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Publication #FPS-257

Hoya carnosa Wax Plant, Wax Flower1

Edward F. Gilman2


This slow-growing, woody, evergreen vine has thick, fleshy, two to four-inch-long, green or variegated leaves, and produces in spring and summer large, round, hanging clusters of creamy white to light pink, 0.5-inch, fragrant flowers, each with a perfect five-pointed pink star in the center (Fig. 1). Bloom fragrance is subtle and you must come close to the plant to enjoy it but it is well worth the effort. These long-lasting, showy blooms emerge on old flower spurs, which should never be pruned off. Because wax plant is especially sensitive to nematodes, plants are often grown in containers where the soil can be carefully controlled. Wax plant is very susceptible to temperatures below 40°F and should be used in sheltered locations.

Figure 1. 

Wax plant.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Hoya carnosa
Pronunciation: HOY-yuh kar-NOE-suh
Common name(s): wax plant, wax flower
Family: Asclepiadaceae
Plant type: vine
USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: hanging basket; suitable for growing indoors; cascading down a wall
Availablity: grown in small quantities by a small number of nurseries
Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: depends upon supporting structure
Spread: depends upon supporting structure
Plant habit: spreading
Plant density: open
Growth rate: slow
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: pinnate; none, or difficult to see
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: variegated
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: pink
Flower characteristic: pleasant fragrance; spring flowering; summer flowering


Fruit shape: pod or pod-like
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: dry or hard
Fruit color: unknown
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable
Current year stem/twig color: green
Current year stem/twig thickness: thick


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: slightly alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam
Drought tolerance: high
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 18 to 24 inches


Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Wax plant should be grown in partial shade in a fibrous, well-drained, acid potting medium, such as compost, peat, or sphagnum moss. Plants should be allowed to dry between deep waterings in the summer months then, after flowering, plants should be allowed to become dormant by very infrequent waterings during the cool months. This plant is well-suited for growing in a container with an extremely well-drained media where stems can cascade over the side and show off the waxy foliage and unusual bloom.

Available cultivars include: 'Variegata'—white-margined leaves; 'Exotica'—leaves variegated with yellow and pink, margined with green; and 'Krinkle Kurl' or Hindu-Rope Plant—leaves crowded, curled, and contorted.

Propagation is by cuttings or layering.

Pests and Diseases

Nematodes and mealy-bugs.

Root-rots if kept too wet.



This document is FPS-257, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.