2'
LightPart shade
WaterMedium
Temperature65-85°F
HumidityHigh
SoilWell-draining potting mix
FertilizerOnce a week with diluted plant food, once a month in winter
PropagationStem cuttings rooted in water, then potted
PestsAphids, mealybugs

These plants have greenish leaves covered with velvety purple fuzzy hairs. Each leaf has multiple tips and the underside is generally a reddish purple. Blooms are a yellowish orange color and have a very bad odor.

Is the Purple Velvet Plant Toxic?​

The toxicity level of gynura aurantiaca differs depending on who you ask. While it is listed on the non-toxic plant list and is generally thought to be non-poisonous, it should not be ingested. And, some people may have an allergic reaction to the plant.

You should also keep purple velvet plant away from dogs and cats, just to be safe.​

Purple Velvet Plant Care

Caring for the velvet plant isn't too hard, but it isn't as easy as succulents or dead-simple houseplants like golden pothos.

Light

They should be placed in areas of your home that receive bright, but filtered sunlight. If they don't get enough light, their leaves will lose the brilliant purple color that the plant is known for.​

Water

The roots of purple velvet plants are incredibly delicate and can rot easily. For this reason, soil should be kept only moderately moist at all times. Whatever you do, do not over water this plant!​

Soil

Because of how sensitive the roots are, you should use a potting soil that retains some moisture but drains quite well. You can even add some rocks or gravel to the bottom of your pot to ensure that water is draining well.​

Fertilizer

Gynura aurantiaca is a heavy feeder and can be fertilized once a week during the growing season. Use a simple high quality plant fertilizer that is diluted to 50% of the recommended strength.

During the winter months you can reduce fertilizing to once a month or stop completely if the plant is not growing at all.​

Repotting

Purple velvet plants do well when root-bound and can thrive in small pots for quite some time. For this reason, you may never want to re-pot it. 

If you decide to, make sure to refresh the soil and choose a pot that is only 1-2" larger than the existing pot.​

Pruning​

Velvet plants are prone to legginess and stretching. To avoid this, prune them heavily as they grow by cutting stems off at no more than 5" above the soil line. This will cause your velvet plant to grow more bushy instead of tall.​

Propagation

You don't have to waste the cuttings that you prune off of your velvet plant! These cuttings root well in jars of water. Wait until roots form from your cuttings and then place them in a high-quality potting soil.

It typically takes 1-2 weeks for a cutting to root successfully.​

Problems

The flower of gynura aurantiaca - remove these as they smell terrible!

Pests

All of the classic houseplant pests can affect purple velvet plants: whiteflies, mealybugs, spider mites, scales, and aphids.

To prevent these, it's best to give your entire plant a scan from time to time (including the underside of the leaves).

Douse the leaves in water or spray with neem oil for minor infestations. For spider mites, keep humidity high.

For more serious problems, either use a systemic insecticide or discard the plant and start a new one from a healthy cutting.​

Diseases

The only disease you need to worry about is root rot, which is completely avoided if you water your velvet plant properly. You'll know you are over watering if the plant feels soft and soggy. 

To remedy root rot, cut out affected areas and repot the remainder of the plant in fresh soil. Take care not to over water in the future.​

FAQs​

The velvet and purple hairs of gynura aurantiaca

Goal: To answer common problems and questions about planting, caring for, harvesting, or storing this plant.​

Q. The leaves of my velvet plant are wilting and it looks like it's sick! What is happening?

A. Because purple velvet plants are fertilized often, many gardeners will over-fertilize and use too strong a mixture. This leads to wilting and in the most serious cases, burning the leaves and killing the plant. Be sure to dilute your fertilizer and keep a watchful eye for signs of nutrient burn.

Q. What should I do when my velvet plant starts to flower?

A. While the orange flowers of the plant produce a nice contrast against the purple leaves, most people hate the smell. If you can't stand the smell, you should pinch flowers off of the plant as soon as you see them.

Q. My gynura aurantiaca is growing TOO FAST! How can I control it?

A. Heavy pruning is your friend here. Cut stems 2-5" from soil surface and don't be afraid to be aggressive. It will come back bushier and squatter, which is what you want.

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  • Becky

    That’s a gorgeous pic of Purple Passion. Thanks so much for such relevent info on care and propagation. Will come in very handy when the plant I’ve ordered arrives. I’m so looking forward to rooting cuttings and having lots of plants. Have also ordered two hindu rope plants (one variegated), which also root well from cuttings. What fun it’s going to be !

  • Thank you for the information I Love the looks of this plant and I have really been having a problem trying to find these plant. When I do find them on the internet the shipping cost is more than the plant. Can you help???

