If Hoya obtusifolia flowered when the day length shortened, why couldn’t I achieve that same thing under lights? I moved the plant out of one grow tent with 15 hour days and moved in to another with 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. It immediately began to bud up, making me confident enough to tell my friend Julie Kennedy that I was going to flower the plant in a couple of weeks. I spoke much too soon!
In the fall of 2018, I put the plant back into the basement grow tent under a powerful LED light. Over many months the peduncles would get barely visible buds that would quickly fall off before anything came of them. It was very frustrating. I finally asked the woman who gave me the plant how, and when it flowered for her. She told me that it would bud up in September and flower in October as day length was shortening. That statement was revelatory!
The excitement of my first peduncle quickly faded, as months went by with no budding, and the peduncle soon yellowed and fell off. The plant was growing larger all the time, and with its very stiff vine, so similar to imperialis, it was very hard to keep in check. I moved it outside in the summer of 2018 where it formed many more peduncles, but refused to bud up.
My very first winter with Hoya obtusifolia it formed a peduncle, which excited me to no end. I thought that I was on my way to flowering this plant in record time being much quicker than Hoya imperialis – nothing could have been further from the truth!
I received a cutting of Hoya obtusifolia in the early summer of 2017, and it took a very long time to root. I have subsequently learned that this plant roots very quickly in water, but did not know it at the time. After rooting it, the Hoya grew quickly requiring several repottings over the course of a few months.
Hoya obtusifolia is endemic to S. Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Java, and Borneo. It is a robust climber, and its name is derived from the shape of its leaves which have an obtuse apex. Below the foliage of Hoya obtusifolia:
Hoya obtusifolia came to me as a free cutting sent by a very nice collector in Florida. She said “if you can grow Hoya imperialis, you can grow Hoya obtusifolia.” Well, that turned out to be only partially true. Below the flower of the plant:
Hoya darwinii was challenging to grow, let alone flower. It is definitely not a plant for the beginner, or for the windowsill. It seems to grow best in South Florida, the tropics and anywhere you can provide very high humidity. It is extremely susceptible to root rot and must be allowed to dry out thoroughly in a coarse mix such as one used to cultivate bonsai. I am unsure whether I will be able to get this one to live for me long term, but am fortunate that I had the opportunity to get to work with it for a time.
Hoya darwinii was discovered in 1909 by A. Loher, who named it in honor of Charles Darwin in Darwin’s centenary year. It is endemic to the Philippines and found at different elevations in a few different provinces. It is also called the Ant Hoya, because like Dischidia pectinoides, it will form special leaves that turn into a ball in which ants will take up residence. The waste generated by the ants will provide nutrients for the plant in areas where there in little in the way of nutrients.
The curse was broken and I was finally able to flower Hoya darwinii. It took a lot of perseverance, and a willingness to try new things to pull it off. I really think that it was worth the effort. It turns out that both of my color variations bloomed pink when one was supposed to be cream color, but I care not. The flowers have only the faintest of fragrance only on the day they open, and last about 3-4 days before closing and falling off. Below the closed up blooms of Hoya darwinii: