How to Grow Purple Waffle Plant (Red Ivy)

Purple waffle plant with gray-green and veined leaves next to pebble stones

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

In This Article

The purple waffle plant, also known as red ivy, is a tropical perennial commonly grown as a houseplant or as an outdoor annual. This plant is frost-sensitive and should only be brought outside after the threat of frost is over; it has a slow to moderate growth rate.

This specimen has beautiful prostrate foliage with the added virtue of excellent air-purifying properties. The Hemigraphis genus includes about 30 tropical Asian species with gray or green leaves on the top and purple underneath. The purple waffle plant (H. alternata) has a deep puckering of each leaf, doubling its surface area and increasing its ability to purify the air.

Botanical Name Hemigraphis alternata
Common Name Purple Waffle Plant, Red Ivy
Plant Type Annual
Mature Size 6 in. tall, 8 in. wide
Sun Exposure Full, Partial 
Soil Type Moist
Soil pH Slightly acidic, neutral
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color White (flowers are insignificant)
Hardiness Zones 10 to 11 (USDA)
Native Area Asia
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Purple Waffle Plant Care

The purple waffle plant is surprisingly easy to grow for beginners for a plant with such an exotic appearance. The two key ingredients for success with this tropical plant are warm temperatures and regular watering. In addition, purple waffle plants appreciate a rich, humus soil, which you may supplement with monthly fertilizer as necessary. The purple waffle plant is at home in the garden as an annual or in a window as a houseplant.

Purple waffle plants are excellent specimens for the patio container or hanging basket. When planted in combination with other tropical plants, they serve the function of a trailing plant or "spiller." Paired with a tall specimen such as ti plant, the purple waffle plant will nicely cover the soil.

Purple waffle plants are fairly care-free, though they can be subject to some of the same pests that plague many indoor plants, such as scale and whitefly.

Purple waffle plant with grey-green and purple leaves with deep puckering closeup

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

Purple waffle plant with grey-green leaves with purple tips and deep puckering closeup

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

Purple waffle plant with purple underside held up next grey-green leaves

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

Purple Waffle Plant Flower
Steph's Green Space

Light

The purple waffle plant does best in bright indirect light indoors or partial shade outdoors. Direct sun can cause the edges of leaves to scorch or the color to bleach, and the cool metallic sheen of the leaves may also fade in direct sun. Without enough light, the plant may lose its rich purple color. Purple waffle plants will also thrive under artificial lights.

Soil

An all-purpose potting mix or commercial potting soil is adequate for purple waffle plants. If you choose to plant them directly in the ground as a garden annual, add compost or leaf mold to lighten and enrich the soil.

Water

If the purple waffle plant is moist, it's happy. Moist, well-drained soil is the goal. The plants don't need to be soaking to the point of runoff. Instead, think of a wrung-out sponge and irrigate the plants to achieve this level of moisture. If your environment is exceedingly dry or you can't ensure regular irrigation or aren't around enough to provide proper irrigation, add water-absorbing crystals to the soil to help retain moisture.

Temperature and Humidity

Warm temperatures and high humidity conditions are a must for cultivating healthy purple waffle plants. Bring plants indoors before frost, or preferably before temperatures dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Increase the humidity around your waffle plants by misting the plants or growing them in a tray full of pebbles and water. A steamy bathroom with a window serves as an excellent plant spa for sickly waffle plants that have spent one too many days by the heater.

Fertilizer

In their native habitat, purple waffle plants grow in the understory of jungle areas rich in nutrients from decaying leaves. Replicate these nutritious growing conditions with plant fertilizers to achieve a lush plant. A slow-release 6-12-6 houseplant fertilizer will provide a steady nitrogen, phosphate, and potash diet for healthy growth.

Propagating Purple Waffle Plants

Purple waffle plants have a spreading growth habit, with new roots forming at each growth node as it spreads. Plants that spread in this way are easy to propagate, giving you an unlimited number of plants.

  1. Use a clean, sharp pair of hand pruning shears or scissors to cut the end of an actively growing stem, including at least one node. If you take a stem that lies close to the soil, roots may already be forming.
  2. Place this cutting in a container of moist potting soil, and keep it consistently damp until you see new growth from your cutting.

Potting and Repotting Purple Waffle Plants

The purple waffle plant has a slow to moderate growth rate; if your plant is healthy, you will need to repot it when you notice roots coming out of the drainage holes. The stems of waffle plants break easily, so it's important not to pull the plant from its container by the stems. Instead, turn the plant over and gently tap on the bottom of the container. Use a butter knife to coax the rootball away from the container sides if it's particularly wedged in place. Use good quality potting soil to fill in the additional space in the new, larger container.

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Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Dong Sik Yang et al. Screening Indoor Plants for Volatile Organic Pollutant Removal Efficiency. HortScience,  vol. 44, no. 5, 2009. doi:10.21273/HORTSCI.44.5.1377

  2. Hemigraphis 'Exotica'. Missouri Botanical Garden.