The wax plant (Hoya carnosa) is an easy-to-grow flowering climber. Its vigorous twining stems can reach 15 ft or more, and they must be trained on wires, trellis work or on a moss stick. New stems are bare – the leaves which later appear are fleshy and green, or green-and-cream on the variegated wax plant. Hoya yields fragrant flowers that will keep your home smelling fresh without the aid of scented soy candles.
The fragrant flower-heads appear between late spring and early fall. The miniature wax plant (Hoya bella) needs more heat and humidity but less light – it is best planted in a hanging basket.
There are several ‘do nots’ for growing Hoyas – do not disturb the plant once buds appear, do not remove the dead flowers and do not repot until it is unavoidable.
Types of Hoyas
The Hoyas are climbers or trailers with fleshy leaves and clusters of waxy, star-shaped flowers which appear from May to September. Hoya carnosa is the basic species. Several varieties are available, including H. variegata (cream-edged leaves), H. kerii (heart-shaped leaves), H. exotica (yellow-centred leaves) and Krimson Princess (red-colored young foliage). Hoya australis is quite similar, but its leaves are almost round. Hoya bella is a trailer and is much more difficult to grow under room conditions than Hoya carnosa. Hoya multiflora is another species which is commercially available – pale yellow flowers are its claim to fame.
Secrets of success
Temperature: Average warmth. Keep cool (50°F to 55°F) in winter.
Light: Bright light – some direct sun is beneficial.
Water: Water liberally from spring to fall. Water sparingly in winter.
Air humidity: Mist leaves regularly, but not when plant is in bloom.
Propagation: Take stem cuttings, using mature shoots, in spring.
Repotting: Repot, if necessary, in spring.