Setcreasea pallida, or Purple Heart, a native of Mexico, is named for the striking purple color of the plant in full sun. The lance shaped leaves will reach 7 inches (17.5 cm) long by 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide and are covered with pale hairs. The fleshy stems are first erect, later lying on the ground as a creeping herb, around 16 inches (40 cm) long. They make an attractive basket subject and can be used as an annual groundcover in USDA zone 7.
Blooming Time: In mid summer to early fall, the ½ inch (1.2 cm) pale purple flowers bloom at the ends of major stems.
Culture: Setcreasea pallida do best in full sun to light shade. If grown in lower light levels, the plant tends to lose its purple coloring. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite. Even though the plants are drought tolerant, we water them at least twice a week and fertilize monthly with a balanced fertilizer. After flowering, the plants should be cut back so that they don't get too spindly. During the winter months, water should be restricted to about once a week and fertilizer should be withheld until new growth starts in the spring.
Propagation: Setcreasea pallida is propagated by cutting or from seed.
Setcreasea pallida was featured as Plant of the Week September 24-30, 2004.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.