Apartment plants

Wax flower - Hoya carnosa

Meaty Hoya

The genus Hoya includes hundreds of species and cultivars, all originating in southern Asia, Australia and Polynesia; the species Hoya carnosa is the most easily found in European nurseries, as a type species or as a hybrid or cultivar. It is a fairly vigorous houseplant, which in summer can be grown without problems on the terrace; it has a climbing or creeping habit, and can reach even a few meters in length, so let's provide it with a trellis to cling to, or with other suitable support. It produces long fickle, flexible, herbaceous stems, on which large oval, leathery, glossy, dark green leaves develop. From spring to late summer it produces large umbrella-shaped, pendulous inflorescences, made up of small waxy flowers, star-shaped, white with a red or pink center.
There are hundreds of species of hoya, so there are hundreds of different flowers, from tiny ones up to those that have a few centimeters in diameter; some inflorescences are completely spherical, some species produce single flowers. What all flowers have in common hoya It is the intense scent they give off.
The inflorescences are produced on small peduncles, which develop at the leaf axil; the peduncle, once withered the first inflorescence, develops further to produce a new inflorescence, as happens for example for the phalaenopsis; for this reason it is important to avoid removing the peduncles when removing the withered flowers.

How to grow it

This is not a plant that is difficult to cultivate, the fundamental problem is that the neglected plant, or in sub-optimal cultivation conditions, does not produce any flowers, thus depriving us of most of its qualities. When we buy a small plant of hoya carnosa in the nursery, usually it's planted in a tiny container, this is because these plants don't seem to like excessively large vases; therefore remember to repot it every 2-3 years, but avoiding replacing the container with an excessively large one. We can also grow it in the garden, but only if we live in an area with particularly mild winters, and in any case in a sheltered place, since temperatures below 8-10 ° C can damage the plant. We use for ours hoya carnosa a good rich and loose soil mixed with a little pumice stone to improve drainage. Let's place it in a very well bright place, away from direct sunlight, but where the plant can enjoy a good amount of filtered sunlight for at least a few hours every day. From March to September we water regularly, checking with our fingers that the soil has dried before watering it further; in this period we add some fertilizer for flowering plants to the water of the watering, every 12-15 days. In the cold months we thin out the waterings, given that the plant, in vegetative rest, can easily tolerate drought.

Family, genus, species Apocynaceae, gen. Hoya, from 200 to 300 species
Area of ​​origin Asia and Oceania, tropical and subtropical climate
Type of plant Climbing or creeping shrubs, with persistent or deciduous leaves
Size at maturity Up to 10 meters; about 3 m in cultivation
Culture Moderately easy
Exposure Very bright, no direct sun
Substrate Light and draining
irrigations Abundant, but spread over time. Never stagnate
Soil humidity Slightly damp
Environmental humidity high
soil pH subacido
Growth fast
Rusticitа low
Minimum temperature 8-10 ° C
Ideal temperature 18-22 ° C
Maximum temperature 25 ° C
Propagation Branch cutting, air layering
use Vase in a greenhouse or apartment; full ground in the South

We propagate our hoya

Most species and varieties of wax flowers they root without problems, so we can take stem or leaf cuttings, possibly in late spring or early summer. There are some succulent varieties, whose leaf cuttings develop quickly and without major problems. Generally the wax flower, produced by cuttings takes a few years before flowering.
If our plant never flowers it is likely to be grown in an excessively dark and dry area of ​​the house, let's try to move it to a brighter place and to increase the environmental humidity, often vaporizing the foliage.
The most cuttings practiced on this species are the apical cuttings that are realized by cutting from the mature stems of the branches of 10-15 centimeters. After cutting the apical portion we prepare a mixture of peat and sand in which we will put the portion of branch taken to root. In order for the rooting plant to maintain temperatures around 20 ° C and the mix of sand and peat must be kept moist.
Another way to multiply the hoya is the offshoot which consists of burying a portion of the branch and making it emit roots after burial. After having buried the portion of branch in fact we will have to wait for it to root and after a while we will cut the branch before its buried part to make the offshoot definitively separate from the mother plant.

Wax flower climate

The hoya carnosa, in our country, is cultivated mainly in pots, as a houseplant or as a greenhouse; in the extreme south it is however possible to try to insert the plant in full ground or keep it outside even in the coldest months. In this case, let us reserve a well exposed position, perhaps protected by a wall to the south.
Keep in mind that the most widespread species begin to suffer with temperatures below 10 ° C. Vegetative growth and flowering (also influenced by the amount of light) are obtained with temperatures between 18 and 22 ° C, which are ideal ones. Above, especially with low humidity, the plant begins to dehydrate.


