Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis: The Lipstick Plant with a Shameful Secret

Kim Marson
Kim Marson
Gardening Writer

Kim is passionate about helping people create beautiful, healthy indoor spaces that are filled with plants. Kim believes that plants make us happier, healthier human...

The Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis, commonly known as the Lipstick Plant, is a unique variety within the Aeschynanthus genus of tropical plants native to Southeast Asia. This trailing houseplant is easily recognized by its slender, glossy leaves and clusters of vibrant red, tubular flowers resembling a tube of lipstick.

While appreciated for its beauty today, the Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis has an interesting history behind its name. The name Aeschynanthus comes from the Greek words meaning "ashamed flower", which has led to the Lipstick Plant being colloquially called the plant with a "shameful secret". This unusual name refers to a linguistic curiosity rather than any true scandal.

Below, we will explore the history and symbolism of the Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis along with caring for this easy to grow and propagate flowering plant. The Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis is sure to add a pop of color along with an air of mystique to any indoor plant collection.

History and Symbolism of Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis

Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis - The Lipstick Plant with a Shameful Secret.

The name Aeschynanthus comes from the Greek words "aischuno" meaning "to be ashamed" and "anthos" meaning "flower". Together, Aeschynanthus translates to "ashamed flower", which is how the Lipstick Plant got its colloquial name as the plant with a "shameful secret".

Origins of the Name

There are a few origin stories that explain how the Aeschynanthus genus received such an unusual name:

  • According to one legend, the name refers to the drooping flowers that seem to "hang their heads" in shame. The trailing growth habit leads the vibrant blooms to nod downwards as if bashful or embarrassed.
  • Another lore suggests early European botanists were dismayed to find the Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis flowers were not the bright red color they expected that other Aeschynanthus produced. Instead, they were pale pink colored, leading to rumors the plants were diseased or defective.
  • Some posit the name refers to the short lifespan of the flowers. Anecdotal evidence suggest the blooms don't last as long as other varieties of Lipstick Plant, although the difference is marginal, before withering away, as if ashamed of their own delicate beauty.

Regardless of which tale is true, the name Aeschynanthus meaning "ashamed flower" became firmly attached to these tropical plants.

Cultural Significance

In addition to its unusual name, the Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis has symbolic meaning in some cultures:

  • In some Asian cultures, the Lipstick Plant represents female beauty, sexuality, and fertility due to its vibrant red flowers reminiscent of lipstick.
  • In India, the Aeschynanthus is seen as a celebratory flower and commonly given as part of wedding decorations. Red is an auspicious color in Indian culture.
  • In some Southeast Asian countries, bright red Aeschynanthus flowers including those of the Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis are given to mothers to honor and show appreciation on Mother's Day.

So while Aeschynanthus may literally mean "ashamed flower", the Lipstick Plant has very positive connotations in various Asian cultures. The flowers represent beauty, womanhood, celebration, and motherly love.

Common Names

The Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis is known by several common names:

  • Lipstick Plant
  • Basket Plant
  • Japanese Basket Flower
  • Pink Lipstick Vine

These names all refer to the long, trailing growth habit or the flowers that resemble tubes of lipstick. While "Lipstick Plant" is the most widely used common name, the variety of monikers reflects the widespread popularity of this species.

Characteristics of Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis

Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis - Pale pink blooms

The Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis has several defining physical characteristics that set it apart from other varieties in the Aeschynanthus genus.


  • Leaves: The leaves of the Lipstick Plant are 4-6 inches long with an elongated, lance-like shape. The leaves are a bright green and have a smooth, glossy texture.
  • Stems: The vines of the Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis are long and flexible, easily trained to climb a trellis or cascade from a hanging basket. The stems are green in color.
  • Flowers: This variety bears clusters of tubular, trumpet-shaped flowers at stem tips and nodes. The blooms are approximately 2-3 inches long.
  • Flower Color: While most Aeschynanthus have red or orange flowers, the Japhrolepis variety has distinctive pink blooms with yellow centers. The pink coloration is brighter and more vivid than other varieties.
  • Bloom Time: The Lipstick Plant flowers primarily in summer and fall but may bloom sporadically year-round in ideal conditions.
  • Fragrance: The flowers have little to no detectable fragrance.

