Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's Back, and Better Than Ever

.... and it DOES smell, very faintly. If you have lots of flowers and you put your nose right in them, you can get a faint whiff of wisteria... lovely!

Saturday, October 20, 2007


My polyneura just lost the will to live and just dehydrated on me... the ends are not good but I live in hope I can resuscitate it... I doubt it though :(

One mealie? Surely there must be more somewhere... this one disintegrated after I dabbed it with acetone...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Newly Moved... and A Great Talk

Well, I've moved again... now I live in Leytonstone, east London. More on my new place to come, and how I've coped with no windowsills (agh!).

I discovered that my local BCSS (that's british cactus and succulent society) is somewhere in the middle of nowhere that I can't get to by public transport. However, the adjacent BCSS meets up in Ilford, which isn't too far up the road. And, much to my delight, they were giving a talk on Asclepiadaceae family, which of course contains my much beloved Hoyas. Since my engleriana was in flower, I thought I would take it along to put on the table contest. When I arrived, however, I discovered that, similar to the Bristol cactus and succulent society, their table competition no longer existed (probably due to low numbers/people unwilling to cart their plants around) however, i was able to display mine along with a couple the speaker had brought along with him, including this rather beautiful Hoya cinnamomifolia:
The talk was given by Vernon Read, who's obviously been growing stapelias and related bizarre plants (sorry, I'm sure they have a certain charm but to me not only are they ugly, but their flowers stink of rotten meat. Yeugh!) along with hoyas for some time. I'm afraid I probably interrupted most but I wanted to ask questions! Vernon was a really interesting guy who gave us loads of information about the stapelias and where they all came from etc. In the break we had a cup of tea and I chatted to Vernon about my collection and Hoyas (apparently there is a national collection somewhere - must go visit it at some point!). There was a raffle competition, in which a Hoya cinamomifolia was a prize, and guess who won to pick first. Hmmm. Was it me? I wonder if that was fixed at all?!?
The second part of the talk got to Hoyas at the end and I got to see loads of photos, including some native shots of Hoyas in Singapore, which was really interesting. All in all it was a fab night for me seeing and talking about my favourite plants. Now I want to go back to Kew Gardens again!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What's That Smell?

I'm now in my new house, which seems to be filled with those scented glass jobs which I hate. However, the other day I came home and I could smell something else. It was a clean, fresh scent, and my lacunosa had been budding up for days. I didn't think that it would have opened yet, but, lo and behold:They're amazing, beautifully small and fluffy.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

July Blooms

Well, despite the horrible gloominess of July - seems that it's a miracle when the sun comes out, and we're lucky not to be flooded - my hoyas are still going for it and my multiflora, which sadly lost its buds earlier this year, has finally, after what felt like WEEKS of waiting for them to get to the final blooming stage, shown its colours. It does smell, but only very faintly.
The publicalyx, now on its third round of flowers on the same peduncle this year - crazy - is very scented and is really gorgeous at night. I can't get over the furry petals and the endless show of purple.
The carnosa's out again, as well, very pale this time due to not being sunburnt (!) and the australis is going mad with at least five plus peduncles budding up. Also to come include the bella producing its first set of flowers for me, the engleriana also budding up and my first peduncle on the lacunosa, which is very interesting!

Friday, July 06, 2007

New Additions

This is Hoya Parasitica var. citrina. I haven't seen much about this one on the internet, but apparently it flowers so much it almost wears itself out. I thought the leaves on the Kerri and Lauterbachii were big but these leaves are as big as a woman's hand! This plant rooted well but was a bit unsteady so in the end I had to fasten it down with a length of garden wire made into a hoop so that it would hold straight in the soil and hopefully root down and stabilize itself. I also recently added the plant pole so that it will grow straight upwards and hopefully grow some new gigantic leaves.
This is Hoya Curtisii, almost exactly opposite to the Hoya Parasitica var Citrina due to its itsy bitsy leaves - and lots of them! I read somewhere that it likes to grow along soil so I took some more garden wire and threaded each piece round. It's growing quite happily now and I've even got some new leaves.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Temporary Diversion

I thought I would share with you my mother's beautiful epiphyllums. This one is likely to be a cutting off the same plant as this, which would mean this is an Epiphyllum cooperi.
Just for Epiforums, I thought I'd put another photo of the entire plant. It's amazing that one small cactus can produce a flower quite so large, and for such a small amount of time. Seems like such a waste of energy, but a pretty one at that.
I know some of you really wonder whether the beer fertilizer works. Well, take a look at this. This orchid usually flowers for me in the dead of winter with one spike bearing maybe three flowers. Well, after feeding with very very weak beer fertilizer, I have TWO spikes, with at least five flowers on each. I'm enchanted.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Flowers In The Attic

