Table of Content
- Pests & Disease
- Pruning & Propagating
- Troubleshooting & Tips
- Gynura Aurantiaca
Gynura is an interesting plant that tends to have a very different and distinctive appearance. In this unique species of the daisy family, Asteraceae, the most popular member is Gynura aurantiaca commonly known as the velvet plant or purple passion. This must-have plant quickly grows with compact, dark metallic green and soft velvety leaves that are covered in vivid purple hairs.
Native to tropical and subtropical regions of Southeast Asia this is a plant that is a fan of mild to warm temperatures and a good level of humidity. In warmer climates, keen gardeners have grown Gynura as an outdoor plant where it proved so adaptable that it escaped captivity in many places and fled into the wild in regions like Australia, Florida, Africa and South America.
This evergreen perennial starts with dense upright growth but will do its best work as it develops and is allowed to spread horizontally which will mature into vine-like growth. The dark green, outward growing, stems can stretch and reach as far as 2 meters. The irresistible to touch, ovate and serrated leaves really give this plant its wonder, making it look like something out of a rainforest from another world. This plant will produce flowers later through its life cycle but often they’re not something to necessarily look forward to. While it is a striking spectacle of colour to see, producing a flower with a mixture of red, orange and yellow, they can give off a strong and odd scent that is not the most desirable.
Overall, Gynura is a must-have at some point during your houseplant owner career. They are incredibly rewarding as they stretch out and grow to an impressive size. They are relatively short-lived with a life cycle of around four to five years but being so easy to propagate once you have a single plant you can carry on their legacy for years to come.
Gynura loves the brightest of bright indirect light! It will also be a massive benefit to this plant to receive a small amount of early morning sunlight. This kind of light is hugely beneficial to this plant and helps it to intensify and maintain its vivid and bright colours. But a lack of bright light will lead to dulling in colour and likely leggy growth as the stems stretch towards whatever light they can find.
Avoid any periods of harsh afternoon sunlight as this will quickly scorch the leaves and leave burn marks on the foliage which can only be remedied by pruning.
For peak performance, Gynura enjoys high levels of humidity, 60% to 80%, like you would find in their native environment but they will still perform and grow well in average household humidity, 40%. These plants are fairly adaptable to a range of environments but the one condition they can’t stand is hot temperatures and low humidity this will cause the plant to struggle and lead to signs of distress.
Never mist your Gynura! The plant is covered in purple hairs, these hairs will capture water from misting which will likely just sit on the surface of the leaf. This can lead to pests, diseases and rot which will quickly cause damage to its magnificent foliage.
The best way to maintain high humidity is to use a humidifier placed about a meter away from your plant to provide high ambient humidity. Alternatively, you could place your plant on an undertray filled with Leca pebbles or small stones sitting in a shallow layer of water. Make sure the plant is not submerged in any water as this can lead to root rot. As the water from the undertray evaporates from the surface of the pebbles or stones it will keep humidity levels high exactly where you need it most.
There is a bit of an art to watering Gynuras as they love moist soil but also hate sitting in too much water. They have fragile root systems that can be very prone to root rot if their environment is kept too wet. It is very important that all excess water is able to drain out of the soil.
Gynura doesn’t respond well to drought or dry conditions. Their leaves will quickly droop in a dramatic fashion and are very unforgiving if it is left for too long without a drink. The instant you see the leaves starting to droop you should check the soil and get the plant in a water tray, however, if the soil is already moist and the plant is dropping, allow it to dry out before watering again.
Watering will vary depending on exposure to light and season. In bright spots during the warmer parts of the year, Gynura will require more frequent water as opposed to duller spots during colder months when they will need less water.
Always water from the base of the plant. Sitting your plant in an under tray and allowing it to absorb water from the base will reduce the risk of overwatering and is a good preventative measure for fungus gnats. This will also avoid the risk of water getting trapped on the surface of the leaves. Remember to always set a timer from the minute the plant goes in the water, we don’t want any forgotten casualties on our hands.
Before you water your plant, take note of the weight of the pot. Once you’ve watered the plant, try to notice the difference in weight from before. Now you can quickly tell if your plant needs water by just lifting it up.
Gynura is not too fussy when it comes to the make-up of the soil but they do require it to be able to get rid of excess water quickly, while still maintaining moisture around the root system. A regular houseplant potting mix will do the job but in this case, while not an aroid, an Aroid potting mix will provide an ideal environment for this plant to thrive.
You can always add perlite for some additional drainage, and vermiculite for added water retention. With a combination of these, you can adjust the mix to provide the best environment based on the conditions you keep the plant in.
It’s best to repot your Gynura once the roots fill their pot, which may happen quite quickly. Depending on the size of the plant, you may find yourself repotting once per year.
