HOW TO GROW HOYA (wax plants)

5-K) deg C/41-50 deg F. see text

These are valuable houseplants, having a number of notable features. They are easy to grow and tolerate quite low temperatures. They have attractive evergreen foliage and very pretty flowers over a long period, which usually have a pronounced scent. These plants are suitable for a shaded place. H. bell a has a rather shrubby habit, but with pendulous stems, and rarely exceeds 30cm (1 ft) in height. It is best displayed on a pedestal or in a hanging-basket. so that the branches and flowers dangle down. The leaves are spear-shaped. rather fleshy and glossy, and in some forms spotted with silvery markings. The waxy-textured flowers are starry, white and borne in clusters. The centres of the flowers are contrastingly coloured in shades of red or purple. Blooming usually continues sporadically from spring to autumn. The formation and texture of the flowers are suggested by the common names -shower of stars and miniature wax flower. The latter has been applied to distinguish it from the other popular species H. caruosa, usually called wax plant or porcelain flower. This is quite different in being a climber that can. If allowed, exceed 4.5m (15ft). However, it is easy to restrict growth by keeping the plant well cut back and the roots confined to small pots.

The leaves and flowers are similar to H. bella, but the florets and clusters are larger. There are also two attractive forms with variegated foliage. In one. the leaf is margined pinkish-cream, and in the other the leaf is yellowish to cream, with a green margin. Both make splendid foliage plants apart from the bonus of dainty flowers. /-/. bella is of Indian origin and prefers a winter minimum of 10 deg C (50 deg F), or a few degrees higher. H. canwsa, from Queensland. is almost hardy and will survive temperatures down to freezing If kept slightly dry during winter. It is a useful plant for cool conservatories, porches or rooms, and if there is height and space it is best allowed to grow as tall as possible. It is then seen in its full beauty and is exceptionally lovely if it can be trained into the roof of a garden room or conservatory. where the flower clusters can

be viewed and admired from below. In a room it can be trained up canes or sometimes around a wire loop. The plants need about two years of growing before they flower and are strange in that they form very long stems which remain quite bare for a time before the leaves form.

The flower colour in H. carnosa can vary slightly from white to rose-pink, the darker colour usually being seen in the variegated forms. The scent intensity also seems to vary and the variegated forms tend to have a rather less pronounced fragrance. During summer. water can be given freely and the foliage should be sprayed with water from time to time to create a buoyant atmosphere. In winter, plants in cold places should be

watered sparingly. When cold, leaves may curl or turn yellow in winter, but growth usually begins again with the return of warmer conditions. If possible. keep pruning to the minimum, but when necessary this can be done in spring. Propagation is easy from cuttings taken in summer. Pest and disease troubles are extremely rare, but too much water soon causes leaf yellowing.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.