Growth Habit

  • This Aeschynanthus variety has a trailing, vining growth habit. Given support, stems can reach up to 3 feet long.
  • The dangling stems make this an excellent choice for hanging baskets. It also thrives when trained up a moss pole, trellis, or other support.
  • In its native tropical habitat, Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis climbs up trees and limestone rock formations using aerial roots.

Unique Features

  • Succulent leaves: The Japhrolepis variety has thicker, fleshier leaves than other Aeschynanthus species. This gives the plant a more lush, tropical appearance.
  • Pink flowers: No other Aeschynanthus species bears the distinctive hot pink blooms of the Japhrolepis. This makes the bloom color a unique identifying trait.
  • Climate adaptability: A. Japhrolepis adapts well to temps down to 50°F, lower than many other Aeschynanthus species. This makes it suitable for USDA zones 10-12 as a houseplant.
  • Vigorous growth: This variety grows quickly and vigorously when given proper care and conditions. The trailing vines fill out containers rapidly.

The vivid pink flowers and vigorous creeping stems make the Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis a stunning indoor plant unlike other Lipstick Plant varieties.

Care Requirements for Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis

While easy to care for, the Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis has some specific care requirements needed for Lipstick plants to keep them healthy and encourage flowering.


  • The Lipstick Plant thrives in bright, indirect light. East or west-facing windows are ideal.
  • Provide at least 4 hours of sunlight per day. Insufficient light leads to fewer flowers.
  • Direct hot sunlight can scorch the leaves, especially in summer. Use sheer curtains to filter intense afternoon sun.


  • Water whenever the top inch of soil becomes dry. Check by sticking a finger in the pot.
  • Keep the soil consistently moist, taking care not to overwater. Allow soil to dry out slightly between waterings.
  • Water with room temperature filtered or distilled water. Tap water with salts and chlorine may cause leaf tip burn.
  • Increase watering frequency in summer as the plant grows rapidly. Reduce watering in winter during dormancy.

Temperature and Humidity

  • Daytime temps between 65-80°F and above 50°F at night suit the Aeschynanthus best.
  • Average home humidity is sufficient, but higher humidity promotes lush growth.
  • Use a pebble tray or humidifier to boost moisture levels. Mist leaves occasionally for added humidity.
  • Avoid cold drafts from A/C vents, heaters, and open doors/windows.


  • Use a well-draining potting mix amended with orchid bark, perlite, or horticultural charcoal.
  • Good drainage is key to prevent root rot from overwatering. Add extra perlite to regular potting soil to improve drainage.
  • Repot annually in spring, moving to a container one size larger.

Common Issues

  • Leaf tip burn from dry air or irregular watering
  • Leaf spotting from cold damage
  • Failure to bloom from insufficient light
  • Root rot from compacted, soggy soil

With the proper care, the Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis makes a superb low maintenance houseplant. Pay careful attention to its light, water, and soil needs for optimal plant health and flower production.

Propagating Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis

The Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis propagates easily from stem cuttings, allowing you to multiply your Lipstick plant without spending money. Here's how to propagate this trailing houseplant:

When to Propagate

  • Spring and summer are the best seasons for propagation, when plants are actively growing.
  • Avoid propagating in fall/winter when plants are dormant. Cuttings may rot before they can root.

Getting Cuttings

  • Take 4-6 inch stem tip cuttings that do not have flowers or flower buds.
  • Use a clean, sharp scissors or pruners to detach the cuttings. Make a straight cut below a node.
  • Take multiple cuttings to increase success chances. Remove lower leaves from cuttings.

Rooting the Cuttings

  • Rooting hormone is optional but improves chances of new root formation. Dip cut end in hormone powder.
  • Insert cuttings in small pots filled with a light, well-draining mix like perlite/peat or vermiculite.
  • Keep mix moist but not saturated. Enclose pots in a transparent plastic bag to maintain humidity.
  • Place pots in bright, indirect light and temperatures of 70-75°F.


