Purple Waffle (Hemigraphis alternata)

Hemigraphis alternata, commonly known as Purple waffle, is an evergreen perennial used in both outdoor and indoor gardening.

This terrarium plant can be found in tropical and subtropical parts of Southeast Asia. It is an easy-to-manage waterfall plant that is great for vivariums.

They provide a striking contrast in color with their deep purple and slightly greenish leaves. It is hardy and can survive in a wide range of conditions and temperatures.

Quick Stats:
Scientific Name Hemigraphis alternata
Common Name Purple waffle, Boxleaf decorations, Red Ivy, Firecracker Plant
Family Name Acanthacea
Habitat Southeast Asia (Subtopical to Tropical)
Temperature 55° to 75°F
Height Up to 8 inches
pH 5.0 to 7.0
Lighting Bright, Indirect

What Is The Purple Waffle Plant?

Hemigraphis alternata, classified as part of the acanthacea family, is a member of the symploce Genus originating from Southeast Asia.

It is an evergreen perennial with its most striking feature being its green and purple coloration.

It has been used for gardening for centuries, both outdoors and indoors, from India to Southeast Asia.

Hemigraphis Alternata "Purple Waffle" Care Guide | Tropical Terrarium Plants

Purple Waffle Facts

Hemigraphis has soft, glossy leaves with a waffle-like pattern on the surface. Humid air tends to bring out the colors better and make them pop out.

The longevity of the colors depends on the environment that the plant is in, with ideal environments creating a long-lasting, beautiful display. Its leaves are also quite fragrant.


The purple waffle is an evergreen herbaceous shrub with somewhat spiky leaves. It has sometimes distinctive purple veins, with a waffled pattern on the leaves.

It has round leaves with a small point and can grow up to eight inches tall. It develops branches that can spread and in time cover a great surface area.


The Purple Waffle plants originate from Southeast Asia and are usually found in regions with a subtropical climate.

The plants are adapted to a wide variety of weather conditions and can do well in drier climates as well. 

PH Preference

The Purple Waffle likes a moderate pH balance and does best in a range of 5.0-7.0.

The plant does better with more acidic elements rather than alkaline ones.

Vivarium Type

There is no set type of enclosure that the Purple Waffle must be grown in. In fact, they can do very well in a variety of vivarium types.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing the appropriate enclosure is the amount of space available.

In addition, Hemigraphis alternata should also be provided with tropical and moist terrain areas.

Here are recommended vivariums it will do well in:

  • Paludariums – Half aquatic/ half terrain-based enclosure.
  • Terrariums – Fully terrain-based enclosures with little to no aquatic features.

Vivarium Placement

Purple Waffle is happiest when placed in a semi-shaded area, with plenty of light but not direct sunlight.

When placing this plant in an enclosure, it’s best to tuck it in between fixtures and colorful accent pebbles.

It also works great as a carpet, creating a beautiful splash of color in your vivarium and bringing an enchanted feel to the enclosure. 


The Purple Waffle plant can survive in many different substrates but works best when placed in moist and nutrient-rich terrarium soil.

The key to growing this plant healthily is to have enough moisture in the substrate for it to thrive.


For optimal growth and color, the Purple Waffle will need moderate terrarium light with either indirect sunlight or fluorescent lights.

It should not be placed in direct sunlight, since high sun exposure could burn the leaves.

Avoid direct artificial UV light, as UV rays can damage the leaves of the plant and shorten its lifespan.

Buy Purple Waffle Plant

When it comes to buying a Purple Waffle, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Making sure that the plant being bought is healthy is essential for its success in a vivarium.

Vegetation that is already in poor conditions, will have a very hard time adjusting to new environments.

Always make sure to buy from a reliable and honest establishment. Whether it is an online store or a physical location should not matter.

However, online stores might need to be researched a little bit harder to make sure that they are legitimate and are sending the correct plants.

In addition, always check the foliage closely for yellowing, wilting, black spots, or any signs of damage.

Pay close attention and look for any pests or fungal diseases. Inspect both sides of the leaves to avoid missing any red flags.  

Click the image below to find out more about the current price and other relative info about this plant:

Purple Waffle Care and Propagation

The Purple Waffle Plant is an easy and hardy plant to keep in any vivarium. It requires very little water, and the soil should be kept slightly moist to maximize its color and growth.

However, over-watering could cause the leaves to rot, so make sure the soil is dry enough before adding in water.

This can be easily propagated with stem cuttings from the woodier stem pieces at the bottom and added to the soil.

How to grow

Purple waffles will grow best with the correct amount of water, light, and soil.

It is recommended to use high-nutrient soil for the plant because it will encourage more vibrant and lush growth.

It will do well in a semi-aquatic setup as well, however, make sure to not over-water, as it can cause rotting of the leaves.

It requires long days of indirect light, so it’s best to provide light for half the day.


The Purple Waffle is an easy-to-care-for plant, but it will require some attention to prevent over-watering.

Check the soil moisture level before watering and make sure that the soil is dry before deciding on the best course of action.

Keeping the soil slightly moist will be ideal for the plant, but it can survive off of the water stored in the substrate.

Critically over-watering could cause the leaves to rot, so be conservative when it comes to water.

Plants Similar To The Purple Waffle

Adding diversity to an enclosure is key to an aesthetically pleasing setup.

Try mixing up the look of your vivarium with different flora that can easily co-exist in the same types of environment.

Furthermore, if for some reason you find the Blue Waffle hard to acquire or would like to consider something similar to this plant…

Here are some other tropical plants you might find may do well with or in the place of Hemigraphis:

Cyperus papyrus "Paper Reed" | The Plant Care Guide
Pilea depressa "Baby Tears Plant" | The Complete Care Guide
Pilea involucrata "Friendship Plant" Care Guide | Terrarium Plants


Hemigraphis alternata is a great tropical plant for any vivarium. With its soft and fuzzy leaves and its bright and vibrant colors, it’s bound to attract attention in any enclosure it resides in.

It’s an easy-to-maintain waterfall plant that does well in most environments, is hardy and adaptive, and is great for any type of setup.

It’s the perfect addition to any vivarium and will provide years of aesthetic pleasure.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, the Purple Waffle (Hemigraphis alternate) is not poisonous. It is a tropical groundcover plant that is not known to be dangerous to humans or animals.

Caring for a Purple Waffle (Hemigraphis alternate) is an easy task. Water the plant regularly, ensuring the soil is kept moist but not soggy. Place the plant in a room that gets bright, indirect light to keep the foliage vibrant.

Avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause scorching and burning of the leaves. As the plant grows, it may need to be pruned and repotted to prevent overcrowding.

Yes, purple waffle plants can be difficult to find in nurseries and are considered rare. They are native to Southeast Asia and are typically grown as houseplants or outdoor in tropical climates.

The purple waffle plant grows at a moderate alternate rate. It typically takes 2-3 months to reach maturity.

Yes, it is important to prune your purple waffle plant to maintain its health and keep it looking its best. Pruning should be done in early spring, before new growth begins, by removing dead and damaged leaves and stems. This will help encourage new growth and fullness in the plant. You can also prune overgrown or weak stems, as well as to shape your purple waffle plant.

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