My current bedroom is now at the top of my folk's house, in the attic. The attic's insulation is so bad that I can hear the pigeons scuffling outside on the roof. This means it's baking hot in the summer and freezing in the winter. However, my plants are loving the warmth, and the ones that have been sulking for a while (heuschkeliana, pentaphlebia to name the worst) are showing growth for the first time in a while. My publicalyx, right. is being extraordinarily generous, just as one umbel of flowers falls off its one peduncle, another one replaces it and lasts for another two weeks. The carnosa, middle, has roared through its 8 plus umbels which have lasted me over a month or two and, as the last ones fade gently, is promising more. The australis, right, supposedly not a summer bloomer, is also joining in the show. It smells lovely.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hills Says Goodbye To Big Windowsills

I'm leaving my house soon, in a long and complicated story. I will lose my lovely windowsills and end up with one window which I believe doesn't get any direct sunlight. Me and my hoyas have loved it here, and we hope we can set up somewhere new with as much light (but maybe a bit more warmth!) very very soon.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Crazy Carnosa

My carnosa has started flowering from one of its many many peduncles (I got to eight and gave up counting!!) so, now because I have the carnosa in my lounge and the publicalyx in my bedroom, the house smells very sweet at night. It's quite pleasant. I thought it would be fun to compare the two flowers, so here we go...

The publicalyx is just bigger and curvier, plus the fur on the petals gives a really nice edge to the flowers.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Little Story For You

(you'll have to excuse me, my mind sometimes works in strange ways, and this is what it came up with)

The hoya was ready. It was healthy, had plenty of food and lived in a humid environment. It produced big and beautiful buds, which were now ready to open.
It started opening its buds, peeking into the new world, in the morning, getting ready for the evening. As the day wore on the buds opened up fully and the hoya started to make nectar to entice its visitors.

By the end of the day it was ready. The hoya produced the sweetest smell and nectar to entice the moths to come its way and to take its pollen off to another hoya so that it could produce seeds.

But no moths came, because the plant was inside.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Ciao, Bella!

A couple of days ago I recieved the Hoya Bella, albomarginate form. This is not on my final list of hoyas I want to collect (trying to cut down, very unsucessfully, on my endless hoya buying), however it was on my wanted list for a very long time and it was fairly cheap, so I bought it anyway. I reckon I can put it in with the regular bella (shown by it) and then it'll be "one" plant.

Type: Leaves approx. 4cm long and lanceolate (arrow shaped). Flowers white with a pink corona. Smell very faintly of hyacinth.
A hanging plant, that I rooted easily in a Jiffy 7 with bottom heat, that is apparently a slow grower but a good bloomer. Fairly thirsty and happy in dappled light.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Just One Flower...

This is my Publicalyx cv Silver Pink, finally flowering! Unfortunately I lost most of the flowers - they blasted, possibly due to overwatering, I don't know. But I was very pleased even just to get one flower - it surprised me when I got back very late last night. It had a huge droplet of nectar on it and smelled very much like the carnosa.

So it takes two weeks from flat buds to form open flowers.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hello... European Visitors

Ok, so I know I get a few visitors from Europe.

I'm trying to organise a European Round Robin, where I start by sending out a box of cuttings to some lucky person, who then replaces each cutting they take out with a different cutting, and preferably not a common hoya, and a good couple of nodes worth too. They then send it on to the next lucky person, who will do the same thing until it gets back to me.

Let me know if you're interested - email me at hilary.roberts@hotmail.com

Monday, April 02, 2007

No, I Really Don't Need It....

Hoya Curtisii

I'm trying very hard at the moment to not buy any more hoyas. I have decided on the three last hoyas I want, and I'm going to stick to it. Yes I am. I have no more space.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007


When I bought a whole load of cuttings from Paul Shirley, I waited for them to root and then potted them up. However, because of a complete lack of pots at the time, I potted them into huge great big pots that kind of swamped the poor things. I bought some much smaller 3inch and 2inch pots from my not-so-local garden centre a few months ago. However, it only recently occured to me that I could either a) downsize or b) pot together my hoyas, mostly due to the fact I was thinking about moving and the amount of huge pots of plants I have padding around. In the end, I decided to just repot each plant into its own littler pot. This poor lacunosa had such a small rootball that it got downsized from the huge black pot on the left to a diddy 2 inch pot. I'm hoping now it'll flower, or at very least not die (!). A few others got downsized at the same time, including the now growing polyneura, which got lovely gravel as well as soil with a large amount of perlite in it to improve drainage. The only one I didn't dare repot was the heuschkeliana, which is still attempting to flower...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Well, I don't know whether it's the beer fertilizer, the prolonged daylight, the warmer weather or more sunshine, but most of my hoyas are very happy at the moment (woohoo!). Here, on the left, is the publicalyx I've been watching with bated breath as it produces loads of buds... let's see, any bets on having to wait another month before I actually see flowers?!?
The heuschkeliana, right, is trying its hardest to flower again. I know it's almost inevitable that I have once again hexed this plant but I still hope that I'll see flowers - third time lucky and all that. I had to prostrate myself on the floor to get a good shot of the buds!
I'm not sure whether the lauterbachii growing every time I look at it is a reason to be cheerful or just generally scared of having to deal with what promises to be a humungous plant... I will be reporting back on this one I guess!

