purple heart – setcreasea purpurea

23 Jul

Usually grown as a house plant, prized for its furry purple leaves and habit of trailing down the sides of hanging baskets, purple heart also makes a great plant for outdoor container gardens.  It puts out small pink blooms sporadically throughout the season. I’ve also  seen it used as a ground cover to separate larger plants in a flower bed. The plant must winter indoors but begins flowering in mid-February or early March, creating a welcome promise of Spring to come. With its ‘hairy’ stems, purple heart is easy to propagate. Pinch off a section of stem; strip off the lower 3″ or so of leaves; put it in a pot of regular potting soil; and keep it moist. Within a few weeks, it will form a root system, making a new plant. Plants that winter over indoors can get a little leggy by Spring, so I usually pinch off the trailing stems when I move the plants outside. They soon fill in and begin trailing down the sides of their containers within a month or so.  Purple heart will grow just about anywhere, but a part-sun location usually produces the best results.  The plant will live in full shade but does not flower as readily.

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