A lesson on patience: Hoya Ariadna


Stars on the floor after a storm

Hoya Ariadna

Hoya Imperialis beside a fern in my garden

Hoya Imperialist

I’ve finally come to appreciate Hoyas.

When L went on a buying spree with loads of hoyas 3 Sundays in a row, one month last year, I didnt share his enthusiasm. We have the Hoya Ariadna, Hoya Imperialis, Hoya Carnosa, Hoya Obovata. (The plants came unnamed, so would appreciate if any kind expert could correct me, if I’m mistaken.)

Instructions on the tag from the nursery was bright shady area. Sounds oxymoron?

Frequently diseased, attacked by mites with no flowers, sickly green thick leaves. It didnt take too long for his enthusiasm to wane.

Was it genius or good luck or sheer desperation, he decided to twine them around some make-shift bamboo racks at the balcony, under the shade but with good amount of sun. More plants were added on the bamboo racks to accompany it.

Absent-mindedly, on one occasion, I emptied diluted orchid liquid fertiliser into the root-bound pot, to finish off the bottle.

Then it happened. The Hoyas started blooming.  Plastic-looking waxy bursts of stars! Hanging down the vine. It reminds me of the Chinese wedding balls which Chinese grooms wear across their chests in period drama costumes.

Patience, my dear.

New vines started twining themselves around surrounding plants. Like an over-enthusiastic coach, trying to get it to twine properly, I hurt the young shoots, and white milky sap emerge. Blood on my hands.

I did it again.  Patience is a long journey.  As my political science lecturer used to say, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Hope to report that that the young vines are fine, despite my rough handling.

10 things I learnt about Hoyas:

1.  Bright direct light but sheltered.

2. Patience – they may take a year to flower. Once they do, flowering is quite continuous (every 2 weeks)

3. Diluted Liquid fertiliser (once every 2 weeks), e.g. orchid

4. Waxy star-shaped flowers. Don’t deadhead or remove after bloom. Peduncle (bloom spur) can produce further blooms

5. They attract mealy bugs and other scaly insects

6. Wipe off mealy bugs with cotton swaps and diluted soap powder

7.Epiphytic and they don’t mind being potbound or crowded

8. Give lots of space to twine

9. Beware of white milky sap from tender tips.

10. Propagate with stem cuttings. Remove leaf from node. Cuttings can be as short as 3 nodes.

Alocasia Macrorrhizos

Alocasia Macrorrhizos Metallica at the nursery.  The large elephant leaves look like mini umbrellas, and I imgaine children in the tropics, running home in the rain, with one of these leaves, whilst caught in a sudden downpour. I like the ones with black stems – the metallica rather than the more common green stem ones although both stir my heart. 


IMG_0029 Nursery didnt say anything about plant not suitable for roof-top gardens until I surfed the net.  Its a long way before our nursery in Singapore can advise on plants. Someone once commented that if your plants survive too well, then nursery will have no business.  Enough said.  Alocasia Macrorrhizos are not suitable for roof-top gardens or anywhere with strong winds because the wind tunnel will tear at the leaves.   On the second day, the wind tore a small hole in the centre of the elephant leaves and ripped sides.

Magnificient and stately standing in the sunset.  However the strong sun caused the leaves to turn yellow and often I've to amputate the limbs.  I'm pleased to say that the leaves grow back quickly.  The hollow curvature of the stems collect water, so have to put some mosquito repellant stuff especially when NEA comes to visit.  They visited me once this year already.



 Probably due to the stress of amputated limbs, my alocasia often produces araceous flowers, about 4 times this year.  Because it grows by the tuber system, if you grow it in a pot, make sure its a huge pot. This also means that vines and other wild plants share the space.


Alocasia gives the tropical retreat feel and can grow to about 2m in height.  





Give it a big enough pot, and the tuber root system will reward with lots of baby alocasia.  I've removed one of them 3 days ago to repot in a smaller pot. Lets see if it works.








Variegated Alocasia Macrorrhizos, somehow the varigated form reminds me of a designer bag and the picture on the right.  Horses-optical-illusion