Gardening enthusiasts, old and new, swear by the beauty and joy that houseplants provide. We’re not surprised. Not only does having plants offer health advantages, but it also adds life and color to any humble dwelling’s interior. However, indoor gardening is not all about throwing in random greens without reason. You need to at least have a basic understanding of your preferred plants, especially on how to propagate them. This article covers the basics of lipstick plant propagation.
Usually housed in tall containers or hanging baskets, the Aeschynanthus radicans (also known among plant circles as the Lipstick Plant) is a low-maintenance flowering plant. We usually employ a single method of propagation: through stem cuttings. We then choose how to root our plant from two forms of planting medium, namely soil or water.
In this article, we are going to go through each of those methods, share our tried-and-tested tips and tricks, and even answer our reader’s most frequently asked questions later on. Excited? We are too. Let’s get started!
Aeschynanthus Radicans (Lipstick Plant)
The Aeschynanthus radicans is a popular tropical houseplant native to Southeast Asia, specifically Malaysia. They grow in vine-like clusters, and in their natural habitat, typically frequent rock cracks and tree branches. Aeschynanthus radicans is also classified as an epiphyte. This means that it’s an air plant that grows upon another surface or object, taking the nutrients and moisture it needs from its environment.
It is dubbed as the Lipstick Plant due to its iconic and stunning vibrant red flowers. They are tubular in shape and usually contrast from darker to lighter sleeves, making them appear like delicate lipstick tubes, hence the name. Other varieties of Aeschynanthus radicans are known as ‘Curly Q’, ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘Variegata’, and ‘Cassiopeia’, respectively. They differ in their shades of yellow, dark purple, orange-red, dark green, and even cream.
Aside from being known as the Lipstick Plant, Aeschynanthus radicans can also be referred to as basket vine or lipstick vine. They bloom well in spring, summer, and fall seasons, and thrive well in well-drained neutral or alkaline soil, with partial shade from the sun and moderate water.
Lipstick Plant Propagation
As mentioned above, here are the ways to grow your Lipstick Plant collection:
Propagating Lipstick Plant Through Stem Cuttings
The main method we use to propagate Aeschynanthus radicans is by replanting its stem cuttings. We particularly favor this technique not only for multiplying the number of our plants but also as a way to revive struggling mother plants.
While the Lipstick Plant is fairly low-maintenance, it is unfortunately not as easy to propagate. Its cuttings don’t always root as fast as the other plants.
Don’t worry, though. Below are some tips to ensure that your stem cutting propagation will be a success before moving forward:
- Be precise about length. Stem cuttings for Aeschynanthus radicans should only be around four to six inches. There are plant enthusiasts who recommend taking the time to measure the intended stems before snipping away, but we usually eyeball it by counting at least five sets of leaves. There should be no buds or flowers present.
- Create your own mini propagation chambers. It takes constant moisture to root any cutting. You can speed up the root growth of lipstick plants by making your own propagation chambers. You can do this by placing a clear plastic bag over the cutting, which lends itself well to more humidity. Root development usually takes place in roughly four to six weeks.
- Be mindful of its growing environment. The lipstick plant does not thrive under direct sunlight. This characteristic is what makes it such a great indoor plant. Thus, take this into consideration when deciding where to place your rooting stem cuttings. They should ideally receive bright, indirect light for around six hours.
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Meanwhile, the ideal temperature for lipstick plants should not be lower than 50°F.
Finally, make sure that your rooting medium is always moist. This is especially crucial if you choose to root your cuttings directly into the soil. Short yet frequent dry spells can severely diminish the chances of rooting.
- You can use a rooting hormone. You have two choices. You can either buy or make your own. Should you choose the commercial route, though, then we recommend getting one that’s already pre-mixed. Otherwise, you will need to follow the instructions by the letter to ensure that it will work as intended.
- Harvest more stem cuttings than your intended number of new plants. Our experience has taught us that we have a three out of five success rate when propagating our Lipstick Plant. This will largely depend on your location, skills, and gardening intuition of course. Some of our propagating sessions are more successful, while others, not so. Regardless, this is something you need to keep in mind if you have an intended target of successfully propagated plant babies.
- Wait patiently. Lastly, you need to wait patiently for your plant to take root. If you have opted to root your plant directly into the soil, then you can do a quick check by gently pulling at the stem. If you already feel a little bit of resistance then it means that your plant has already rooted. Maintain the cutting at that point for a few more weeks to ensure more strength and resilience before repotting.
Rooting Lipstick Plants Through Soil
Once you have your stem cuttings, we are now ready to move on to the next step of the propagation process, and that’s to choose your preferred rooting medium.
Propagating a Lipstick Plant stem cutting through soil is straightforward enough. Just premoisten the soil, poke a small indention with your finger, and push the stem cutting there.
The only thing that’s left for you to do after that is ensuring that the soil is always moist to encourage the growth of a strong root system.
However, here are the tips to further boost your soil rooting success:
1. Timing is essential. Lipstick plants have their own active and dormant seasons. Hence, it is best to propagate and repot lipstick plants during summer or spring.
A good sign is when you’re already noticing roots growing out of the pot.
2. Make sure to have the right soil mix. There are soil blends that are specifically formulated for rooting. We particularly favor those that come with a slow-release fertilizer.
We also recommend for you to stay away from heavy and dense soil mixes. We even prefer mixing our own soil at home. Our go-to recipe for our Lipstick Plants is one part peat, one part compost, and one part potting soil.
3. Manage humidity. We’ve advised you to place a clear plastic bag over your plants to trap humidity, but you also need to let them breathe from time to time. Doing so can prevent rotting and fungal growth. Managing your plant’s humidity can aid in lessening stress on the cuttings and further encourage root development.
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Rooting Lipstick Plants Through Water
Aside from using soil, you can also root your stem cuttings in water. A lot of gardeners actually prefer this method since they won’t have to worry about over and underwatering their stem cuttings. You’ll also be able to check root growth in plain sight, especially if you have opted for a clear vessel. It’s a very simple process where you’ll simply place your stem cuttings in a jar. Remove the bottom leaves. Only the nodes and the stem should touch the water to prevent rotting.
FAQs About Lipstick Plant Propagation
Now that you are equipped with more information on Aeschynanthus radicans propagation, we feel that the answers to our readers’ most frequently asked questions can still help you further.
Can you propagate lipstick plants in water?
Yes, you can. It’s a very simple process. You can check the section above for more information.
How long does it take to propagate lipstick plants?
There are a lot of factors that can slow or hasten the process of root establishment. However, in our experience, rooting can happen anytime between a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
Can you grow lipstick plants from cuttings?
Yes, you can. We have shared the complete process and tips above on how to do so.
Where can I cut my lipstick plant?
We prefer choosing fresh, green stems (usually at the tip of our vines) to propagate. As we’ve mentioned, we cut four to six inches from the tip, just above the leaf node. A 45-degree angle cut of a three to five-node soft stem is also a usual recommendation.
How often should I water a lipstick plant?
It depends on your current season and location. For those who live in countries with fall through winter, your Lipstick Plant will require less water and will only require a drink once every two to three weeks. In spring through summer, though, your watering sessions should be increased to once a week.
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Growing Your Lipstick Plant Collection
We hope that this guide about Aeschynanthus radicans propagation has helped you in your plant journey. We know how frustrating it can be to propagate the Lipstick Plant at times, but don’t worry. That’s completely normal and not a direct reflection of your love of plants.
After all, the most important part of gardening is to enjoy the process. Have fun gardening!