How to Plant, Grow, and Care For Hoya Plants
Do you want to know how to grow and care for your Hoya plant? With many different species to choose from, there is a lot to consider when purchasing these popular plants. Houseplant expert Madison Moulton covers planting, types of Hoyas, care and propagating as well as troubleshooting to ensure you keep your Hoya happy and thriving.
Thick, juicy leaves, interesting shapes, stunning blooms, and a wonderful scent – there is so much to love about the Hoya genus. Popular in the 1970s, these houseplants are making a comeback in a big way. They are low maintenance, and easy to grow. Hoyas also have many different varieties to choose from, giving you plenty of options as a plant owner.
But if you’ve never owned one before, you may have certain questions about their care. Are they easy to grow? Do they need regular pruning? Are they as low maintenance as your favorite pothos cultivar, or some more common philodendron varieties?
In this extensive guide, we’ll cover absolutely everything you need to take care of your Hoya collection, from planting to propagating and more. You’ll learn a bit about their history, and dive deep into Hoya maintenance to ensure you’ll have a beautiful plant for many years to come. Let’s dive in, and learn everything there is to know about hoya care!
Hoya Plant Overview
Plant Type Houseplant
Native Area Asia, Australia
Exposure Bright, Indirect Light
Height 5+ feet
Pests and Diseases Aphids, Spider Mites, Root Rot
Soil Type Chunky, Well-draining
Hoya is the name for an expansive genus of plants in the Apocynaceae family. There are hundreds of species (currently over 500) with more being discovered and accepted into the genus every year.
Scottish Botanist Robert Brown named the Hoya genus in the early 19th century after fellow botanist and friend Thomas Hoy.
These plants are commonly referred to simply as Hoyas, but they have many other common names, including Wax Plant, Wax Flower, or Porcelain Flower. Infrequently, they are known as Honey Plants due to the sweet nectar produced by the flowers that some say tastes like maple syrup.
The ‘Wax’ in these common names could either reference the thick and glossy leaves, or the sought after pink and white flowers that have a waxy sheen.
The Apocynaceae family is also known as the dogbane family due to the use of some species within this family as poison for dogs. It includes many popular garden plants, including Bluestars, Jasmine and the fascinating Stapelia gigantea.
Hoyas have exploded in popularity among houseplant enthusiasts for many reasons. They are one of the few indoor plants that flower reliably without too much effort from their owners. They also have interesting leaves in different shapes and colors, with a few variegated varieties that fit the current houseplant aesthetic trends.
Hoyas are also easy to care for in the right environments, thriving off little attention. With so many interesting species and cultivars to choose from, they have become somewhat of a collector’s item among houseplant lovers, with rare types fetching incredibly high prices on the rare plant market.
Origins and Uses
Each Hoya species has its own native region, mostly concentrated around Asia. As tropical plants, they are found across the warmer regions in India, Thailand, and Indonesia. Some are also native to parts of Australia.
Classified in the early 19th century, these plants have had a tumultuous taxonomy journey. Originally part of the Apocynaceae family, they were reclassified by Robert Brown (the one who named the genus) as Asclepiadoideae due to their different floral structures. Spending just under 200 years in this family, Asclepiadoideae was reclassified as a subfamily of Apocynaceae, essentially returning the Hoya to its original genus.
Gaining popularity in the houseplant boom of the 1970s, you may be familiar with Hoyas from your parent’s or grandparents’ indoor plant collection. Much like the fern obsession of the time, interest in these wonderful plants has recently been revived with the newest houseplant trends.
Hoyas are most commonly grown as houseplants, but can also grow as epiphytes attached to trees outdoors in the right climates. Their vines are great for hanging baskets, but they can also be trained up a trellis to create a living wall feature. Research shows they have the ability to clean the air indoors with enough plants around, giving you all the more reason to add these climbers to your collection.
Before thinking about plant care, it’s important to understand the plant’s characteristics. You want to be sure that you understand the needs of your plant, which includes how the plant looks, and its growth habits in its natural environment.
Most Hoya species are epiphytes. Rather than growing in the soil, they attach themselves to trees to avoid competing for light and water on the ground. They aren’t parasites as they don’t draw any nutrients from the tree. They merely use it as a support to climb, taking advantage of their height.
Not all species are epiphytes, however. Some are terrestrial and others can be found amongst rocks in humid climates, drawing moisture from the air.
