The characterful lipstick plant is native to the tropical rain forests of Malaysia and Indonesia and is named for its bright-red flowers hanging in graceful clusters that resemble tubes of lipstick when in bloom.
Are lipstick plants easy to care for? Lipstick plants are easy to care for when provided with bright, indirect light and a well-draining soil to prevent root and foliage issues, watered once weekly, and kept in temperatures of 65-80ºF with 50% humidity. Fertilizing once per month in the spring and summer will encourage blooms.
Indoor lipstick plants can reach up to 3 feet long, though growers agree that a compact, bushy look favors this ornamental vine.
Whether you plan on displaying them in hanging baskets or as shelf décor, carefully review the basic care needs below to learn everything from pruning and fertilizing to dealing with pests, and more.
How To Care for a Lipstick Plant
The lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus radicans) is a cascading vine of waxy, oval-shaped green foliage complemented by dangling clusters of ruby-red tubular blooms that protrude from their dark bud casing, hence their common name.
Lipstick plants thrive in an airy soil that retains moisture while draining excess water well.
Holder of a BSc in Plant Sciences at Penn State University Brianna Yablonski recommends combining:
“2 parts peat moss, 1 part perlite, and 1 part bark fines (Pine/Orchid)” for excellent drainage.
Water once weekly during summer using room temp water and once every two weeks over winter to keep the soil lightly moist but never soggy or bone-dry.
Feel the top few inches of soil in between waterings to prevent overwatering – once it no longer feels moist, this is the perfect time for another drink.
Bright, indirect light is perfect to avoid scorch and encourage blooming. Within a few feet of a north- or east-facing window or below a skylight is ideal.
Darker homes can use supplemental grow lights, like these lights complete with a timer and three modes, though avoid use at night to keep your lipstick plant seasoned.
Temperature & Humidity
Aim between 65-80ºF (18-26°C) from spring-fall, and keep to at least 50ºF (10°C) during winter.
These tropical native plants fare well in 50% plus humidity, so drier homes may require humidifiers or regular misting to maintain levels.
It’s best to feed your plant every 1-2 months throughout the growing season using a balanced houseplant fertilizer (diluted to half strength to prevent burn).
This trio of plant food ensures your plant receives exactly what is needed at different stages of growth and is highly recommended for gorgeous blooms.
Alternatively, organic fertilizer, such as fish or seaweed emulsion, makes wonderful feed since lipstick plants favor high doses of nitrogen and phosphorus.
Winter fertilizing won’t be necessary once the blooms are spent.
Pruning a Lipstick Plant
“Pruning is best done right after flowering is complete to encourage bushier growth,” advises curator of Smart Garden Guide Andrew Courtney.
Use sharp kitchen/pruning shears and cut longer, untidy-looking stems just above a leaf.
Lipstick Plant Pests & Diseases To Watch For
Lipstick Plant Propagation
You can propagate (create offspring plants) from your lipstick plant by taking stem cuttings using the following method:
1. Take 4-6 inch Stem Cuttings With at Least 3 Nodes but No Flower Buds
Cut 4-6 inch stem sections using clean pruning shears, and ensure they have relatively new growth without any sign of flowering buds.
Dip the cutting ends in rooting hormone (like the one I use) to help speed up the root development, and set them aside.
2. Prepare Small Pots of Moist Soil and Plant Cuttings
Fill 5-inch flower pots with fresh well-draining potting mix, making a 2-inch hole in the soil to plant your new stem cutting.
Pat the surrounding soil to secure it in place and water the soil well, making sure it drains properly.
3. Place Pots in Ideal Humidity & Allow 4-6 Weeks for Roots To Develop
Wrap pots in a clear plastic bag or mini glass cloche (find them here on Amazon) for the first 2 weeks to provide optimum humidity, leaving an opening in the bag or a pebble at the cloche base for adequate air circulation.
After 4 weeks, gently tug the stem to check that it has well-developed roots.
If you feel resistance, you can re-plant your stem cuttings into larger pots and grow them under the same conditions as your parent lipstick plant!
Lipstick Plant Varieties
In addition to the popular Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Jack’ variety pictured above, you can also choose from the following common cultivars:
- ‘Mona Lisa’ lipstick plants produce clusters of orange-red flowers among foliage of small dark- and light-green leaves.
- ‘Black Pagoda’ varieties feature larger dark-green, mosaic-patterned leaves and produce small orange blooms with protruding yellow pistils.
- ‘Curly’ lipstick plants exhibit long, shiny leaves formed in loose, Goldilocks-style ringlets with slightly pinker blooms.
- ‘Rasta’, aka the Twisted lipstick plant, has a fuller appearance due to tightly curled leaves with bright-red blooms and can tolerate low-light conditions.
Why Does My Lipstick Plant Have Wrinkled Leaves?
Shriveled leaves point to an underwatered lipstick plant or one kept in cold temperatures.
Feel the top 2 inches of soil regularly to help you monitor the soil’s moisture levels, or use a hydrometer, like this one.
Also, keep your plant away from drafts and ACs to regulate temperature.
How Long Do Lipstick Plant Flowers Last?
Lipstick plant flowers bloom in summer and can last for around 3 weeks when grown in ideal light and moist soil.
Correct care over its dormant winter period (watering every two weeks, lower temperatures, reduced lighting, etc.) can encourage re-blooming the following summer.
In summary, lipstick plants are fairly low maintenance and will reward you with especially exuberant blooms when the growing environment is just right.
Provide a balanced watering schedule, reliable warmth, and moderate humidity to enjoy this wonderfully decorative houseplant for many years.