How to Plant, Grow and Care For Lipstick Plants

lipstick plant

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If you’re looking for tropical plants to add to your indoor houseplant collection, then look no further than lipstick plant. The lipstick plant, Aeschynanthus radicans, got its name because its bright red tubular flowers grow from dark purple-red buds that resemble a tube of lipstick.

It is also often referred to as lipstick vine because of its sprawling growth habit. Some even refer to it as basket vine because it also looks stunning in a hanging basket! 

Lipstick plant care is also relatively easy, which makes them a great choice for beginner houseplant growers. Add to that the fact that it is also non-toxic to humans and pets, making it a safe addition to homes with critters and kids.

This evergreen succulent plant will add a pop of color to your indoor space with its beautiful red flowers. Lipstick plant flowers profusely, given the right growing conditions. 

Grow lipstick plants if you’d like to add year-round interest to your houseplant collection. Its tubular flower shape makes it a unique addition, and it can add height and visual interest to your indoor plants when grown in a hanging basket. Although it grows as a vine, it can also be pruned and kept bushy if you don’t quite have the space for hanging planters. 

Quick Care Guide

Common NameLipstick plant, Lipstick vine, Twisted lipstick plant, Rasta lipstick plant, Basket vine
Scientific NameAeschynanthus radicans
FamilyGesneriaceae or Gesneriad family
Height & Spread3-4 inches tall and 2-3 feet wide
LightMedium to bright indirect light
SoilVery well-draining neutral to alkaline potting mix
WaterWater regularly, enough to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged
Pests & DiseasesAphids, mealybugs, spider mites, leaf spot, root rot

All About The Lipstick Plant

Close-up of a flowering Lipstick plant in a hanging brown pot against a blurred background. The plant has curly stems covered with glossy dark green oval leaves with a waxy texture. The bright red tubular flowers grow in clusters at the ends of the stems.
Lipstick plant features bright red flowers and glossy, succulent-like dark green leaves.

Lipstick plant, Aeschynanthus radicans, showcases bright red flowers and dark green leaves. The leaves resemble succulent leaves, and they are thick, leathery, and glossy. The flowers form atop terminal buds and can be pruned back or deadheaded to encourage further blooms. 

This tropical plant originates from the Malay Peninsula, which consists of Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar. This tropical evergreen is a perennial in its native habitat. It can be grown in USDA zones 11-12 as such. In all other zones, it will be an indoor houseplant.

There are well over 100 different species of lipstick plants, but there are only a few that you’re likely to encounter at your local nursery.  Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Mona Lisa’ is one of these common lipstick plant varieties. Mona Lisa has the trademark red flowers but with orange-yellow throats. 

Other lipstick plant varieties like Aeschynanthus micranthus “Variegata” mini is a variegated cultivar that offers medium green leaves spattered with golden-yellow variegation. Some have purple flowers, and some varieties even have curly leaves! 

Lipstick Plant Care

Lipstick plant care is relatively easy. However, being a tropical plant means they do have specific humidity requirements. Read on for our lipstick plant care tips!

Sun and Temperature

Close-up of a flowering plant Lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus radicans) in a hanging pot against a blurred green background. The Lipstick plant produces hanging stems with oval, fleshy, glossy green leaves and clusters of bright red tubular flowers that resemble lipstick tubes.
To grow lipstick plants, place them in a bright location indoors near a sunny window or outdoors with partial shade.

Lipstick plants do best in bright indirect light, which is easy to achieve indoors by placing them in a nearby sunny window that receives 6-8 hours of bright light.

However, if you happen to be growing lipstick plants outdoors, or you place them outdoors for part of the growing season, then be sure to pick a spot that avoids direct sunlight. 

A bright location with partial shade or dappled sunlight is ideal. It will not tolerate full shade. Lipstick plants can reliably be grown outdoors year-round in USDA zone 11-12. All other zones will likely be growing lipstick plants as indoor houseplants or indoors at least part-time. 

Its ideal temperature range is between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 29 degrees Celcius). For this reason, it cannot handle frost and is sensitive to cooler temperatures.

If your area receives temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), then it will either need to be brought indoors or provided some protection inside a space like a greenhouse or a shed. 

If temperatures regularly reach below freezing in your area, it should be brought inside the house or heated greenhouse. Under normal conditions, the lipstick plant showcases beautiful green leaves. If the leaves begin to turn dark red, then this can be a sign that the air temperature is too cold.

Air and soil temperatures also affect the bloom time of this plant. Soil temperatures must be at a minimum of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celcius) for proper blooming. 

Water and Humidity

Close-up of Red Lipstick plant, Lipstick flowers or Aeschynanthus redican jack flowering plant covered with water drops. The plant has clusters of tubular red flowers and climbing stems covered with waxy, oval, dark green leaves.
To keep Lipstick plants healthy, water them regularly and avoid waterlogged soil.