The adventitious roots of this genus allow the plants to climb nearby structures with ease. These roots grow when they encounter a surface, attaching themselves to it and extending their stems in that direction.
Growing along long vines, Hoyas can grow several feet tall. Depending on the supports they have, some species can reach well over 30 feet tall. Indoors in suboptimal conditions, their growth remains more modest. But, give them something to climb and they will eventually reach several feet tall indoors too.
There is a wide range of leaf types across the various Hoya species. Most of the popular species have semi-succulent leaves, holding on to more water than regular houseplant leaves but not as much as full-on succulents. Other species have thinner leaves that hold little water, relying on the roots and stems.
Taking a look at the leaves of your specific plant, you can deduce some basic care requirements. For example, darker green leaves usually mean the plant is used to shadier spots, producing more chlorophyll in the leaves for successful photosynthesis. Lighter leaves indicate they will appreciate more direct sunlight.
Leaf thickness also indicates how much water the plant requires on average. Semi-succulent leaves need water far less often than other common houseplants as they store small amounts of water in their leaves for drier periods. Succulent leaves can be left to dry out completely before watering again, relying on the extensive stores in the leaves and stems for survival.
Hoya leaves are generally a glossy bright green. There are also variegated varieties with leaves edged in cream, making for a stunning indoor foliage display.
The stunning leaves grow along long, thin vines that have a woody texture. The stems are very strong, holding on tightly to nearby structures. Roots and leaves grow along all parts of the stem, making these plants incredibly easy to propagate.
Hoyas also produce long tendrils without leaves, or with a few insignificant leaves at most. These tendrils are tasked with finding support for the plant to climb. If you want your Hoya to climb, leave these on the plant as they will eventually attach to something and begin to develop roots.
If your Hoya is in a hanging basket and you don’t like the look of the tendrils, you can simply snip them off with a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears.
And now for the part we’ve all been waiting for – the flowers. Hoyas are prized for their amazing waxy blooms, as well as their ability to produce those blooms in low lighting conditions. The flowers appear in either white or pink, depending on the species, in small clusters. Some species can have as many as 70 small flowers per cluster.
Some blooms have a fluffy texture on the petals, while others have a glossy sheen. As mentioned previously, they also produce a sweet nectar from the flowers known to drip on shelves and floors when grown indoors. Make sure you place these plants on or above any surface that you don’t mind getting sticky.
But their looks are not all these flowers have going for them. They also produce a captivating scent that is strongest at night, quickly filling an entire room with their smell. Some species have been described as having a vanilla-like scent, others like honey, lemon cakes, or chocolate.
However, not all are described so positively. Several Hoyas are most well-known for their unpleasant scent. Descriptors like ‘burning rubber’ or ‘off vegetables’ don’t inspire confidence, but as these scents are strongest at night, they are also easy to avoid. The smell is usually most intense on the first day of blooming, softening as the flowers fade.
Popular Hoya Species
When choosing a hoya plant, there are many different species you can choose from. We will cover our favorites here, but there are many more varieties to choose from depending on your location and your budget. Let’s look at some of the most popular options, as well as some of the most affordable.
Undoubtedly the most popular Hoya species, H. carnosa features thick leaves in a range of interesting shapes and colors. Grown for more than 100 years, there are many cultivars and hybrids available to choose from.
Jade is one of the cultivars most newbies start out with. With elongated glossy green and thick leaves, this cultivar is one of the easiest to care for and maintain. They are tolerant of a wide range of conditions and produce white flowers with a touch of pink when given enough sun.
Compacta also has glossy green leaves, but that’s where the similarities in looks end. An internet sensation, Compacta has interesting, twisted leaves that grow densely along the vine. Each one bends inwards and folds to create one long rope, lending it the common name Hindu Rope.
Krimson Queen has recently exploded in popularity thanks to the new love of pink foliage (as seen in the latest obsession with Philodendron Pink Princess). Newer leaves start out a pastel pink, fading to green and cream as they age.
Those with one (or many) H. carnosa plants typically move to H. australis next. The leaves of this species are more rounded and look similar to a Peperomia with an upright growth habit.
Native to Australia and southern parts of Asia, the specific epithet ‘australis’ means ‘from the South’. Like H. carnosa, this species is great for beginners as it is low-maintenance and easy to care for. In the right conditions, it produces cute white flowers with contrasting pink centers.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the common red rose bouquet for Valentine’s Day, look no further than Hoya kerrii, also known as the Sweetheart Vine. This Hoya produces large leaves that are perfectly heart-shaped, usually in green but also available with variegated edges.
