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Dying Lipstick Plant? 7 Expert Tips for a Thriving Plant

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Lipstick plants, or Aeschynanthus radicans, are one of my favorite flowering indoor plants. The vigorous, glossy leaved vines and exotic flowers, reminiscent of lipstick coming out of a tube, make for an amazing hanging basket or even a trailing plant on a shelf.

Whether you want to save a dying plant, or maybe you already have a healthy plant and you want it to bloom, this post has everything you need to know about lipstick plant care.

Everything from light, watering, humidity, soil, fertilizing, flowering, and propagation is discussed. In addition, I’ll go into the different varieties of lipstick plants, as well as answers to commonly asked questions so that you can make sure to have a full, thriving specimen that is exploding in blooms!

lipstick-plant-care

Aeschynanthus radicans is a member of the Gesneriad plant family (like African Violets) and are native to the warm, steamy tropics of Borneo, Malaya, Sulawesi, Sumatera and Thailand according to Kew Gardens. This should give you good clues as to the conditions that it thrives in.

Now let’s get into lipstick plant care!

LIPSTICK PLANT CARE

1. LIGHT

In order to have your plant flower, it is really important that you situate your plant directly in front of a window for best growth and flower production. I’ve grown these plants in a variety of locations successfully, so I’d like to describe these locations so that you can get a feel for what works with this plant.

Indoors, these plants will do well in front of a bright window, provided that it is not sitting in all-day direct sun. If you live in the Northern hemisphere, a big Northern exposure window would be a bare minimum that I’d recommend. These windows will get no direct sun at all.

If you live in the Southern hemisphere, the equivalent would be a Southern facing window.

Even better, regardless where you live, would be an Eastern facing window (morning sun) or even Western facing windows (afternoon sun).

Other great options are right under a skylight (mine is currently in this type of growing location). It receives bright, indirect light for most of the day, but does receive a couple hours of direct sun on some days.

lipstick-plant
My lipstick plant growing directly under a skylight, right next to my Hoya linearis

If you have a particularly sunny window, you can diffuse the light with sheer curtains or blinds. Growing up, I grew a gorgeous lipstick plant specimen in a very sunny southern window, but I diffused the light a bit so that it wasn’t sitting in sun all day.

You’ll know if your plant is receiving too much light because the leaves will turn a reddish purple. This is not cause for alarm necessarily, as long as the foliage isn’t bleaching out, but you may want to decrease the light a bit.

lipstick-plant-red-leaves
Reddish purple leaves on a small lipstick plant that I propagated that is under a bright grow light.

2. WATERING

Lipstick plants prefer an evenly moist potting mix. They absolutely detest drying out completely, so try and avoid this at all cost.

My rule of thumb is to allow approximately the top inch of the potting mix to dry out, and then water thoroughly. Let excess water drain through the drainage holes and discard any excess water that may accumulate in the saucer or cache pot.

Like most houseplants, do not allow your plant to sit in leftover water for extended periods as this can lead to root rot.

Know that thorough watering does NOT equate to “overwatering.” In most cases, if you have your plant in sufficient light and have an appropriately sized pot, you should have no concern of “overwatering.”

Ironically, many people are so scared to water plants properly that they often end up dehydrating their plants because of the fear of overwatering. If all your other conditions are good, you should be good to go.

lipstick-plant-aeschynanthus-radicans
I place my lipstick plant in the bathtub when I water it so I can water thoroughly and also avoid a mess.

3. TEMPERATURE & HUMIDITY

These jungle plants enjoy warm and humid conditions. If I were to prioritize the two factors of temperature vs. humidity, ensuring that you can supply necessary warmth is much more important than any efforts to increase humidity, although both help!

In my experience, they grow more quickly and experience no leaf drop if you can keep conditions warm and toasty. I have one plant that I propagated in my basement under grow lights, and it stays a consistent 75F and it loves these conditions.

