What is a Waxflower?

Deneatra Harmon

A waxflower, also known as a waxplant, hoya or waxvine, commonly appears as a cascading or climbing evergreen vine, herb or shrub. With proper planting and care, these plants can grow as high or as long as 20 feet (6.1 m), depending on how the plant is structured. The waxflower comes from the Asclepiadaceae family of plants. In addition to the waxflower, this group includes milkweeds and other flowers such as the California milkweed, the Persian carpet flower and the swallowwort. Waxflowers originated in Australia and China.

Many types of Asclepiadoideae plants are suitable for container gardening.
Many types of Asclepiadoideae plants are suitable for container gardening.

Gardeners might recognize the perennial waxflower by its leathery, or waxy, thick leaves and its clusters of white, pink, purple or red flowers that resemble porcelain eggs or star shapes. Another characteristic that makes this plant stand out is its sweet, citrus fragrance. Grown indoors as houseplants or outdoors, waxflower vines fit best in potting containers as well as hanging baskets. Flower growers can plant waxflowers in containers and baskets to hang down walls for an aesthetic appeal. Some varieties of waxflowers include the hoya carnosa, or waxplant; hoya multiflora, or a waxplant with multiple flowers; and hoya lanceolata, or a waxplant with several narrow leaves.

Fertilization and planting requirements for the waxflower depend on whether there are seedlings or a young plant involved. To ensure optimal growth, waxflowers should be planted in an outdoor garden or in an indoor room or greenhouse that receives partial to full sunlight year-round. Waxflowers take some time to bloom, so it is best to plant the perennial seeds or roots while temperatures remain at 35 degrees Fahrenheit (1.67 degrees Celsius) or higher. One can expect the colorful petals of waxflowers to appear during the spring and summer seasons, then go dormant during the winter.

When a gardener selects a fertilizer to use when planting waxflowers, one of the safest choices includes a liquid fertilizer that is rich in phosphorous and nitrogen. These chemicals help to promote healthy, green root development, and they boost leaf and flower growth. As with most perennials, this plant requires peat moss, sphagnum moss or compost. Fertilizer and compost applications also vary, depending on package instructions.

Spacing for planting helps to avoid overcrowding in the location of the waxflower. Most gardeners suggest creating a space of between 18 to 24 inches between each waxplant to allow for abundant growth. To achieve the hanging or cascading look of hoya bloom clusters and evergreen vines, the waxflower should be placed in a container as opposed to planting it in the ground as a garden flower.

Waxflower evergreens need only medium amounts of water at least once a week to maintain soil moisture, with some drying in between waterings. Waxflower plants thrive best in well-drained soil; puddles cause root damage and plant rot. Mealybugs and nematodes sometimes might invade this plant, but they can be eliminated quickly with insecticidal soap.

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