I've heard that the javanica/multiflora, right, is a reliable bloomer and I was extremely pleased to see what definitely looks like a new peduncle forming on this plant.. only three nodes long and allready trying to flower! Now all I have to do is not forget to water it!

And in other news, I have an interview in what looks like a brilliant job in London, so I hope you'll all wish me luck on Wednesday.... eek!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Beer Fertilizer

So, there's been a lot of talk about this beer fertilizer. I, for one, had no idea where to find the ingredients and then, once I did, I had a lot of fun making it. So I thought I'd bring you Hills' Guide To Making Beer Fertilizer. (This has been edited as of April 19 2007 to reflect my experience of using it)

I will note here that I had an American cup measurer in my cupboard, so I used it most of the time as opposed to attempting to use my not-very-small measuring jug.

Get a 2 pint bowl (this is about 4 litres, which is about one US gallon).

The first ingredient is 12 oz beer. This is 1.5 cups, 35ml, or just more than one small bottle of beer. I used some flat beer I talked about in an earlier post that someone kindly left to expand and dribble beer all over my freezer.

1/4 cup Epsom salts. This is about 250g by my reckoning. I found Epsom Salts in Boots, a UK-based pharmacy, in the "digestive aids" medicine shelf, as you can probably see by the picture.

1/2 cup ammonia. According to the conversion, this is about 10ml, so I used the cup measurer for this... I found ammonia in a hardware/miscellaneous cooking/gardening/cleaning items shop called Robert Dyas, masquerading as a household cleaner. When you add this, you may want to open some windows. Ammonia stinks! You can just see the mixture behind the ammonia.
2 cups water. This is approximately 50ml, which I did measure out using my jug.
1/2 cup molasses. I found Organic Blackstrap Molasses in a health food store (GNC). I measured it using the cup again, because it's much easier.

Ok, by this stage you should have what looks like a bit of a mess. I can say that because that's what I got. The useful information like, use warm water, would have helped me a lot. I guess you could always warm the mixture up over some boiling water (please take care, I'm not responsible for burns!!) as the epsom salts don't readily go into solution. In the end I poured the lot into a 2 litre bottle (it makes just over 1) and shook it until the salts went into solution.

You use 1 teaspoon of beer fertilizer per gallon of warm water.

One US gallon is approximately 4 litres.

To this four litres, I also added:
Quarter teaspoon of Superthrive (yes, you can buy it here, on Ebay)
Some Bloom Booster - I have some African Violet Fertilizer, which is 12:36:14. It says one measure to 2 pints. 4 litres of water is 7 pints, so this is about 3 and a half measures. It seems a bit strong, so now I just add one measure to the mix.

I water this on the plants once a week. If they need watering in the interim I use plain rain water.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Bella and Kerrii: Beauty and the Beast

Hoya Bella

Actually a beautiful plant. I did not want to get it seeing as I allready have H. weebella/dickinsonia and have now actually run out of hoya space (or any other plant for that matter!). However, an old lady in Scotland needed a Bella and therefore it's now sat in my lounge. It might get a small haircut before it goes away...

There are flowers, either open or forming, all over this plant. I'm guessing it's been sat in a nice warm greenhouse, and not in someone's cold front room! The flowers smell like delicate hyacinth which is really rather attractive. It was sat next to me last night while I faffed on the computer and I suddenly caught a whiff of it - very subtle I think.

Hoya Kerrii

Ok, so it's unfair to call any plant a beast, but I mean more in terms of the fact it has absolutely humungous leaves!!! For some reason I always thought this plant had much smaller leaves, and it literally has SAUCERS - it and the lauterbachii are now in contention for the bigger leaves, and it's winning!!! The leaves are 10 cm long and probably as much wide - crazy plant!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Oh Yeah.

That's what I'm talking about.

Of course, now I've posted this, I've completely hexed it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hoya Cold Tolerance

Well, apparently it's been snowing here. I say that because I've been somewhere where it's supposed to snow for the week, and trying to accept that I'm skiing down a hill (that's what my instructor told me to do!).

So, I'm guessing that it has been cold here. According to the really useful site of the weather records for Totterdown, Bristol (which would be where I live), it got down to -4 last week. My boyfriend, before I left, insisted that I should turn off all the heating. I am pretty glad that in fact I left the heating on for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. When I got home, it was pretty cold, and I had to put the heating on for a few hours to warm the house up, but I was pretty tired and I feel the cold anyway.

