Tropical plants with thick, waxy evergreen leaves and tight clusters of small, waxy flowers that appear in leaf joints during summer. These plants prefer rich, loose, well-drained soil. When grown as container plants, they bloom best when pot bound. Do not prune out the short stalks that bear flowers, because new flower clusters will develop on them. Feed with a quarter-strength general-purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer monthly from spring through fall. Specialists list dozens of available species and hybrids, with growth habit varying from vining to shrubby.
H. carnosa. WAX FLOWER, WAX PLANT. From India, Burma, southern China. Vining plant grows to 1020 ft., with green, oval, rigid, 2- to 4-in.-long leaves. Big, round, convex clusters of 12-in., creamy white blossoms, each centered with a five-pointed pink star. Flowers are fragrant, especially at night. Red young leaves give extra color. Attractive trained on a pillar or trellis. Indoors, traditionally trained on wire in a sunny window.
'Variegata' has leaves edged in white suffused with pink; it is not as vigorous or hardy as the plain species. 'Exotica' shows yellow-and-pink variegation. 'Krinkle Kurl' has crinkly leaves closely spaced on short stems; it is often sold as 'Compacta' or as Hindu-rope plant.
H. lanceolata bella. House or greenhouse plant. Native from Himalayas to Burma. Shrubby growth to 1123 ft. high and wide, with fleshy green leaves to 112 in. long and sweetly aromatic clusters of 12-in., purple-centered, white flowers. Slender, upright branches droop as they grow older. Best used in hanging basket.
H. wayetii. Often sold as H. kentiana. Native to the Philippines. Vining stems are set with fleshy green leaves to 312 in. long and just 34 in. wide; new leaves and leaf edges redden in bright light. Clusters of 12-in., maroon flowers have a sweet, butterscotch perfume and produce lots of sticky nectar. Best used in a hanging basket. 'Variegata' has leaves heavily variegated in white and pink.