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How to Grow and Care for Lipstick Plant (Complete Guide)

Selective focus of a lipstick plant

The lipstick plant, scientifically known as Aeschynanthus radicans, is a popular houseplant renowned for its striking tubular flowers that resemble tubes of lipstick.

This tropical epiphyte, native to humid, tropical conditions, is an epiphytic species that naturally grows on other plants or trees in its native environment. Its shiny green leaves and bright red flowers add a vibrant splash of color to any indoor setting, making it a favorite among plant lovers.

The lipstick plant is a type of basket vine with long, trailing stems covered in glossy, green leaves. It is often grown in hanging baskets to allow its vines to cascade beautifully.

The plant gets its common name from its unique flowers – dark-colored tubes that open to reveal bright red blooms, reminiscent of a tube of lipstick.

Aeschynanthus radicans is a variegata, meaning it has a variety of leaf colors. The green leaves of this cultivar are often streaked with cream or yellow, adding to its visual appeal.

The plant is also known for its fragrant aroma when in bloom, which further enhances its appeal as a houseplant.

Caring for a lipstick plant requires a good understanding of its natural habitat. As a tropical epiphyte, it thrives in warm, humid conditions similar to those found in bathrooms or near a humidifier.

The plant also requires bright indirect light and consistent moisture for optimal growth and blooming.

The lipstick plant is a wonderful addition to any home, bringing a touch of the tropics indoors. With the right care, this plant will reward you with a profusion of its signature lipstick-like flowers, adding a unique and vibrant touch to your indoor garden.

As a master gardener, I’ll share everything you need to know to care for lipstick plants and grow them properly. This is the only guide you’ll ever need for lipstick plant care.

Closeup view of the red flowers of a lipstick plant with green leaves

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Botanical Name: Aeschynanthus radicans

Common Name: Lipstick plant, lipstick vine, basket vine

Family: Gesneriaceae

Plant Type: Evergreen perennial

Hardiness Zones: 10a–11b (USDA)

Sun Exposure: Bright filtered light

Soil Type: Very well-drained

Soil pH: Neutral to alkaline

Bloom Time: Spring, Summer, Fall

Flower Color: Red

Native Area: Asia

Lipstick Plant Care

The lipstick plant thrives in bright indirect light and consistent moisture. During the growing season, usually early spring to early fall, the green leaves of this cultivar are adorned with tubular flowers resembling tubes of lipstick.

The bright red flowers, which bloom from dark-colored tubes, give off a fragrant aroma that can fill a room. This basket vine prefers a medium of good drainage, such as a mix of perlite and sand, to prevent root rot and other fungal problems.

Selective focus of a lipstick plant with flower

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Regular misting or a humidifier can simulate the tropical conditions it loves, but be careful of overwatering, as this can cause leaf drop. Keep an eye out for pests such as aphids, mites, and mealybugs, and use neem oil or a similar treatment at the first sign of infestation.

In cooler months, reduce watering and allow new growth to emerge before applying a diluted liquid fertilizer.

Light

The Aeschynanthus radicans thrives under bright indirect light. The shiny green leaves of this cultivar can maintain their luster and health under well-lit conditions.

It is crucial to avoid direct sunlight as it can scorch the leaves and lead to leaf drop. Bathrooms with frosted windows can provide an ideal environment, as they offer the right balance of light and humidity.

During the growing season from early spring to early fall, ensure the plant receives consistent light to encourage the growth of new buds and blooms.

Soil

The lipstick plant thrives best in a well-draining potting medium. A mix of perlite and sand can offer the good drainage these tropical epiphytes need to prevent root rot, a common issue with these plants.

A touch of peat moss can be added to the medium to maintain consistent moisture. The variegata cultivar, with its shiny green leaves and bright red flowers, particularly enjoys this soil mixture.

It’s also essential to ensure that the pot you choose for your lipstick plant has sufficient drainage holes.

Lipstick plant in the garden

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Water

The lipstick plant does best in consistently moist conditions. However, it is also susceptible to root rot if overwatered or if it lacks good drainage. It’s important to water the plant thoroughly, allowing the water to drain freely from the pot.

