The variegated lipstick plant is a beautiful flower that can be used in various ways to decorate your home or office. It is a moderately high-light and water-demanding houseplant. Variegations are created on the leaves by the various structural colors in the leaf cells, which include purple, blue, red, yellow, and green.
In addition, this exotic plant is also easy to grow and care for, which makes it the perfect choice if you’re looking for a new indoor plant to add to your collection. Although a lipstick plant might very well blossom all year, most of its flowers bloom in the spring and summer.
This guide will follow the steps needed to grow and care for this unique plant.
What is a Variegated Lipstick Plant?
The variegated lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus radicans) is an exotic-looking houseplant that can be grown indoors or outdoors. The plant has curved, upright stems and lance-shaped dark green leaves with lighter silver markings. These flowers grow in clusters and have a cascading, vine-like habit, along with glossy, waxy, green leaves. As a result, they are perfect for use in tall containers or hanging baskets.
In its natural habitat, the lipstick plant is an epiphytic species that grows in crevices in rocks and on tree branches in tropical Southeast Asia. However, as a houseplant, it is commonly cultivated in a standard well-draining potting mix. The plant will blossom abundantly throughout the year if it receives enough filtered sunlight, humidity, and warmth.
Varieties of the Lipstick Plant
Given the plant’s popularity, it’s no surprise that there are several cultivars and varieties of lipstick plants. Some of the most common varieties include:
- Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Mona Lisa’ – This variety is known for its orange-red flowers as opposed to the vibrant red color of a regular lipstick plant.
- Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus radicans) – This variety is characterized by its long vines of lustrous, thick, green leaves with brilliant red tubular blooms and maroon undersides.
- Aeschynanthus longicaulis (Black Pagoda Lipstick Plant) – This variety has draped stems of tubular blooms and semi-succulent, speckled green leaves in orange, yellow, and reddish orange.
- Variegated Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Variegata”) – This unique plant is a gorgeous cultivar with white-streaked, variegated leaves and vivid reddish-orange blooms.
- Curled Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus radicans ‘Curly’) – This variety is the most unusual of lipstick plants, with dark green curly leaves and vivid red tubular blooms. This cultivar’s leaves are wavy rather than smooth, making it stand out from the throng.
- ‘Rasta’ – This lipstick plant variety has thickly coiled leaves and vivid red flowers that bloom in late summer and early autumn.
Planting Requirements for Variegated Lipstick Plants
Before growing a variegated lipstick plant, you should note a few points and requirements if you want your plant to thrive and last longer. These requirements include:
- To care for your variegated lipstick plant, give it bright, indirect sunlight and water when the top of the soil feels dry.
- These plants thrive in high humidity, so misting them regularly or setting them on a pebble tray will help keep their leaves lush.
- Keep an eye out for mealybugs, which can cause brown spots on the leaves, and spider mites, which can cause stippling. If you see any pests, treat them with an appropriate insecticide.
- Your variegated lipstick plant will need repotting every two to three years. Use a well-draining potting mix and a pot that’s just big enough to accommodate the roots.
How to Grow a Variegated Lipstick Plant
You can propagate variegated lipstick plants from soft stem cuttings. Here’s how to do it:
- The first step is to purchase a healthy plant from a nursery or garden center.
- Using sharp pruners, cut a piece about 5 inches long in an area without blossoms and with just a few leaves remaining and dip the cut end in the rooting hormone.
- Once you have your plant, choosing the right potting mix is important. A well-draining potting mix is essential for this plant as it does not like to sit in wet soil.
- Fill the pot with perlite and vermiculite and plant the cutting in it.
- To ensure proper drainage, add organic material such as perlite or vermiculite to the potting mix. Once you’ve chosen your potting mix, it’s time to transplant your lipstick plant.
- Keep the plant cutting mildly wet until it has roots, which usually takes around two weeks. Once the roots emerge, transplant the cutting into a permanent container filled with potting mix reinforced with sphagnum moss and sand after properly being rooted.
- Place the plant in the new pot after gently removing it from its current pot. Be sure to firm up the soil around the roots and water thoroughly.
Now that your variegated lipstick plant is transplanted, giving it the right amount of light is important. Ideally, this plant needs bright, indirect sunlight, and filtered light in hot climates is best since too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves.
Caring for Variegated Lipstick Plant
As with all plants, proper care is essential to keeping your variegated lipstick plant healthy and vibrant. Taking care of your plant is easy if you follow these tips:
This plant likes bright, indirect sunlight. Some afternoon shade will help prevent the leaves from scorching if you live in a hot climate. The variegated leaves will lose their color in lower light conditions and become all green. Place your plant in an area that receives bright, indirect light. Getting too much direct sunlight will cause the leaves to scorch, while not getting enough light will cause them to lose their variegation.
The variegated lipstick plant is a succulent, so it doesn’t need a lot of water. Water it thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch, then let it dry out completely before watering again. This plant is susceptible to root rot, so ensure the pot has drainage holes and you’re not overwatering. Water your plant regularly, allowing the soil to dry slightly between watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so punch drainage holes in your pot’s bottom.
Fertilizer is an important part of growing and caring for variegated lipstick plants. Fertilize the plant every two weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10. Avoid using a fertilizer with too much nitrogen, as this can cause the leaves to turn green. Apply the fertilizer around the base of the plant, careful not to get any on the leaves.
The variegated lipstick plant is native to tropical climates and prefers warm temperatures. It can tolerate brief periods of cooler weather, but prolonged exposure to cold temperatures will damage the leaves. If possible, keep this plant indoors to protect it from extreme weather conditions.
Because of its cascading propensity, pruning the stems of your variegated lipstick plant can help it avoid seeming straggly and promote new, healthy growth and a fuller look.
Troubleshooting Tips for Variegated Lipstick Plants
If your variegated lipstick plant could be looking better, there are a few troubleshooting tips you can try. First, make sure it is getting enough light. Variegated plants need bright, indirect sunlight to thrive. If your plant is not getting enough light, it will lose its variegation and revert to all green leaves.
Second, check the soil moisture level. These plants do not like to be too wet or too dry – they prefer a happy medium. If the soil is too dry, the leaves will start to droop, and the plant will become stressed. Wet soil can cause roots to rot, which may lead to the plant’s death.
Third, inspect your plant for pests. Aphids, mealybugs, and scale can all infest variegated lipstick plants and cause problems. If you see any of these pests on your plant, treat them immediately with an appropriate insecticide or pesticide.
Fourth, make sure you are fertilizing your plant regularly. Variegated plants are heavy feeders and need regular fertilizer to stay healthy and vibrant. Use a balanced fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) in equal proportions every month during the growing season (spring through summer).
Pests and Diseases of Variegated Lipstick Plant
Variegated lipstick plants don’t have many insect concerns, although occasionally, mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites might appear. If the infestation is minor, you may wipe it away with a moist towel. Larger infestations are best handled with horticultural oils or by spraying the bugs with water.
The most common disease affecting variegated lipstick plants is botrytis blight (Botrytis cinerea), which causes lesions and black patches on the leaves or the whole stem. You can avoid this by lowering the quantity of moisture the plant receives by watering or sprinkling for humidity. In extreme circumstances, you can spray the whole plant using a fungicide such as copper.
Variegated lipstick plant plants are fairly easy to grow, provided they have good light and well-draining soil. They can tolerate average room temperatures and fairly low humidity. These beautiful plants are easy to care for and add to any indoor space. With proper care, they will thrive and provide you with endless enjoyment.