Best Houseplant to Buy in December

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The Curly Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus Radicans 'Curly' or 'Rasta') is THE houseplant for December, all dressed up in brilliant Christmas colors. With flowing foliage in dense curls like green dreadlocks and bright red flowers, this ultimately eccentric plant will dazzle one and all. So much fun in a single plant!

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About the Curly Lipstick Plant

Lipstick plants are known for their graceful cascading foliage and bright red tubular flowers that resemble tubes of lipstick. They are native to the Himalayas and rain forests of Malaysia where they present as attractive evergreen vines that flower all year round. But the cultivar 'Curly' (sometimes called 'Rasta') takes it from lovely to over-the-top. With leaves in twisted cork-screws that curl in on themselves, the Curly Lipstick Plant is truly one of a kind.

Lipstick Plants grow in the wild as epiphytes, or air plants, and you can cultivate them outside in the warmest hardiness zones in this country. Indoors, they look their best in hanging baskets where their curly tresses can drape gracefully. Expect the most blossoms in summer and fall, but even without the crimson flowers, these are eye-catching houseplants certain to amuse and delight.

Where to Find

If you live in an area with an expansive garden store, by all means try this first. If you have to order online, be careful you get the 'Curly' or "Rasta' cultivars. Regular lipstick plants (Aeschynanthus radicans) are quite lovely, but lack those weird, wild, and winning curls.

Logee's offers the 'Rasta' cultivar for a very reasonable price. If it's sold out, check back in a few weeks. Or look on Etsy for a variety — for instance you could buy a cutting or two from MonsHeaven. These extravagant beauties are extremely easy to propagate. If you are too impatient to wait for cuttings to grow, you can't do better than the plants at Woodies Garden Goods; pick from a 4-inch, 6-inch or 8-inch pot.

Plant Care Tips

Your Curly or Rasta Lipstick Plant is a tropical plant at heart and loves warmth and humidity. That's why it is only hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11. But it will thrive indoors in the right conditions, meaning temperatures at or about 70 degrees Fahrenheit and good sunlight.

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You won't get any of those scarlet blossoms on your Lipstick Plant without some sunlight, but please — no direct sun. The exotic leaves of Curly or Rasta will crisp up if too many rays strike their leaves. Getting the sun right is the trickiest part about keeping your plant happy and healthy. The ideal spot for this houseplant will have about four hours a day of bright indirect sunlight. For those without that kind of exposure, consider a grow light.

Water is important to a tropical plant, but since this is an epiphyte in its native range, it's a plant that gets its nutrients from the air rather than the soil. Like orchids, the Lipstick Plant needs exceptionally well-draining soil and prefers to dry out between waterings.

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From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.