Porcelain flower

Plants in Dining Nook: Hoya, Swedish Ivy, small Tradescantia, and Amaryllis

Hello Hoya!

More than 30 years ago, I was given a Hoya plant. Hoya carnosa is the botanical name; it’s also known as porcelain flower or wax plant. These names were likely suggested by the flowers. They do look as though made from porcelain, and have a waxy appearance.

My plants (I have two, both clones of the original) are variegated. Their leaves are mainly green, but with white margins or streaks. An occasional leaf is pure white, and new ones often have pink shadings as well. Until recently, I had never seen a bloom. I assumed something about the situations I gave the plants was not conducive to producing blooms, and simply admired their leaves.

To be honest, the hoyas are awkward plants. They produce incredibly long stems which should have something to twine around. Or they ought to be grown as hanging plants. One of mine sits on a windowsill with its stems taped to the window frame with green painter’s tape. The other one is on top of a filing cabinet. One stem is tied to a bamboo stake, the other is attached to the top of a window frame with (you guessed it) more painter’s tape.

Several weeks ago, I noticed an odd thing on one of the stems. It looked alarmingly like a spider, but on closer inspection turned out to be a cluster of flower buds. Great rejoicing followed on my part, plus daily inspections and more tape applied, to make sure the bud-bearing stem was well supported.

Hoya flower cluster, unopened
This was a couple of weeks after I first noticed the buds. They had grown considerably. Notice what might be another bud near the lowest piece of tape.
Hoya flower cluster, unopened
You can see why it’s called wax plant.

Eventually, the flowers opened, all at once.

Hoya flower cluster

You can see why it’s called porcelain flower. They stayed in good shape for two or three weeks, then suddenly turned brown and dried up, again all at once. Hoyas are said to have a strong scent, and indeed another plant (not variegated) owned by the person who gave me mine had a spicy scent. I couldn’t detect any smell from my plant’s flowers, however, except maybe a faint chocolate aroma. (I was still recovering from covid at the time, though.)

I’ve noticed two tiny proto-buds on this plant. I tell myself they’re getting bigger, so maybe there will be more blooms from this hitherto reluctant bloomer.