A single look at the vivid red clusters of flowers produced by the lipstick plant will immediately make it clear why this plant bears the name of a beauty product. The flowers of the Aeschynanthus Radicans grow out of a dark maroon bud, having a striking resemblance to a tube of lipstick.
Lipstick plants are vining plants that continuously produce blooms during the growing season that spans from spring throughout summer. Their pointy, waxy green leaves make a great contrast with the bright red flowers, resulting in a visually striking plant.
Despite looking like an upscale plant that might need your constant attention, lipstick plants have simple requirements that aren’t difficult to meet.
The lipstick plant care tips I cover below will get you up to speed with all the plant’s requirements.
Lipstick Plant Care Tips
If you’re a fan of tropical plants, the care tips below will certainly sound familiar to you. The keeping requirements of lipstick plants are very much in line with the keeping requirements of most other tropical plants, so if you have some experience with these plants, the tips below will help better sediment what you already know.
Lipstick plants can attain a height of 12 to 14 inches, and it can spread to 24 inches. Considering their size, these plants will do best in hanging baskets.
Pruning of these plants will also be required to stop them from spreading out of control. Ideally, pruning should be carried out after the plant finishes blooming, in the growing season.
The lipstick plant does not fare well in full shade nor in full light. Although it needs plenty of light to bloom, exposure to direct sunlight is not beneficial to it. Instead, lipstick plants should receive bright indirect light.
Growing lipstick plants outdoors is only possible in climates without frost, but during springtime and summer, you can move the plant outdoors in partial shade to prevent the leaves from sun burning.
If your lipstick plant stops blooming or becomes leggy, the most likely explanation is lack of enough light. You can try to move your plant somewhere with more light (not direct light!) to see if blooming resumes.
You should avoid over-watering lipstick plants. That said, when you do water, make sure it’s a thorough watering (water until you see water coming out of the draining holes). Empty the saucer of the excess water.
Don’t water the plant until the top quarter of soil is dry. Allowing the soil to dry will actually promote blooming as well.
During the winter season you should water less frequently (approx. once every 2-3 weeks) because the plant is in a dormant state and won’t be doing any growing.
Temperature & Humidity
Native to tropical regions, lipstick plants will enjoy temperatures between 75°F to 85°F. That said, the plant will survive even in temperatures of around 60 °F, but below 50°F it will suffer tissue damage. At temperatures outside their ideal range, lipstick plants will grow much slower.
In terms of humidity, lipstick plants enjoy higher humidity than what our homes can provide. Therefore, you must find ways to increase the humidity around the plant, especially during winter, when the air is usually much drier in our homes.
There are various methods to increase humidity around the plant. The simplest methods include the use of a humidifier, or periodically misting the plant.
It’s also a good idea to position the pot over a tray of pebbles, then either adding water over the pebbles or using the tray in lieu of a saucer so that water that normally drains during watering will be useful to create enough humidity around the plant.
Lipstick plants need lightweight soil that’s aerated well and drains well. Normal potting soil will not do as it tends to hold too much water. But cutting the soil with peat, sphagnum, or perlite will increase drainage and aeration.
You can also use commercially available mixes, for example soil mixes designed for African Violets work well for lipstick plants as well, especially when crushed charcoal is also added to the mix.
Some potting mixes will contain a slow-release fertilizer, eliminating the need to add extra fertilizer for a couple of months.
If this is not the case with your potting medium, you can use either a slow-release fertilizer or a water-soluble houseplant at half-strength.
Best to be economical with the fertilizer as mineral salts can build up in the soil and you’ll have to flush the soil periodically to avoid toxicity.
Feed only during the growing season (spring to summer) and stop the feeding during the dormant season (fall to winter).
Potting & Repotting
Lipstick plants can be admired best in hanging baskets, which allow them to comfortably spread out.
Repotting is only ever needed when the plant has outgrown its pot, which you can tell by the roots that start poking out through the draining holes.
When repotting, pick a container that’s one size bigger and replant during the growing season.
Lipstick Plant Propagation
Lipstick plants can be propagated using 4 to 6-inch cuttings. It takes about 6 weeks for the roots to form. Propagation of lipstick plants isn’t difficult, and cuttings should be planted in well draining soil.
Lipstick Plant Diseases & Pests
Lipstick plants can be prone to the following diseases and pests:
- Botrytis blight, a fungal problem that appears as black spots or lesions on the foliage or stem of the plant. It becomes more serious during winter. It can be triggered by too much moisture and a contrast between daytime and nighttime temperatures. Treatment involves spraying the plant with a fungicide.
- Spider mites, a common pest problem that affects many houseplants. These can damage the foliage by sucking out moisture. Treatment includes manual removal with soapy water or insecticide.
- Mealybugs, another common houseplant pest that appear as cotton-like spots or masses. Same treatment that works for spider mites will help get rid of mealybugs.
- Aphids, an insect that commonly attacks houseplants and can be observed on the stems and flower buds of lipstick plants. Neem oil or insecticidal sprays are efficient in removing these pests.
Lipstick plants are not more prone to diseases than other houseplants. But even if issues appear, you will be able to manage them by recognizing the signs of disease.
Lipstick Plant FAQs
The FAQ below will give you some further tips about the care needed for lipstick plants and answer some questions about common issues you may encounter when caring for these plants.
Why is my Lipstick Plant Thin and Leggy?
Lack of enough light will cause the lipstick plant to become thin and leggy, because the plant will grow towards the light. If this is the case with your lipstick plant, simply move it to a different location, where it can get more light. Just make sure it’s bright indirect light.
Why did my Lipstick Plant Stop Blooming?
Lipstick plants bloom periodically throughout the year. If you’ve brought home your lipstick plant from the garden center and it stopped blooming, there are two likely explanations.
One is a lack of enough light. Lipstick plants require light to bloom, so if your plant is in a location where it doesn’t get enough light, it can stop blooming. Consider moving your plant and see if blooming resumes.
Another reason why lipstick plants may stop blooming is overwatering. Allowing the soil to dry between waterings is crucial to promote blooming.
Nutritional deficiencies may also be to blame. You can try feeding the plant with a water-soluble fertilizer high in potassium every two weeks.
Is Lipstick Plant Toxic for Pets?
No, lipstick plants are not toxic to cats or dogs, so you can safely keep this plant around your pets.
Why is my Lipstick Plant Losing Leaves?
There are two major causes of lipstick plants losing their leaves. One is a lack of enough water, which causes the leaves to shrivel, dry and drop. Another cause is exposure to temperatures below 50 °F.
Do Lipstick Plants Need Pruning?
Yes, lipstick plants can benefit from pruning to keep them at a manageable size. Pruning is best done after the plant finishes blooming. Cut stems by a third and cut right above the leaf node. Cuttings from pruning can be replanted and rooted to create new lipstick plants.
If you’re familiar with caring for tropical plants, the requirements of lipstick plants will not be a challenge for you. Once you correctly plant and position your lipstick plant, there isn’t much maintenance that goes into caring for these plants.
Compared to some other tropical plants — especially succulents — lipstick plants come with the added benefit of producing beautiful blooms periodically during the growing season.
There are a few diseases that lipstick plants can be affected by, but nothing that careful monitoring and timely treatment cannot solve.
Like with many other houseplants, be careful not to overwater your lipstick plant and monitor for signs of distress, so you can make necessary adjustments before it’s too late.