Purple Passion Plant (Gynura Aurantiaca) – Growing Purple Velvet Plants

Looking for a pretty indoor plant to brighten up a window sill or table?  Try this purple passion plantgynura aurantiaca. This distinctive plant has velvety leaves with slightly raised hairs on greenish purple stems.

Gynura aurantiaca is native to Java and is fairly easy to grow if you have a brightly lit room.

Common names of this plant are purple velvet plant, purple velvet vine, and purple passion plant. The color of this house plant is the main reason for its popularity, although the odd combination of yellow flowers that sometimes appear also gives it a quirky appeal.Purple velvet plant is a tropical houseplant from Java with velvety soft leaves in a bright purple color.

Tips for Growing Purple Passion Plant

This lovely tropical indoor plant is relatively easy to grow.  It only needs moderate light conditions and not too much water so this makes it ideal for beginning gardeners.

Light requirements

Give the plant medium filtered light.  A sunny north facing window sill works well. It also will grow under grow lights in a darker room.

If you give the plant too much light the foliage will scorch and too little little will give you a weak plant that becomes leggy as it stretches to the light.Filtered light for purple velvet plant

If your window faces south, where the light is stronger, a sheer curtain will keep the light from scorching the leaves.

Moisture Needs

Water when the plant feels dry about an inch into the soil. The plant likes fairly even moisture but not soggy soil. The plant is susceptible to root rot, so be careful not to over-water.

Growth and Size

Gynura Aurantiaca is a fast growing plant with an upright growth habit when young. As the plant matures, it takes on a more sprawling habit. It can grow to 1-2 feet.

Trim the growing tips (you can use them for cuttings) to make the plant keep a bushy shape. Small plants will grow better when kept slightly root bound. This also controls its size a bit.


Use an all purpose indoor plant food, every few weeks in the growing season, but cut this down to ever few months in the winter months. (See how to make your own plant fertilizer here.)

Humidity and Temperature Needs

Purple Velvet plants likes a naturally humid environment, but doesn’t like to get water on the leaves themselves.  Normally, I suggest misting the leaves to increase humidity but this would be a problem for this plant.

A room humidifier, or placing the plant on a saucer of pebbles with water below the stone layer would help.

Gynura Aurantiaca likes a relatively cool room.  It does best if the temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees F.


The plant roots easily from stem cuttings. Just take a cutting about 2 inches long and remove the bottom leaves.  Dip the tip into rooting powder and place in a seed starting mix such as perlite or vermiculite.

The plant will soon develop roots and then you can re-pot it in normal potting soil. The cuttings will also root easily in water.

I have a whole tutorial on propagating purple passion plant from stem cuttings. You can check it out here.Propagating purple velvet plant


This houseplant stands out from other indoor plants because of the green leaves that are covered in soft purple hairs.  The leaves also have a purple sheen that is attractive and looks a lot like velvet.

The purpose of the hairs on the leaves is to protect the foliage from high light levels. It’s not hard to see where the common name velvet plant comes from is it?purple hairy leaves of gynura aurantiaca

Be sure to keep water off the leaves in the same way that you would with African Violets, since this can cause the leaves to get soggy and they will rot.

The underneath side of the leaf has a more even purple color than the top which is both green and purple. It is a plant that makes me think of fall, all the time!Underneath of leaves of Purple velvet plant

There is also a variety of gynura which has variegated purple and cream leaves which is called Gynura aurantiaca ‘Variegata’


The flowers of gynura aurantiaca are a bright yellow color that look a bit like a dandelion flower. The aroma of the flower is not pleasant, so snipping them off will reduce the smell from the plant.

If the plant starts to flower indoors, it normally means that it has reached maturity and it’s time to take cuttings for new plants.

Uses for purple velvet plant

Since the plant is tropical and only hardy in zones 10-11, it is normally grown as a houseplant in the USA.  Young plants make a nice table decoration and older plants with a more sprawling look do well in hanging baskets.

It is not suitable for a closed terrarium since the humidity will be too high and the leaves can be affected.  Open terrariums such as fish bowl styles can be use to showcase small plants as a focal plant.

