Hoya kerrii (2011)

By Chris Deem (February 2011)

It’s 2:15 p.m. on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Very near the screened window, on the heavy wooden table, is a contented-looking twosome for everyone to view. One is not old and one is even younger.

One is in an orange pot and one is curled up nearby. It’s just a glossy Korat cat, a young male named Sweetheart, and a healthy-looking hoya with the common name of Valentine.

They sit together unmoving on their table until a sudden breeze moves the leaves, and Sweetheart opens his green eyes. The breeze passes in an instant. It is just a brief interruption in the peaceful perfection of a contented-looking twosome at 2:15 p.m. on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Hoya kerrii, the Valentine hoya and its companion, Sweetheart the cat, are both from the country of Thailand. Even though Hoya carnosa is more common, I chose this particular hoya for this month’s article because its succulent heart-shaped leaves seemed perfect for February.

Vinelike stems with succulent leaves is a fair description of most Hoya species, but a few are contrary and shrublike. Some species are succulent, some are not. To list all the countries with Hoya species would take more space than I have here. The short list includes Sri Lanka, Malaysia, China, Australia, Thailand and Pakistan.

The flowers of Hoya species are interesting to view. Many species have waxy-looking flower clusters with bright colors, and some are fragrant. Many species have ball-shaped clusters of flowers, while others might have just a few star-shaped flowers. I read that hoyas bloom in the same place, year after year, so don’t cut off the old flowers – you might not get any more.