Adorned with bright foliage and intriguing flowers, the lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus radicans) is a beautiful addition to any home. As long as you give it the ideal conditions it asks for, the plant will continue giving you eye-catching blooms. The red flowers emerging from dark-colored tubes gives it the appearance of a lipstick, which is where it gets its name from.
This evergreen, tropical houseplant grows in a vining habit, and is best planted in hanging baskets or high containers. Whether you’re a novice gardener or an experienced one, it’s worth learning about the requirements of the lipstick plant before starting to grow one. Continue reading and you’ll learn all about it.
Lipstick Plant Care
The lipstick plant is typically considered as one of the easy-to-care-for indoor plants. As long as you get the lighting, temperature and moisture right, the plant won’t disappoint you. Here are some of the factors to consider and perfect when growing the lipstick plant:
Airy soil is best for the lipstick plant. The best option is to use a balanced potting soil to grow the plant. Often potting mixes already include the necessary fertilization to keep the plant thriving for the first couple of weeks. If the potting soil isn’t fertilized, you’ll need to include 3-2-1 NPK fertilizer to give it a good start. Gardeners also often combine the potting mix with sand and sphagnum moss to enhance drainage and prevent compaction.
Bright indirect light is ideal for the plant. As long as it gets enough light, the plant will give flowers. If your lipstick plant isn’t giving flowers, the reason could be that it’s sitting in shade. Moving it to a brighter spot may trigger blooming. Full sun isn’t good for the plant either as it can scorch the leaves.
Overwatering must be avoided at all costs. It can cause root rot and fungal problems. Water the plant only moderately to keep the soil moist, but not saturated. Ideally, wait for the soil to dry out a couple of inches from the top before watering again, but never let it dry out completely.
The lipstick plant likes it warm. The ideal temperature for the plant is in the range of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll see the best blooms as long as the lipstick plant is sitting in warm conditions, and all the other factors are optimal too.
As the temperature drops, you’ll notice a drop in blooming. Below 50 degrees, leaf drop may be witnessed. Keep the plant away from vents and drafty windows as sudden temperature changes aren’t good for the plant either.
Native to the tropical rainforests, the lipstick plant prefers high humidity. Though it will survive in average room humidity, you can improve the conditions by misting the plant several times each week. Alternatively, you can set the container on a tray of pebbles. When you water the plant, the excess drains out in the tray. Evaporation from the tray creates humidity in the atmosphere surrounding the plant.
If your potting mix includes a slow-release fertilizer in the composition, you won’t need to supplement for the first three months. After this time, you can start feeding the plant every two weeks using a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer diluted at half strength. Only fertilize the plant during spring and summer, while it’s actively growing. Don’t feed during fall and winter while the plant is dormant.
By pruning the longer stems to about one-third, you can promote bushier growth of the plant. However, wait until after blooming to prune the plant. Use sharp pruners to cut the stem just above the leaf nodes. Pruning the plant will keep it in good shape and prevent leggy appearance. Also, since flowers appear at the leaf tips, a bushier growth will mean you can enjoy more flowers.
Pests and Diseases
The lipstick plant can sometimes become infested with the common houseplant pests. Watch out for mealy bugs, aphids, thrips and spider mites. Monitor the plant closely to catch and remove any pests in time, before they become more problematic. In the case of infestations, treating the plant with neem oil, or another organic pesticide should solve the problem.
Besides pests, the plant can also become infected with fungal diseases, especially if the soil is wet. Make sure you grow the plant in well-drained potting soil. Avoid keeping the soil wet to prevent diseases.
Lipstick Plant Varieties
The lipstick plant comes in multiple varieties. You can choose something that suits your style and complements your home. The most common ones include:
The lipstick plant is the most common variety, prized for its shiny green foliage that grows in the form of vines. The plant gives maroon, tubular flowers in the shape of a lipstick.
– Variegated Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Variegata’)
This variety has much the same appearance as that of the original lipstick plant, except for its white streaked, variegated leaves and reddish-orange flowers.
– Curly Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Curly’)
It’s a unique variety that produces dark green, curly leaves and tubular red blooms.
– Mona Lisa Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Mona Lisa’)
Different from the usual maroon blossoms of the lipstick plant, the Mona Lisa gives unique orange-red flowers.
The lipstick plant isn’t a difficult plant to grow. You can even succeed if you’re a newbie. Just make sure you follow all the care tips highlighted above and you’ll be good. With a little care, you’ll enjoy beautiful flowers throughout a major part of the year.
- 3-2-1 NPK Fertilizer
- Plant mister
- Water-soluble houseplant fertilizer
- Neem oil or organic pesticide