How to grow and care for Wax Plant Indoors

Houseplant, Wax Plant

Botanical name: Hoya carnosa
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae

Wax Plant also called Porcelainflower is an easy to grow, climbing houseplant which bears fleshy leaves and clusters of waxy, fragrant, star-shaped flowers. Its twining stems can reach 15 ft or more making it an excellent plant for a hanging basket or a trellis. The leaves are heart-shaped and fleshy with a glossy surface. Growing Wax Plant is easy if the don'ts are observed. Some of these are don't disturb the plant once the buds appear as change in light intensity may cause them to drop. Don't remove the dead flowers as new flowerbuds will form in the spurs. Don't repot until it is unavoidable as being root-bound encourages flowering. Wax Plant benefits from loose potting medium that allows some air to get to the roots. Studies carried out at the University of Georgia have shown that Wax Plant is good at getting rid of pollutants from indoor air. Wax Plant is native to Eastern Asia and Australia where it grows climbing on trees in the humid subtropical forests. Many cultivars of Wax Plant have been developed which vary in foliage form or flower color. These include variegata with cream-edged leaves. Exotica with yellow-centered leaves. Krimson Princess with red-colored young foliage among many others.

How to Grow Wax Plant (Hoya carnosa)

Light

Wax Plant prefers bright light with some direct sunlight. It can adapt to lower light levels but will not bloom if the light is not enough. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants

Water

Keep the soil moist at all times for Wax Plant and allow the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold period. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to Root-rot Disease. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth between 16-260C during the growing season is ideal for Wax Plant. Protect it from cold and hot draughts. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Average room humidity is ideal for Wax Plant. Mist the leaves regularly or set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity if the air is too dry. Do not mist if the plant is in flower to avoid wetting the flowers.

Feeding

Feed Wax Plant with a potassium-rich water-soluble fertilizer every 4 weeks during the growing season. Withhold feeding in the dormancy stage. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Wax Plant at the beginning of the growing season only when the plant is pot-bound. Wax Plant blooms best when slightly pot-bound. Do not repot a plant that is in the flower bud formation stage as it can drop the buds. Use a pot 1 size larger and one that has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging as it can lead to Root-rot Disease. The soil should be rich in organic matter and free-draining.

Pruning

Pruning Wax Plant is easy. Remove dead leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. Don't remove the dead flower stalks as more flowers will form from the spurs. After flowering, cut back the stems to rejuvenate growth and to prevent the plant from becoming unruly. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Wax Plant (Hoya carnosa)

Wax Plant can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem cuttings or by air layering.

Propagating Wax Plant from stem cuttings
Take a 4-5 stem-tip cuttings from a healthy Wax Plant plant. Ensure each cutting bears at least 1 set of leaves. Insert the cuttings in moist free-draining soil. Place the set up in a warm well-lit spot. Maintain the soil moist through out until the new plants are well established.

Propagating Wax Plant by air layering
Make a cut (notch) on the stem of a healthy Wax Plant. Coat the notch with a rooting hormone and surround the area with damp moss. Cover the area with a polythene film or clear plastic wrap and maintain moist until roots develop. After the roots have formed sever the stem just below the covered part, remove the polythene and carefully pot the rooted cutting. Place in a cool place and maintain the soil moist until the plant is well established.

Common Problems in Growing Wax Plant (Hoya carnosa)

  • Browning of leaves
  • One cause of brown leaves in Wax Plant is; incorrect watering either underwatering or overwatering; maintain the soil consistently moist but not soggy and never allow the soil ball to dry out completely. Another cause of brown leaves in Wax Plant is too high temperature; protect Wax Plant from hot draughts to maintain average room temperature.

  • Buds drop
  • Bud drop may occur in Wax Plant due a number of reasons. One is incorrect watering, either overwatering or underwatering; maintain the soil consistently moist but never soggy and never allow the soil ball to dry out completely. Number two is changes in light; do not move Wax Plant when in flower. Number three is sudden change in temperature; protect Wax Plant from draughts. Number four is due to the air being too dry. To raise the humidity, mist the leaves more frequently or set the pot on a wet pebble tray.

  • No blooms
  • If Wax Plant receives too little light it will not bloom; Jasmine prefers bright light with some direct sunlight.

  • Pests
  • The common pests in Wax Plant are Mealy Bugs, Fungus Gnats, and Spider Mites.

  • Diseases
  • Most diseases for Wax Plant plants are related to poor cultural practices. The common disease in Wax Plant are Root-rot Spot due to waterlogging of the soil. Maintain the soil moist but not soggy.

Toxicity

Wax Plant (Hoya carnosa) plants produce a milky white sap which contains latex. The latex is considered toxic to humans and pets. Always wear gloves when handling. Keep the plant from the reach of children and pets.

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