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Lipstick Plant Care

Learn how to care for lipstick plants, a classic you’ll love having in your collection.

All about caring for the classic lipstick plant!

Greetings, greenery lovers! I have another plant care guide for you today—we’re talking about lipstick plants! Otherwise known as aeschynanthus (genus) radicans (species). Aeschynanthus has about 150 different species of subtropical and tropical plants that are generally trailing with bright flowers.

And that’s where the name “lipstick plant” comes from—the plant’s vibrant tubular flowers, which bear a striking resemblance to tubes of lipstick. These flowers typically emerge from the tips of trailing stems. I’ll include some photos in this guide. So let’s dive in to this care guide.

beautiful lipstick plant

Lipstick plant care overview

  • Lipstick plants (aeschynanthus radicans), are versatile, classic houseplants.
  • Known for their succulent-like leaves and bright, tubular flowers that resemble lipstick tubes.
  • Bright, indirect light is is best; not a low-light plant; can burn in direct sun.
  • Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering.
  • Plant in a well-draining houseplant soil mix.
  • Does well in normal household temperatures.
  • Appreciates extra humidity but does well with normal household humidity.
  • Propagate using stem cuttings.

Different lipstick plant varieties

Although there are many different species of lipstick plants, there are a few that you’ll mostly commonly encounter at your local nursery. I have three different varieties, and all were labeled as just “lipstick plant.” So I have done a bunch of research on which types I have.

  • Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Mona Lisa’—The first lipstick plant variety I got. I got mine as a tiny $2.99 terrarium plant, and it has tripled in size since then. The leaves are thick and shiny, and the stems have more of an upward growth pattern. Mona Lisa is said to be a prolific bloomer.
  • Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Curly/Rasta’—I haven’t found much information differentiating the two of these varieties, so I am lumping them into one here. This was a wish list plant for me for a while because it has the chunky, rope-like look of the hoya rope plant, which is one of my favorites! The vines and leaves on these varieties curl and twist…so when I saw one for $10 at Lowe’s, I had to grab it.
  • Aeschynanthus longicaulis ‘black pagoda’—Known for its deep burgundy to almost black-colored foliage, this variety’s leaves contrasts beautifully with its bright red flowers.
  • Aeschynanthus radicans variegata—This variety is much like the Mona Lisa, but its leaves have a variegated pattern with green and white.
curly lipstick plant
Curly lipstick plant

How much light does it need?

No matter the variety of lipstick plant you choose, the care needs remain largely the same. Lipstick plants enjoy bright indirect light, which usually means it will be happy in a bright, sunny window.

If you notice that your lipstick plant is not blooming or its growth is slow, it may not be getting enough light. You can gradually transition it to brighter conditions, ensuring it’s not exposed to harsh, direct sunlight.

Conversely, if the leaves start to turn yellow or develop brown spots, it could be a sign of too much light exposure, and you may need to move the plant to a slightly shadier location. Too much direct sunlight can burn the foliage, but this typically isn’t an issue for me indoors, even in my sunniest windows.

If you want to take your plant outdoors during the spring and summer, a shady spot is best. The sun outdoors is so much stronger than when it is filtered through a window. This is one of the plants I keep indoors year round, though—no outside summer vacation. 

trailing lipstick plant

How much water is best?

Watering your lipstick plant is another important part of its care routine—it doesn’t do well with too much water. Let the top few inches of soil dry out before watering it again. Don’t let the soil dry out completely like you would for succulents. 

For my plants, this means roughly every 7-10 days in the spring, summer, and early fall. I water less in the winter, roughly once every 3 weeks or so. Overwatering your lipstick plant can lead to root rot, so always try to check the soil moisture before grabbing your watering can!

plants on a windowsill

What is the best soil?

The best soil for a lipstick plant is well-draining and slightly acidic, mimicking the conditions of its natural habitat. A good potting mix for lipstick plants should be rich in organic matter while also providing excellent drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.

You can create a suitable potting mix by combining equal parts of coco coir, perlite, and a quality indoor potting mix. The coco coir helps retain moisture while maintaining good aeration, while perlite adds to the soil’s drainage properties. I love coco coir because one brick lasts forever, and it’s a much more sustainable option compared to peat moss.

Avoid heavy soils or those that retain too much water, as this can lead to root rot and other moisture-related problems. Regular repotting every couple of years or so, using fresh mix, can also help maintain the health and vitality of your lipstick plant.

curly lipstick plant

Temperature & humidity needs

Lipstick plants are native to tropical environments, so they like to be kept on the warmer and more humid side of things. They enjoy household temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In the lower-to-mid 60s, the plant won’t be as happy—but it won’t die. So don’t worry if your house gets colder during the winter.

And while lipstick plants generally do fine in normal household humidity levels, they appreciate some extra humidity. Consider adding a humidifier near your plant if you think it is suffering from dry air, and don’t put them near heat registers.

closeup shot of lipstick plant leaves

Pruning & propagation

Pruning isn’t really necessary unless you need to trim off older or unsightly growth. But you can encourage bushier growth by pruning the stems to encourage the plant to branch out. Flowers form at the tips of the leaves, so this can also create more opportunities for flowers. 

You can use the cuttings from pruning your plants to grow new plants through propagation, too. It’s a pretty simple process. Simply remove some of the leaves from the bottom part of the cuttings. Dip them in rooting hormone powder to help stimulate root growth. Then plant them in soil, firming the soil to support the stems on the cuttings. 

It can take about 2 months to form roots when you keep the soil slightly moist. Don’t let the soil dry out too much because it will inhibit root growth. Keep the planted cuttings in moderate light. Eventually you will establish a new plant.

small lipstick plant mona lisa

How do I get a lipstick plant to flower?

The plant flowers mostly in the spring and summer. Plenty of light will help encourage blooming. You can also try a high-potassium fertilizer. Generally, though, you can just fertilize your plant using a regular indoor houseplant fertilizer. No feeding is necessary in the winter.

That said, my mom has a large, mature lipstick plant that flowers like crazy. She barely remembers to water it, much less fertilize it. And it is in only medium light levels. So I’d say flowering is not terribly hard but may take some time as the plant ages.

beautiful lipstick plant flowering
Lipstick plant flowers

Issues to be aware of

Lipstick plants are fairly easy plants to take care of, but there are a few issues to be aware of. Let’s talk about a few.

1. Black spots on the leaves

If your lipstick plant has black spots on its leaves, it’s potentially a fungal issue—leaf blight. Too much moisture is typically the cause. To prevent leaf blight on a lipstick plant, ensure water isn’t sitting on the leaves for too long after watering your plant.

2. Leaves shriveling and falling off

If your plant has dry, shriveling leaves or is dropping leaves, it’s probably thirsty. If it isn’t and the soil is moist or recently watered, your plant could be too cold. Anything below 50 degrees Fahrenheit will cause the plant to drop leaves. Remember, warmer is better for this plant! 

3. Scraggly and leggy growth

If your lipstick plant has stems that are getting leggy and straggly, meaning the leaves are smaller and more spread out on the stem, it probably isn’t getting enough light. Bright, indirect light is the best. Prune off the leggy growth and adjust your lighting conditions.

4. Pest issues

If you notice bunches of small cotton-looking, nest-like areas on your lipstick plant, I’m sorry to say that you likely have a mealybug infestation. Mealybugs slowly suck the life out of your plant. Aphids do something similar.

If you notice very fine webbing on your plants, you likely have spider mites and need to take immediate action—spider mites can totally obliterate your poor plant in a few days! Check out my tips about how to get rid of spider mites on houseplants.

For other great hanging plants, check out my care guides for pothos plants, hoya carnosa, and ric rac cactus!

In conclusion…

Caring for a lipstick plant is straightforward, making it a great choice for both new and experienced plant enthusiasts. These plants are adaptable, thriving in bright indirect light and requiring water only when the top few inches of soil have dried out.

Whether you choose a variety for its unique leaf shape, such as the Curly/Rasta, or for its flowering capabilities like the Mona Lisa, the key to a healthy lipstick plant lies in consistent care practices. If you have any questions or want to share your own tips, feel free to drop a comment below. Happy planting!

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collage of plants and flowers that says all about caring for lipstick plants

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