Lipstick plants are unique, beautiful, and surprisingly easy to care for. This detailed growing guide will show you everything you need in order to keep them thriving for many years to come.
If you’re looking for a beautiful and unique houseplant to add to your collection, I highly recommend getting yourself a lipstick plant.
They are gorgeous, with thick waxy leaves and unique flowers – and lipstick plants will bloom profusely with the right care.
Plus the cascading vines look beautiful in a hanging basket, or spilling over the top of a pillar or shelf.
In this complete guide, you’ll learn all about how to care for a lipstick plant including watering, fertilizer, potting soil, lighting, troubleshooting problems, and much more!
Lipstick Plant Quick Care Overview
|Scientific name:||Aeschynanthus radicans|
|Common names:||Lipstick Plant, Basket Vine|
|Flowers:||Red, burgundy, yellow or orange, blooms late summer-fall|
|Light:||Full to partial shade, bright light indoors|
|Water:||Keep soil moderately moist, do not overwater|
|Fertilizer:||Flowering plant food spring-summer|
|Common pests:||Aphids, spider mites, mealybugs|
What Is A Lipstick Plant?
A lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus radicans), also known as basket vine, is an unusual flowering houseplant that is native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia.
It gets the common name from the blooms, which are very unique. As they open, they look like lipstick coming out of its tube.
The flowers form at the ends of long trailing stems, which can reach lengths of 2′ or more. Though most commonly grown in pots or the ground, they can be epiphytes in their native habitat.
Common Lipstick Plant Varieties
There are lots of different types of lipstick plant varieties out there, so you can add several to your collection. Here are a few of the most common ones you might find…
- Black Pagoda – This unique hybrid has mottled foliage and bright yellow-orange flowers that taper to red on the tips.
- Curly leaf (Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Curly’, aka “Curly Q”) – The leaves on this variety curve upward, giving them a slightly wavy look.
- Mona Lisa (Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Mona Lisa’) – This type has darker green foliage with smaller leaves, and gets redish-orange flowers, a really lovely contrast.
- Rasta (Aeschynanthus ‘Rasta’, aka “twisted lipstick plant”) – A wonderful cultivar that has eye-catching twisted leaves, making it beautiful even when it’s not flowering.
- Variegated – If you’re really lucky, you’ll be able to find one of the rare variegated hybrids, which can have golden-green or white and green leaves.
The flowers are what give the lipstick plant its common name. The reason? Well, when they open, they look like tubes of lipstick.
Depending on the specific variety you have, the colors can range from burgundy to yellow or orange, with bright red being the most common.
How To Grow Lipstick Plants
Before we talk about the specifics of lipstick plant care, it’s important to understand where to grow them. Choosing the right location is important for their longevity.
Unfortunately, lipstick plants are not hardy at all. They can only survive as perennials in zone 11 where it stays warm year-round.
If you live anywhere else, then you must keep them as houseplants or bring them indoors before it drops below 60°F.
Where To Grow
As long as it stays warm enough, lipstick plants can grow equally well outdoors as they can indoors.
Thankfully, they do great in pots with adequate drainage, so they’re easy to move.
Indoors place them in a spot where they’ll get bright filtered sunlight. Outdoors, keep them in the full to partial shade location.
Lipstick Plant Care & Growing Instructions
Now that you know where to grow them, let’s dive into all the details about how to care for a lipstick plant. As long as you follow these basic requirements, yours will thrive for years to come.
Watering A Lipstick Plant
Lipstick plants prefer to be kept on the dry side, but never left totally dry. They’re drought tolerant, and do not like being overwatered.
However, if they become severely dehydrated, the leaves will start to turn brown and drop off.
Ideally, the top few inches should feel dry, and the rootball should stay lightly moist, but never wet or completely dried out.
Be certain to always check the moisture level before giving them more, to avoid overwatering. If you struggle with this, I highly recommend you get an inexpensive soil moisture gauge to help you out.
A humidity environment is also very important, so a bathroom or kitchen would make a great home. They like it to stay around 50-60%, and you can use a monitor to track it.
Otherwise, you can mist the leaves regularly as part of your lipstick plant care routine, run a humidifier near it, or keep it on a pebble tray.
The lipstick plant prefers bright, indirect sun, and will bloom its best when given plenty of light. Mine thrives near a south facing window in my living room, where it gets filtered sunlight all year long.
When they don’t get enough light, they won’t bloom. If you don’t have a room in your home that gets indirect, bright light, then you can add a grow light to supplement.
If you put yours outdoors during the summer, be sure to keep it out of the direct sun. A partial to full shade location is the best choice. Direct sunlight is too intense, and it can burn the foliage.
