How to Grow and Care for Lipstick Plant

lipstick plant

Quick Overview

Plant Type: Vine
Family: Gesneriaceae
Sun Exposure: Indirect sunlight
Watering: Consistent but moderate
Colors: Red
Size: 3 ft. tall
Hardiness Zones: 10 - 11
Soil Type: well-draining, light, and aerated
Soil pH: Neutral, alkaline
Propagation: By stem cuttings
Toxicity: Non-toxic

The Lipstick Plant, Aeschynanthus Radicans, is a tropical plant native to the rainforests of Asia. It’s easy to see where it got its nickname. The leaves sprout maroon buds with red flowers, and they look very similar to a tube of lipstick. Blooming spring, summer, and fall – this plant will add a bright touch of the tropics to any home.

Lipstick Plants take a little effort but are relatively low-maintenance as house plants in the right conditions. Being tropical plants, they do need warm temperatures, high humidity, and indirect sun. Lipstick plants like to stay moist, so water about once a week or once the top quarter of the soil is dried out. They might like to be moist, but you want to avoid excess water. Use well-draining potting soil and a pot with drainage holes to prevent root rot. To ensure high humidity, spritz the plant with water a few times a week and keep it away from air vents. Lipstick plants thrive in bright, warmer temperatures. They prefer 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit and bright indirect sunlight. With a long blooming season, it’s possible to have a flowering Lipstick Plant almost all year.

It isn’t difficult to add a touch of the tropics to your home year-round with a Lipstick Plant. Read more below for all the details of having a lush, thriving Lipstick Plant.

Lipstick Plant

About Lipstick Plant

Originating in Asia, the Lipstick Plant is fond of tropical and humid conditions. A vining plant with waxy, pointy leaves and blooms in vibrant clusters of red blossoms from a maroon bud. Lipstick Plants can grow full, lush vines up to three feet long. And with proper care, they will bloom 75 percent of the year. In their natural and humid habitat, it is common to find them scaling trees and rocks. Although, outside of that environment, they are grown best as indoor plants. They look great in a hanging basket near a sunny window or even draping from a bookshelf or the mantel.

How to Care for Lipstick Plant

Watering

Consistent moisture is critical for a thriving Lipstick Plant. It’s best to moderately water when the top quarter of the soil is dried out. Moisture levels can be checked by sticking your finger into the soil and ensuring that the top quarter is dried out. Overwatering will quickly lead to root rot and fungal issues with the plant. It’s essential to take a few extra seconds to check the soil before each watering. A proper watering schedule will encourage the plant to bloom more often. During the growing season, a Lipstick Plant will need water around every 7-10 days. Watering frequency will decrease in the winter to around every two or three weeks. Remember always to check the soi first. It’s better to skip a watering than to overwater.

The signs of a watering issue are easy to spot. Underwatering will show up with dry and shriveled leaves. Overwatering will cause the plans to start losing color in its leaves. Just one more reminder of how important it is to check the soil before every watering. 

Best Soil and Fertilizer for the Lipstick Plant

Lipstick plants prefer well-draining, light, and aerated soil. Most houseplant soil blends are suitable. Potting soils can be heavy and might become compacted over time. Lipstick Plants don’t do well with compacted soil, but a few easy things can help. You can add sphagnum moss to help maintain proper moisture levels around the roots. To promote drainage, you can add sand or perlite to the soil mixture. If you notice compacted soil, use chopsticks to poke holes in the soil gently. 

In their natural environment, these plants grow on rocks and trees, so it’s possible to grow them on a piece of wood. If you go this route, keep in mind it’ll take extra and careful waterings to maintain the proper moisture levels.

There are a few options for fertilizing Lipstick Plants. Slow-release fertilizers are the easiest option. Sprinkle some fertilizer into the top layer of soil every two to three months. The fertilizer will release nutrients over time with each watering. Keep in mind that many potting soil blends already have fertilizer added. Be sure to check your soil before added fertilizer to your routine. It’s also suitable to use a diluted liquid fertilizing mixture. With this method, feed the plant every two weeks during the growing season. Reduce to once a month during the dormant season. To encourage more blooms, choose a liquid fertilizer that’s high in potassium. Always read the directions and dilute liquid fertilizer as directed.

Overfertilizing can cause damage to plants. If the leaves start browning, remove the damaged leaves and give the soil a thorough rinse. Be patient and make sure all excess water drains. Pause any fertilizing until the issue resolves.

Lipstick Plant

Light and Temperature

Lipstick Plants are happiest with bright, indirect sunlight. Direct sun is too harsh for the delicate leaves and will cause scorching or leaf drop. They’ll thrive near a window that gets a lot of bright sunlight. Aim for at least 6 hours per day. Without proper lighting, Lipstick Plants won’t bloom as often and might start to grow leggy. Place the plant closer to a window to resolve the issue.

Lipstick plants grow and flower best with temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. They are tropical, so they thrive in warmer temperatures. They can take temperatures down to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but they won’t grow or bloom as well. Once temperatures drop any lower, the plant will suffer. Sudden temperature changes can also harm lipstick plants. Try to place them away from doors, drafts, or air vents.