An ideal temperature range to shoot for would be 65-85F (18-30C).

Conversely, my sunroom will tend to stay cooler and during the wintertime, and the plant I have there often experiences some leaf drop as a result of cooler temperatures (in the 60s F during the day and slightly cooler at night).

During the winter, I do like to run a humidifier though in my sunroom. My favorite humidifier that I highly recommend is found below:

LEVOIT Humidifiers (6L)
$89.99

Warm and Cool Mist Ultrasonic Air Vaporizer, Customized Humidity, Remote Control, Whisper-Quiet

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
04/13/2021 08:50 pm GMT

Another humidifier that I recommend are the ones from Miro. They are beautiful and easier to clean and fill than the Levoit, though I highly recommend both! If you are interested in a Miro humidifier, be sure to use code OHIOTROPICS to receive 10% off!

For a more details discussion on humidity, be sure to read my blog post on raising humidity for houseplants: 1 Awful + 3 Great Ways to Increase Humidity for Houseplants.

4. SOIL & REPOTTING

A light, fluffy well-drained mix is perfect for these plants. Depending on what I happen to have on hand, I’ll use 2-3 parts of either an all-purpose potting mix or even African Violet mix, to which I add 1 part perlite.

As far as pot type goes, you have many options. You may want to avoid terra cotta pots since they tend to dry out super quickly.

If you need a reference to help you choose, be sure to check out my indoor plant pot types post.

As far as repotting goes, I’ve kept my plant in the same pot for quite a few years, but it will eventually get to the point where it will be difficult to keep the plant watered enough.

When you do repot, be sure to only go up one pot size (for example, from a 6 inch pot to an 8 inch pot). If you go much bigger, it will take too long for your potting mix to dry out and this can cause some issues.

In addition, be sure to loosen the root ball when before you place your plant in it’s new pot. For a visual tutorial on repotting, check out my blog post on how to properly repot a houseplant. In that post, I show an example of a great hanging planter that I absolutely love for trailing plants!

5. FERTILIZING

My absolute favorite fertilizer that I love using for this plant, and it has resulted in luxurious growth and flowering, is Dyna-Gro Grow.

It contains all the necessary macro and micro nutrients needed for plant growth. I fertilize dilutely with every watering with 1/4-1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water.

Dyna-Gro Liquid Grow Quart
$22.99

This is an amazing, nutritionally complete, all purpose formulation that contains all the micro and macro nutrients that plants need to thrive. It is urea-free so it will not burn your plants.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
04/13/2021 10:48 am GMT

6. FLOWERING

As I previously mentioned, sufficient light is needed in order to encourage blooming. If your plant is not blooming, go back and reread the Light section of this post and move your plant to a brighter location.

Flowering is the reason why we grow these plants, so be sure your plant is getting sufficient lighting!

It’s fun to watch the progression of lipstick plant flowers. The flowers on the plain old Aeschynanthus radicans start off as dark purple or maroon “lipstick tubes” as I call them:

lipstick-plant-flowers
The start of lipstick plant flowers

Once the flowers grow a bit, you’ll notice the red portion of the flower start to pop out of the middle:

lipstick-plant-flowers

Finally, here are several flowers that have fully opened:

lipstick-plant-flowers

As far as the bloom period goes for this plant, mine has flowered in all seasons, but flowering tends to be most abundant for me in the summer time, especially since I move my plants outdoors in the shade. It relishes the abundant rain, humidity, and air circulation found outdoors.

If you move any of your plants outdoors, be sure to gradually acclimate your plant to higher light. I discuss this very important topic in my When to Put Plants Outside in Spring post. I have important tips on acclimating to higher light so that your houseplants don’t burn.

A well-cared for plant will reward you with plenty of flowers throughout the year! Especially if you have an older plant.

7. PROPAGATION

Stem cuttings are the easiest way to propagate this plant. They will root readily either in water or directly into potting mix.

