These natives of the Old World tropics offer strikingly colorful foliage. Usually grown as house- plants, they also make interesting additions to borders. Thrive in fertile, well-drained soil outdoors.
purple velvet plant
- CS, TS; USDA 9-11.
- Native to Indonesia.
- Upright in youth, clambering when mature.
- Grows 45 feet tall in south Florida but is shorter elsewhere; may spread twice as wide as tall.
- Deeply toothed leaves, to 8 inches long and 4 inches wide, are heavily cloaked with velvety purple hairs, as are the stems.
- Leaves emerge bright purple, then mature to deep green.
- Sometimes blooms in late summer, bearing 34 inches., yellowish orange flowers that take on purple tones with age.
- Purple Passion has smaller leaves and is distinctly trailing; excellent for use in hanging baskets.
Outdoors, purple velvet plant grows best in light shade. Indoors, give it bright light from a south- or west-facing window. Let the soil surface become dry to the touch before watering; then water thoroughly. Feed every other week in spring and summer and monthly in fall and winter with a general-purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer. Watch out for mealybugs and dispatch them by dabbing them with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Propagate by stem cuttings taken in spring and summer. Cut back old, woody plants to produce fresh, colorful foliage.
- LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
- Native to the Moluccas in east Indonesia.
- Forms a leafy mass to 12 feet tall, 23 feet wide.
- Coarse, deeply toothed, nearly hairless leaves reach 6 inches long and half as wide; they are chocolate-purple with prominent green veins on their upper surface, rich purple beneath.
- Edible leaves are popular in Taiwan.
- Showy orange-yellow blossoms to 12 inches across are borne on slender, erect stems; they attract butterflies and emit a sweet, pungent odor that some people do not enjoy.
- Good in combination with finer-textured plants.
- Outdoors, plant in full sun or partial shade.
- Indoor culture is same as for Gynura aurantiaca.