The pot size can increase by one step up every year for as long as you have the space to house the new influx of growth. If you have reached your maximum pot size you will need to top-dress the plant once a year with a fresh layer of soil to replenish the nutrients.
The best time to repot your Gynura is when spring arrives. Outside temperatures will rise and the daylight hours will increase. When this happens your Gynura will react quickly to the environmental change and start producing lots of new roots and foliage growth.
You will need to pick a pot with good drainage, we don’t want water hanging around the roots. Next, fill a third of the way up with an Aroid Potting mix(insert link). Place the root ball of the plant in the centre of the pot.
Next, fill the pot with the rest of your potting mix and firm down the soil.
When you’ve finished and got your plant back in the perfect spot you can give it a thorough watering to settle the plant into its new pot. Keep a close eye on it for the first few weeks and then relax back into your normal watering and feeding schedule.
Gynura is a fast and vigorous growing plant and will use up nutrients fast, producing new stems and leaves. It’s important to give them regular balanced nutrients to help support their growth. During the spring and summer, they will appreciate a monthly feed, this could also be broken into feeding twice a week with a half-strength solution to keep a more steady supply of nutrients.
Like most houseplants, to promote healthy roots, stems, and leaves they will need a steady supply of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium which can be found in most liquid houseplant feeds.
Pests & Disease
Even though Gynura are easy to care for they can still suffer from pests, and the chance of them making an unwelcome appearance is still very possible.
It is good practice to regularly check your plants for any signs of aphids, red spider mites, mealy bugs, and thrips. You may notice some signs of distress by checking regularly you allow yourself time to prevent a full-blown attack.
The most common problem with Gynura is aphids and red spider mite which often occurs when humidity levels are too low. Both of these pests can quickly spread and ruin a beautiful specimen in no time.
Overwatering and lack of airflow is a recipe for disaster and can quickly start to cause root rot, leaf spot and a number of other stress signals that can quickly cause the collapse of your plant.
Check our video on homemade pest remedies or head over and read are Fungus Gnat Fact Check and Home Remedies how to guide
Pruning & Propagating
Due to the fast-growing nature of these plants, it’s useful to trim them back to keep them from growing out of control. It’s best to keep the new growth trimmed back throughout the spring and summer if you are happy with the size of your plant. Trimming back the duller purple older growth will also help to promote fresh, more vibrant, growth.
REMEMBER – Always use clean and sharp pruning scissors!
Gynura is a great plant to practice propagating as cuttings take quite easily and will start producing a new root system relatively quickly. Also due to the shorter life cycle of the plants, it’s an easy way to make sure you always have one as part of your collection.
Cuttings – If you prune back some fresh growth at the node, you will end up with some great cutting material. Simply place your cuttings in a glass of rainwater and wait for up to 2-4 weeks to start seeing signs of new roots. You will need to regularly change the water to avoid algae. Once you have substantial root growth you can place the cutting into a small pot of Aroid mix.
You can also put your cutting straight into a jar with fresh sphagnum moss. Simply take your cutting at the node, find a jar or pot preferably with no drainage holes, fill it up with fresh mos and nestle your cutting in the centre. Fill up the jar with water so the moss has been evenly watered and then drain out all excess water making sure not to leave any at the bottom of the jar when standing upright. Now just keep an eye on your new cutting, checking the moss every couple of days to ensure it hasn’t dried out. Make sure not to leave any excess water on the surface of the cutting as this may cause rot.
You can also place your cutting material into a small pot of Aroid mix making sure the soil doesn’t dry out and is kept fairly moist. Place the cutting in the highest humidity environment you have or can create.
Troubleshooting & Tips
- Leaves curling and drooping are a sign your plant is due for some water, check to see if the soil is dry. This often can be quite dramatic.
- Leaf curl by itself and quick loss of moisture means you plant it getting too much direct light which can also be seen with scorched or burnt leaves.
- If your leaves are starting to develop spots this is often caused by a lack of airflow which can also be a precursor to pests.
- Yellow and decaying leaves and soft stems are often signs of overwatering and the onset of root rot. Depending on how bad the situation is the plant will either need to be moved to a warmer location or repotted to aid in getting rid of excess moisture as quickly as possible.
- Pruning bushy parts of the plant is a good way to increase airflow and act as a preventative measure for pests and other diseases.
- If you have a mature plant that is starting to flower, prune them back before they bloom. The flower produces an unpleasant smell and it will also redirect energy back to the plant.
Gynura poses no threat to humans or pets. They are non-toxic and are a completely safe plant to keep around the house.
The most popular species of Gynura and often the only species that is available for houseplant lovers. This variety is so different to any other plant you could imagine to keep, it produces a wonderful display of dark vivid colour. The ovate and serrated leaves are a rich metallic green as well as the long-reaching stems which are covered in distinctive bright purple hairs. As well, the underside of the leaf is a bright vivid purple to really add the dramatic presence of this must-have plant.
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