Always allow the top inch of the medium, a blend of perlite and sand, to dry out before the next watering. During the cooler months, you can reduce watering frequency, but never let the plant dry out completely.

Temperature and Humidity

The Aeschynanthus radicans prefers tropical conditions similar to its natural habitat. This means it prefers consistent warmth, with temperatures that never dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, even in the cooler months.

Lipstick plant also benefits from high humidity, which can be achieved through regular misting or the use of a humidifier.

Bathrooms, which naturally have higher humidity due to showers and baths, can be a good location for these houseplants.

Lipstick plant focus shot

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Fertilizer

Lipstick plant flourishes when fed a balanced liquid fertilizer during its growing season, which spans from early spring to early fall. It enjoys a good meal of nutrients to support the development of its shiny green leaves and bright red flowers.

It’s essential to dilute the fertilizer to half its strength to prevent root rot and other fungal problems. Fertilize this houseplant every two weeks, but remember to reduce feeding during the cooler months as the plant enters a period of rest.

Types of Lipstick Plant

  • Aeschynanthus Radicans ‘Curly’: Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Curly’, also known as the curly lipstick plant, is a unique variety with twisted vines and leaves. It thrives in high humidity and bright indirect light, making it a perfect choice for bathrooms or near a humidifier.
  • Aeschynanthus Radicans ‘Mona Lisa’: The ‘Mona Lisa’ is a popular lipstick plant variant known for its shiny green leaves and bright red tubular flowers. This basket vine requires regular misting and warmth to mimic its natural tropical conditions.
Closeup shot of a Mona Lisa Lipstick Plant

Mona Lisa Lipstick Plant – Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

  • Aeschynanthus Radicans ‘Variegata’: Aeschynanthus Radicans ‘Variegata’ stands out with its variegated green and cream leaves. This epiphytic species enjoys cooler temperatures and can tolerate lower light levels than other lipstick plants.
  • Aeschynanthus Radicans ‘Tangerine’: The ‘Tangerinee’ lipstick plant is a stunning variety that produces vibrant, tangerine-red flowers. Like other Aeschynanthus radicans, it likes a high-humidity environment and requires a well-draining medium to prevent root rot.
  • Aeschynanthus Radicans ‘Rasta’: The ‘Rasta’ lipstick plant, with its cascading stems and glossy, dark green leaves, makes a striking houseplant. Its tubular flowers emerge from dark-colored buds and fill the room with a fragrant aroma.
Closeup shot on the flower of a Rasta Lipstick Plant

Rasta Lipstick Plant – Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

How to Plant Lipstick Plant From Seed

Step 1: Choosing the Right Medium

A mixture of perlite and sand is an excellent medium for starting your lipstick plant seeds. This combination ensures good drainage, reducing the risk of root rot, a common issue with these plants.

Step 2: Preparing the Pot

For lipstick plants, the pot selection is crucial as they prefer to grow in a basket vine style. Choose a pot with ample drainage holes to prevent water stagnancy, which can lead to root rot.

The pot should be spacious enough to accommodate the growing vines and stems of the lipstick plant.

Step 3: Planting the Seeds

Spread the seeds evenly over the surface of the pot, gently pressing them into the medium. The lipstick plant seeds don’t require burying under the soil; they need light to germinate. Ensure the seeds are moist but not waterlogged.

Hand planting seeds on a pot

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How to Propagate Lipstick Plant

Step 1: Choosing the Correct Cutting

To propagate a lipstick plant, you first need to select a healthy stem cutting. Look for a stem with shiny green leaves and new growth. The stem should also have a few buds.

Step 2: Preparing the Cutting

Once you have your stem cutting, prepare it for propagation. Using sharp pruners or shears, cut the stem just below a leaf node. This is where the plant’s hormone concentration is highest, encouraging new growth.

Remove the leaves from the lower part of the stem to prevent leaf drop due to stress.

Step 3: Preparing the Potting Medium

Prepare a mixture of perlite, sand, and a bit of regular potting soil. This will mimic the natural growing conditions of the lipstick plant and prevent root rot.

Fill a pot with your prepared medium, ensuring it has drainage holes to avoid waterlogging.