Hoya kerrii is generally sold as a single leaf around holidays like Valentine’s Day for those who want a quirky and unique gift for a loved one. But they grow much like other species, along long vines. If you want a long-lasting plant, make sure you buy one with a vine as single leaves without any stem attached will not develop into a full plant.
With a name that literally translates to ‘beautiful Hoya’, you can’t go wrong with this species. Bella sports dense arrow-shaped foliage on long cascading vines with classic white flowers. This species remains compact, with leaves only growing a few inches. For this reason, it is also sometimes known as the miniature Wax Plant.
Hailing from Indonesia, this species is not as sought-after as some of the more popular types. However, it’s a great option for beginners or forgetful plant parents due to the thick leaves that hold lots of water. Unfortunately, they don’t flower as often as other species, but do produce gorgeous pastel pink blooms with dark pink centers in the right environments.
Both Hoya kentiana and its sought-after cultivar Hoya kentiana variegata are hard to come by. Their rarity makes them pricey and difficult to find, but once you spot the stunning foliage and flowers, you’ll know why they are well worth the effort.
This species has thinner, elongated leaves with small flowers said to smell like butterscotch. The original species has classic green leaves, while the variegated hybrid sports the same pinkish foliage as H. carnosa variegata.
Image Credit: “Hoya kentiana” by epiforums (Use Allowed With Attribution)
Of all the Hoya types mentioned here, H. linearis is the most unique. True to the name, the leaves are straight and linear, paired down long stems in an interesting structure. The leaves have a fluffy texture and cascade well, making them perfect for hanging baskets. As their leaves are thinner, they don’t hold as much water as other types, meaning they require watering more often.
Image Credit: “Hoya linearis” by douneika (Use Allowed With Attribution)
Going in the complete opposite direction in terms of shape, obovata has almost perfectly circular leaves that resemble coins, matching the Chinese Money Plant and many Peperomia species. However, unlike these lookalikes, H. obovata has thick large leaves that store water well, meaning they tolerate a missed watering or two very well.
Image Credit: “Hoya obovata” by epiforums (Use Allowed With Attribution)
Native to the Himalayas, this species is also affectionately known as the String Bean Hoya due to the elongated shape of the leaves. This type looks similar to H. kentiana but has much longer leaves that – evident in the name – look like string beans. These long leaves curve over the edges of pots and trail downwards to make a wonderful hanging feature.
Image Credit: “Hoya shepperdii” by edgeplot (Use Allowed With Attribution)
Many of the common Hoya species, like H. compacta, are available at most nurseries or general home and garden supply stores. As they become more popular, you should also see more interesting species popping up in places you would not expect.
Unfortunately, many Hoya species are quite rare and difficult to find. You’ll need to contact rare houseplant growers in your area to check their availability or shop online. Rare plant retailers often use online stores to ship their plants, but you can also check marketplaces like Facebook and Etsy.
Several Hoya species look quite similar. It’s important to buy from a reputable seller to make sure you are getting the real thing, particularly if it is a rare type. You don’t want to pay extra for a supposedly rare plant that turns out to be a mislabelled common species.
It’s also best for the plants to choose a more established, larger plant when purchasing online. They may be more expensive, but these can handle the stresses of transportation far better and will acclimatize to your indoor environment quicker than younger plants who may become irreparably damaged from the stress.
There are several options when planting your Hoya thanks to the epiphytic nature of many species. Much like air plants, you can attach them to a piece of wood with clear fishing wire and place them in a high humidity room to absorb moisture from the air. But, this requires more upkeep in terms of watering and care, so it’s generally easier to plant in a pot.
Hoyas can grow in any type of pot, but porous materials are best. Terra cotta or fabric pots draw water away from the soil, preventing root rot in these very sensitive epiphytes. Hanging baskets lined with coir are ideal for cascading plants but it may be tricky to manage drainage when hung indoors.
Don’t choose a pot much bigger than the nursery pot when replanting or repotting. These plants don’t mind being confined to a pot as this matches the conditions they are used to. A slightly root-bound Hoya is also more likely to produce flowers as they are not expending energy on new root growth.
