Lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus radicans), an evergreen flowering vine, produces trailing stems, dark-green foliage and dense clusters of tubular flowers in shades of scarlet, red or orange. Gardeners value the lipstick plant for its cascading growth habit, ease of care and ornamental features. The plant's common name derives from its brightly-colored blossoms, which appear to emerge from dark, tube-like structures. Native to areas of Malaysia, the lipstick plant needs warmth and humidity to thrive, which makes it a popular houseplant in the United States.
Site and Soil
The lipstick plant prefers bright, indirect light from an east or west facing window. The plant tolerates some direct sunlight, though a long period of exposure can result in leaf damage. A well-drained potting mixture, such as an African violet potting mix, combined with crushed charcoal makes an ideal growing medium. A hanging pot emulates the plant's natural habitat, where it typically grows from trees, and increases its aesthetic appeal.
A warm environment with temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at all times maximizes the plant's growth. Lipstick plant cannot survive in temperatures below 50 F without sustaining damage. Exposure to cold drafts during the winter can cause the lower foliage to drop. For this reason, the plant should not reside near doorways or frequently used windows.
Considered especially thirsty, lipstick plant likes regular watering during spring, summer and fall, especially if grown in a hanging container. An application once every three to five days keeps the soil consistently moist without allowing standing water to accumulate. During winter, the plant prefers slightly drier conditions and only needs water about once every seven to 10 days.
Lipstick plant thrives with regular misting at least two or three times a day to increase the relative humidity of the air. Using room temperature water reduces shock, which can result in leaf dropping. The plant does not require misting during the winter months, unless the air becomes very dry and the leaves begin to brown at the tips.
Fertilizing lipstick plant once a month during the active growing season provides the nutrients the plant requires to grow and flower abundantly. A balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer formulated for houseplants meets the basic nutritional needs of the lipstick plant. It requires no supplemental feeding during the fall and winter months.
Lipstick plant benefits from pruning immediately after flowering ends. Pruning back each stem to about 6 inches in height encourages new growth. Exceptionally straggly plants may require pruning to about 2 inches above the soil surface to encourage thicker growth. If new growth does not appear after pruning, withholding fertilizer and reducing watering will usually stimulate the plant to begin growing again.