Hoya Bella - Cactus Club

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Hoya Bella

Plant of the Month > Species G to H

by Kitty Mulac

Hoya Bella flowers Flickr image taken by Atena Wolff

    Hoya bella, from the Latin meaning pretty or handsome, is a beautiful hanging basket plant for containers or indoors. Mine has flowered for me almost constantly since I acquired it in March of this year thereby earning the title of Plant of the Month in my book.

   Hoyas are native to southern Asia, (from India to China), Australia and Polynesia. The genus Hoya was named by Robert Brown, of Brownian motion fame, and named after Thomas Hoy, the head gardener at Sion House, the Duke of Northumberland’s estate. More historical information can be found at these webpages: http://www.succulent-plant.com/families/asclepiadaceae/hoya.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Brown_%28botanist%29

   Hoya bella is a member of the Asclepiadaceae; a plant family characterized by pollinia. Pollinia, gelatinous masses containing the plant’s pollen, are only found in two plant families. The two families are asclepiads and orchids. Other asclepiads include Dischidias, Asclepias (milkweeds), Hoodias and Stapelias.

    Each flower within the flower clusters of Hoya bella has five white petals surrounding a rosy pink corona. The flowers are known as pinch-trap flowers which catch the leg or other body part of the insect, causing it to take the pollinia with it when it leaves the flower. Hoyas are considered scent mimics and some species can smell like honey, root beer, camphor or rotten chicken. Luckily Hoya bella has sweetly fragrant flowers in the evening. Hoya bella has a vining habit, characterized by paired, medium green, succulent leaves which hang gracefully over the edge of its container.

   Hoya bella is a remarkably easy plant to care for. In the summer I hang mine from a tree where it receives filtered sunlight. The rest of the year the plant resides under fluorescent lights. Although I have read that the plant requires high humidity I have not found it to be particularly fussy in this regard. An occasional misting keeps it happy. Water thoroughly, and then allow the plant to dry out slightly.  If the plant is to be grown drier, then increasing the humidity levels is a good idea. Although it is not a heavy feeder an occasional dose of fertilizer will benefit the plant.

   While the plant roots easily from cuttings you should know that taking cuttings will delay flowering. Any stems that have a flat tip will flower if left untouched. Allow any spent blooms to fall off naturally to prevent damaging the growing tip.

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