Psychotria elata (Hot Lips)

Scientific Name

Psychotria elata (Sw.) Ham

Common Names

Hot Lips, Hot Lips Plants, Flower Lips, Hooker's Lips, Mick Jagger's Lips


Cephaelis elata, Callicocca elata, Cephaelis costaricensis, Cephaelis phoenicia, Cephaelis punicea, Evea elata, Palicourea elata, Tapogomea elata, Tapogomea punicea, Uragoga elata, Uragoga phoenicia, Uragoga punicea

Scientific Classification

Family: Rubiaceae
Subfamily: Rubioideae
Tribe: Psychotrieae
Genus: Psychotria


Color: White
Bloom Time: December to March


Psychotria elata is a tropical tree that has become internet-famous because of its flowers or rather the shape of the red bracts (modified leaves) before the flowers mature. From these bracts, tiny white, star-shaped flowers emerge. Sadly, deforestation is wiping this species off the Earth.

Psychotria elata - Hot Lips


USDA Hardiness Zone 10b to 11b: from 35 °F (+1.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Hot Lips grows where the soil is rich and humid from leaf litter, moist and sheltered from the most powerful sun rays by upper story trees. Interior growers turn to plants from around the world to add exotic touches to the home. Hot Lips plant fits the bill but requires a tropical environment. For this reason, it is mostly a collector's plant for much of the United States.

Growing Hot Lips plants requires a heated greenhouse or solarium, high humidity, and shelter from harsh solar rays. Growing Hot Lips plant means mimicking the tropical understory environment for which it is suited. Most potting soil will not have both the excellent drainage and moisture retentiveness necessary to raise these plants. Add a bit of vermiculite and peat moss before potting up the plant. Place it in an area with temperatures of at least 70ºF (21ºC), humidity of at least 60%, and bright indirect lighting. See more at How to Grow and Care for Hot Lips Plant.


Native to the rain forests of Central and South American countries like Columbia, Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador.


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