  • Check for new growth after 4-6 weeks. Gently tug cuttings to check for resistance from roots.
  • Once rooted, remove the plastic bag and move cuttings to normal potting mix in 3-4 inch pots.
  • Care for new plants same as mature Aeschynanthus. Keep newly propagated plants sheltered and moist until established.


  • Wilting or shriveled cuttings - Increase watering frequency and humidity
  • Leaf drop - Move cuttings to brighter location
  • No new growth - Ensure temperatures are warm enough and watering is adequate

With the proper timing and care, propagating Aeschynanthus through stem cuttings is highly effective. The vining growth habit lends itself perfectly to creating new plants from cuttings. Start with several cuttings since some may fail, and you'll soon have beautiful new Lipstick Plants for free!

Common Pests and Diseases

While generally vigorous, the Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis can be susceptible to a few pests and diseases. Being aware of potential issues allows you to quickly take action to protect your plant's health.


Aphids - Small soft-bodied insects that suck plant sap. Look for clustered groups on new growth. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control.

Mealybugs - These small cottony white bugs suck juices from leaves and stems. Isolate and wipe off with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

Thrips - Tiny black or brown insects that cause silver streaking on leaves. Use sticky traps and insecticidal soap spray.

Spider mites - Nearly microscopic pests that form webs and stipple leaves. Wipe leaves down with a wet cloth and apply neem oil.

Check plants regularly for signs of insects like speckling, stunted growth, or honeydew secretions. Quarantine and treat infested plants promptly.


Root rot - Caused by overwatering. Roots turn brown and plants wilt. Improve drainage and water only when partly dry.

Botrytis blight - A fungal infection that creates grey mold on leaves and flowers. Provide good airflow and avoid wet foliage.

Bacterial leaf spot - Angular brown spots on leaves caused by bacteria. Prune affected foliage and remove severely infected plants.

Viral diseases - Viruses can cause mottling, ringspots, and deformation of leaves. Destroy infected plants, as viruses cannot be cured.

Prevent diseases by providing good growing conditions and promptly removing damaged leaves/plants. Disinfect tools between uses.

With proper care and early intervention against pests and diseases, the Lipstick Plant will continue blooming gracefully. Monitor plants carefully and address any issues immediately. Pay attention to watering, light, and airflow to keep this beauty healthy.

Final Thoughts

The Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis is a fascinating tropical plant with uniqueness extending beyond its vivid pink flowers. This Lipstick Plant has an intriguing history behind its unusual name meaning "ashamed flower" in Greek. While the reason for the name is uncertain, theories point to the drooping flowers or unexpected coloration.

Regardless of the origins of its nearly scandalous name, the Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis has positive symbolism in Asian cultures. The showy blooms represent beauty, womanhood, celebration, and motherly love.

Beyond its cultural significance, this variety stands out for its lush leaves, trailing habit, and unusually adaptable nature. The Japhrolepis thrives as a houseplant in temperate climates that would cause other Aeschynanthus species to suffer.

Caring for this easy-to-grow Lipstick Plant mainly requires bright indirect light, consistent moisture, and well-draining soil. With a hanging basket and proper care, the cascading vines will produce an abundance of colorful blooms. Propagation from cuttings can create new plants for endless enjoyment.

The Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis is sure to be a conversation starter and unique addition to any plant collection. As a flowering houseplant, it brings cheerful pink blossomsindoors with an aura of mystery from its nearly taboo name.

Next time you are looking for an exotic trailing plant, consider the Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis. Embrace its shameful secret past and appreciate its distinctive beauty in the present. This flowering vine's flashy colors and lush foliage will make your indoor garden pop.



Kim Marson
Kim MarsonGardening Writer

Kim is passionate about helping people create beautiful, healthy indoor spaces that are filled with plants. Kim believes that plants make us happier, healthier human beings, and she loves sharing her knowledge with others so they can experience the joys of plant care for themselves. <a href="">Read more</a>

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