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Gynura spp. (gy-NUR-a)
Velvet plant, Purple velvet plant, Royal velvet plant
Gynuras are fast-growing plants that are distinctive for their
dark green or dark red leaves covered in shiny purple hairs. The
plants can grow to 24 inches tall, with toothy leaves that range
from 3 inches to 8 inches long. The variety ‘Purple Passion’ is
an upright variety that is very dark purple in coloring. Gynuras
also are available in trailing forms.
With proper care, individual plants can live several years.
Plants may begin to decline after about a year, so stem cuttings
can allow them to last perpetually (see “Propagation”).
Gynuras are available year-round.
IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
LIGHT Bright light is
necessary to maintain Gynuras’ vivid colors. Some direct
sunlight is beneficial.
WATER The soil should be
kept moist at all times; reduce watering in winter.
TEMPERATURE Average indoor
temperatures are sufficient for Gynuras: 60 F to 75 F. Don’t let
the temperature dip below 50 F.
HUMIDITY Mist Gynuras
FERTILIZER Feed established
plants with a balanced houseplant fertilizer every two weeks.
Feed monthly during winter.
PROPAGATION Gynuras can be
propagated from stem cuttings. Repotting is suggested in the
spring. And it is recommended that plants older than two years
be replaced with stem cuttings rather than repotted.
PESTS Aphids may cause
Gynuras’ leaves to pucker or curl. For small infestations,
affected leaves can be picked off and put in the trash while the
rest of the plant is rinsed thoroughly with warm water. After
three days, recheck the plant, and use a cotton swab dipped in
soapy water to treat any reappearing pests.
LEAF CONCERNS If the plants’
leaves are more green than purple, this is a sign it isn’t
getting enough light. Dark patches on Gynuras’ leaves may be
caused by water damage—water remaining on the leaves too long or
water droplets burning the leaves after being heated by the sun.
The hairs on Gynuras tend to trap water. Avoid wetting the
leaves when watering, and after misting or washing the plant,
set it in a shady place to dry.
WHAT'S IN A NAME The name
Gynura comes from the Greek words “gyne,” meaning “woman” or
“female,” and “oura,” meaning “tail,” referring to the plants’
long, rough stigmas.
FAMILY Gynura plants are
members of the Asteraceae, or Compositae, (Aster, composite or
sunflower) family. Common relatives include Ageratums (flossflowers),
Asters, I, chrysanthemums (Dendranthemas), Liatrises (gayfeathers)
HOME SWEET HOME The plants
are native to an area from Africa to Malaysia.
Dandelionlike yellow flowers often bloom after the plants reach
one year old, but these flowers have an unpleasant odor and so
are best pinched off. Blooming is often a sign of plant maturity
and may signal that the plant will begin to decline; this is a
good time to take stem cuttings.
FLORAL COMPLEMENTS The
Complete Houseplant Survival Manual advises that Gynuras look
nice when combined with other plants in containers and also when
backlit by the sun. The purple coloring also makes the plants
great companions for those with chartreuse leaves or pink
Some information provided by:
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
The Chain of Life Network®,
The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual, by Barbara Pleasant
The House Plant Expert, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
Photos courtesy of The John Henry Company
You may reach Foliage Plant of the Month writer Amy Bauer by
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (800)
Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2008
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.