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GYNURA aurantiaca

Image of Gynura aurantiaca

James H. Schutte

Family

Asteraceae

Botanical Name

GYNURA aurantiaca

Plant Common Name

Purple Velvet Plant

General Description

The fleshy, toothed leaves of this unusual Malaysian native are green with long, bright purple hairs that give the leaves the texture of velvet, hence the common name, velvet plant. Though succulent, this is a tropical forest dweller, so it is adapted to shadier light conditions. It is most commonly grown as a houseplant, but those living in tropical zones can enjoy it as a vining, trailing in-ground foliage plant.

The bright purple stems of velvet plant match the hairs that color its fleshy green leaves. The leaves are lined with ragged, inconsistent teeth that give them an interesting visual texture. This member of the daisy family produces small, fluffy flowerheads that may be yellow, orange or orange-red in spring or summer. The flowers emit a somewhat unpleasant fragrance and are insect pollinated. After blooming, the plants tend to become leggier and less ornamentally appealing, so many suggest keeping velvet plant from blooming by pinching back its flower buds as they appear.

This lovely tropical foliage plant grows best in bright, indirect light. Provide it will fertile potting soil with good drainage and allow the medium to become slightly dry between watering. A neutral soil pH and regular feeding with a 3:1:3 NPK fertilizer will encourage best growth. Growth will slow down significantly if temperatures drop below 60°F. When watering this plant, do not allow its leaves to get wet as this can encourage rot.

Ideal for container culture, velvet plant will add color to mixed summer plantings. It also makes a great hanging basket specimen. One caveat is that it has become introduced to several different places, including Florida, Southeast Asia, East Africa, Madagascar and Australia, where it grows as an exotic invasive.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m

  • Width

    3'-4' / 0.9m - 1.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Melanesia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Prostrate/Trailing

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    White, Orange, Orange Red

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Purple, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Purple, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Purple, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Purple, Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Hanging Basket, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes