I love to get new plants for free by taking cuttings of some of my existing indoor plants. Purple passion plant cuttings root very easily and I’ll be showing you how to propagate it today.
Gynura Aurantiaca – also known as purple passion plant or purple velvet plant is an easy to grow houseplant with soft velvety leaves. It doesn’t mind lower light which makes it idea for growing indoors. See my tips for growing this pretty houseplant here.
This popular plant gets its common names from the deep purple coloring of the stems and leaves. The purple passion plant is most often propagated by cuttings, which root quickly as long as a few important growing conditions are maintained.
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It happens to all of us, I’m sure. We start out with a vibrant, thick and healthy plant and then forget to water it. That leaves us with a droopy, dry plant with no bottom leaves. Sound familiar?
With a purple passion plant, if you neglect to water the plant, you’ll end up with a plant that might revive with a good drink but one that is leggy from losing its bottom leaves. When this happens to me, I do one of two things. (or both!)
- I pinch back the growing tips if enough leaves are left to encourage the plant to get bushy again and/or
- I take cuttings if the plant is just too scraggly and start over again.
Even under the best of care, purple velvet plant will only last a few years. The trailing habit and high need for humidity often has you ending up with a leggy plant, even if you keep on top of the watering.
If your plant develops the yellow flowers, it normally means that it is reaching maturity, so taking cuttings is a good idea then. Also, anytime you pinch out the growing tips to encourage bushiness, you have the opportunity to propagate Gynura Aurantiaca!
There are lots of plant propagation methods, but stem cutting propagation is one of the easiest to do for beginners.
What is a stem cutting?
A stem cutting is a piece of the main straight part of the plant to which the leaves attach themselves. In horticulture, the cutting is used for vegetative (asexual) propagation. A piece of the stem is inserted in a growing medium and will grow roots to form a new plant. Most indoor plants take well from stem cuttings.
Purple Passion Plant Cuttings – Soil or Water?
The stems of this plant are easy to root. You can do it one of two ways – by keeping the stem in water until roots develop and then planting them in soil or by using soil from the start.
I have tried it both ways but find that rooting cuttings in water are a slightly less successful technique for something with soft stems. (the cuttings can easily rot as you wait for them to root.) So, today, I will show you how to take stem cuttings that get started directly in soil.
Taking the cuttings
Be sure your existing plant is free from disease. Gynura Aurantiaca is prone to spider mites and mealy bugs. They love to live in those soft velvety leaves. Examine the plant underneath the leaves to make sure it is a healthy host plant.
This cutting is very healthy. The leaves are in good shape, the cutting has a few inches of intact stem that is not soggy and there is no evidence of any bugs underneath the leaves. It’s a perfect cutting for this project!
Cuttings can be taken any time of the year, but doing them in spring and summer when the plant is actively in its growing season will give faster results.
Look for a healthy stem and cut a piece of it off about 2-3 inches from the top. Cut the stem off on an angle using pruners or sharp scissors. Remove all but the top four leaves on a cutting this size.
I normally use rooting hormone powder when I take cuttings of houseplants. It protects the cut edge and helps the purple passion plant cuttings to root more easily. When a rooting hormone powder is used, the root will generally develop quickly and be of higher quality than when this product is not used.
Fill a 4 inch pot with some seed starting soil or a mixture of half peat, and a quarter each of chopped bark and perlite.
Water the soil medium and poke a hole in the soil, using the tip of a pencil. This will allow you to insert the stem cutting without damaging the cutting tip. Insert the cutting in the soil and press it close around the stem. Water again so that the soil is evenly moist.
The leaves of a purple passion plant have many similarities to those of African violets. Since that plant can also root from leaf cuttings, I’m going to use my two left over leaves and try my hand at rooting those too. I just poked a small hole on either side of the stem cutting and inserted the leaves. Might get a “threefer” in a few weeks!
The plant is also similar to an African violet in that it doesn’t like the leaves to get too wet.
New cuttings cannot take the same amount of light that established plants can. Place the pot in a location that gets bright light but not direct sunlight. I keep mine in the kitchen near a window but not directly sitting in the sun.
Bottom heat from a heat mat is helpful but not necessary, especially if you are taking cuttings in the warm season.
Be sure to keep the soil evenly moist by watering lightly just as it starts to dry out. Depending on the time of the year, your purple velvet plant will develop roots in 1-3 weeks.
Keep the humidity level up for purple velvet plants
Purple passion plants like high humidity. There are a few ways to ensure the cutting gets the humidity it needs:
- Place the plant pot on a saucer filled with rocks and keep water under the level of the rocks. This will provide a humid environment around the plant. (Best way)
- Use a plant mister to spray the plant lightly to keep it humid. (This is not the best way, since you could get too much water on the leaves. The plant likes high humidity but too much water on the leaves can make them rot.)
- Grow the cuttings in a small closed terrarium.
- Make a small greenhouse for your plant. This is very easy to do with the top of a soda bottle.
I ended up taking cuttings of my plant and then also pinched back some of the leaves to encourage bushiness of the mother plant. This will give me extra plants to share with friends and perhaps I can revive the original. This little bottle terrarium is made from a large coke bottle and will give my cuttings just the right amount of humidity to help them to grow.
The whole original plant is in the terrarium, as well as some stem cuttings and leaf cuttings.
Stem cuttings are just one type of plant propagation. There are lots of other ways to get new plants for free by using leaves and roots, as well as dividing the plant and layering it. See my general tips for plant propagation here.
If you follow these easy steps, in just a few weeks, your once scraggy purple passion plant will be showing new and vibrant growth. Why not take several cuttings and share some with your friends?
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