Monday, March 15, 2021

Hoya, Hoya, or, The Pride That Goeth


 I was taken to task, politely but quite firmly, by someone who asked why her Hoya plant wasn't blooming. 

Her post, on Facebook, included a very nice picture of a healthy looking Hoya carnosa.

Now I've had Hoyas, several species and several variations of the main houseplant, H. carnosa, for over 50 years. In fact one of the plants I have now is a distant offspring (are things grown from cuttings 'offspring'?) of a plant that covered the better part of a 20' by 20' brick wall inside the building where I worked. It's only light, other than the artificial office lighting, was a skylight overhead and about 10' away. One evening, after working late, I snuck over to the plant with my scissors and nipped off a small tendril with, I think, 2 or 3 leaves.

After a fairly long time, much coddling, regular talking-to and a certain amount of dark magic, it rooted and put out new growth. It eventually became quite large and after a few years, maybe not 7 like the old wives' tales, but at least 5, it bloomed profusely and did so every year.

So I felt confident that I could help her with her question. I suggested that perhaps it wasn't getting enough sun - it was very dark green, with few of the usual tiny silver splotches that Hoya leaves get - or that perhaps it wasn't old enough, or that perhaps, she had made the mistake which I've seen other people make of cutting off the finished flowering stems. I then went on to say that once it did bloom, she'd love the sweet scent from the flowers.


Somebody immediately leapt in and told me in no uncertain terms that they had a Hoya that lived in a   window, which was firmly curtained, overhung by a giant Spruce tree right outside, and faced due North, which bloomed all the time.


Somebody else promptly refuted my idea that Hoyas needed to reach a certain age before they bloomed. Apparently she regularly roots small pieces and they always bloom the same year

Great. I'm happy for her.

Then a veritable storm broke out about the scent. 'Oh, I can't be in the same room as a blooming Hoya'. 'I always cut the flower stubs off because the scent is over-powering'. And more, many more, of the same.

All of which goes to show that whenever you think you know something about a plant, the plant will quickly make a fool out of you. If you know for a fact that a certain plant needs lots of sun, someone will be growing it under their deck where the light never goes above deep gloom. If you state confidently that such-and-such needs steady moisture, someone will be growing it on a rock with no soil and full sun. Or underwater. Or in zone 1A. Or in an old boot beside the kitchen door where the cook empties the dishwater over it three times a day.

And no, I can't show you a picture of my plants. They aren't blooming.


  1. Wonderful note. As always love your wisdom and humor. My grandkids enjoy telling the story of these fragrant flowers being discovered by Columbus. Apparently as he approached the Americas he grabbed his telescope and could be heard shouting "LAND . . AHOYA".