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Blooming Plant
of the month

            
stephanotis

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BOTANICAL NAME

Stephanotis floribunda (stef-ah-NO-tis flor-ih-BUN-duh)

COMMON NAMES
Madagascar jasmine, Wax flower, Bridal wreath, Floradora

DESCRIPTION
Stephanotises are evergreen vines that can grow as tall as 15 to 18 feet. They generally are grown as potted, trellised plants, and the vines can grow more outward than upward. The leaves are thick and leathery. Stephanotises are best known for their white, 1-inch-diameter, star-shaped florets. They have an intense fragrance that resembles jasmine (Jasminum officinale).

COLORS
Stephanotises’ blossoms are white. They will appear ivory or yellow as they mature and fade.

CONSUMER LIFE
With proper care and handling, Stephanotis plants can last for years.

AVAILABILITY
Stephanotises are available year-round. The plants’ peak seasons are summer and autumn.

IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
LIGHT Bright light will maximize plant quality and flower development. Flowers that open at lower light levels are pale and irregularly colored. Choose an east, south or west window to provide the correct light levels, but do not allow direct sunlight to hit the plants.
WATER Keep the potting mix evenly moist. Water sparingly in the winter.
TEMPERATURE Avoid sudden changes in temperature. Stephanotises are warm-loving plants that do best with nighttime temperatures of 65 F or higher and daytime temperatures of 75 F. In the winter, however, they should be kept between 55 F and 60 F. Make sure there is plenty of air circulation.
HUMIDITY Humidity levels should be high. This can be achieved in the home by placing the plants on pebble trays. Misting frequently is also beneficial.
FERTILIZER Use a bloom fertilizer, feeding the plants every two to three weeks.
GROOMING Remove individual flowers as they fade. If lower leaves turn yellow, they can be removed without damaging the plants.
repotting Repot the plants in the spring every two years.

CHALLENGE
ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Stephanotises can be affected by ethylene gas. Check with your supplier to make sure your plants have been treated with an anti-ethylene agent at the grower level or during transportation.

QUALITY CHECKLIST
Look for florets that are bright white, waxy and plump. There should be no signs of bruising, yellowing, spotting, mold or wilt.

PESTS
SPIDER MITES These pests afflict young plants. They can be kept down by fumigating, vaporizing or syringing the plants with a solution of insecticidal soap.
THRIPS If thrips infest the plants, they will eliminate the rich, green coloring that characterizes the foliage of healthy Stephanotises. Syringing with a solution of insecticidal soap will control them.
MEALYBUGS This is the biggest pest problem for Stephanotis plants. Their feeding method weakens and stunts plants, and causes leaf distortion, yellowing and even total leaf loss. In some cases, plants can be killed. Mealybugs produce large amounts of honeydew, which can coat plants and surrounding surfaces with a sticky layer. A black fungus commonly known as “sooty mold” grows on the honeydew. Applying rubbing alcohol with a cotton swab to the leaves will eliminate this pest.

Some information provided by:
Brannan Street Wholesale Florist, Inc., San Francisco, Calif.
The Chain of Life NetworkÆ, www.chainoflifenetwork.org
Plant-Care.com, www.plant-care.com/index.html
Plantfacts.com, www.plantfacts.com
http://hibiscus-sinensis.com/tropical/stephanotis.htm
Dave’s Garden, http://davesgarden.com 
The New House Plant Expert, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon


You may reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at sbfloral@aol.com or by phone at (415) 239-3140.

Photos courtesy of The John Henry Company


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