Sunday, January 8, 2017

Who Knows Why Lipstick Plants Flower?

Lipstick Plant Flowering at Maturity

Who knows why Lipstick plants flower?

            The flowering response; that is, what triggers flowering of Lipstick plants (Aeschynanthus), remains a mystery.

            With this admission of defeat, I hope that all of you Gesneriad growers out there jump up and say; “What do you mean?  My Lipstick flowers regularly every Winter.  It must be day-length or the cooler night temperatures.  Or maybe it’s the cooler day temps.  Of course, I have had it for years, so maybe it’s maturity (old age).  And now that you mention it, sometimes it doesn’t flower at all.”

            It may seem naïve to believe that no one knows the flowering response to the common Lipstick plant.  My only proof is that no commercial grower is producing 4” – 6” pots of Lipstick in flower.  Green foliage --- sure, but no flowers.  If they could be produced, plants would be sold by the thousands. It’s not happening.

            Many years ago, I concluded that flowering is so uncertain that Lipstick plants should be abandoned as a commercial flowering crop.

            The most successful flowering seems to be when the plant is propagated and grown out as a hanging basket.  This allows for the shoots to get length and maturity for flowering on the terminals.

            I want to have flowers on small pots.  If we only knew how to do that?

            My method for Nematanthus ‘Cheerio’ could be adapted to Aeschynanthus.  Grow stock baskets until buds and flowers are set, take tip cuttings, root in small pots.  When the cuttings are rooted, the flowering will be there, --- sell.

            This will be attempted with Lipsticks.  What we don’t know yet, is if the buds will stay on until rooting occurs.  The budded cuttings are coarse and take a long time to callus and root.

            My friend Bob believes that flowering is due to short days (Winter) and that tip cuttings will have small buds set.  Thus, less likely to fall off before rooting.

            This basket shown is flowering now.  Can we create a 4” pot with delightful red flowers on command next year?

Lipstick in flower in small pot


  1. Gary, I found your information interesting, but as usual there is a difference because of conditions - or at least I think that is what it is. No Aeschynanthus that I have grown (and I've grown 30 or more different species and hybrids) have ever been a problem for coming into flower. A few flower in our autumn, but the rest begin to flower in mid-summer through most of the autumn. A few will flower during the winter. I am growing outdoors and yes, this is a warm climate. A. lobbianus (or what we used to call lobbianus - I believe it changed) is starting to produce buds now - mid-summer. Is this odd to you? Most growers in this area have plants in flower at the same times as I do.

  2. Ruth, Thank you for reporting in from Australia. I've summarized the several responses I got from expert growers like yourself in a story released on Feb 12.