Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > August 2014 > BLOOMS WORTH WAITING FOR--LIPSTICK VINE

BLOOMS WORTH WAITING FOR--LIPSTICK VINE

Flower lovers know that there are a limited number of plants that can be called “flowering houseplants”.  African violets, begonias, anthuriums, shamrock, some orchids, and peace lilies are all popular options.  If you haven’t tried the Lipstick Vine, this plant can be a stubborn bloomer, but the flowers are very rewarding when they appear.

Lipstick vine (Aeschynanthus) is a member of the Gesneriad family and a relative of the African violet.  Like a lipstick being twisted up out of its tube, the brightly colored flower petals emerge from a tubular-shaped calyx.  These flowers are borne in clusters at the terminals of the long leafy vines.  In its natural setting, this epiphytic plant lives up in trees, small roots forming along the vines at the leaf nodes that help it to hang on to the bark of branches.

Native to humid tropical jungles, the Lipstick vine prefers higher humidity and warm temperatures.  Bright indirect light is best or some direct early morning sunlight.  Too much sun will burn the leaves.  Allow the soil to dry moderately between thorough waterings and provide good drainage.  Keeping the plant too wet may prevent flowering.  Also, like many flowering plants, the lipstick will flower best if somewhat pot-bound.  Apply a flowering formula fertilizer during warm seasons.

You can keep an Aeschynanthus in a pretty pot on a table or windowsill, but the flowers are seen to their best advantage in a hanging pot.  When repotting, use a light, well-draining mix and only go up one pot size.  Pruning can be used to control size or remove damaged vines, but remember that flowers form on the ends of the vines and you will be delaying blooming.  The lipstick is not as likely to flower in the winter, so late fall is a good time to prune.  Flowering usually begins in the spring following a slightly cooler rest period in winter.  The dark tubular calyces appear first followed by the colorful flowers.

Related flowering vines to try include Columnea, Codonanthe, and Nematanthus, all epiphytic relatives of the African violet.  They offer a variety of flower color, shape and size, and require the same care as the Aeschynanthus.  

Posted: 8/6/2014 by Margot | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: MargotGunn, TheGreatIndoors
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