HOW TO GROW GYNURA

Two of these plants, with beautiful foliage, are usually seen as houseplants. The favourite is G. procumbens (syn. G. sarmentosa) from India, the velvet plant or purple passion vine. In its natural habitat, it is a vigorous climber or trailer. but in the home is usually best regarded as a trailer. The leaves are dark green. spear-shaped and pointed and toothed along the edges, and covered with purplish line hair.

G’. aurantiaca is similar, but with larger leaves. Both may flower, the former in March and April and the latter in January and February. The flowers in both cases are orange, the latter having larger flowers which are about 2.5cm 11 in) long.

Unfortunately, both plants can become straggly and untidy with age and are best propagated from cuttings taken in spring and old plants discarded after two or three years. These cuttings can also be used in hanging pots or baskets, and if there is adequate warmth will grow quickly to cascade- over the edge. Other flowering or foliage plants can be mixed to give contrasting colour effects. Some people prefer to train the plants up canes, and when grown this way are useful to give height to a group. Although requiring slight shade in summer, winter light should be good. and the minimum winter temperature maintained as far as possible. Plants may survive much lower temperatures. but are liable to drop their foliage or become sickly. In summer, every attempt should be made to provide adequate atmospheric humidity, but the velvety leaves should not be sprayed with water since there is the possibility of marking them and causing the formation of brown spots or patches. Trimming and cutting back is best done in Mar. h. Pests and diseases are rare and seldom present a problem.

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