Soil mix is incredibly important when it comes to Hoyas. Any regular garden soil or potting soil won’t do. I always stress the use of houseplant soil mixes to provide the right conditions for indoor growth, but even these mixes typically don’t drain well enough for Hoyas.
As epiphytes, most Hoyas don’t grow in soil in their natural habitats. With roots resting in the crevices of trees, there is very little organic material surrounding the roots. Whatever is there is generally light and airy, delivering enough oxygen and moisture to the roots as needed.
When planting, make your own well-draining mix by combining orchid mix (available online or from nurseries) with perlite and coconut coir to retain some moisture. This mix is strong enough to anchor the plant in the pot, even when the vines weigh it down, without holding too much moisture around the roots.
How to Grow
When growing hoyas, you need to make sure that you’ve thought through every part of their care and growth needs. This means you need to consider the amount of light they need, as well as water, fertilizer, soil, and temperature. Let’s take a deeper look.
The semi-succulent nature of many Hoyas may lead some to believe they prefer direct light as most succulents do. However, that is not the case. Like other houseplants, Hoyas cannot handle direct light as it can scorch the leaves and result in stunted growth and leaf drop.
In their native habitats, Hoyas are found underneath tree canopies. They get more light than plants on the ground growing as epiphytes, but this light is still dappled and never direct or intense. Indoors, this translates to a phrase houseplant owners know well – bright indirect light.
Bright indirect light is found right next to sunny windows, slightly out of the path of the direct light and not obstructed by any nearby objects. Direct light filtered by another object like a sheer curtain is also considered bright indirect or filtered light.
It can be hard to tell how much light your plants are getting indoors. You can invest in a light meter to get an accurate reading, or you can download a light meter app on your phone. This uses the same hardware that detects automatic brightness to calculate the light in lux or foot-candles. For bright indirect light, you should get a reading of 10 000–20 000 lux or 1 000 – 2 000 foot candles.
Hoya can also grow well in medium light, although they won’t flower as prolifically. They may even survive in low light levels in certain areas. However, they are unlikely to flower and are more susceptible to root rot due to the lack of evaporation.
Aim for an east-facing window that gets an hour or two of direct early morning sun, remaining protected in the intense midday and afternoon light. Alternatively, a south or west-facing window can be filtered by a curtain for the ideal light conditions.
Correcting watering is one of the most important parts of Hoya care. Watering too much will cause the roots to rot, ultimately killing your plant. Watering too little will leave the foliage shriveled and lackluster, also killing the plant if the problem is not resolved.
How much water you give your plant will depend on the species. Those with thinner leaves require watering more often, while those with thicker leaves prefer their soil to dry out almost completely before watering again.
Light levels will also impact watering. If placed in bright indirect light for most of the day, or even in some direct light, the soil will dry out far quicker, meaning you will need to water more often. Those in medium to low light can go far longer without water – often several weeks depending on the species.
Hoyas require water more often in the active growing seasons of spring and summer, limited in winter to once every couple of weeks depending on your conditions. If you live in a region with very hot summers, monitor the temperatures and light level as this will greatly impact evaporation, meaning you’ll need to water more often.
Some species, such as H. carnosa, have specific requirements based on their native habitats. H. carnosa is accustomed to drought in early spring, meaning frequent watering at this time will hinder growth and may prevent flowering. Check the specifics of your chosen plant to provide the best care.
Yellowing or soft leaves are signs of excessive watering. Shriveled or wrinkled leaves indicate they are lacking water. Look out for these signs and change your watering schedule as needed.
As epiphytes, Hoyas need a specialized soil mix to grow well. It should be chunky, with plenty of spaces between soil particles to deliver oxygen to the roots. The level of aeration depends on the species, but most will be happy with an epiphyte mix, such as an orchid mix.
pH is less of a concern, but can also have an impact on growth. Aim for a slightly acidic soil to neutral soil pH between 6 and 7 to promote growth and flowering.
When looking for pre-mixed options, it’s best to choose either a succulent and cactus soil mix or an orchid mix, depending on your species and its needs. These mixes drain well enough to prevent root rot in these moisture-sensitive plants. As long as the soil drains well enough, overwatering and root rot is unlikely to be a concern.
While these options are suitable, they are not ideal for Hoya’s needs. To ensure your plants truly thrive, it’s best to make your own soil mix. Combining one part orchid mix (not plain orchid bark) with one part perlite and one part coconut coir is suitable for most species and can be adjusted based on your plant’s specific needs and environmental conditions.
