Hoya carnosa


Asclepias carnosa
Cynanchum carnosum
Schollia carnosa


Hoya carnosa is native to Eastern Asia, Australia and the Pacific Ocean. It is a semi-epiphitic plant: this means that it grows on other trees or on rocks, with its roots off the ground. In its natural habitat, it hangs high on the trees. Unlike epiphytic plants by definition, hoya carnosa is partially parasitic: it takes some of the water and nutrients from the moist air of its natural habitat and some from the tree on which it clings. Its habitat are are rainforests at tropical and subtropical latitudes.


Hoya carnosa, the so-called “wax plant”, is a perennial, epiphytic, climbing plant, very popular as a houseplant for its glossy leaves and its beautiful white and purple flowers, grouped in compact, umbrella-shaped heads that makes it very decorative. This plant is also grown as a Kokedama. The Kokedama is a peculiar Japanese tecnique of growing plants in a “ball” of soil, covered in moss. It’s often used for climbing plants: the ball is hung usually on the ceiling to make the plant drop down and obtain a pretty decorative effect. In addiction to its decorative appearance, another interesting deature of this plant lies in its metabolism: it is in fact a CAM plant, meaning that it has the photosynthesis mechanism called “Crassulacean Acid Metabolism”. The CAM photosynthesis is a carbon fixation pathway that evolved in some plants as an adaptation to arid conditions that allows a plant to photosynthesize during the day, but only exchange gases at night, to minimize water losses through evapotranspiration.
Hoya carnosa is a succulent, climbing plant up to 6 meters tall. It has ovate leaves, slightly cordate (cordate, in botany, means “heart-shaped”), thick and fleshy and equipped with a glossy surface that earned Hoya carnosa the popular name “wax plant”. The inflorescences, formed in early summer, are borne in the so-called spurs, which are kinds of odd petioles ending up in a woody, rough, brown cylindric structure. Every summer, new flowers are produced from the same spurs.


Hoya carnosa is not difficult to cultivate: here below are our tips.

Place it in a bright spot, so that it can receive direct sunlight many hours a day, but not too much to avoid sun burns. The plant should erceive direct sunlight in early morning and late afternoon, avoiding the central hours.
The ideal temperature is between 10 ° C and 27 °. Hoya carnosa, however, tolerates heat, even temperatures of 34-35 ° C. It doesn’t like cold: they can tolerate freezing tempratures (0ºC) only if thy stay completely dry and protected from wind and Winter rains. It is therefore advisable to place it indoors in winter or to shelter it with special towels.
Its root system is very delicate: it rots the soil stays wet for too long, but also it dries if the soil is completely dry. Pay attention to the the watering according to the season so as to have a slightly moist soil substrate all the time. Spray the leaves in summer to maintain a sufficiently humid environment.
The ideal soil is, at the same time, rich in plant debris and well drained: for example, a mix of peat and sand.
Fertilize only in spring and summer once every 3 to 4 weeks.
Only repot when strictly necessary. Roots are in fact delicate and could be damaged.


Hoya carnosa can be propagated by cuttings and seeds. For cuttings, it is advisable to cut a sprig, detach its lower leaves, put it into a mix of peat and sand at a temperature of about 24° C, maintaining it moist all the time until it puts roots.


The name of these plants is a hymn to friendship: the botanist Robert Brown, who classified them during the eighteenth century, called Hoya in honor of his friend Thomas Hoy, who was a botany lover.

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