The Gynura sarmentosa begins its growth as an upright plant. As it matures the stems begin to trail, making it an attractive hanging plant. Its close relation, the Gynura aurantiaca or Velvet plant, is similar to the G. sarmentosa except its shape, which is more upright and shrubby.
These members of the Asteraceae family, the same family as Sunflowers, are rapid growers. They also have the undesirable tendency to become scraggly if they are not pinched back often. These should be pruned regularly to help promote new growth which will compensate for the manner in which the leaf hairs develop as the plant matures.
Oddly, the number of hairs covering the new, small leaves don’t increase as the leaf grows, and more of the green coloring of the leaf is noticeable on mature leaves because the same number of hairs are spread out over a larger surface. Weird, huh? So frequent pruning promotes the development of new leaves, retaining the overall purple color of the plant.
They get scraggly after a year, so when the plant reaches this stage, leaf cuttings should be taken from it in the fall. By spring these cuttings, which root easily in water, will have developed into decent sized plants and then the old plant can be thrown away.