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Mystery plants: Purple Passion, Juliet Cleyera, and Roman Candle Podocarpus

by Janet Carson May 22, 2022 at 5:56 p.m.

Purple passion plant, or Gynura aurantiaca is an old-fashioned houseplant native to tropical regions in Africa, Malaysia, China and Thailand. Grown as a houseplant during the winter, it can be summered outside in hanging baskets or containers where it gets morning sun or filtered sunlight.  Avoid afternoon sun.  This member of the aster family is grown for its unique purple leaves--the leaves are really green with tiny purple hairs.

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It is not drought tolerant, so don't let it dry out.  In bright light it can produce these tiny yellowish-orange blooms, which I had never seen before.

Juliet Cleyera 

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is one of two variegated cleyeras from Southern Living Plants.  The other is Romeo, which grows a bit larger.  Juliet will grow to be 6-8 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. It will grow in full sun to partial shade. The new foliage has a maroon color turning to green and white as it ages. It is quite attractive. Cleyera is not reliably hardy in the northern tier of the state.

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Roman Candle™ Podocarpus 
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is another new variegated introduction of a southern evergreen. The new growth is white or pale green so it looks like a candle sitting atop the stem.
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 It will grow in full sun to partial shade but again is not hardy up north.  it will grow large over time-up to 15 feet tall and 4 feet wide.  It is deer resistant.


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