Lipstick plants require regular watering and like to be kept moist but not waterlogged. It’s a good idea to keep these plants in pots made of a porous material like terracotta so that water can evaporate easily. Terracotta will also prevent standing water and potential fungal issues. 

During the growing season, you’ll want to water your plant once a week when the top few inches of soil have dried out. In the winter months, you can back off on watering once every few weeks but stick with the same rule of waiting for the top few inches of soil to dry out between waterings.

Water at the base of the plant at the soil level with a watering can that has a thin spout in order to prevent splash back onto the foliage. 

Growing lipstick plants require supplemental humidity when they are grown as indoor plants, as most houses don’t supply it with the levels at which it is happiest. This tropical plant loves high humidity, around 50% or higher, which can be achieved through regular misting with a spray bottle. 

Other options include placing a pebble tray filled with water at the base of your plant. The water will evaporate and create a humid environment. You may also choose to use a humidifier made specifically for indoor houseplants. 

Soil

Close-up of a young Lipstick plant in a brown plastic pot, outdoors, against a blurred garden. The plant has several upright stems covered with oval, fleshy, waxy, dark green leaves with a purple tint at the edges.
Select well-draining potting soil or add perlite, and ensure the hanging basket provides good drainage.

As mentioned above, lipstick plants do not like waterlogged soil or standing water. For this reason, it’s important to select a potting mix that provides adequate drainage. You may choose to add perlite to your potting soil to help increase drainage. 

When you’re growing lipstick plants as hanging plants in a hanging basket, make sure that the basket provides good drainage as well since some hanging baskets are made without drainage holes or a drip tray attached to the bottom.

Lipstick plants are not particularly picky about potting soil pH but prefer neutral to alkaline soil. 

Fertilizing the Lipstick plant

Close-up of a flowering Lipstick plant in a greenhouse, in a hanging pot. Aeschynanthus radicans has long hanging vines covered with small oval leaves with a waxy texture. The flowers are oblong, tubular in shape, bright red in color and grow in clusters at the ends of the stems.
To promote more blooms, apply a slow-release fertilizer in spring and summer.

Lipstick plants can benefit from being fertilized in spring and summer to encourage more blooms. A slow-release fertilizer like a general houseplant fertilizer is recommended for this purpose.

Be sure to follow the directions on the back of the package for application strength and frequency. A balanced fertilizer is your best bet since a fertilizer high in nitrogen will increase foliar growth at the expense of the flowers. 

Pruning

Top view, closeup of Aeschynanthus radicans flowering potted plant on a wooden table. The plant produces long stems covered with oval dark green leaves with a waxy texture. The flowers are tubular, bright red, reminiscent of tubes of lipstick.
Regular pruning of the prolific blooming lipstick plant is necessary to prevent it from sprawling.

Lipstick plant is known as a prolific bloomer and is also referred to as the lipstick vine for a reason! This plant will sprawl and hang from your planter if not kept in check with regular pruning.

Prune back scraggly vines to promote bushier growth, or let it sprawl — it’s up to you! They do, however, benefit from deadheading spent flowers in order to encourage more buds. 

Once flowering has completed, prune the plant back to a height of 6 inches, and this will encourage new healthy growth. It will also promote another round of flowers.

Pruning this way ensures that your lipstick plant will put out further blooms. As with most indoor houseplants, it’s always a good idea to prune back dead or dying foliage. 

Lipstick Plant Propagation

Top view, close-up of a flowering plant Aeschynanthus radicans in a black hanging pot in a green garden. The plant has hanging purple stems covered with waxy oval leaves and clusters of elongated tubular bright red flowers growing at the ends of the stems.
Propagate lipstick plants by taking stem cuttings and placing them in a glass of water until roots form.

Another benefit of growing lipstick plants is that you can propagate them from stem cuttings, giving you an infinite supply of new plants! Take a cutting just below a leaf node. Place cuttings into a glass of water, and a few weeks later, they will form roots. 

You can dip the stem cuttings into a rooting hormone to speed this process, but this isn’t absolutely necessary. Once your cuttings have established roots, then you can place your new plant into the potting medium of your choice and water it regularly until it begins to put on new growth.

Repotting Lipstick Plants

Top view, close-up of Aeschynanthus radicans plant with root ball next to a white plastic cup on a wooden table. The plant has an upright stem covered with oval, purple-tinged green leaves.
Repotting every 2-3 years is important for its growth and bloom production.

Aeschynanthus radicans can benefit from repotting every 2-3 years. This is an important aspect of lipstick plant care. If you notice your plant is slow to grow with lackluster blooms and has grown larger than its container, then it may be time to consider repotting.