Mature plants with vining nature can also be trained to grow up trellises, wires, and other climbing structures.

Older plants will lose much of their purple color as the plant branches out into vines.  Pruning the tips often encourages more branches and more color of the leaves for longer. If your plant starts to lose its color, start over again with rooted cuttings.

The plant can be grown as an annual outdoors, but be sure to contain it or the sprawling habit can take over a garden spot. You are more likely to see the flowers if you grow it outdoors.

Gynura aurantiaca problems

The plant is susceptible to attracting white flies, mealy bugs, spider mites, scale and aphids. The fleshy leaves are the source of the attraction.

Isolate the plant if you find these pests and treat accordingly. Be sure to check the undersides of the leaves often. The plant is generally disease resistant, other than root root which is caused by over watering.

If you want a splash of color to add to your indoor decor and don’t have a lot of light.  Try growing Purple Passion plant.  It adds a distinctive touch to any room.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  42 comments for “Purple Passion Plant (Gynura Aurantiaca) – Growing Purple Velvet Plants

  1. Hanna
    05/10/2018 at 7:43 pm

    Thank you for the information!

    • Carol
      05/11/2018 at 9:04 am

      My pleasure, Hanna. Carol

    • Betti
      08/30/2019 at 10:27 am

      My purple passion has just been hanging out for over a year. No Problems. Suddenly it looks horrible. I’ve haven’t done anything different.
      HELP! Looks like it lost all it’s energy. Just laying flat and lifeless.

      • Carol
        08/31/2019 at 3:36 pm

        Hi Betti. It’s hard to say what could be wrong with the plant without examining it. Some things to look for is that it is pot bound, or has bugs in it. Other reasons for a plant to suddenly lay flat is that it had a period of lack of water.

    • Nancy
      10/24/2019 at 10:17 pm

      I have a purple passion plant that I thought was dead when e moved into a house in Michigan… Started watering it and got this beautiful plant… That was in 1977…. I still have the plant it is still beautiful…and has many children and grandchildren placed in loving homes….

  2. Glenna
    06/26/2018 at 4:32 pm

    Is it okay if this plant gets rain on it as I have it outside?

    • Carol
      06/26/2018 at 5:03 pm

      Hi Glenna. Any hairy leaf plant will suffer a bit if the rain gets on the leaves. It tends to spot them. I’d put it in an out of the rain place. (under a roof over hang, on an outside porch or something like that) Carol

  3. Laurel Riddle
    07/08/2018 at 12:16 am

    I recently got a purple passion & after repotting the leaves are now very droopy. I water only when the soil has dried out & I have it in a clay pot. The room it is in gets east/ south sun, but I dont have it right in the window, instead because of the low/ medium light preference I have it across the room on a dresser on a plant stand in front of a mirror. What am I doing wrong & how can I fix this?

    • Carol
      07/08/2018 at 12:17 pm

      Hi Laurel. Droopy leaves usually mean overwatering (but the plant would look soggy) or underwatering. It only needs to dry out on the very top inch. If you let the whole root ball dry, it will definitely droop. You might try moving it a bit closer to the window (but not right in it.) Purple passion likes filtered light. Carol

      • Laurel Riddle
        07/08/2018 at 11:04 pm

        Thank You Carol. I have since sniped off the tips of 2 of the 3 stalks that was in the pot when I got it & placed them in a small vase to try & root. The remaining stem is now in a smaller pot with no water added. I figured out that they had way over watered prior to me buying it when I went to inspect it better this morning & the stems of 2 were squish & the tops came off in my hand 🙁 I also notice some root damage when I was moving the only remaining intact stem to the smaller pot. I did move it closer to the window hoping it will perk back up. I didn’t understand what the issue was because I had this plant a few years back & had No issues with it until we moved & then I lost most of my plants. So this one is my attempt at replacing the one I had & loved before.