    • Tay

      Home Depot has them. I’m going to buy one

      • Yelena

        Which Home Depot? I live in Sacramento, California

  • Shai

    I live in Michigan and have tried to get this plant. I know that this plant is very delicate and tempermental. If I have it shipped will it be okay and who is reputable to buy from in my area so that I can get it in one peice?

  • Audrey

    I found a beautiful Purple Passion Plant, but it is covered with aphids. What is the best way to get rid of them?

    • Kathy

      I don’t know if you are still having a problem with the aphids but I have found the best way to get rid of them especially on delicate plants is just a mixture of soap and water in a spray bottle and remember to spray the underside of leaves also!

  • Thank you so much for this information on the purple velvet plant. My mom has several of these plants in her house. She pinched one off and put it in water and when it got lots of roots she gave it to me. This is the only plant that I have been able to keep alive for more then a month or so….always forgetting to water my plants so they die. But not this one!!! Well my mom passed away last week and I never knew the name of the plant so I looked it up. The name fits it perfect! My mom loved these because they seem to change color from purple to green when you move them around. Now with this information I can now continue what my mom has always done. Let them grow pinch put in water and let them grow some more. Them give the piches to friends, family and more!! Thank you so much. Diane

    • sharon rassel

      i took a slip from my purple passion it had roots put in soil now the bottom leaves our dropping is this normal or am i going to lose the plant.

  • Marissa

    This plant is lovely and very low maintance 🙂 The color is a nice pop to a container garden.

    Tari: I purchase one at Home Depot, but there is here in Florida. Talk to a nursary, they might be able to special order a plant or help you to find one!

  • CoCo

    I just bought two of these at Lowe’s, they’re almost impossible to find here in Ky to. I do know that some of the nursery’s have them, but they’re really high there. These are one of my all time favorite plants.

    I’ve never had a problem with aphids or spider mites, but I’ve read that you can mix a little bit of insecticidal soap in some water and spray it on them. As far as having one shipped, I would think that if it’s a reputable seller and they package it right it should be fine. All the places I’ve looked at online ship plants priority, so it wouldn’t be boxed up long.

  • Stephanie

    I purchased mine at Home Depot as well, in Virginia. It is very important to follow the watering instructions. I lost my first one, which was a gift, to root rot. I’m hoping to have better luck this time.

  • Robin

    I bought mine at Home Depot in Texas. I didn’t know I could pinch it off & root like that. Mine is growing into one long vine. Thanks for the help!

  • Lea

    I bought one of these on ebay last year. I was getting ready to buy another one because mine is just one stem/vine. I did not know that I could pinch them off and let them root. Should I pinch a leaf off…or does it have to be the main stem?

    To Diane…I’m sorry for the loss of your mother.

  • Maria gonsalves

    HI my name is maria gonsalves I adore the purple velvet plant I have called some nurseries to buy this beautiful plant if you can mail me the plant I would be so grateful
    I love that beautiful velvet if you can send me please let me know I will be looking for your response thank you so very much

    • Ann

      Maria,
      Depending on where you live, Shoprite, HomeDepo, and Lowe’s are a few stores that carry the Purple Passion plant.

  • Vivienne

    I had one of these passed from my late mother. Sadly it was in an unheated summer home one night too long and it died. I raised my plant under lights to keep the beautiful color and fertilized with half strength Miracle gro. It did beautifully and was a delight.

  • Georgie in Sanford ME

    This is my fav, plant but its very hard to keep alive

    I got mine from Shaws.

  • Rose in ND

    To those who say that the Purple Velvet is hard to find I agree. It took me close to 8 years to find one. i am also glad to know that I can do cuttings. The only plant I could find was a HUGE hanging basket. Just waiting for it to fall on someones head. (cross fingers) Good luck in finding one.

  • Heather

    I got one of these plants justrecently. However i noticed that there are little flying bugs on it that stay close to the soil, could you please help me with this? What are these and how do i get rid of them. I believe the place i got them from has a problem because one of my other plants i bought from there has them too. Thanks,

    • II Shell

      They are called fungus gnats. The flies are harmless to the plants, but can become an annoyance to you. The threat are their larvae which live in the upper centimeters of your soil. They feed on decaying matter in the soil and can cause major damage to thr roots. The most effective way is to let soil medium dry completely before watering. They need moist soil to breed. Dry mediums are not desirable. If this doesn’t work, water with water treated with a bacteria that kills the larvae when ingested. I forget the name of the bacteria, but it can be found in a product called mosquito dunks. They are inexpensive and have helped me in the past. Break the circle in quarters and place 1 quarter into a gallon of distilled water. Do this every watering making sure to let the soil dry completely between unti the lil buggers are gone. Do this with your other plants as well for they’ll just populate in them if the conditions are right. I hope this helps…

  • PlantLady

    These are super easy to root in water and can be indefinitely grown in nothing but water. But, they won’t sprout from leaves, you have to have a piece of the stem. I try to cut sections that have at least two sets of leaves. The roots form at the leaf nodes where the leaves grow on the vines. Cut the bottom leaves off before putting them in water and make sure that the water covers the leaf node.

