Colours and shapes
Stephanotis's biggest attraction is its unusual flowers: cylindrical, pure white and a bit waxy, they grow in clusters and open in a star shape. Once open, they smell wonderful and coordinate beautifully with the shiny dark green leaves. The plant is usually trained around an arch or other shape, but in the wild it’s a flowering vine. That makes Stephanotis a houseplant that you can stand, hang, climb and meander.
In the Victorian language of flowers, Stephanotis is the symbol of marital happiness, hence the nickname ‘wedding flower’. In modern flower symbolism Stephanotis represents ‘good fortune’ and ‘the longing to travel’. The name is derived from Greek: ‘stephanos' means crown and 'otos' means ear: the pistils in the flowers look a bit like tiny ears. Stephanotis is one of the most luxuriantly fragrant flowers in the world, hence its nickname of 'Fleur Parfum'.
Stephanotis is native to Madagascar, but some of the 15 or so species also grow in China, Japan and Cuba. In the wild the vines can reach a length of up to 5 metres. They stay somewhat shorter indoors, and you can decide for yourself what the houseplant will look like by training the tendrils along the form of your choice. However, allowing the vines to find their own way is also attractive. Stephanotis will then merrily wrap itself around a light fitting, across the windowsill or up a standing lamp.