The wax flower wants very bright exposures, but they do not tolerate the direct sun, especially if very strong. At home it is good to place them near a window to the south or west. Outdoors they will like, especially in the middle of the day, a light shadow created by deciduous trees or pergolas.

Flowering March-November
repotting February to May
Cutting-offshoot June July
Pruning October-November
Winter retreat October to March

Soil and substrate

The "wax flower" needs an extremely light substrate and is capable of perfectly draining the water: this is essential to avoid the onset of root rot. The ideal is to prepare ourselves the compost by mixing vegetable fibers (such as coconut fibers, common in substrates for orchids), peat and coarse sand in equal parts. A few handfuls of perlite can also help to lighten further. Always remember to prepare a thick draining layer on the bottom of the container.

Irrigation and environmental humidity

The wax flower is characterized by the ability to store liquids in the leaves: it is therefore able to withstand the most dry soils. The greatest danger, on the other hand, is excessive irrigation, which frequently causes radical asphyxia and generalized decay.
We distribute water only when the substrate is dry at least 3 cm deep, during the vegetative period. From October to March we almost completely stop feeding. From March to September it is equally important to always keep the ambient humidity high through foliar vaporisations (avoiding to wet the flowers, which are easily ruined) or by arranging near the plant some pots filled with water. For all uses the use of rainwater or demineralised water is strongly recommended.

Hoya fertilization and pruning

The supply of nutrients is essential to stimulate the production of buds. The administration of a liquid fertilizer with a high potassium content every two weeks is recommended for the entire growing period.
Pruning and cleaning
Over time these creepers can take on an unpleasant appearance due to the stripping of the lower part: therefore it is good in these cases to intervene, in October, by shortening all the branches from 1/3 to 2/3, cutting over a pair of leaves. We also eliminate, at the base, the dead or too old branches.
In daily practice, however, the removal of withered flowers and their peduncles is strongly discouraged: in fact, blooms are often repeated at the same point, year after year.
Instead, it is useful to dedicate oneself, especially in spring and autumn, to the topping: in this way we will favor the branching and obtain a more dense, compact and flowery specimen.

Pests and diseases

The most common parasites are red spider mite and cochineal.
The first occurs (initially with bleaching on the leaves and then fine cobwebs) in the case of sunny exposures in conjunction with low environmental humidity. We often vaporize the plant and, in the most serious cases, we resort to specific acaricides.
Mealy bugs (cotonose or scudetto) stick mainly to stems and leaf veins. In case of mild attacks it is possible to remove the insects manually with cotton buds and alcohol. Massive infestations must be fought with mineral oils eventually added with a systemic insecticide (especially for the cochineal scudetto).


Some leaf manifestations can be caused by cultivation conditions.
An environment that is too dry can lead first to yellowing and then to fall.
However, yellow leaves may also be related to excessive watering (and / or an unsuitable substrate).
Direct light causes dark burns, especially in summer.

Wax flower - Hoya carnosa: SPECIES AND VARIETY

The hoya genus includes from 200 to 300 climbing or decombant species.
Here are the most widespread in cultivation:
- Hoya lanceolata sub. beautiful
It has beautiful white flowers (very fragrant) with a pink-violet center, gathered in umbrellas of about 10 cm in diameter. The leaves are small, greyish-green, opaque and heart-shaped. It is native to India. Very suitable for growing in pots due to its small size (up to 1 meter).
- Meaty Hoya among the most widespread; it has white or pale pink flowers with a red center. The buds are produced throughout the growing season. The leaves are lanceolate, shiny, dark green. However, on the market there are also leaves with variegated cream and pink. It can reach 2 meters in height, very fast growing. Originally from China and Japan.
- Hoya imperialis it bears very large inflorescences which, depending on the cultivar, can be pink, red or white, very fragrant. The leaves are medium green, thick and elongated. It has a tendency to climb. It comes from the island of Borneo.
- Hoya multiflora abundant and almost continuous flowering. The flowers are white, slightly perfumed. The leaves are dark green, long and tapered. It has a shrubby to a climber habit, often not requiring guardians.
- Hoya odorata it has creamy white flowers whose intense fragrance is very similar to that of lily of the valley. However, flowering is rather short, since it runs from September to November. The leaves are dark green, very consistent; the habit is climbing, very similar to that of the lianas, and is extremely vigorous. In pot it needs resistant braces. Originally from the Philippines.
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