Lipstick Plant Production Guide

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CFREC-Apopka Foliage Plant Research Note RH-91-21

R.T. Poole, A.R. Chase and L.S. Osborne University of Florida, IFAS Central Florida Research and Education Center - Apopka 2807 Binion Road., Apopka, FL 32703-8504


The bright red, tubular flowers of Aeschynanthus pulcher give it the nickname of `Lipstick plant'. In the spring, plants produce many flowers on 12 to 36 inch cascading stems which have medium green, 1.5 inch waxy leaves.

Experiments have been conducted to determine factors influencing blooming of the lipstick plant. Day length treatments had no effect on flowering. Varying levels of light intensity were also tested with a maximum of 3,000, 6,000 or 10,000 foot-candles(ft-c). All plants in the two highest light levels had blooms after 6 weeks, but only one plant in the 3,000 ft-c shade level had blooms. Although photoperiod does not appear to affect blooming when applied during the summer months, low light levels during the spring can reduce flowering.

Roots will develop on stem or tip cuttings in about two weeks. Concentrations of 0.1 and 0.3% indolebutyric acid (IBA) did not improve rooting and 0.8% IBA inhibited rooting. Excellent growth can be obtained with a 3-1-2 ratio liquid or slow-release fertilizer when applied at a rate of 1500 lbs nitrogen/acre/year (3 lbs N/1000 ft2/month or 5 grams of 19-6-12 per 3 months). Micronutrients should be added to the potting medium or included in the fertilization program. Potting media utilized must have excellent aeration, although ample soil moisture is necessary. Good growth occurs when minimum soil temperatures are 70 to 80F, with similar air temperatures. However, stock plants grown with a maximum air temperature of 70F produced cuttings that bloomed sooner than cuttings from stock plants maintained at maximum air temperatures of 75 or 85F. Limited growth will occur at 65F soil temperature, and lower temperatures result in poor or no growth. Additionally, tissue damage and leaf drop as a result of chilling can occur whenever air temperatures drop below 50F.


1) Chilling injury
Symptoms -
Leaves turn dark red or abscise.
Control -
Maintain air temperatures above 50F.


Reference Pest Control Guides Here

1) Botrytis blight (Botrytis cinerea)

Symptoms -
Botrytis leaf and blossom blight usually appear on lower leaves of cuttings in contact with the potting medium. The water-soaked lesion may enlarge rapidly to encompass a large portion of the leaf blade or even the entire cutting. The area turns necrotic and dark brown to black with age. When night temperatures are cool, day temperatures warm, and moisture conditions high, the pathogen readily sporulates on both leaves and flowers, covering them with grayish-green dusty masses of conidia.
Control -
Controlling Botrytis blight of foliage plants is particularly important during the winter months in Florida. Methods which improve foliage drying and reduce moisture condensation on foliage during the nights reduce the need for fungicide application.

2) Corynespora leaf spot (Corynespora cassiicola)

Symptoms -
Lesions appear first as tiny sunken areas which are slightly brown. These areas enlarge to about 1/2 inch in diameter and darken with age. A bright purple or red margin and a chlorotic halo about 1/16 inch wide are usually present on this host. Leaf abscission is common under optimal conditions for disease expression. Similar symptoms are seen on other gesneriads such as Nematanthus and Columnea spp. Saintpaulia ionantha are also susceptible to this pathogen.
Control -
Use the same cultural controls as mentioned for Botrytis blight. No effective fungicides are registered for control of Corynespora leaf spot of lipstick vine.

3) Myrothecium leaf spot (Myrothecium roridum)

Symptoms -
Lesions generally appear at edges, tips and at broken leaf veins of plants. Necrotic areas are dark-brown and initially appear water-soaked. Examination of the bottom leaf surface generally reveals sporodochia which are irregularly shaped, black and have a white fringe of mycelium. Sporodochia form in concentric rings within the necrotic areas.
Control -
Using fungicides when temperatures are between 70 and 85F, minimizing wounding, and fertilizing at recommended levels contribute to minimizing severity of Myrothecium leaf spot of foliage plants.

4) Rhizoctonia aerial blight (Rhizoctonia solani)

Symptoms -
A mass of brownish mycelia covers the infected plants. Growth of mycelia from the potting medium onto the plant can escape notice and give the appearance that plants have been infected from an aerial source of inoculum. Close examination, however, generally reveals the presence of mycelia on stems prior to development of obvious symptoms. Rhizoctonia mycelia are usually reddish-brown in color and have the consistency of a spider web.
Control -
Chemical control of diseases caused by Rhizoctonia has been investigated on many plants using a variety of fungicides.

