New 'Lipstick' / Aeschynanthus addict seeks info!
I was at a local nursery today and noticed the 'Lipstick' (Aeschynanthus) plants for the first time. They looked like excellent plants for my year round hummingbirds, so I snagged three different ones they had, all in bloom.
I was surprised by the small 5" or so pots these long vines came in. No labels whatsoever, but the very nice employee showed me that they were Aeschynanthus from a book and gave me some info on them, although he wasn't sure exactly which ones they were. My first thoughts were: Boy, I'll get them right out of those pots... luckily I began to look around the web first, I didn't know they were epiphytes!
I found the AGGS website and you folks. I'll keep looking but I have a few questions.
What kind of soil should I use if/when I repot? I have a soil mix for my epiphytic orchid cactus, would that be good? Its fluffy and very porous although it has some bark in it, but I can make a similar mix without bark... it sounds like what little I've read suggests that the Lipsticks would like a light, fluffy very porous mix, compared to a denser cactus mix... true?
My biggest question though is: what is the appropriate pot size for these plants whose vines are 1.5-2ft in length? Do these react as badly as christmas cactus to 'overpotting'? I've learned my lesson there certainly! My overall impression so far is that these are grown very similar to christmas cactus, is that true? Do they have those similar wiry skinny roots?
And what about fertilization? Less in cooler/less vigorous growing times and more in warmer/more vigorous growing times? What is the flowering period for them? Important: Are they heavy, light or 'medium/houseplant' type feeders? Do they like rich soil?
I realize I have to figure out which three I have, or narrow it down a little, but I feel like these could be a real nice addition for our hummingbirds... I hope no fuschia addicts are hiding here, but I can't wait to get rid of the few useless hybrids I have to make room for these, fuschias use way too much water! I'd love to replace all of them with these lipstick plants if they work out well. So much more nectar for the birds and seems like much less water use as well, perfect for my climate.
So I'm excited! Where can I get more?! :) Any catalogs or nurseries which might specialize in them?
Oh and what insects are they prone to? Eons ago I got some hoyas, and I have never had such a problem with mealy bugs in my garden, in my LIFE. Horrid. Do these plants have any special suseptability to any pests that I should watch out for? Right now they're out with my tillansias, bromeliads, orchids (mainly cattelyas X's,) and christmas cactus on my covered patio in a Sunset 24 zone. (Zone 10.) We don't get too hot, but we also don't get too cold, so I think they'll like it here.
So what size pot, do they need an upgrade from the shallow 5" and to what size? (If they are as sensitive as christmas cactus to overpotting, don't worry, I'll know what to do. :) But if they can go up a little more than that, it would be nice.) Also, what kinda soil? Would they like some rich potting soil? Like with earthworm castings? As long as there is plenty of perlite? And how can I tell when they NEED to be watered, will they wilt/droop a bit? Should I error on the side of letting them dry out a bit rather than being too moist?
Thanks for all your help, especially for sources for more! :) I'm excited. These look like plants I've really been looking for and will appreciate... Yay! Tell me more! Point me towards any of your favorite informative websites!