        • Carol
          07/09/2018 at 12:09 pm

          Hi Laurel. It’s very hard to get a plant back that has had root rot. Let it dry right out before you start watering again. Taking cuttings was a good idea, since you may need to start over with a new plant. Carol

    • Charity
      05/09/2019 at 12:05 am

      I have the plant and it is a total water hog. If it doesn’t get water daily it get droopy fast. I have it in a well draining pot and water constantly. I needed to use a 33 ounce water bottle with the ceramic watering tip on it because it needs so much more water than my other plants…. and I have an 8x10ft green house. If the soil dries you’ve waited to long to water….but remember it likes constant water in a really well draining pot.

      • Carol
        05/09/2019 at 10:43 am

        Hi Charity. Plants with thin leaves do seem to drink more. You could try repotting the plant into a soil mixture that is not so porous.

    07/11/2018 at 7:10 am

    Is there a male and female to this plant

    • Carol
      07/11/2018 at 1:06 pm

      Hi Laurie. Not as far as I am aware. Carol

  5. Cynthia Mitchell
    07/17/2018 at 1:38 pm

    I have had several Purple Passions but recently find them being overtaken by aphids. how can i get ri of them safely and keep them under control?.

    • Carol
      07/18/2018 at 7:47 pm

      Hi Cynthia. To remove aphids from house plants, make a mixture of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water and add a drop of dish washing detergent. Apply this to the infected plants with a soft brush. Carol

  6. Joanne
    07/21/2018 at 3:18 pm

    My purple passion plant has little white spots , and i dont know what to do, i have tired soapy water but that is not working any thoughts ?

    • Carol
      07/22/2018 at 11:12 am

      It is possible that the white spots are actually mealy bugs. If so, use 70% isopropyl alcohol on a Q tip to control them. Carol

  7. Ezra
    03/12/2019 at 2:57 am

    I recently bought one, and the window is doing kindly, but I would love to move it across room. Is it possible for it to survive by just light from a lamp alone? And water of course

    • Carol
      03/12/2019 at 12:22 pm

      Hi Ezra. There are special bulbs that you can get which will give natural sunlight conditions, but normal bulbs don’t do this. Even though the plant can take filtered sunlight, it still does need some natural light to flourish.

  8. Pam
    03/28/2019 at 6:55 pm

    I’d like to know where to buy one. I live in So. Calif. I had one years ago. Thanks.

    • Carol
      03/31/2019 at 10:30 pm

      Hi Pam. I bought mine at either Lowe’s or Home Depot. Not sure where you would find one in So. Calif. They are pretty common though.

  9. Sandy
    05/13/2019 at 2:15 pm

    My plant has started weeping a sticky substance. I took some clippings hoping the new plants wouldn’t have the same problem, but they do. Can it be saved, and if so what do I need to do? I am willing to try anything to save it because it has special meaning to me.

    • Carol
      05/13/2019 at 5:52 pm

      Hi Sandy Is it drops of water on the tips of leaves?
      When houseplant leaves develop droplets of water on their tips, it is usually just transpiration. Leaves dripping water is a natural occurrence just like people sweating.

  10. sue
    06/16/2019 at 8:33 am

    My plant is growing really tall and I keep taking cuttings off and root them and put them back in the same planter it just seems to grow so high I put sticks in to keep them from drooping. I didn’t know to let them hang.

  11. Mir
    06/25/2019 at 9:02 am

    Is this houseplant toxic to cats?

    • Carol
      06/25/2019 at 11:04 am

      Hi Mir, According to the ASPCA, purple passion plant is non toxic to cats, dogs and horses.

  12. Shel Ar
    02/20/2020 at 7:59 am

    Hello! I was wondering if you could give me some advice about the Purple Passion Plant.
    I bought a couple of these last month. The seller said avoid keeping them wet or waterlogged so I only watered the plants when the soil was dry as I did with my previous gynuras and yet these new plants flopped and died. I could not even save cuttings from them. Did I underwater them?

    Could it have been the location? I have always kept all of them in a typical windowsill location (near a radiator, bit draughty at times, with morning sunlight filtered through a net curtain). Temperature is usually between 63° and 72°F.

