Stephanotis floribunda: Wax Flower

Stephanotis floribunda is grown primarily for its attractive and pleasantly scented flowers. Indigenous to Madagascar, it is one of the approximately 16 species that make up the genus. It is a twining, evergreen shrub that in its native habitat reaches a height of 5 m (16 ft). It can, of course, be kept within reasonable bounds either by pruning or by training it over a framework. The dark green, leathery leaves, about 8 to 10 cm long, are very lovely, but the plant’s chief attraction are the blossoms which were always included in bridal bouquets because of their heady fragrance.

Following a decline in popularity, this shrub is making a big comeback, and no wonder, for it does very well in centrally-heated homes. The average night-time temperature should be between 16 and 18°C (61 and 65°F); during the day it may be much higher. Only in winter should the plant be put, if possible, in a cooler, well-lit spot. Watering, which is otherwise liberal, should be limited accordingly.

The growing medium may be any packaged peaty mixture or else this can be prepared by mixing peat, leaf mould and sand. Not even in summer, when the plants are watered daily, should the compost be permanently wet or water-logged. The roots need a constant supply of oxygen so water the plants carefully, and they will greatly benefit from regular syringing. They should be placed in full sun or at least in a spot with plenty of light. Propagation is easy — from cuttings inserted in a warm propagator, or by means of the tiny, flat seeds.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, House Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Stephanotis floribunda: Wax Flower

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