Ahoy for hoyas

Once an ob­scure flower, hoyas are mak­ing a come­back for their exquisitel­y per­fect waxy blooms

Better Homes and Gardens (Australia) - - February Contents -

weird and waxy but oh-so won­der­ful, hoyas (Hoya sp.) are a must-have climb­ing plant. Over the years, their pop­u­lar­ity has waxed and waned, but they are well and truly back in the spot­light these days be­cause there’s just so much to love! The most pop­u­lar va­ri­ety is Hoya carnosa, known com­monly as the wax flower, but there are ac­tu­ally more than 100 species and cul­ti­vars – with more still be­ing dis­cov­ered – so you’re ab­so­lutely spoilt for choice! While they’re most loved for their intriguing clus­ters of white, yel­low, pink or deep pur­ple flow­ers, the fo­liage is a fea­ture, too. Plus, their di­verse trail­ing or climb­ing forms make them ideal can­di­dates for pots and hang­ing bas­kets – per­fect for grow­ing on bal­conies or even in­doors in cool cli­mates. How­ever you choose to grow them, just al­low your­self to fall un­der the spell of hoyas.

HOW DO I GROW THEM? CLI­MATE

Hoyas grow best in warm, frost­free cli­mates. In cooler ar­eas, con­sider grow­ing them in pots and po­si­tion­ing them in a warm pro­tected spot, such as an in­door sunroom or green­house.

AS­PECT

In the gar­den, plant in dap­pled shade, en­sur­ing they’re pro­tected from the heat of the af­ter­noon sun – this can cause the fleshy leaves to bleach or burn and re­sult in poor flow­er­ing. If grow­ing in pots or hang­ing bas­kets, po­si­tion in bright, fil­tered light – hoyas won’t flower un­less they re­ceive suf­fi­cient sun­light.

SOIL

Hoyas pre­fer moist, well-drain­ing soils. If drainage is an is­sue, cre­ate a mound, us­ing a qual­ity gar­den mix. If plant­ing in pots or hang­ing bas­kets, use a cac­tus pot­ting mix and add a lit­tle ex­tra per­lite.

WATER

Water reg­u­larly through­out the grow­ing sea­son, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing hot or dry weather. A good in­di­ca­tor of whether you need to water is to check the soil. Sim­ply in­sert your in­dex fin­ger to the first knuckle – if it’s near dry, give it a good drink, but if it’s moist, leave wa­ter­ing for a cou­ple of days. Dur­ing win­ter, al­low the soil to dry out be­tween

wa­ter­ings. Also, mist plants oc­ca­sion­ally, or al­low pot plants to stand on a tray of moist­ened gravel, to in­crease hu­mid­ity.

FER­TILISER

Hoyas aren’t too de­mand­ing when it comes to food. Feed pe­ri­od­i­cally through­out the warmer months with a weak so­lu­tion of a sol­u­ble fer­tiliser, such as Yates Thrive All Pur­pose Liq­uid Plant Food or Sea­sol Pow­er­feed Plant Food. Al­ter­na­tively, if you’re a set-and-for­get type of gar­dener, feed once a year with a con­trolled-re­lease fer­tiliser in spring.

PESTS

Sap suck­ers such as aphids, mealy bugs and mites love feed­ing on the suc­cu­lent fo­liage and stems of hoyas. Spray them with a suit­able prod­uct, such as eco-neem, and reg­u­larly check to pre­vent any nasty sur­prises.

MAIN­TE­NANCE

Af­ter flow­er­ing has fin­ished, don’t cut the plants back. Un­like most plants, hoyas can flower from the same flower clus­ter or ‘um­bel’ many times, so it’s best to leave them alone as much as pos­si­ble. How­ever, you can prune back stems to help keep the plant un­der con­trol, if needed.

The flow­ers are so per­fect, spun-sugar they look like cake dec­o­ra­tions!

REPOTTING

One of the ben­e­fits of hoyas is they don’t need to be re­pot­ted of­ten. Leave them alone un­til the roots are con­gested, and then move up one pot size (roughly ev­ery 2-3 years is ad­e­quate). Don’t tease or cut back roots when repotting, just re­move care­fully from the ex­ist­ing pot.

GROW­ING TIPS

• Hoyas can be left to hang but, to cre­ate in­ter­est, use a small trel­lis or plas­tic hoop and al­low the vine to twine its way through the sup­port.

• If the leaves are turn­ing yel­low (and it’s not due to sun ex­po­sure), it’s likely due to a nu­tri­ent de­fi­ciency.

To fix, spray leaves with a weakly di­luted fer­tiliser.

• You can prop­a­gate them by tak­ing semi-ripe cut­tings in sum­mer and root­ing them in water or qual­ity pot­ting mix.

Hoya ‘Bella’ bears white star blooms, with small pink cen­tres. A minia­ture form, it’s great for hang­ing bas­kets.

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