There are plants that can relax you in an instant and then there are those that knock your socks off (for better or worse, you be the judge). Just think of calming lavender and the unwelcoming grin of the Venus flytrap.
But there is one plant that can counter the flytrap effect with its lips. You heard that right – lips.
The girlfriend kiss flower aka hooker’s lips (I’m not lying, that’s its common name) produces bracts that resemble women’s lips.
Here is some more info about this unique plant!
Let’s get started!
Palicourea is a genus of flowering plants that numbers 694 species. These plants were formerly a part of the Psychotria genus that contains more than 2,000 species, but are now a subgenus of it.
Plants belonging to the Palicourea genus are small trees and shrubs, just like our hot lips plant.
Additionally, plants from the Psychotria genus contain hallucinogenic alkaloids, such as N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), although this substance has not yet been isolated in the Palicourea genus so we can’t say for sure whether these plants have psychedelic effects. (1)
Hallucinogenic or not, the hot lips plant has a lot to offer and may prove a great shrub to own.
Kissing lips aren’t in fact flowers of this plant. They are bracts that keep their shape only for a short time before they open and release inconspicuous white flowers.
But these lips aren’t there for their unique looks. They attract hummingbirds and butterflies – their main pollinators.
After pollination, plants produce oval berries that become blue or black when they mature.
This exotic plant is usually found in collectors’ homes because it requires tropical conditions to thrive – even indoors.
If you don’t live in zones 10-11 and want to try growing hot lips as a houseplant, you should make a lot of accommodations.
The best place for it would be a heated greenhouse since it is warm and humid enough. Just make sure the framework is translucent so that this plant can get plenty of sunlight.
The humidity should be at least 60% and temperatures around 70°F with a lot of indirect light.
You should find a container large enough to accommodate the plant’s root system and plant it in a fertile soil with excellent drainage. Most commercially available soils don’t fit the bill, but you can amend them with worm castings and pumice if needed.
Water your girlfriend kiss flower whenever the top part of the potting mix is dry, and it should have everything it needs for proper growth.
1. Berger, A., Valant-Vetschera, K., Schinnerl, J., & Brecker, L. (2022). Alkaloid Diversification in the Genus Palicourea (Rubiaceae: Palicoureeae) Viewed from a (Retro-)Biogenetic Perspective. Phytochemistry Reviews.