Including the lipstick vine and basket vine, the Aeschynanthus genus includes remarkable hanging plants with showy red, orange or yellow terminal flowers that emerge from “tubes” which resemble lipstick cases. Better suited to its native rainforest habitat, Aeschynanthus presents a challenge for the indoor gardener. They generally require high humidity and warmth during the summer months, followed by a brief period of cold during the winter to stimulate a bloom.
Light: Bright, strong light, but not direct sunshine.
Water: Keep soil continuously moist throughout spring and summer, and reduce watering in the winter. Don’t let it completely dry out. Very high humidity is preferred. If you’re growing in a basket, you will need to water more frequently during the growing season. However, the exact watering schedule will be party determined by your humidity levels, temperature, and choice of potting media.
Temperature: Keep it warm and humid in the spring and summer, above 65ºF (18ºC). In the winter, a brief period of 55 to 65ºF (13 to 18ºC) will cause inflorescence.
Soil: A well-drained potting mix is best. Avoid heavy garden soils, especially if you’re growing the plant in a hanging basket. In general, the lighter the mix, the better, but keep in mind that very light mixes will drain faster and require more frequently watering. Also, it’s a good idea to repot your hanging plants more frequently, as they soil in a hanging basket tends to become exhausted faster than soil in pots.
Fertilizer: When new growth appears in the spring, feed with a controlled-release fertilizer or liquid fertilizer according to label directions. Liquid fertilizers are often best for hanging applications, because they provide a steady supply of food. However, for best effect, make sure to use the fertilizer with every application during the growing season. If it will be challenging to stick to this schedule, sprinkle the soil surface with a good controlled-release fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season.
Repotting depends on your container choice. For hanging plants, you should repot in the beginning of every growing season. You can keep the plant in the same basket year after year, but you’ll still need to refresh the soil and, if the plant has become too large, divide it. You can pot the division up separately. If you’re growing in a container, repot either annually or every other year, depending on the size of the plant.
Take cuttings in the spring, when the plant resumes normal growth. To successfully root cuttings, use a rooting hormone and provide bottom heat or use a covered rooting container. Take a cutting with several leaves and a length of stem. Strip away the bottom one or two sets of leaves to expose one or two growing nodes. Dip these into rooting hormone (if you’re using it), then bury the cutting and the exposed nodes into a clean potting mix. You can use a seedling mix if you have some on hand. Keep the cutting in a bright, warm place with high humidity. When you start to see new growth, you’ll know the cutting has rooted. Wait until the plant has put out several sets of new leaves before repotting to a more permanent container.
Aeschynanthus are perfect as hanging or trailing plants. They require high humidity and warmth throughout the growing season, as well as strong (but not direct) light. After the season is over, cut the trailing stems back in preparation for another year—otherwise, it will tend toward leginess. Do not spray plants in bloom. These are perfect for a greenhouse, sunroom or conservatory.
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