Keep in mind that the lighter the mix, the more often these plants will need water. Although it takes some extra care, this is far better than planting in regular potting soil and risking consistent root rot.
Hoyas are slightly hardier than most houseplants, handling colder temperatures with relative ease. That being said, they generally prefer warmth and shouldn’t be left in temperatures below 50F for too long.
Aim to keep temperatures around 70F on average throughout the year. Warmer temperatures will encourage quicker growth and better blooms.
Keep the plant out of the path of appliances that can cause rapid changes in temperature, such as radiators or air conditioners. Hot or cold drafts will stress the plant, stunting growth and preventing flowering. Cold drafts from open windows can have the same effect, so watch their placement in winter.
Once you have decided on a warm spot in your home with the right light levels, it’s best not to move these plants. They are resistant to change and take a long time to adjust to new areas and conditions. Dramatic changes in environments will likely stunt growth and can cause the leaves to yellow.
Like most conditions, the level of humidity required will also depend on the species. Most are happiest in humidity above at least 50% thanks to their tropical and subtropical habitats, while others can tolerate drier air.
Fussier species may only grow and flower when humidity is above at least 60%. Place the plant on a pebble tray and cover it with a plastic bag to increase humidity around the plant or invest in a humidifier to control the levels better.
Hoyas are not majorly fertilizer dependent. However, they will grow and flower best when given some additional nutrients, especially when they have been growing in the same soil mix for several years.
You may have noticed fertilizers have a numerical ratio on the packaging, known as the NPK number. This refers to the three macronutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen is mostly responsible for foliage and stem growth, while phosphorous and potassium work together to improve flowering and root growth.
Although these are needed in the largest amounts, they are not the only nutrients Hoyas need. Secondary nutrients like calcium are also vital, along with micronutrients like iron and boron. Most high-quality fertilizers will also include these nutrients for well-rounded plant health.
A general balanced houseplant fertilizer with an equal NPK ratio or an orchid-specific fertilizer are both suitable options. When the plants are about to flower, you can also give them a boost with a fertilizer higher in phosphorus.
Nutrients are better absorbed by the epiphytic roots when applied in liquid form. Choose a liquid fertilizer or powdered fertilizer that is diluted in water before applying with your regular watering routine.
How often you apply the fertilizer will depend on your chosen product. Those with higher concentrations are usually applied less often than those with lower concentrations. Overfertilizing is a risk that can lead to burnt leaves and roots, so it’s best to apply at half strength unless serious signs of deficiency are present.
When it comes to maintenance, there are a few important factors to consider for hoya upkeep. Hoyas may need to be repotted every few years, depending on their growth. Some varieties will need supports, and virtually all species of hoya will need regular pruning. Let’s look a little deeper into each of these categories.
Once you’ve purchased your Hoya, it should be happy in the same pot for a year or two. If you notice problematic signs like yellowing leaves, lack of flowering, lack of growth, or roots growing from the drainage holes, you can repot sooner. A soil change every 3-4 years is normally the most that is required unless you notice these signs.
Repotting is best done in spring and summer to take advantage of the growing season and ensure quick adjustment to the new soil. Only choose a pot one size up to keep the roots confined.
Due to their shallow root systems, the pots don’t need to be very deep. If you are only repotting to refresh the soil and improve conditions, you can clean and rinse the same pot and reuse it.
Start by removing the plant from its existing pot. If it gets stuck, squeeze the sides of the pot to release it. Gently remove the old soil from around the roots and untangle them.
Fill the bottom of the new pot with pre-mixed soil above. Hold the plant inside the pot and fill in any gaps with more soil mix until it is just below the rim. This extra gap prevents any loose soil from spilling out when watering.
The plant may take some time to adjust to its new conditions, so don’t worry if a couple of leaves turn yellow. After a few weeks, the growth should return to normal.
Thanks to their tendrils and adventitious roots, Hoyas readily climb up any nearby supports, making them great for training into a particular shape. They may even grow faster when given something to climb when compared to those that are left hanging, stressed by the weight of the vine.
Supports are best installed into the pot when planting or repotting to avoid damaging the roots. When planting in a hanging basket, you can train the vines up the basket with loose ties that are flexible enough to allow for stem movement.
Single stakes or trellises are also suitable. The latter comes in a range of shapes, allowing you to choose the final look of your plant. By planting several together, you can use a large trellis and eventually develop a dense living wall of glossy foliage.