However, the plants were fine. The polyneura is still sulking (grumph) and is about to lose another leaf, I think I watered it again. When it warms up I'm going to take the top healthy bit off, root it and try and put that plant back into the pot to make it a bit more bushy. Everything else looks like it's growing, or about to grow. By spring I should be able to ebay one of the cuttings off Lacunosa "Tove" which are growing very pretty new purple leaves. The australis ssp tenuipes is growing and dropping the odd leaf, maybe I should stop watering that one too. The carnosa (left) and publicalyx (right) are growing yet more peduncles, which hopefully means the carnosa's going to be absolutely spectacular this year and I may get flowers from my one year old publicalyx - although this may be because it's completely rootbound. The lauterbachii is off on its quest for heady heights with a whole new leaf (when your leaf count is increased by 150% this makes me excited) and the imperialis is following a little bit slower behind. This may be because the lauterbachii is on the heat mat.

Something tells me soon I'm going to have to find all the ingredients for the beer fertilizer - after some kind person left beer in my freezer that then froze and exploded, I have at least one of the ingredients all ready. Now all I have to figure out is where to find some Epson Salts... Off to the centre of town and Boots I think!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hoya DS-70

I feel like a copycat posting this after Sandy's beautiful photo, but it's probably just coincidence this is the next hoya in my list...

Hoya DS-70
Type: Leaves 4-7 cm, glabrous.

Flowers: small and dark purple when mature, although I haven't seen any on mine yet!

I bought this plant from Paul Shirley after hearing that it is easy to grow and flowers fairly easily. It didn't root very easily but now it has rooted it seems to be quite happy. It responds well to warmth - my front room was quite cold for a spell because my radiator wasn't working - and seems to be a fairly fuss-free plant. It is also known as Tsangii.

In other news, I've updated my website so that it looks much nicer and I'm now considering adding a page of FAQ's - time and time again I see fairly similar questions on the forums I go to, so I thought putting a page that gave useful information might be helpful. The imperialis lost a leaf but I'd been expecting it to do that for months, and was surprised that it hadn't happened sooner given I burnt the poor thing under the intense glass of my bathroom - oops! This wouldn't be such a problem if it wasn't for the fact the poor plant's only got two leaves... but it is growing, slowly given the cold weather, so hopefully it'll take off in the spring. The polyneura has stopped losing leaves for the time being, so I guess it likes being in the colder kitchen and being watered less frequently. The pentaphlebia is still waving at me and not growing at all, but doesn't seem to be losing leaves either, so I guess it's OK, probably just waiting for a bit more sun and warmth - not lovely hailstones like I got caught in today!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Bit Of Precious Sun For The Hoyas...

Bristol is doing one of its delightful windy and rainy phases at the moment. On my way to London the other day I noticed all the low-lying fields are covered with excess rain, making the poor sheep confine themselves to a small patch of probably waterlogged land.
Anyway, they promised sun for today, and shock horror, they were almost right. We did get some sun! Although I notice there's now a rainbow outside... On one of the forums it was suggested that my polyneura would benefit from going outside but I'm not putting it out there with the wind and the rain! So I have placed it in the kitchen, the place with the least amount of direct sunlight and also the coldest, as there's no radiator in there. The rest of the hoyas all got what is probably much-needed sunshine, I have noticed that although some are still slogging it out and growing (weebella seems to have grown a completely new branch since Christmas...), others are looking decidedly unhappy - even the happy compacta dropped a leaf this week... I also read something that said that misting plants are more for the gardener's happiness than the plants and are a 5-minute solution to a 24 hour problem, so this weekend I went round all my hoyas (apart from the carnosa, I don't think it cares!) and placed gravel under them, so that I can put a little bit of water under them. This solves a couple of problems, one being I don't always have time to spray them, and when I go away they will still get humidity, the other that I'm fairly sure that pebble trays aid movement of air, some hoyas particularly like this. Also, although I don't have the heating on all the time, at this time of the year it can make everything a bit dryer.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Hoya "Weebella"

OK, well my three readers, you will have to forgive me, but since I am actually not getting on with writing my website, I thought I'd put the ones I haven't done yet in my blog, and then copy them over to the website, so that maybe sometime this year it'll get done (this is one of my New Year's resolutions...)

Hoya Weebella

Type: Leaves 1 to 1½ cm, flowers like bella (although probably smaller, will have to wait for that one...)
This plant has come on in leaps and bounds since I first got it, when it looked like this. It even seems to grow in the depths of winter when all the other hoyas are sulking... Apparently it is a small version of Bella, although the leaves are much more rounded. You can read what this plant is really called here, and tell me if you think I should rename it.