Make cuttings that are about 4-6 inches long. Remove the bottom one or two leaves, and you can either root them in water at this point, or in soil.

For water propagation, wait until the roots are about 1/2 inch to an inch long, and then plant them in a pot.

If you prefer soil propagation, dip the ends of the cuttings into rooting hormone, and then place them into a small pot with potting mix. Keep the mix relatively moist to encourage rooting. You may also want to increase humidity while it is rooting by placing a clear plastic bag over the cuttings.

I’ve done both water and soil propagation methods successfully so choose whatever you are most comfortable with.

For more detailed instructions on how to propagate, check out my lipstick plant propagation blog post where I discuss step by step with photos.

lipstick-plant-propagation

VARIETIES OF LIPSTICK PLANT

There are quite a few gorgeous varieties of this plant, with different shape and color leaves and flowers. Flowers come in red, yellow, orange, and even pink.

Besides the plain Aeschynanthus radicans that I’ve featured in this post, here are some other lovely varieties:

Variegated Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Variegata’)

This is my own variegated plant that I grew from cuttings. It has not bloomed yet, but the leaves sure are gorgeous. It would benefit from a brighter location to bring out more of the lovely variegation.

variegated-lipstick-plant
Variegated Lipstick Plant – Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Variegata’

Orange Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus speciosus)

Photo Credit: Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0 US

Yellow Lipstick Plant

Photo Credit: Mokkie, CC BY-SA 3.0

Pink Lipstick Plant

Photo Credit: Mokkie, CC BY-SA 3.0

Another unusual variety with twisted and crinkly leaves is the Curly Q Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Curly’)

LIPSTICK PLANT FAQs

Why is my lipstick plant dropping leaves?

There can be multiple reasons why this occurs. The most common reasons leaf drop occurs are cool temperatures and also improper soil moisture. Try and avoid cold, drafty locations and keep your plant in a warm spot. Soil that is too dry or too wet can also cause this to occur, so learn to maintain a good moisture level that your plant is happy with.

Why is my lipstick plant not flowering?

lipstick-plant-flowers

The most common cause of lack of flowering is insufficient light. If your plant is not blooming, move it to a brighter location. Also, be sure to regularly fertilize, especially if you are moving your plant to a brighter location.

Why are there yellow leaves on my lipstick plant?

lipstick-plant-yellow-leaves

Yellow leaves, like any plant problem, can be caused by a variety of issues. Allowing your potting mix to go completely dry will rapidly cause yellow leaves, typically starting at the base of the vine, as shown in the photo. It can also be caused by root rot, too little or too much light, and can also occur if you have a severely root bound plant where it is difficult to keep up with watering.

Why are my lipstick plant leaves shriveled and curled?

Go ahead and feel your potting mix. Is it completely dry? This is the most common reason for shriveled and curled leaves.

What do I do with bare, leafless vines?

If the vines are completely dry and leafless, go ahead and prune those completely off.

How can I rejuvenate my lipstick plant that has lost a lot of leaves?

My top recommendation to fix this, other than trying to provide all the cultural conditions described in this post, is to give your plant a good pruning and move it outdoors in a shady spot when temperatures are warm enough. Don’t be afraid to prune. Your vines will often branch out and this can also force growth to occur at the base of the plant, resulting in a fuller plant. You will be amazed what a good pruning and summer outdoors can do. Your plant will explode into growth.

What should I do if my lipstick plant vines lost leaves at their tips?

Simply prune off the bare portion of the stem, and cut it back to a portion of the vine that has leaves. New vines will grow.

Are lipstick plants toxic to pets?

According to the ASPCA, they are not toxic to dogs, cats and horses.

Do you have a lipstick plant? Comment below, I’d love to hear!

Please do me a favor and share this post to social media because it will help me spread the Ohio Tropics houseplant care tips to the masses! Also, check out my shop on Amazon for all your houseplant care needs:

OHIO TROPICS PLANT CARE STOREFRONT

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