Gynura aurantiaca
Common Name: velvet plant
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Java
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: November to February
Bloom Description: Orange-yellow
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-12. In St. Louis, grow as a houseplant in sunny locations with protection from direct afternoon sun. Bright light with filtered sun is needed for best foliage color. Soil based potting mix. Keep soils evenly moist, with slight reduction in watering from fall to late winter. Many gardeners remove flowers as they appear because of their unpleasant smell and clean up problems. Pinch growing tips to prevent legginess. Easily propagated from cuttings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Gynura aurantiaca, commonly called velvet plant or purple velvet plant, is native to Java. It is a woody-based evergreen perennial that is noted for its velvety, purple-haired foliage. In its native habitat, it will grow to 2’ tall and spread to 4’ wide over time. Coarsely-toothed, ovate to elliptic, green leaves (to 8” long) are covered with reddish-purple hairs. Weak stems are initially erect but tend to sprawl with time. Clusters (corymbs) of tiny, senecio-like, discoid, orange-yellow flowers appear in winter. Flowers generally do not appear when plants are grown in lower light. ‘Purple Passion’ (purple passion vine) is a decumbent cultivar featuring trailing or twining stems.

Genus name comes from the Greek words gyne meaning female and oura meaning a tail for the long rough stigma of the flower.

Specific epithet means orange-colored.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for aphids, whitefly, mealybugs, spider mites or scale. Overwatering may cause rots. Greenish foliage may indicate light levels are too low.

Garden Uses

Best in hanging baskets in sunny areas of the home.