Only one species of the genus Stephanotis, S.floribunda, is a familiar house plant. Popularly known as floradora, Madagascar jasmine, or wax flower, it is a climbing shrub grown principally for its waxy, white, very fragrant flowers. The leaves are dark green, leathery, shiny, oblong-egg-shaped, and up to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide. They appear in opposite pairs on 1/2 -inch leafstalks, and each leaf has a prominent central rib of a lighter green color. The 1 ½ -inch-long flowers, which usually appear in spring and may continue into the summer, are narrowly tubular, flaring out into five pointed lobes, and are produced from the leaf axils in loose clusters of ten or more. Growth may be vigorous; if a stephanotis is trained up a trellis in a large plant window, it can grow more than 12 feet tall. Where space is limited, it can be trained around a hoop of wire or cane inserted in the sides of the pot.
Light Provide bright light, but keep these plants out of direct sunlight, which will damage the foliage.
Temperature An ideal temperature for indoor stephanotises is 65°-70°F, but they also do well in warmer rooms, given high humidity. It is important to keep the temperature as constant as possible, because they react badly to fluctuations. In fact, if stephanotises are to be regarded as permanent house plants, they are best kept in the controlled conditions of a large plant window or conservatory.
Watering During the active growth period water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. In the rest period water sparingly only when the top half of the mixture has dried out—but never allow the mixture to dry out completely. Spray plants with a fine mist-spray daily whenever the temperature rises above 70°F.
Feeding Apply standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks in the active growth period.
Potting and repotting Use a soil-based potting mixture. Move plants into pots one size larger in early spring. Flowering-size stephanotises can generally be accommodated in 5- or 6-inch pots, but move healthy plants that continue to grow into 8-inch pots. Thereafter they should merely be given an annual springtime topdressing of fresh potting mixture.
Propagation When propagating a stephanotis take 3- to 4-inch-long tip cuttings from non-flowering lateral shoots in spring or early summer. Dip the cut ends in hormone rooting powder, and plant each cutting in a 3-inch pot containing equal parts of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite. Enclose the potted plant in a plastic bag or heated propagating case and keep it at a temperature of around 65T in bright light without direct sunlight. Given just enough water to keep the potting mixture moist, rooting should occur in eight to ten weeks. When roots are well developed, move the cuttings into the normal soil-based mixture.
Special points Scale insects are likely to attack these plants. They are found on the undersides of leaves (usually against the midrib) and are easily recognized as small, brown, rounded bodies that exude a sticky substance. Remove larger insects manually, and spray with an appropriate insecticide.
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