The ideal temperature range for lipstick plants is between 65-85°F. Anything outside of that range will start to impact their health.
They can withstand temps as low as 40°F in short bursts. But long periods of cold exposure will cause them to stop growing and begin dropping their leaves. Freezing weather will quickly kill them.
While they can handle the heat much little better, they may begin to suffer if it gets extremely hot (above 100°F). In that case, keep them in the full shade, and increase the humidity level.
Best Potting Soil
Lipstick plants don’t require any special soil, and will usually grow just fine in general potting mix.
Fertilizer For Lipstick Plants
To get the best blooms, fertilize in the spring through summer as part of your regular lipstick plant care routine.
I recommend using organic option rather than chemical ones because they work better, and there’s less of a chance of burning the sensitive roots.
Common Lipstick Plant Pests
Healthy, well cared for lipstick plants don’t usually have problems with pests. But sometimes aphids, spider mites, or mealybugs can become a problem.
They will bloom better when they’re root-bound, so don’t repot your lipstick plant until it’s absolutely necessary. There’s no set schedule for how often to do it, that depends on how fast it grows.
You’ll know it’s time when the roots have completely filled the pot and are coming out the drainage holes. When it’s time, only go up one pot size for the best results.
How To Prune A Lipstick Plant
Pruning lipstick plants will encourage them to grow fuller, rather than longer vines, but it’s usually not a necessary part of their care.
If yours is looking untidy, or not very full, then you can trim them to the desired length. The best time to do it is right after it’s done blooming, or any time in the spring through early summer.
Aeschynanthus Lipstick Plant Propagation Tips
Propagating lipstick plants is actually really easy by taking stem cuttings, or by division. They can also be multiplied by seeds, but this is the slowest option.
Troubleshooting Lipstick Plant Care Problems
For the most part, lipstick plants are easy to care for. But through the years, you’ll likely run into some common problems. Use my tips below to get yours back to health.
Lipstick Plant Dropping Leaves
The most common cause of lipstick plant leaves falling off is improper watering, usually too much. Check the soil by sticking your finger one inch down to make sure it’s dry before giving it more.
If it’s wet, then allow it to dry out a bit before watering it again. I recommend getting a soil moisture gauge to help you get it just right.
However, leaf drop could also be caused by extreme temperatures, especially if it gets down below 60°F.
Flowers Or Buds Dropping Off
Bud or flower drop is also usually caused by improper watering, either too much or too little.
It can also be caused by sudden shifts in temperature, or change of environment (like if you recently moved the plant to a new location).
Avoid moving the plant while it’s setting flower buds, and keep it away from heating and cooling vents, as well as fireplaces and space heaters.
Leaves Turning Yellow On Lipstick Plant
If the leaves on your lipstick plant are turning yellow, that means it either needs more water, more light, or maybe both.
Always check the soil moisture level, and if it’s wet then don’t give it more water. If it is in a low light location, move it closer to a sunny window or add a grow light to supplement.
Lipstick Plant Won’t Bloom
If your lipstick plant won’t bloom, then it’s not getting enough light, or needs to be fertilized.
In this section I’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions about Aeschynanthus radicans. If you can’t find your answer here, ask it in the comment section below.
When do lipstick plants bloom?
Lipstick plants generally bloom during the late summer and early fall, but can flower anytime throughout the year. Mine continues to bloom on and off all winter, which is such a treat.
Are lipstick plants toxic?
No. Lipstick plants are not toxic to pets or humans, so you’re safe to grow them around cats, dogs, and the kiddos.
Are lipstick plants easy to grow?
Yes, lipstick plants are easy to grow once you know how to provide what they need. The keys to success are to avoid overwatering, give them plenty of indirect sunlight, and high humidity.
Where do I put my lipstick plant?
The best spot to put your lipstick plant is in a bright location where it will get plenty of humidity. Indoors, place it near a sunny window. Outdoors, put it in a full to partial shade location.
Is a lipstick plant a succulent?
No, a lipstick plant is not a succulent. Though it is drought tolerant and has thick leaves, it’s technically a tropical plant.
How fast do lipstick plants grow?
Lipstick plants can grow fairly fast with the proper care. They can put on several inches per year, but are usually slower indoors than outside.
Lipstick plants are fun and easy to care for. Now that you know all about how to grow them, you’ll have great success. Simply follow the instructions in this detailed guide for the best results.
If you struggle with indoor plant care during the winter months, then my Winter Houseplant Care eBook is for you! It has detailed information that will show you exactly how to care for them. Stop killing your houseplants, and keep them thriving all year round! Download your copy today!
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Share your lipstick plant care tips in the comments section below.