How to grow and care for Velvet Plant

Houseplant, Velvet Plant

Botanical name: Gynura spp
Family: Asteraceae

Velvet Plant also called Purple Passion is a popular houseplant whose foliage is covered with shiny purple hairs, is perfect for adding a splash of color in any space. Velvet Plants are fast growing and are easy to grow indoors. The shiny purple hairs on the foliage impart a velvety feel to the plants. The plants produce small dandelion-like flowers which have a rather offensive smell and need to be removed at the bud stage. These plants are native to Asia. Only a few species are grown indoors like Gynura sarmentosa, which is a trailer whose foliage is gleaming purple in bright light and is suitable for a hanging basket. Gynura aurantiaca, has larger leaves and is more upright. Gynura procumbens, which is a trailer whose leaves are deep burgundy colored at the bottom and is suitable for a hanging basket.

How to Grow Velvet Plants

Light

Velvet Plants prefers bright light conditions with some sun to enhance leaf color but avoid hot midday sunshine as it can scorch the leaves. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants

Water

Water Velvet Plants thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry a little between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold period. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to rotting. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Velvet Plants prefers average warmth with a minimum of 150C. Protect it from cold and hot draughts. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Velvet Plants has no need for high humidity. However, for lush growth and to reduce pest infestation, set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Occasionally clean the leaves by gently brushing off the dust with a soft brush; do not wash with water as it can be trapped between the hairs and thereby cause disease infestation.

Feeding

Feed Velvet Plants every 2-3 weeks during the growing season with a balnced water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding during the cold season. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Velvet Plants every year during the growing period. Use a pot which is 1 size larger and free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging.

Pruning

Pruning Velvet Plants involves removal of yellow and dead leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. To encourage a bushy and compact growth, pinch off the growing tips. The tips can be used to propagate new plants. Remove flower buds as soon as they appear to prevent having the offensive smell. Cut back leggy stems at the beginning of the growing season to rejuvenate growth. Find out more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Velvet Plants

Velvet Plants is propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem cuttings.

Propagating Velvet Plants from stem cuttings in soil
Take stem cuttings of about 4-5 in. length from a healthy Velvet Plant and insert them in moist free-draining soil. Place in warm shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges and substantial growth has been observed. Transfer to individual pots and begin routine care. For a fuller plant plant several cuttings in one pot.

Propagating Velvet Plants from stem cuttings in water
Take cuttings of about 4-5 in. length from a healthy Velvet Plant, place them in a jar of plain water. Place in a well-lit spot and change the water every 7-10 days. When a good amount of roots have formed, plant cuttings in moist free-draining soil. Place in a warm shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth has emerged and substantial growth has been observed. Transfer to individual pots and begin routine care. Several cuttings can be planted in one pot for a fuller plant.

Common Problems in Growing Velvet Plants

  • Undersized leaves and spindly growth
  • If Velvet Plant receives too little light the leaves will be small and the growth is spindly. Move the plant to a brighter spot; Velvet Plant prefers bright light with some direct sunlight. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

  • Brown and dry leaf tips and edges and stunted growth
  • This is a sign of Spider Mites in Velvet Plant due to the air being too dry. Set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity in order to discourage the pest and remove dead growth to reduce pest infestation.

  • Loss of leaf color
  • Too little light is the reason for loss of leaf color in Velvet Plants; move the plant to a brighter spot and ensure it receives some sunshine.

  • Drooping leaves
  • Underwatering is the reason for drooping leaves in Velvet Plants; ensure the soil is consistently moist and never allow the soil to dry out completely. Water the plant immediately and it shoul perk up. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Velvet Plants are Spider Mites, Scale Insects and Aphids.

  • Diseases
  • Common disease in Velvet Plants is Root-rot which is prevalent in too wet conditions.

Toxicity

Velvet Plants (Gynura spp) are toxic to both humans and pets. If ingested, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pains. They may also cause allergic skin reactions to people with sensitive skin; always wear gloves when handling. Keep the plants away from the reach of children and pets.

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