Have you ever heard of the lipstick plant? These beautiful cascading plants grow from the branches of trees in Asian jungles but fit in perfectly in hanging baskets in our homes. As soon as you see the young blooms of this plant, you’ll know exactly where it gets its name.
These evergreen perennials are epiphytic vines, which means they grow on other larger plants, rather than rooted on the ground. They have glossy green leaves that measure 2-4 inches (5-10cm) in length.
As attractive as the foliage is, they will also flower freely, making them a very interesting and attractive houseplant. Unfortunately, these flowers don’t have a great smell, but the plant’s pollinators seem to find them irresistible. These tropical plants are non-toxic, but of course, that does not mean the same as edible!
|Scientific name||Aeschynanthus radicans|
|Common names||Lipstick plant, lipstick vine|
|Plant Type||Houseplant, Epiphyte, Vine|
|Height and Width||1-2 ft. tall (indoors), 1–2 ft. wide (indoors)|
|Flower colors||Red/orange, yellow, dark-purple|
|Foliage color||Green, variegated|
|Sun Exposure||Bright indirect light|
|Soil Type & pH||Well-drained soil with a neutral pH|
|Special features||Flowering houseplant, hanging vine|
How to Grow a Lipstick Plant
The lipstick plant flower is an epiphyte that looks incredible when grown in hanging baskets. This allows the plant to cascade out of its container, just as it would in nature. Read on for specific growing information.
The lipstick vine is easily propagated by stem tip cuttings. Use a rooting hormone powder and a moist growing medium of vermiculite and perlite to stimulate rooting. You should see results in just a few weeks.
Alternatively, you can set your cuttings in a vase of water while they develop roots. Keeping your cuttings in a warm environment and removing all but the top few leaves will increase success.
The lipstick plant needs a moist but well-aerated growing medium in order to thrive. A commercial mix for orchids or African violets would be ideal. If you prefer to mix up your own soil, a potting soil amended with sphagnum moss and perlite can work wonders.
If you feel like your lipstick vine has grown a little too long and wild, it could be time to prune it. Cutting stems back to about 6 inches (15 cm) will encourage better flowering, new growth, and restore thin weak looking plants. Before pruning this, or any other houseplant, make sure your cutting tool is sharp and clean.
Repotting and Transplanting
As an epiphyte, these plants don’t mind being slightly rootbound. If your plant’s roots are growing out of the bottom of its container, or the water is no longer draining through the soil, you should think about repotting.
Up-pot your lipstick vine to a container that is 2 inches (5cm) larger than the original. Select a container that has drainage holes and that can be rotated to provide even lighting for your plant.
How to Care for Lipstick Plants
The beautiful flowering curly lipstick plant is relatively easy to care for. Read on for great tips on keeping your plant healthy and flowering in your home.
The lipstick plant does best in consistently and evenly moist conditions. These plants can, however, survive drier conditions as they will dry out a little in nature when rainfall is scarce.
Feel the soil in your plant’s container to determine whether it needs more water. The soil can be left to dry out to about 0.5-1 inch (1.3-2.5cm) below the surface before it will need more water.
These plants should be watered less in the winter when the temperatures drop and growth slows. This will encourage better flowering in the next growing season.
The best light for your lipstick plant is bright, indirect light. This can be achieved with artificial grow lights, or by positioning your plant near an east or west-facing window. A south-facing window is also a good option, as long as the sunlight is filtered by a sheer curtain.
These plants should not be exposed to direct afternoon sunlight, so consider this when selecting a position near a west-facing window. Moving or rotating the plant to allow light to all sides of the plant can encourage better flower production.
Temperature and Humidity
The lipstick vine is a tropical plant that prefers a warm, humid environment. It will do best in temperatures between about 65°F and 85°F (18-29°C) but should be given cooler winter temperatures down to about 55°F (13°C) to stimulate flowering. If growing this plant outdoors on the porch or patio, it will survive outdoors in USDA Hardiness zones 10 and 11.
If the air in your home is naturally dry, you should place this plant in a relatively humid area like your bathroom or kitchen. Alternatively, you can use a humidifier or mist the plant. If you prefer to mist your plants, do this in the morning to allow them to dry off during the day.
Apply a half-strength liquid fertilizer once a month in the growing season to improve your plant’s health and growth rate. Do not feed the plant during its winter cooling-off period.
Pest and diseases
Your lipstick vine will shed its leaves if it is exposed to prolonged periods of temperatures below about 50°F (10°C). If this occurs, move your plant to a warmer environment.
Although these plants are generally trouble-free, they can be affected by some common houseplant problems like root rot, as well as mealybug, aphid, and mite infestations.
Common Varieties and Cultivars
There are several excellent cultivars of Aeschynanthus radicans. The following are some of the more popular options that are available in the horticultural trade:
- ‘Tangerine’ is an interesting cultivar that has lighter, orange or yellow flowers.
- ‘Variegata’ has green and white marked leaves. This is a great choice for fans of variegated houseplants!
- ‘Curly’ and ‘Rasta’ are very interesting plants with tightly curled leaves.
There are about 150 different Aeschynanthus species known. Another lipstick plant species that makes an equally good houseplant is the Black pagoda lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus longicaulis).
The lipstick plant is a great species for greening up your indoor environment. They work especially well as hanging plants and the fact that they flower so freely indoors cements their popularity as a houseplant. If you’re looking for a species with great foliage and an extra splash of color, why not pick up a lipstick plant today?
See more vine house plants you can grow.
*image by nahhan/depositphotos