Although not a necessity, pruning does generally improve the growth and health of your plants. Trimming leggy stems can encourage denser growth, making the plant appear fuller overall. Cutting off damaged leaves or stems will also direct the plant’s energy toward new growth, rather than keeping dying foliage alive.
Make sure you clean and disinfect your shears before pruning. It may seem tedious, but this task goes a long way in preventing disease and maintaining the health of your Hoya. This is especially important for those caring for rare Hoyas as one disease can lead to the demise of your plant.
To prune, trim a few inches off the ends of each stem right above a set of leaves, leaving the node on the plant. This is where new growth will emerge.
Throughout the year, trim off problematic leaves or stems and keep an eye out for pests and diseases to remove the areas before they spread to the rest of the plants.
Hoyas have wonderful foliage, but many houseplant owners love them for their stunning flowers. So, it can understandably be distressing when your Hoya fails to flower at all.
Although some species don’t produce flowers, many of the more common ones do. There are a few factors to watch out for in terms of care and conditions, as well as factors out of your control. If your Hoya is not flowering, follow these tips to kick them into gear.
Of all the factors involved in flowering, light is the most important. Hoyas may be tolerant of low light, not showing any major signs of stress in these conditions. But, that doesn’t mean they will have enough energy to flower.
Keep your Hoya, no matter the species, in bright indirect light for most of the day. Many species will also appreciate an hour or two of direct early morning sun. However, it’s important to keep an eye on the plant and make sure the light is not too intense to prevent scorching.
Feed With a High Phosphorus Fertilizer
As mentioned, macronutrients are divided into three parts – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. While they all work together to promote overall plant health, phosphorus is the nutrient largely responsible for flowering.
If your plant is lacking flowers, a high-phosphorus fertilizer may be just what it needs to produce blooms. Don’t apply too much at one time though as this will end up doing more harm than good.
Start by applying at half strength and maintaining all other conditions. If the plant still does not produce flowers, you can add a full-strength dose of fertilizer after the recommended time.
Hoyas will flower best in conditions that match their native habitats. Since most indoor conditions are similar to subtropical environments in temperature, the other concern over the flowering season is humidity. For those that live in regions with dry summers, or climates with generally dry air, raising humidity is an essential part of getting your Hoya to produce flowers.
Firstly, determine your humidity levels with a meter. Anything above 50% is suitable, but closer to 60% or more is preferred for better flowering.
If your humidity is slightly below that range, place your plant on a tray filled with water and pebbles. This water will slowly evaporate, gradually increasing the humidity around the plants. You can also place them in high humidity areas around your home, such as the bathroom.
If your humidity is well below 50%, more drastic measures are required. You’ll need to invest in a humidifier to create the perfect conditions for flowering. Set it between 60% and 80% to recreate their tropical habitats and encourage blooming.
Pruning correctly can encourage new growth and direct your plant’s energy toward producing blooms in the right season. However, pruning incorrectly can ruin your chances of flowering altogether by removing the parts of the flower that actually produce blooms.
Unlike many flowering plants gardeners are familiar with outdoors, Hoyas should never be deadheaded. The cluster of flowers appears on the peduncle, the name for the stem of the cluster. At the end of the peduncle is the spur, which dries up and turns brown after flowering.
Flowers will re-emerge from this same point year after year, rather than popping up at new points on the plant. If you cut off the spur while pruning, that stem simply won’t produce blooms the following year or any time after that.
Plants appreciate consistency in watering. Excessive watering or underwatering results in stress, causing the plant to prioritize survival over flowering.
Leaving the plant underwatered for too long will not only ruin flowering for the season but can ruin flowering for years to come if not dealt with immediately. When the plant is severely underwatered, it may respond by dropping its spurs. As we know, Hoyas flower from the same spur every year, so if they drop off the plant, they will not come back again.
Water as soon as the pot has almost completely dried out but before any signs of underwatering emerge to improve blooming.
Like most container plants, Hoyas will bloom better when they fit snugly in their containers. A slightly root-bound pot will put more energy into flowering than it can into producing roots as there is little space to expand within the pot.
Hoyas don’t need to be repotted often and mostly require a soil upgrade every few years at best. Don’t repot too soon to force new flowers to pop up.