The best time of year to repot is after your plant has finished blooming for the year, either during the fall or winter. 

Increase the pot size slowly, going 1-2 inches larger than the current pot size. This will help you avoid growing problems caused by too much water by not having extra soil to water in order to keep the whole pot moist. 

Troubleshooting

With proper lipstick plant care, your plant will thrive! Following the guidance mentioned above is a great start, but there are some issues that can pop up. Now that we’ve discussed lipstick plant care tips let’s cover some issues you may face when caring for them. 

Growing Problems

Close-up of Lipstick Plant in a clay pot, in the garden. The plant has hanging vines covered with oval leaves with a waxy texture. Leaves are pale green due to lack of sunlight.
Lipstick plants may drop leaves or have scorched leaves if they receive too much direct sunlight.

The most common growing problem that occurs during lipstick plant care is directly related to the plant receiving too much direct sunlight.

If your plant begins dropping leaves or leaves appear scorched, then this might be a sign that it is receiving too much bright light. Move your plant to an area with partial shade or indirect light. If the leaf drop subsides, then you’ve found the ideal lighting conditions. 

Conversely, if your plant struggles to produce its signature bright red flowers and growth appears to be slow and lackluster, that may be a sign that it is not receiving adequate light. Move your plant to a brighter location to ensure it receives enough light and proper care. 

Pests

Close-up of mealybugs at the Lipstick Plant. Mealybugs are small, soft-bodied insects that are white in color and covered with a powdery or waxy coating.
Lipstick plants can suffer from pest problems including spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs.

Lipstick plant, Aeschynanthus radicans, can suffer from several pest problems, including spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs. Aphids can be removed with a forceful spray of water or wiped away with a damp cloth. In a more advanced aphid infestation, neem oil can be a useful treatment. 

If you notice pale lipstick plant leaves and a cottony or webby mass on the underside of the leaves, then this may be a sign of a mealybug infestation. Insecticidal soap can be used to treat an infestation. 

Spider mites are the most common issue for most indoor houseplants. They prefer a warm, dry environment with low humidity. A good preventative method is to increase humidity around your houseplants. The first signs of mites will be tiny holes in the leaves or small yellowish spots on the foliage. You may even notice tiny web clusters on the leaves as well. 

If mites have already appeared, but there is little to no damage to the plant, then they can likely be manually removed with a forceful spray of water or wiping down your plants with a damp cloth. If the infestation is more serious, then insecticidal soap or organic insecticides containing pyrethrins can be effective at eliminating all these mites.  

Diseases

Close-up of a Lipstick Plant infested with leaf spot. The leaves are oval, smooth, pale green in color with gray-black spots. A bunch of tubular bright red flowers resembling tubes of lipstick.
Leaf spot can be prevented by watering at the base of the plant and treated with neem oil or fungicides.

Lipstick plants that are kept in overly wet, soggy soil are prone to fungal problems such as root rot. Root rot is the main disease that can affect your plants. The symptoms of rot will appear as a soft mushy stem, wilting, leaf drop, and of course, rotten roots. 

This type of rot is harder to recover from but can be remedied if there are still fresh, white roots on the plant that have not yet turned to mush. Cut back the rotted roots and plant them into a pot of dry soil. 

Leaf spot appears as well, spots on the leaves. This is another fungal disease, and a good preventative measure is to water near the base of your plant and avoid wetting the foliage. This disease can be controlled with neem oil, or in more advanced cases, it can be treated with liquid fungicides. 

Always follow the application instructions on the back of the package. Leaf spot can be spread to other plants, so in very advanced cases, it’s best to remove and destroy the infected plant rather than lose more of your houseplants. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does lipstick plant need sunlight?

A: Yes, but it does best with filtered sunlight rather than direct sun. 

Q: How often does a lipstick plant bloom?

A: Lipstick plants generally bloom late summer into early fall, but when they’re grown indoors, they can bloom at any time of the year. 

Q: Is a lipstick plant poisonous?

A: Lipstick plants are not toxic to humans or pets. 

Q: How long do lipstick plants last?

A: Lipstick plants are considered to be evergreen perennials in their native habitat and will last for several years under ideal growing conditions. 

Q: Do lipstick plants like to be misted?

A: Since this plant is native to humid tropical regions, it does benefit from regular misting. However, this should be done early in the day to allow plenty of time for the foliage to dry in order to avoid certain fungal problems. 

Q: How do you make a lipstick plant bushy?

A: Prune the plant back right after blooming. Prune stems back to a height of 6 inches in order to encourage bushy growth. 

Q: Is a lipstick plant a succulent?

A: Yes, it is a small evergreen succulent plant. 

Q: Should you deadhead lipstick plant?

A: Yes, deadheading spent blooms will encourage more flower buds and bushier growth. 

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