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What is a Wax Plant?

By Mandi Rogier
Updated May 16, 2024
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The wax plant, also known as Hoya carnosa, is a tropical succulent. This plant is frequently used as a house plant, as its native conditions can be most easily duplicated in an indoor environment. The Hoya carnosa is indigenous to the tropical climates of eastern Asia.

This plant has evergreen oval-shaped leaves that are approximately 2 to 3 inches (five to 7.6 cm) in length. These leaves grow on long woody vines that can be trained to grow on a trellis. Growing a wax plant as a climbing plant is very difficult, however. For this reason, it is most commonly grown in a small pot or hanging basket.

The flowers of the wax plant are very distinct, and serve as one of its more attractive features. The flower is star shaped with five petals. It ranges from pink to white in color. The center of the flower has a star shape as well. This part of the flower is more brightly colored, ranging from brilliant red or orange to pink.

The hoya plant’s flowers give off a very strong, sweet scent when they are in blossom. The flowers also secrete a waxy substance. This gives the blooms themselves a wax-like texture and sheen. This characteristic is what gave the plant the common name “wax plant.” These sweet fragrant flowers will attract butterflies, bees, and even ants.

This plant prefers a relatively warm environment with temperatures around 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 24 degrees Celsius). The environment should have at least an average humidity to prevent the plant from drying out. For best results, the wax plant should be kept moist, though the soil should be allowed to dry between waterings to prevent root rot.

Moderate sunlight is required for a wax plant to thrive. If planted outdoors, it should be in an area with sun to moderate shade. Indoors, they should be provided with approximately four hours of direct sunlight each day.

Regular fertilization is an important part of keeping a beautiful, healthy hoya plant. This plant should be fertilized at least once a month. Twice monthly fertilizations are best. During the winter months, fertilization and watering can be reduced and temperatures can be dropped as low as 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.7 degrees Celsius).

Propagation of this plant takes place through cuttings. A 3-inch (seven cm) section of stem with at least one pair of leaves on it should be adequate. When planted in a rich, moist soil, this cutting will root quickly, creating a new wax plant.

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