How to Grow and Care for Lipstick Plants

With dramatic cascading greenery and bright flowers, lipstick plants are a great statement plant for any home. While they may look complex, they are quite easy to care for. All you need to do is provide the proper environment as well as regular water and fertilizer. We’re going to break down lipstick plant care even more so you can help these plants thrive in your home.


Lipstick Plant Care Essentials

Lipstick plants prefer air temperatures between 65-80ºF as well as moderate to high humidity. Provide them with at least five hours of bright yet indirect light each day. Water when the top inch of soil is dry, about every week in the summer and every two weeks in the winter.


About Lipstick Plants (Aeschynanthus Radicans)

About Lipstick Plants (Aeschynanthus Radicans)

Lipstick plants are flowering evergreen vines that are native to Malaysia and Thailand. They are epiphytes or lithophytes, which means they grow on other plants or rocks rather than in soil. 

These plants belong to the Aeschynanthus genus, which comes from the two words aishchuno meaning shame, and anthos meaning flower. The genus name is radicans.

Lipstick plants are named for their tube-shaped flowers. Before the flower buds open, they resemble tubes of lipstick.

While their flowers are gorgeous, Aeschynanthus radicans also have stunning leaves. The plants grow as trailing vines with evergreen leaves.

Popular Types of Lipstick Plants

There are several varieties of lipstick plants that work well as houseplants.

  •  ‘Curly’: twisting and curling leaves
  •  ‘Mona Lisa’: red-orange flowers
  •  ‘Rasta’: curly leaves
  • ‘Tangerine’: yellow-orange flowers
  • ‘Variegata’: green and cream striped leaves

Lipstick Plant Uses, Meanings, and Symbolism

The lipstick plant is often grown as a houseplant or as an outdoor plant in warm areas. Due to its trailing stems, it looks great in hanging baskets or large planters.

The lipstick plant doesn’t carry any specific meaning or symbolism. However, due to its gorgeous blooms, people often view it as a symbol of beauty.

How Long Will Lipstick Plants Typically Live?

Lipstick plants can live over ten years when they’re grown indoors.

Are Lipstick Plants Toxic to Humans and/or Pets?

According to the ASPCA, the lipstick plant is non-toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. It’s also non-toxic to humans.


How to Grow Lipstick Plants Indoors at Home

How to Grow Lipstick Plants Indoors at Home

Lipstick plants are relatively easy to grow indoors at home. They’re also generally low-maintenance and grow well in a range of environments.

Growth Expectations

The lipstick plant has a trailing growth habit. That means it grows down rather than up.

Lipstick plants can grow up to three feet wide, and their stems can reach three feet long. They can grow up to a foot per year if given the proper environment and care.

What to Do Before Planting

Since lipstick plants are vining plants, you’ll need to select an appropriate container and location. Hanging baskets are a popular choice since they allow the plant to cascade down. A tall planter or a pot on an elevated table are also good options.

You should avoid placing your lipstick plant in the center of a dining room table or on a desk, as it will quickly take over.

What’s the Best Soil Mix for Lipstick Plants?

How Soil Affects Plant Health and Growth + Why It's Important to Use the Right Type

Lipstick plants require a well-draining potting mix that allows excess water to escape and provides aeration.

Since lipstick plants and orchids are both epiphytes, an orchid potting mix will work well for lipstick plants. African violet potting soil mixes also work well.

If you’d like to make your own lipstick plant potting mix, combine the following:

  • 2 parts peat moss
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part pine park fines

This combination of materials provides excellent drainage while also providing decent water-holding capacity. That means your plant won’t sit in water but will have access to all it needs.

How to Plant

Since lipstick plants grow on trees or rocks in their natural environment, they’re not used to growing in the soil. That means it’s essential that you choose a potting mix that allows these plants to thrive.

Once you’ve found a container with drainage holes, fill the container with a proper mix. Place your lipstick plant so only the roots are covered with soil. Water well.

Lipstick Plant Light Preferences

Lipstick Plant Light Preferences

Lipstick plants don’t need direct light. In fact, you should avoid bright, direct light since it can burn the plant’s leaves.

Instead, place your lipstick plant in an area that receives at last five hours of bright to moderate indirect light. This can be found in the interior of a brightly lit room or a few feet away from a north-facing or east-facing window.

If your plant receives less light in the winter, don’t worry. Lipstick plants need less light in the winter, so the shortening days won’t bother them.

Temperature & Humidity Preferences

Lipstick plants prefer an environment that mimics their native environments. This means warm temperatures and moderate to high humidity.

Aim to keep the air temperature between 65-80ºF during the spring through fall. While it’s okay if the temperature dips a bit during the winter, avoid temperatures below 50ºF.

You should avoid sudden changes in air temperature. Therefore, avoid placing your lipstick plant near cold and cold drafts.

As far as humidity, normal household humidity is typically fine. However, if your house is very dry, you should increase the humidity using a humidifier or spray bottle.


How to Care for Lipstick Plants at Home

How to Care for Lipstick Plants at Home

Watering Lipstick Plants

Lipstick plants prefer soil that is moist but not dripping wet. Therefore, you should aim to allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.

To determine when it’s time to water, stick your finger in the soil near the center of the plant. If the top inch is dry, water thoroughly. If it’s moist, wait a few more days before you water.