Depending on whether you’ve bought your plant from a nursery or propagated from cuttings, age can also have an impact on flowering. Some Hoya species don’t flower in the first year and can take up to three years or more to produce blooms consistently.
Have some patience, provide the right care, and you should be rewarded with stunning flowers in the years to come.
There are many ways to propagate Hoyas. None are difficult or time-consuming, allowing you to make more of your wonderful plants at no cost.
Many houseplants, especially trailing vines, are best propagated by cuttings. Due to the soft stems and quick root growth, as well as their ability to root in both water and soil, it’s hard to go wrong.
Before you even look at your plant, start by gathering and cleaning your tools. You’ll need a sharp pair of pruning shears or scissors. The sharper the tool, the better the root growth will be on the cutting and the better the regrowth will be on the parent plant.
You should also disinfect them if they have been recently used with a 5% bleach solution. Tools can carry harmful bacteria that, if transferred to the plant, may result in disease. If you keep your tools clean and disinfect after use, especially on a diseased plant, you can simply wash them with soap and water before you start.
Find a Stem and Make a Cut
Next, take a look at the plant and find the ideal stem. The vine should have lots of healthy leaf growth and no signs of damage or disease. The closer the leaves are together on the stem, the better.
You can cut the end off a single vine, or remove the entire vine and cut it into sections to propagate. Take balance into consideration when cutting and don’t remove too much from one side of the plant. If growth has become unbalanced, you can also use this trim to cut back the overgrown side.
Identify a four-inch-long section of the stem (of a longer one to separate later) and cut just below a leaf node. Cut at a slight angle to improve water uptake, avoiding any damage to the node as you cut.
Your cutting should have a couple of leaves on the top half and at least two or three on the cutting in total at minimum. They need these leaves to absorb energy from the sun for new root growth.
Remove the Leaves
As the bottom half of the cutting will be rooted either in water or soil, any leaves on this section need to be removed. This prevents rotting and bacterial growth and also directs energy toward more root growth rather than keeping existing leaves alive.
You can simply remove the leaves with your fingers or trim them off with a pair of shears. Try not to damage the stem in the process as anything that would require energy to heal will take away from the potential root growth of the cutting.
You have two rooting options – water or soil. Rooting in water allows you to keep an eye on the progress of root growth. However, cuttings will generally develop stronger roots in soil that are less likely to experience shock when transplanted later on. Ultimately, the choice is up to you.
To root in water, simply gather a tall glass and fill it with room temperature filtered or distilled water. Pop the cutting in the glass, keeping the bottom half below the water line and ensuring no leaves fall in.
Keep the glass in a warm area away from direct sunlight. Top up the water every day or two and replace it completely around once a week, cleaning the container in between to prevent bacterial growth.
To root in soil, prepare a mix of half coconut coir and half perlite. This mixture drains well and provides little resistance to new growth. Fill a pot with this mixture and plant several cuttings in one, burying it up to halfway. Press around the soil to anchor the cutting in place and water well.
Keep the soil moist by misting regularly. Keep the pot in a bright area but away from direct light to avoid scorching the leaves.
Once the roots have grown an inch or two long, transplant them into a new pot filled with the soil mix mentioned above. Plant a few cuttings in one pot for a fuller-looking plant. Water well after planting and monitor growth for the first few weeks to check for signs of stress.
Not to be confused with air layering, another propagating method that closely replicates how these plants spread naturally in the wild is called layering. It is also less risky to plant health as you don’t need to remove any stems.
Fill a smaller pot with the propagating mix of half coconut coir and half perlite. Moisten the soil by watering and leaving the excess to drain from the drainage holes. Then, place it right next to the current pot.
Grab one of the longer vines and lay it along the soil of the new pot. Secure in place with pins (you can also bend paper clips to fit into the soil) and leave them in the same spot. Roots will begin to develop along the stem, anchoring in the soil.
Keep the soil moist by watering carefully, avoiding wetting the leaves and encouraging rot. Bottom watering is easiest as this will keep the top layer of soil completely dry, protecting the foliage. Once the roots have anchored in the soil, trim the vine off the main plant and leave it to grow in its new home.
As with all plants, hoyas have the ability to succumb to many ailments. They will show the usual signs of yellow leaves, followed by brown, or dead areas of the plant. This can be from several reasons, including common pests and diseases. Let’s take a deeper look.
Yellowing leaves are the most common issue in Hoyas due to their lack of tolerance for wet soil. Although there are many causes for yellowing leaves in these plants, overwatering is certainly number one.
