September 18, 2008

Garden Inspiration: Hoya carnosa (Wax Plant)

I’m going out of my gardening zone today to travel across the Web to the West Coast. Today’s inspiration is grown primarily as an indoor plant.

We’ll take a peek at a gorgeous plant grown by my dear friend Betsy. Not only is Betsy extremely talented with textile art , but she is also an avid gardener and photographer.

Betsy gardens outside and also grows indoor plants, among them the Hoya carnosa (also called wax plant or shooting star). Betsy says “The blossom is hard and waxy and gives off a powerfully sweet intense smell. I had to stop sewing one night when I had to close the windows because it was cold out and the fragrance just kept getting stronger and stronger.”

In some climates, the Hoya can be grown outdoors (zones 9b-11) in a hanging basket or potted with stakes. The Hoya is actually a tropical vine that likes indirect, bright light. It can reach a height of 15 feet! I did a little research and read about folks inheriting Hoya from their mothers or grandmothers. Some have been growing Hoya for over 40 years! This is obviously an incredible pass-along plant. Propagation of Hoya is by stem or leaf bud cuttings, and air layering. Hoya must be kept out of bright sunlight. There are many colors and I found some YouTube videos showing the time lapse progression to bloom.

Another interesting fact is that Hoya belongs to the milkweed (asclepiadaceae) family. The umbellate clusters of blooms do resemble the more common asclepias that I grow as hosts for Monarch butterflies. There are over 200 different species and some cultivars. Most commonly known is this Hoya carnosa, but collectors have many other species.

Now that we’re all tempted by this sensational Hoya, I did some Web surfing and found very few sources for purchasing these plants online. I suppose this a case of depends on who you know!

All company names or products mentioned are registered trademarks/copyrights owned by those respective companies.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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