The Lipstick plant is a popular, striking tropical evergreen perennial, often grown as a houseplant. It gets its name from its vibrant red tubular flowers. In its native tropical habitat, this is an epiphytic species found growing from tree branches and in cracks in rocks. As a houseplant, it should be planted in a well-draining potting mix.
If the plant gets enough warmth, humidity, and filtered sunlight, you will enjoy a prolific display of flowering through much of the year with the most abundant show in the summer and fall.
Lipstick Plant Care
Even with its impressive, tropical appearance, the lipstick plant is generally considered to be an easy-to-care-for flowering houseplant. Here are the main care requirements for growing a lipstick plant:
- Appreciates a position with bright, filtered light.
- Needs higher-than-average humidity levels and protection from sudden temperature changes.
- Maintain consistent moisture in the growing season, while being mindful of the plant’s sensitivity to over watering.
- Use a loose, well-draining potting mix.
- Feed regularly with diluted fertilizer in the growing season.
Lipstick plants need bright but filtered light to thrive. Too much direct sunlight can cause leaf scorch, and too little will result in a poor display of flowering and leaf drop.
In their native damp and tropical regions, these plants typically grow in an almost soil-free environment often rooting onto branches or rock crevices. Heavy potting soil can cause root rot to develop.
Potted lipstick plants will benefit from being grown in a medium that is well-aerated, evenly moist, and light. Many enthusiasts include sand and sphagnum moss in their mix to help ensure good drainage, prevent over-compaction, and promote absorbency.
Although lipstick plants like consistent moisture, particularly during their most prolific growing period, overwatering and saturated conditions can lead to root rot, leaf drop, and fungal issues.
Moderate watering is best. Ideally, you want to avoid allowing the potting medium to dry out completely and offer water when the top couple of inches are no longer damp.
Temperature and Humidity
Ideal temperatures for healthy blooming lipstick plants range somewhere between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures that fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit are not ideal, and leaf drop will usually start to occur. As a tropical species, it appreciates warmth and high humidity; regular misting is recommended to keep the plant healthy. Misting should be done in the morning to discourage fungal leaf spot diseases.
Sudden changes in temperatures and drafts are problematic, too. Therefore, it is best not to sit your lipstick plant beside outer doors, drafty windows, or air conditioning vents.
Your lipstick plant will appreciate regular (once or twice a month) applications of a slow-release fertilizer during the growing season.
Types of Lipstick Plant
Given the lipstick plant’s popularity, it is not surprising that several cultivars have been developed. Some of the most widely available include:
- Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Curly’: The leaves on this cultivar are wavy rather than smooth in appearance, meaning it stands out from the crowd.
- Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Mona Lisa’: Known for having a distinctive orange-red shade of flowers rather than the vibrant red of a traditional lipstick plant.
- Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Variegata’: The green leaves of this cultivar are variegated with yellow, white, or cream.
- Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Tangerine’: This cultivar is unique for its yellow-orange flowers.
- Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Rasta’: This variety has densely curled leaves. The bright red flowers bloom most prolifically in late summer and early fall.
With its cascading habit, pruning of the stems keeps the plant from looking straggly. It also helps to encourage new, healthy growth.
Propagating Lipstick Plants
These plants are easy to propagate from soft stem cuttings at any time of year. Here is how to do it:
- Look for healthy, new growth and cut apiece around five inches long, using sharp pruners. It should be a section without any blooms on it, and all but a few leaves should be removed.
- Dip the cut end in powdered rooting hormone.
- Plant the cutting in a container containing a mix of vermiculite and perlite.
- Keep the container lightly moist until the plant cutting is rooted, which generally takes about two weeks.
- When the cutting is solidly rooted, transplant it into a permanent pot filled with potting mix augmented with sand and sphagnum moss.
How to Grow Lipstick Plants From Seed
Although it is easier to grow these plants from cuttings, it is still possible to germinate lipstick plants from seed. Sow plants in a seed starting mix. The medium should only lightly cover the seeds. Keep the container at a temperature of around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Seedlings should begin to germinate in around two weeks.
Potting and Repotting
Repot your lipstick plant when it becomes root bound and outgrows its current container. Do this in early spring or after the prolific spring and summer bloom season.
Gently remove the root ball from the existing container, carefully shaking off the old potting mix. Cut off any dead roots with sterile scissors or pruning shears. Replant in a pot one to two inches larger than the old one, using fresh, loose, well-draining potting mix.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Lipstick plants do not usually have any major problems with pests, though occasional issues with aphids, mealybugs, and mites can occur. These are best treated with horticultural oils or by washing off the pests with water spray.
If plants are allowed to get overly wet, they can be prone to fungal problems and leaf spot. The leaves should not be left damp, and the potting medium should be well-drained.
How to Get Lipstick Plant to Bloom
You can appreciate year-round red flowers on your lipstick plant if you offer the right care and conditions.
While lipstick plants can flower year-round provided their basic cultural needs be met, blooming is most prolific in spring and summer. Correcting deficits in any of these requirements usually returns the plant to reliable blooming.
What Do the Lipstick Plants Flowers Look and Smell Like?
The lipstick plant features vibrant red tubular flowers that appear above a burgundy bud. These flowers grow in clusters and, along with the waxy, glossy, green foliage; they have a cascading, vine-like habit. This makes them an ideal choice for use in hanging baskets or tall containers.
One thing worth noting is that the lipstick plant is not one to select to add a fragrant aroma to your home. Although the blooms do not have a strong scent, it is not particularly pleasant.
How to Encourage More Blooms
Cooler, drier conditions in the winter help buds set for new flowers in the spring. Pruning stems back to around 6 to 8 inches in length after flowering encourages healthy new growth and abundant new blooms.
If you are not seeing many blooms, your lipstick plant may be getting too much shade, not enough higher-potassium houseplant fertilizer, or the wrong amount of water.
Amanda Byers is a graduate of Columbia, where she played volleyball and annoyed a lot of professors. Now as Zobuz’s entertainment and Lifestyle Editor, she enjoys writing about delicious BBQ, outrageous style trends and all things Buzz worthy.