    My previous Purple Passion plants lived for 3+ years and produced flowers which I thought meant I was doing something right. I was keeping the 2 from last month on wet pebbles to maintain humidity as the seller indicated the nursery that they came from had high humidity although I hadn’t done that with the other plants which had thrived.

    Also regarding cuttings to start new plants: I have successfully rooted cuttings by placing them in water. They survived for months like this but when planting them on they died. What did I do wrong? I tried to take cuttings from the new plants that died last month but the cuttings just flopped and died – no roots were put out. I have my last cutting from a plant from 2015 and I would dearly love for it to grow on to a proper plant so what should I do? It is currently sitting in water with a small white shoot looking upright and sturdy for now.

    When I bought many of these plants from the garden centre previously, the soil was very wet and the plants flopped and died a few days later. What could I have done to save them?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Carol Speake
      02/20/2020 at 1:43 pm

      Sometimes new plants are pot bound and they dry out more quickly than usual. Check for this. Water rooted cuttings are not very strong normally when planted in soil. Plants that are too wet when you buy them normally get root rot.

  13. dave johnson
    06/01/2020 at 11:35 am

    to propagate more plants….i attempted to root in water not only cuttings but individual leaves. The leaf stems quickly developed roots which i planted and the little one leaf plants are growing…but not developing new shoots like i get when i do this with violets…sooo far. i wonder if you have tried starting individual leaves and have recommendations so that i can get more plant starts more quickly?

    • Carol Speake
      06/01/2020 at 12:12 pm

      Hi Dave. I rarely root plants in water because I find that IF they do grow, I end up with weak plants. I have not tried the method you suggest.

  14. Tessa
    06/06/2020 at 10:11 am

    My plant has recently got whiteflies and I just can not get rid of them, how do you recommend getting rid of them without getting the leaves wet?

    • Carol Speake
      06/06/2020 at 9:35 pm

      Most treatments for white flies involve getting leaves wet (blast of water or application of insecticidal soap on the underside of the leaves. I’m not aware of a treatment that will keep the leaves dry.

  15. Claire Garland
    06/21/2020 at 4:11 pm

    Hi! I have had a purple passion plant for a few months now. She was doing fine up until a few weeks ago. Her leaves are curling and getting crunchy at the tips and the bottom leaves have gone crunchy and are falling off. I am not sure what’s wrong. I water when the top inch is dry and she sits in a window that faces west. Is she scorched?? I tried moving her to a spot with less light and it had little effect. What do I do?


    • Carol Speake
      06/22/2020 at 3:29 pm

      Hi Claire. I can’t diagnose plants without seeing them in person but normally dry are curled leaves are the result of too little watering or too much light.

  16. Kelsey
    07/17/2020 at 9:35 am

    Hi Carol! I have a young purple passion plant that is growing fast but also growing straight up in a single stalk – I’m wondering how to get it to be more bushy like yours? Do I take a cutting or two from this one, propogate them, and plant them all together? Or wait until the plant flowers/ matures first?

    Thank you!

    • Carol Speake
      07/18/2020 at 12:22 pm

      Cut the tip of the stem. It will sprout below the place you cut and made the plant more bushy. You can also take a long piece from the stem and propagate it. Cuttings can be made any time.

  17. Susan
    10/10/2020 at 9:06 am

    I purchased a few small individual plants; how many of the small plants can be in the same pot?

    • Carol Speake
      10/10/2020 at 5:20 pm

      It is hard to give a simple answer. The number of plants depends on the size of the pot. Think more in terms of the root ball. When planted, you will want about 1/3 more soil to fill the pot over and above that in the root ball. Once the root ball gets too bound, transplant the whole thing to a new pot 1/3 larger.

  18. Tsthbl
    10/16/2020 at 1:56 pm

    My Gynura aurantiaca (purple passion) , has these spots on some leaves , I don’t know what is that!

    Maybe because of the high humidity in the room? I put her at the same room where the other tropical plants are and I run the humidifier 12h everyday

    • Carol Speake
      10/17/2020 at 12:24 pm

      Purple passion has furry leaves. High humidity will be problematic for the plant.

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