Hoya plants — also called wax flowers or porcelain flowers — are popular for their beautiful blooms and decorative foliage. Here we introduce you to some types of wax plants and give you our best tips on growing and caring for them.
Hoya: flower, characteristics and origin
Hoya, also known as wax flower or porcelain flower, is a genus belonging to the subfamily Asclepiadoideae in the family Apocynaceae. Hoya plants are widespread in nature from Asia to Oceania. The evergreen houseplants grow partly in the ground and partly epiphytic (sitting on other plants). However, wax flowers are not parasites, but root in old, already rotten bark. The plants form aerial roots, have a very low nutrient requirement and are good water reservoirs. They prefer high humidity, otherwise they would dry out quickly.
Hoya is a herbaceous plant that is only slightly woody and is often grown on arches because of its flexibility. The plant grows vigorously and its shoots can grow several meters long. Some species grow like vines, others more like shrubs. Due to their overhanging growth, they are ideal for hanging baskets. Some species have a climbing growth with adventitious roots (plant roots are formed from any non-root tissue).
Hoya plants bloom between spring and fall. Many individual flowers of about 1.5 cm in size form large clusters of flowers. The individual flowers are star-shaped and colored pale pink, white, purple or pale yellow, depending on the species and variety. The petals have a dual structure: on the outside are five fused petals, and on the inside is another row of five fused, smaller petals. The second row of petals is often a different color than the outer ones. In the middle are the sexual organs of the flowers. The flowers of most species emit a sweet fragrance but secrete nectar and have a waxy sheen. With their distinctive flower structure, Hoyas belong to the group of pinch-trap flowers, which have an unusual pollination system. The waxy flowers use pollinia (sticky masses of pollen) to trap flower-visiting insects. When the insects free themselves from the flowers, they often pull the pollinia with them and carry them to the next flower.
The leaves are about 5 to 8 cm long, slightly oval and tapering to a point. They are dark green, succulent (thickened to hold water), and usually have a waxy, glossy surface.
The most beautiful Hoya types
The Hoya genus consists of more than 300 species of porcelain flowers. Here is a brief overview of the most popular types:
Hoya carnosa is very easy to care for and is probably one of the most widespread types of wax flowers. It shows fast, climbing growth and its leaves are usually dark green and shiny. But there are also varieties with white variegated and twisted or wavy leaves. The flowers of this hoya plant have porcelain white or pink petals with a dark red center.