Numerous factors affect how often you’ll need to water your lipstick plant. These include the temperature, humidity, lighting, and time of year.

With that said, you can plan to water your lipstick plant about once a week in the spring-fall and once every two to three weeks in the winter.

Remember that as the air becomes hotter and drier, the soil will dry out quicker. Therefore, you’ll need to water more frequently.

Lipstick plants aren’t super sensitive to water minerals or chemicals, so tap water is fine. However, you can use filtered water or rainwater.

How, When, and Why to Fertilize

Lipstick plants will grow best if you provide small but regular doses of fertilizer.

Fertilize your lipstick plants every one to two months from the spring through fall. Use a balanced fertilizer labeled for houseplants, and dilute it to half the recommended strength before applying.

You don’t need to apply fertilizer in the winter.

When and How to Prune Lipstick Plants

When and How to Prune Lipstick Plants

You typically won’t need to prune your lipstick plant, but you can if you feel like it’s taking over a certain area in your home. The best time to prune is the late fall or early winter, but you can perform light pruning the rest of the year.

When you prune, avoid removing more than a third of the plant to avoid excess stress.

To prune, you’ll need a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears. Wash your cutting device with soapy water or sanitize with rubbing alcohol to avoid spreading the disease.

If you want to trim back your plant’s stems, make a clean cut at the desired point. As you’ll read below, you can use these stem cuttings to propagate new plants.

Propagating Lipstick Plants

Fortunately, lipstick plants are easy to propagate. That means it’s easy to share your plant with friends.

You can begin propagating your plant anytime, as long as the plant has multiple stems.

To propagate, follow these steps:

  1. Take a stem cutting that is 5-10” long and contains at least three leaf nodes.
  2. Remove the leaves until only the top 2-4 remain.
  3. Dip the end of the cutting in the rooting hormone.
  4. Place the cutting in a container filled with perlite or a well-draining potting soil.
  5. Water well.
  6. Keep the plant in a humid environment.
  7. Wait about two weeks until roots form.
  8. Plant the cutting in a container filled with a suitable potting mix.

When and How to Repot a Lipstick Plant

When and How to Repot a Lipstick Plant

Lipstick plants benefit from repotting every two or three years. However, you should repot your plant if you notice any signs of root rot.

To repot, remove the plant from its container and gently shake off any soil. Inspect the roots and trim off any unhealthy or rotten portions.

Find a container that is a few inches larger in diameter than the old container. Fill it halfway with potting soil and place the lipstick plant.

Add soil and gently compact it around the plant. Make sure the soil is in line with the base of the stems. Water well.


Common Problems & How to Treat Them

Common Problems & How to Treat Them

The lipstick plant is generally easy to care for and free from problems. However, you should keep an eye out for the following.

Yellow Leaves

Yellow leaves can be caused by numerous environmental issues, including improper lighting and watering.

Too much water can inhibit your plant’s ability to take up water and nutrients. Over time, this can lead to yellow leaves.

Remember to allow the top inch of soil to dry before watering again. Also, ensure that your pot has drainage holes that allow excess water to escape.

Underwatering can also lead to yellow leaves. If your lipstick plant can’t access water, it can’t complete important processes like photosynthesis and cell division.

If you notice that your plant’s leaves are slowly turning yellow, it may be a sign of a nutrient deficiency. Try applying a diluted houseplant fertilizer then see if the leaves regain their green.

Finally, insufficient light may cause your plant’s leaves to yellow.

Leaf Drop

While it’s not a big worry if your plant loses a few leaves every once in a while, a lot of dropped leaves are a bigger concern.

The number one cause of leaf drop is cold temperatures. If the air falls below 50ºF, your plant will likely lose leaves.

Even if your house is warm, cold drafts can also lead to falling leaves. Therefore, avoid placing your plant near exterior doors or other cool areas.

While it’s less common, both underwatering and overwatering can also cause leaf drop.

Lack of Flowers

If your lipstick plant is all leaves and no flowers, the environment is likely to blame.

Plants often fail to produce flowers if they aren’t receiving enough light. While you don’t want any direct light, ensure your plant is receiving at least five hours of bright, indirect light.

Improper fertilization is another reason why your plant might not be producing flowers. To encourage flowering, make sure you’re applying a fertilizer that contains both phosphorus and potassium.


Lipstick Plant Care – Essential Tools

Essential House Plant Tools

You won’t need any special tools to care for a lipstick plant. However, you will need a pot hanging basket or tall plant stand to accommodate the trailing form.


Wrapping Up

With bright flowers and gorgeous trailing greenery, lipstick plants make a great addition to any home. Remember to water when the top inch of soil is dry, provide indirect light, and keep the air warm and humid.


Lipstick Plant Care FAQs

Yes, lipstick plants are relatively easy to grow indoors at home. They are generally low-maintenance and grow well in average homes.

Lipstick plants need at least five hours of bright yet indirect light each day.

If the air is very dry, lipstick plants will benefit from light misting. However, misting too frequently can lead to fungal issues.

Yes, lipstick plants are generally easy to care for.

How often to water depends on the time of year as well as the environment. In general, water a lipstick plant every week in the summer and every two to three weeks in the fall.

Make sure your plant has enough light and is in an environment with the proper temperature and humidity. Applying a fertilizer designed for flowering plants can also encourage flowering.


Author

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

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