Being tropical plants, they also thrive with high humidity levels. Most homes don’t have humidity ranges similar to that of the rainforest. But don’t worry, there are a few simple things you can do to boost humidity levels for tropical plants. Placing humidity-loving plants together helps to increase humidity levels naturally. If not in a hanging basket, pebble trays placed under the pot work well. As you water the plant, the excess water drains into the pebbles. Over time this will increase humidity around the plant. You can buy a small humidifier and place it near the plant. Or you can spritz the plant with water a few times a week. If you go the spritzing route, always be sure to spray the plant in the morning. It’s essential to allow time for the leaves to dry during the day.

Lipstick Plant

Pruning Your Lipstick Plant

Pruning isn’t essential, but it can help encourage a bushier, lush plant. Vining plants can sometimes end up looking scraggly. It’s good practice to give your Lipstick Plant regular “haircuts.” Pruning will lead to a fuller plant. It also will encourage more blooms since Lipstick Plants flower at the end of their vines. 

Any sharp scissors or pruning shears will work. Make sure to clean them with rubbing alcohol before each pruning. Cleaning your tools will ensure that no diseases get transferred to the plant. Wait to prune until all buds have bloomed and always cut right about a leaf node. Try not to trim the vines too short. It’s best to leave about 1/3 of the vine or at least 3 inches.

Repotting

Wait to repot your Lipstick Plant until it’s outgrowing its current one. A slow down of growth is usually a good sign it’s time to repot. Go up one pot size, gently remove soil from the roots, and place in fresh potting soil. You’ll want the soil to be firm but not over compacted. Lipstick Plants aren’t particular about how they’re potted if their needs are met. Choose a pot with drainage holes to encourage proper drainage. That will also decrease the chances of root rot. Any medium will do, but adjust care if needed. For instance, terracotta pots absorb moisture, so in this case, a Lipstick Plant may require extra watering. Pot size is also important. If the plant has too much room, it won’t bloom as often, increasing the chance of root rot. Stick with a slightly larger pot, and your Lipstick Plant will continue to thrive.

Toxicity

Lipstick plants are non-toxic for pets and humans. This adds to the benefits of owning one of these beautiful plants.

Aeschynanthus Radicans

Lipstick Plant Pests and Diseases

Pests aren’t a common problem for Lipstick Plants, but it is a possibility. It’s good practice to check your plant with every watering. If you notice any pests, wipe the plant down with a damp washcloth. Treat with neem oil or insecticidal soap if the pests persist.

Lipstick plants are prone to fungal infections, usually due to too much moisture or drastic temperature changes (ex. cold winter nights). A fungal infection is noticeable and shows up as black spots on the leaves or stems. Remove damaged leaves and check to make sure roots are healthy. Ensure the soil is draining well and only mist the plant during the day, allowing plenty of time for leaves to dry. Another friendly reminder that it’s better to skip a watering than to overwater.

Lipstick Plant Propagation

Propagating Lipstick Plants is simple and straightforward. It is best to propagate with stem cuttings. Remember to use clean scissors or pruning shears and to cut near a leaf node. Each cutting should be four to six inches in length. Make sure there are no blooms on the cutting and remove any of the lower leaves. Then plant in fresh potting soil, in the same way, you would repot the entire plant. If you want to speed up the rooting process, you can dip the end of the stem into rooting hormone. Rooting hormone isn’t a necessary step. Place the cutting in bright, indirect light and keep the soil moist. Roots should begin to appear in two to four weeks.

Aeschynanthus Radicans

Lipstick Plant Varieties

The Aeschynanthus genus is rather large and popular among plant enthusiasts. There are over 150 species. All varieties of Lipstick Plant require similar care. Some of the most popular types are detailed below. It’s impossible to include them all, so feel free to do a deep dive and discover even more.

Mona Lisa

This variety is composed of dark green leaves with bright red-orangish blooms.

Curly

The Curly Lipstick Plant has vines that twist and curl. The twisted vines give it a unique appearance than the traditional Lipstick Plant. 

Tangerine

As you might have guessed by its name, this variety blooms in yellow-orange instead of the traditional red.

Rasta

The Rasta variety has leaves that twist around the vines. The twisted leaves make the stems appear fuller and give them an unusual appearance. 

Variegata

This variety has variegated leaves that are a lighter green with white streaks. The blooms are reddish-orange. There’s no doubt that this variety is stunning.

Cassiopeia

The buds on a Cassiopeia Lipstick Plant are dark purple making the red blooms pop in contrast.

Black Pagoda

The Black Pagoda is one variety coveted for its attractive foliage and not its blooms. It has mottled leaves that are light green and slightly variegated. The flowers of a Black Pagoda don’t stand out because they are also a light green shade.

Purple Star

This variety blooms in red splashed throughout with purple spots. It is a striking combination.

Krakau

The Krakau stands out with its dark green and shiny leaves. This variety blooms in the traditional robust red color.

Takeaways

Lipstick plants can bring a touch of the tropical rainforest to any home. With proper care, they’ll grace you with blooms for the majority of the year. They do need high humidity, warm temperatures, and bright light. Keep that in mind when placing your Lipstick Plant. They love hanging baskets near a window. Follow the easy care requirements, and your space will be brighter in no time. Feel free to drop any care questions in the comments below. Or share how you care for your Lipstick Plant.