Gynura (Velvet plant) grows quickly, it has no special needs and the foliage is covered with shiny purple hairs. This attractive coloring requires good light for development. Gynura is very fast-growing plant, with furry leaves in striking colors. Literally, a velvet plant shoot will transform into a bushy little plant in a matter of a few weeks, shooting up in a lovely profusion of downy purple leaves that measure up to 6 inches long.
Gynura produces small Dandelion-like flowers in spring – these should be removed at the bud stage as the aroma is offensive. Pinch off flower buds as they emerge with your fingertips to keep the purple velvet plant from blooming. This will help control the size of the plant as well as prevent the foul-smelling blooms from stinking up the air.
Gynura sarmentosa is a popular trailer. The foliage has a velvety look – gleaming purple in bright light. Gynura aurantiaca is a tropical perennial that grows outdoors in Sunset Climate Zones H1 and H2. It has larger leaves, but it is more upright and less attractive.
Gynura procumbens is another hanging variety with trailing stems up to 6 feet long and deep burgundy colored leaf bottoms. G. procumbens is a wonderful plant with high medicinal value when consumed fresh like other delicate greens. Gynura contains amino acids, carotenoids, alkaloids and many essential oils; it lowers your blood preasure, protects from herpes simplex infection, lowers blood sugar levels and protects from stomach ulcer etc.
Because these are short-lived plants (2–3 years at the most), it’s a good idea to propagate mature plants early and keep a steady supply.
Secrets of success
Temperature: Average warmth – minimum 50°F in winter.
Light: Place the purple velvet plant where it will receive 6 to 8 hours of bright, indirect light. Keep the plant about 3 to 6 feet away from windows. The brighter the light, the deeper and richer the leaf color!
Water: Water liberally from spring to fall. Water sparingly in winter. Do not spray leaves as the down on the leaves will hold water and increase the chances of a fungal infection.
Repotting: Gynura are short-lived plants, so a single plant will only live 2-3 years. Providing the initial container is large enough, you should not have to repot the plant at all, until it begins to decline after flowering.
Propagation: Stem cuttings root very easily.