Step 4: Planting the Cutting

Plant the prepared cutting in the pot, burying it up to the first set of leaves. This will help the plant establish a strong root system.

After planting, water the cutting thoroughly, ensuring consistent moisture. Place the pot in a location with bright indirect light, as the lipstick plant thrives in these conditions.

Lipstick plant selective focus on its red flowers

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

How to Pot or Repot a Lipstick Plant

Step 1: Choosing the Right Medium

Purchase or make a well-draining mix of perlite and sand, which allows for good drainage and prevents root rot. Adding a bit of organic matter to the mix can also provide the necessary nutrients for the plant’s growth.

Step 2: Preparing the Pot

Ensure the pot you’re using has sufficient drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. A hanging basket vine can be a great choice of pot, allowing the plant’s vines to drape beautifully.

Step 3: Transplanting the Plant

With your medium prepared and your pot ready, it’s time to move the lipstick plant. Using sharp pruners or shears, carefully cut the plant from its current pot, ensuring you do not harm the root system.

Hanging pots with lipstick plants

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Place the plant in the new pot and gently cover the roots with your prepared medium.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases for Lipstick Plant

Mealybugs

Closeup shot of mealybugs

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Mealybugs are one of the common pests that can affect the lipstick plant. These pests feed on the sap of the plant, draining it of vital nutrients and causing leaf drop and stunted growth.

Infested plants often display a sticky residue on the leaves and stems, which can lead to fungal problems. To control mealybugs, apply neem oil or use a regular misting of water to dislodge the pests.

Spider Mites

Macro of a spider mite

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Spider mites are tiny pests that can cause significant damage to the lipstick plant. They feed on the plant’s sap, causing the leaves to appear speckled or mottled. If left unchecked, a severe infestation can lead to leaf drop and even death of the plant.

Spider mites thrive in dry conditions, so maintaining a humid environment with a humidifier or placing your plant in bathrooms can help deter these pests. Use a miticide or neem oil to control an existing infestation.

Root Rot

Root rot is a common disease that affects the lipstick plant, particularly if it is overwatered or if the pot doesn’t provide good drainage. This disease causes the roots to become soft and mushy, leading to wilting and yellowing of the leaves.

To prevent root rot, ensure the plant is potted in a well-draining medium, such as a mix of perlite and sand. If root rot is detected early, repot the plant in fresh soil and trim off the affected roots with sharp pruners.

Leaf Spot

Leaf spot is a fungal disease that can affect the shiny green leaves of the lipstick plant. It causes dark spots on the leaves, which can eventually lead to leaf drop if left untreated. This disease often occurs when the plant is kept in too cool or wet conditions.

To prevent leaf spots, provide your lipstick plant with bright indirect light, consistent moisture, and warmth typical of its native tropical conditions. If leaf spot occurs, remove affected leaves and treat the plant with a fungicide.

Common Plant Problems and Solutions for Lipstick Plant

Brown Tips

Brown tips on the leaves of a lipstick plant are often a sign of inconsistent moisture. This tropical epiphyte thrives in well-draining medium, so ensure your pot has good drainage. Mixing perlite or sand into the soil can help improve its structure.

Regular misting can also provide the plant with the tropical conditions it loves, while a humidifier in cooler climates can help recreate the warmth and humidity of its natural environment.

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves can be a sign of overwatering, leading to root rot, a common issue for many houseplants. Ensure that the lipstick plant is not sitting in water.

If the problem persists, consider repotting the plant into fresh soil and a clean pot. Be sure to trim any black, mushy roots with sharp pruners before repotting.

Failure to Bloom

If your lipstick plant is not producing its characteristic tubular flowers that resemble tubes of lipstick, it may not be getting enough light. These plants thrive in bright indirect light.

If the plant is in a darker location, consider moving it to a spot with more light, particularly in the growing season of early spring to early fall. A dose of liquid fertilizer can also encourage new growth and blooms.

Variegata Issues

The variegata variant of the lipstick plant, with its cream and green leaves, can revert to all-green foliage if it’s not getting enough light. Keep this plant in a location with bright, indirect light to maintain its variegated appearance.

Regular feeding during the growing season with a balanced liquid fertilizer can also help keep the variegata looking its best.

 

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