5) Southern blight (Sclerotium rolfsii)

Symptoms -
The pathogen attacks all portions of the plant, but is most commonly found on stems and leaves. Initially, symptoms on stems are confined to water-soaked, necrotic lesions at or near the soil line. White, relatively coarse mycelium grow in a fan-like pattern and may be seen on the soil surface, leaves or stems. The round sclerotia form almost anywhere on the affected portions of the plant or the soil surface. They are initially white and cottony and approximately the size of a mustard seed. As sclerotia mature, they turn tan and eventually dark brown and harden. Mycelia and sclerotia generally develop concurrently with stem rot and wilting, allowing an accurate diagnosis of the problem. A cutting rot can develop on contaminated plant materials during the summer months.
Control -
Although this disease can be avoided using proper cultural methods, it continues to cause losses in production of foliage plants today. Chemical control of Southern blight has been investigated on several different foliage plants as well as non-ornamental crops.


Reference Pest Control Guides Here

The major arthropod pests of this plant include aphids, mealybugs, mites, and scales. In the control section for each pest, a few of the many registered and effective pesticides will be listed. For a complete listing, please consult the references at the end of this report. Because the potential for phytotoxicity exists, a small group of plants should be tested for phytotoxicity prior to treating the entire crop.

1) Aphids

Symptoms -
Aphids are pear-shaped, soft-bodied insects which vary in color from light green to dark brown. Infestations may go undetected until honeydew or sooty mold is observed. Aphids can cause distortion of new growth or, in extreme cases, infested plants can be stunted.
Control -
Aphids are relatively easy to control with many registered materials. Phytotoxicity to this plant has been caused by many different chemicals. Please conduct your own tests to see what is safe under your conditions. Root aphids have been controlled with soil drenches.

2) Mealybugs

Symptoms -
Mealybugs appear as white, cottony masses in leaf axils, on the lower surfaces of leaves and on the roots. Honeydew and sooty mold are often present and infested plants become stunted, and with severe infestations, plant parts begin to die.
Control -
Systemic materials are preferred. Control of root mealybugs is accomplished with soil drenches with an insecticide. When pesticides are applied to the soil, care must be taken to assure that the pots have good drainage and that no saucers are attached, or phytotoxicity may result.

3) Mites (Broad mite and false spider mites)

Symptoms -
Mites are very small and go unnoticed until plants become severely damaged. Broad mites cause foliar necrosis of the vegetative shoot apex. Initial symptoms of injury show new leaves curled, twisted, brittle, and in severe cases dead. Broad mite eggs are covered with many tubercles which give them the appearance of being jeweled.
Control -
The critical point in any control program is thorough coverage with the pesticide. The best control program is to minimize the possibility of introducing mites into the growing area on infested plant material.

4) Scales

Symptoms -
Infested plants become weakened or stunted and begin to die. Scales can be found feeding on leaves, petioles, or stems. They are usually distinct from the plant material on which they are feeding. Their shape (round to oval), size (pinpoint to 2 mm long), and color (light to dark brown) are quite variable and many scales are hard to distinguish from the plant material on which they are feeding.
Control -
See Mealybugs

5) Thrips

Symptoms -
Thrips are small (less than 1/20), thin insects. Adult thrips can be identified by a long fringe of hair around the margins of both pairs of wings. Color varies between species with western and other flower thrips being yellow to light brown and banded greenhouse thrips and a few other thrips, that feed mainly on leaves, being dark brown to black. Feeding takes place with rasping type mouth parts. Infested leaves become curled or distorted, with silver-gray scars or calloused areas where feeding has occurred. Thrips can transmit the tomato spotted wilt virus to many different ornamentals. Any unusual symptoms should be investigated.
Control -
Many materials are registered and effective at controlling thrips.

Pesticides should be applied according to label directions.

Regardless of the pesticide or mixture of pesticides used, it is
strongly recommended that the effects be evaluated on a few
plants, under your particular conditions before treating all plants.

Mention of a commercial or proprietary product in this paper
does not constitute a recommendation by the authors,
nor does it imply registration under FIFRA as amended.

Reference Pest Control Guides Here


1. Chase, A.R. 1990. Phytotoxicity of bactericides and fungicides on some ornamentals - 1990 update. Nursery Digest 24(5)11.

2. Miller, V.J. and R.T. Poole. 1982. IBA effects on foliage plant cuttings. ARC-Apopka Research Report RH-82-11.

3. Short, D.E., L.S. Osborne and R.W. Henley. 1984. Phytotoxicity of insecticides and miticides to foliage and woody ornamental plants. Extension Entomology Report #57.

4. Short, D.E., L.S. Osborne and R.W. Henley. 1991. 1991-1992 Insect and related arthropod management guide for commercial foliage plants in Florida. Extension Entomology Report #52. 13 pp.

5. Simone, G.W. and A.R. Chase. 1989. Disease control pesticides for foliage production - (Revision 4, February 1989). Plant Protection Pointer Extension Plant Pathology Report #30. (Also in Foliage Digest 12(9):1-8).

6. Welander, N.T. 1984. Influence of temperature and day-length on flowering in Aeschynanthus speciosus. Scientia Hortic. 22:157-161.

7. Whitton, B., W. Healy and M. Roh. 1990. Flowering of Aeschynanthus `Koral' at fluctuating and constant temperatures. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 115(6):906-909.