Lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus radicans) is native to Indonesia and Malaysia. It is an epiphyte— a delicate, tropical vine that can also be grown as houseplant and excellent for use in hanging baskets on a shady balcony or patio.
Lipstick Plant Characteristics
Its leaves are green, ovate, opposite, waxy and somewhat succulent like. Arranged in long, tanned and thin branches. The inflorescence appear are terminal, with flowers of tubular corolla like a cylindrical cup, with colors ranging from bright red to purplish-brown. The flower resembles a lipstick and that’s why it is called “Lipstick Plant”. The flowers have pungent aroma and are attractive to sunbirds and hummingbirds.
Lipstick Plant Propagation
Lipstick plant propagation can be done from cuttings or from seeds. Best propagation time is when temperature is around 70 F (21 C).
Requirements for Growing Lipstick Plant
Must be grown in dappled shade, always protected from direct sun but under full indirect light. Location must not be windy or cool. Keep the plant above 60 F (15 C). It can be grown tropical climate in USDA Zones 10b – 12 but below these zones, you need to be careful as the lipstick plant is not frost tolerant and likes to grow in constantly warm temperature between 65 to 85 F (18 – 30 C)
Once established do not change the location of plant again and again.
Grow it in fertile, well draining and airy substrate that is rich in humus, peat moss or cocopeat.
Water whenever the surface begins to dry. Soak the entire pot every time. Water regularly in summer to keep the root ball moist. In winter, reduce the watering. Be careful with watering in cooler climates, in winter watering should be almost suspended as it can cause root rot.
It prefers non-calcareous lukewarm water, best to water it with distilled or rain water if possible.
Lipstick Plant Care
Lipstick plant care is simple, all it requires is constantly warm temperature and humid surrounding to grow and thrive.
- Fertilizer: Feed the plant once a month using 3-1-2 ratio liquid fertilizer, such as 9-3-6 diluted at half strength recommended. Make sure to water plant before fertilizing to avoid root burn. Stop fertilizing in late fall and resume again in early spring.
- Pruning: Prune it after it finishes flowering. Cut each branch to a length of about 6 inches using a sharp pair of scissors.
- Pinching: The tip of the branches should be pinched regularly to encourage dense growth.
Pests, Diseases and Problems during Lipstick Plant Care
Generally, it is not susceptible to diseases. Root rot is possible if plant is overwatered in winter. In pests it might be attacked by aphids, red spider mite, mealybugs and whiteflies.
If you’re growing lipstick plant indoors keep it moist but avoid excess watering. Place it on a ventilated place with good air circulation and bright indirect light
Lipstick Plant Losing Leaves
There are several reasons for falling leaves. A drop in temperature in winter, repeated cold drafts or lack of water or moisture may cause the problem. Also note that lipstick plant does not like to be moved during the flowering period.