Hoya bella

Of the 100-200 species of wax flowers native to Asia and Australia only two, H. carnosa and H. bella, are grown indoors. H. bella is smaller than H. carnosa and so does not need such frequent pruning. It is very well suited to a hanging container. The opposite leaves, only 25-30 mm long and 15-30 mm wide, are pointed-ovate and leathery. The sweetly scented flowers are 5-merous with a reddish corona.

It requires a light position but it should be sheltered from too much sun, which turns the leaves yellow. The growing medium must be nourishing and free-draining such as loam and peat compost with an addition of sand. It does well at normal room temperature; in winter the best temperature is about 18°C (64° F). Water liberally during the growing period, from spring to autumn. In winter, water moderately; too much moisture causes the roots to rot. Propagate by stem cuttings, which need have no more than one pair of leaves. They will rapidly form roots at a temperature of about 20°-25°C (68°-77°F). Another reliable method is to graft this species on to H. carnosa root-stock in spring; the plants are then stronger and flower more profusely.

Hoya longifolia

This species , only rarely grown as a house plant, comes from the Himalayan foothills where it twines up trees in the forest. Like all other wax flowers, it has leathery, pointed leaves that are glossy in youth. It is readily identified by the flowers which open only slightly. It is smaller than the commonly cultivated H. carnosa and so is a particularly suitable plant for small houses and flats.

Conditions for growing are the same as for H. bella . Ventilate the room regularly; wax flowers require plenty of fresh air. As they are lianas, growing them on an epiphyte stump is very successful; it comes closest to the way they grow in their natural habitat.

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