Deets: The velvet plant is a relatively easy houseplant to grow, provided its basic needs are met, including a sunny location, proper watering, and regular feeding. It is a great houseplant to add to your home if you're looking to break up all the green in your assortment, as its purple-tinged leaves are very eye-catching. The plant grows rapidly, but only lasts a few years, so repotting is often unnecessary. Because of this abbreviated lifespan, it's also a good idea to propagate mature plants early and keep a steady supply. They make wonderful plants to group with other brightly colored plants in a sunny windowsill, where the sunlight will pick up interesting highlights in the plant's natural color.
Aside from its rapid growth rate, the velvet plant is known for something else—its offensive-smelling flowers. When the plant reaches maturity, it begins to flower with small red and yellow buds that emit a strong (and very unpleasant) odor. Most growers solve this problem by simply snipping off the smelly flowers. Flowering is also a sign that the plant has reached maturity and will soon begin to die back.
Name(s): Gynura aurantiaca; Purple Passion; Velvet Plant
Light: Velvet plant loves bright light and will thrive in front of a sunny window, though they like some protection from direct sun in the afternoon. The brighter the light, the deeper and richer the leaf color, and too little light can cause the plant's purple hue to disappear completely. If your leaves start to show symptoms of scorching, then provide less full sunlight.
Water: These plants like a steady supply of moisture and will quickly wilt in drier conditions. If your velvet plant begins to show signs of drooping, water it immediately and it should perk up quickly. Slightly reduce watering from fall to late winter. A word of caution: Do not spray the leaves of the velvet plant—their downy surface will hold water and it can increase the chances of a fungal infection.
Propagate: The velvet plant propagate easily from stem cuttings, making it very easy to maintain a steady supply of the plant should you want to. To propagate, take a stem cutting at least three inches in length that features several leaf nodes. Allow the cut end to scab over, which should take anywhere from three to five days. Once dried, apply a rooting hormone to the cut end and place scab-side down into a container of potting soil, covering the top with plastic wrap to help keep the cutting warm and moist. It should germinate within a few weeks, at which point you can remove the covering so the young plant's leaves are allowed to dry out.
Grower: Beginner, all types
Pets: Yes. This plant is safe for pets.