The purple passion plant, or Gynura aurantiaca, to give it its botanical name, is an unusual, highly attractive plant that’s achieved popularity thanks to its unique foliage. When it’s young, the plant boasts soft, fuzzy leaves with an almost velvety texture. Thick, deep purple hairs sprout from the otherwise green leaves, adding a bright pop of color to your home. Thanks to the cascading habit of the plant, it makes an attractive addition to an indoor hanging basket. Although most plant species take a few years to reach their full splendor, the short-lived purple passion plant is most dazzling in its youth. The plant’s brightest colors are typically seen in the first two to three years of its life. After this, it becomes more muted. In southern areas, the purple passion plant grows wild. In the rest of the world, it’s favored as an indoor plant. With the right care, a purple passion plant can live for between 5 and 7 years. If you’re keen to take advantage of this unique plant’s stunning natural beauty, here’s what you need to know about growing and caring for a purple passion plant.
Water with Care
Like most plants, purple passion plants need just the right amount of water to thrive. As too much water is just as bad as too little, take care to only water as much as necessary. The soil of the plant should be evenly moist, but you shouldn’t let the plant stand in water. If it becomes soggy, there’s a chance root rot could set in. When you water the plant, avoid using a spray watering can as this can make the leaves wet – apply the water directly to the soil instead. As gardenguides.com advises, let the soil dry out slightly in between waterings. As a guideline, indoor plants should be watered once a week from April to September. During winter, watering should be less frequent: use the moistness of the soil as a gage.
Location, Location, Location
Purple passion plants are exceptionally heat-tolerant and will thrive best in climates where the temperature averages 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and where the nighttime temperature doesn’t drop below 55 degrees. When it comes to finding the ideal position for an indoor purple passion plant, look for a spot that’s in very bright sun or filtered light. The more light it gets, the more flowers it will go on to produce. Insufficient light can lead to the leaves staying green rather than developing their signature purple hue. It can also make the stems unattractively long and leggy. To stop the leaves from burning, keep the plant protected from very hot afternoon sun. An east-facing window is ideal. If you choose to grow the plant outdoors, find a spot for it that stays as close to the optimal temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit as possible. Although an outdoor plant won’t last through winter, it can be given fresh life in spring with a few propagated stems that have been over-wintered indoors. If the leaves of the plant start to curl or turn brown, it’s a sign that the plant is getting too much direct sunlight. Trim the affected leaves and reposition the plant away from direct light.
- Monitor pH Level – Purple passion plants need to be grown in well-draining, fertile sandy loan soil. The ideal pH range is 6.5 – 7.5. Test the pH of the soil and make any adjustments necessary to bring it into the optimal range.
- Remember to Fertilize – Purple passion plants are pretty low maintenance, but they’ll benefit from some TLC from time to time. To keep your plant in good shape, fertilize it once every two weeks with a standard houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength. As growth tends to fall back in winter, you can reduce the fertilizing schedule to once per month.
- Prune Regularly – To avoid your plant becoming straggly, regularly pinch back any excess growth. This will not only create a more attractive shape, but it’ll also encourage the plant to form new, brightly colored leaves.
- Snip Away Flowers – Once your plant reaches maturity, it’ll start flowering. Although the small, orange blooms it produces can look attractive, they can give off a rather unpleasant odor. As a result, most people prefer to snip the flowers as soon as they develop. As flowering is an indication that your plant is reaching the end of its life, this is also the ideal time to start taking cuttings for propagation.
- Watch Out For Bugs – Purple passion plants are a magnet for spider mites and small bugs. Although spider mites are hard to detect with the naked eye, take brown spots or bronze-colored leaves as a warning sign. To treat the infestation, snip away the affected leaves and rinse the plant thoroughly under a hose.
Propagate in a Humid Environment
Purple passion plants may be lovely when they’re young, but they have a very short lifespan. Once they hit maturity and start to produce flowers, it’s time to start propagating. As mydomaine.com notes, although the plants can be rooted in water, their rot-prone nature makes it preferable to propagate in soil. Cuttings should be taken in the summer or spring. Start by adding a seed starting mix to a small pot. Make a small hole in the center of the soil and water lightly. Next, cut a three-inch section from the stem of the plant. Make sure the stem is healthy and has a few leaves. Trim away any leaves from the bottom of the cutting, leaving the top four leaves in place. Plant the cutting in the hole you’ve made in the soil and stabilize it by gently pressing the surrounding soil. Lightly water the soil. Place a clear plastic bag over the cutting to create a humid environment. Make sure the plastic doesn’t touch the leaves directly. Although the cutting will need less sunlight than a mature plant, it’ll still need plenty of bright, indirect sunlight – an east-facing window is ideal. Keep the soil moist but avoid over-watering. Remove the plastic bag periodically to allow the leaves to dry out. Once you spot signs of new growth, it means the cutting has taken and you can now start caring for the plant as you would normally. As per gardenerdy.com (gardenerdy.com/how-to-take-care-of-purple-passion-plant/), it will usually take around 3 weeks for the stems to root.