These epiphytes cannot handle excessive moisture in the soil. If overwatered, planted in a pot with no drainage, or left sitting in a drip tray filled with water, the roots will quickly suffocate and start to rot, turning the leaves yellow. Plant in a well-draining potting mix in a pot with excellent drainage to prevent this issue.
Underwatering, incorrect light levels, overfertilization, pests, or diseases can also turn leaves yellow. Sometimes, yellow leaves may be no fault of your own and simply a result of the plant’s age. Identify the most likely cause and alter the conditions to resolve the problem.
Moisture issues can also cause leaves to brown, but this time for the opposite reason. Underwatering or lack of humidity will dry out the leaves, causing the edges to turn brown. The center of the leaf may also turn yellow, potentially dropping off the plant if not watered soon.
Once you notice brown leaves, water the plant immediately. Monitor the humidity and use a humidifier if levels are well below 50%. While the leaves won’t become green again, new leaves won’t struggle with moisture issues, showing the plant is back to good health.
While yellow and brown leaves are common problems across all houseplants, red leaves are not usually expected. Some Hoya species can change color when given too much direct light. We’re not talking about species that have naturally reddish or purple leaves, but those that turn red suddenly.
This issue is not very common. But, if you do come across it, simply move the plant out of the path of the direct light and the leaves should return to normal.
Drooping in most houseplants is a sign of underwatering. While this is also true for Hoyas, a more likely explanation is overwatering. Their drought tolerance means it takes a lot for Hoyas to wilt from underwatering, but they will quickly wilt when mushy and overwatered.
Take a look at the leaves, stems, and soil. If the leaves are soft and mushy, you have overwatered. If they are dry and shriveled, underwatering is the cause. Change your watering accordingly and repot if you suspect potential root rot.
Wrinkled and shriveled leaves indicate a lack of moisture. This could be due to a lack of humidity but is most often caused by underwatering.
Water deeply to saturate the roots and the plant should return to normal within the day. Change your watering schedule to water more often to prevent the problem from occurring again in the future.
Stems that appear stretched with large spaces between the leaves mean the plant is not getting enough light. The stems will stretch toward the nearest light source, becoming diminished due to lack of photosynthesis.
Prune leggy stems back and move the plant to a spot with brighter light to improve growth.
Hoyas are susceptible to a wide range of pest problems. The most common culprits are spider mites, aphids, and mealybug.
Spider mites are quickly identified by the webbing they leave between the leaves and stems. These pests feed on the plant tissues, leaving them spotty and diminished. The actual bugs are difficult to spot, so look for the signs rather than the pests themselves.
Aphids and mealybugs are both sap-sucking insects that cause stunted growth. Mealybugs are identified by the white powdery substance they leave behind, while aphids are easy to spot in their large colonies or by the ants that are attracted by the sticky substance on the leaves.
Start by picking the bugs off the plant if you can spot them. They usually hide on the underside of the leaves and between stems. Apply an insecticidal soap or neem oil as directed to suffocate any remaining bugs and prevent eggs from hatching.
Keep an eye on the plant after the first application. You may need to repeat the process a few times before the infestation is completely gone.
Hoyas kept indoors are not highly susceptible to disease problems. The most likely disease you will encounter is root rot, caused by a fungus that grows when the soil is excessively moist. This stops the roots from drawing up moisture or nutrients, ultimately killing the plant.
Repot, removing all the old soil and trimming the affected roots to avoid further spread.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does Hoya mean?
Scottish Botanist Robert Brown named the Hoya genus in the early 19th century after fellow botanist and friend Thomas Hoy.
Can Hoya grow in low light?
Some species can tolerate low light, but they are unlikely to flower in these conditions. Place them in bright indirect light and away from midday or afternoon direct sun for the best results.
Which Hoya smells like chocolate?
The most popular Hoya species, H. carnosa, is said to smell like chocolate when in flower. This scent is strongest when the flowers open, fading to a more floral scent later on.
When do Hoyas bloom?
Hoyas bloom from spring to mid-fall, depending on the species. As they are tropical and subtropical plants, they will only bloom when temperatures increase in spring.
With interesting foliage and stunning scented flowers across the different Hoya species, there is something for everyone in this genus. These hardy plants make excellent houseplants, and are known to live a long life with proper care. Try one of the popular options for beginners to start your very own Hoya collection.