    • kim

      my plant has grown very tall. can I clip it, it has leaves at the top? I love this plant and do want to ruin it but I want to grow another and add to it.

      • Ann

        Kim,

        cut just above a branch. peel off branch and put in water. When you feel there are enough roots, plant in new pot and enjoy!

  • marian.harris

    where can i buy the house plant gynura sarmentosa from i lost mine after having it for so long kind regards marian

  • Mrs.Slone

    @ marian you can buy them online at Amazon or e bay There may even be an online plant store where you can pick many types if there are different types I know nothing at all about these plants but at the first tow places I suggested you should find them at low prices. Hope you can find some good lick

  • PlantLady

    I have had some luck finding these plants at Lowe’s and WalMart on occasion. And, there is a nursery not far from here that has them almost all the time, of course they’re a lot higher there. I have have always just had the purple ones, but there is a variegated variety that has creamy white throughout the purple and green. These are more rare and from what I’ve heard a little harder to grow. But, like I said I don’t have any experience with the variegated variety.

  • marian.harris

    where can i buy the plant from

  • PlantLady

    I have bought them at Lowe’s and WalMart. But you can find them online at Amazon or Ebay lot’s of the time.

  • foleygirl59

    December 19,2011
    Please my beautiful purple passion is slowly dying. Thir health issue started @least 2 months, the leaves have a welting look and the coloring turns to pale yellowish green about average of 6 to 12 leaves at a time. I taken a cutting from the plant just in case, but the cuttings is still doing the same thing. Pease help, it took me meny years to find this plant

  • arley

    my puple velvet plant is dying =( its vines are drying up and the leaves are limp .
    what can i do to revive what once was beautiful.
    thanks .

  • marian.harris

    where can i buy the house plant purple passion from and how much as ive just lost mine regards mariam

  • Sheila Wilkinson

    I got mine at Krogers in a tiny lil planter, I replanted it and it is growing like crazy! I love this plant it is beautiful! But I will say this, once it likes a spot don’t move it! They are temermental! I moved mine and she started dying! I like to say she threw a temper tantrum lol! Moved it back and started thriving again!

  • Jennifer Munoz

    I bought one at Walmart in a small Valentine’s cup, replanted it and brought it to work. Everyone loves it, but it didn’t have the plant name–just stated tropical foliage. Well, now I know! It was only $1! I love it!

  • Tammy

    HELP! i just bought my plant at wallmart and its in bad shape. I’ve always wanted one as well. All walmarts plants were in bad shape from shipping they said but i didn’t want them to through it away plus i really wanted it. now i don’t know how to revive it. i transplanted it and placed it in the sun. hope someone can help me seems like everyone here knows plants. i also think its in shock.
    thank you
    tammy

    • Jen

      I know this info is late, but for future reference the absolute best product for transplant shock is called Thrive (or any product containing mycchorizal fungi). The beneficial fungus attaches to the root system and makes more roots. Treat with Thrive and then fertilize one week later. I work at a nursery and this is the treatment we recommend.

  • Ann

    Hi Tammy,
    Follow posted watering and light suggestions. What always works for me with a sick plant are the Bach Flower Essences

    Use Rescue Remedy, Gorse and Mimulus. 4 drops of each in your small watering container. Also use ionized water. Google “purple plates”. Ionized water replaces fertilizer.

    Most importantly, talk to the plant, and touch it regularly.

    Good luck,
    Ann

  • Melinda

    Does anyone know what it means when some of the leave get brown spots on them?

  • Lissa

    I found mine at walmart in olean, ny for $1.50. Ive had it 6-7 months, its doubled in size, and although its supposed to bloom in spring/summer, mine has just now come to full bloom in Oct LOL

    Hubby is sensetive to it, so I keep it in an un-used guest room when it blooms.

  • Katrina

    I had a plant years ago that had leaves like that and had a bright Halloween orange flower that was shaped similar to the Hawaiian state flower. At least it showed a picture of it. My chinchilla had freed himself and had dug up the roots and ate the too so I never saw the bloom. I was wondering I’d this might be the same plant or of it was a similar type. I know it’s not much of a descriptionbut it’s all I have. Thanks for any help you can give.