The Planet Houseplant Guide to Growing Hoya In LECA

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I currently don’t have any Hoya in leca, because I’ve either consolidated them in with my soil Hoya or I’ve given them away.

I’m personally a big fan of keeping Hoya in leca, but for various reasons, I don’t have any. Those reasons being:

  1. I have a few hanging Hoya, and hanging leca plants requires more thought than I tend to put into displaying my plants
  2. They’re very long and viney, and end up on the floor a lot. I hate the noise of leca in the vacuum.

Whenever I propagate Hoya, I always put them in leca, but then I give them away. They’re such a good gift, especially if they’re in bloom.

Is it easy to grow Hoya in leca?

I want to say that they’re incredibly easy to keep in leca, because I find them easy.

However, there are a LOT of people on YouTube that can’t seem to get them to thrive in leca. Or even keep them alive. Like a lot.

It’s bizarre, but interesting. Like that one lady that cannot keep a Pothos alive in leca, yet she has hundreds of thriving plants. I whacked my dirty-rooted marble queen in unwashed leca and she’s great.

I strongly suspect it’s because in my house all but the strongest perish. So only the best candidates make it as far as being considered for leca.

Also, I’ve only kept Hoya bella and Krinke 8 in leca, though loads of individual plants. Neither of them is difficult to care for.

I’m not the best at remembering to flush, and I have a very bad habit of just constantly topping up the water reservoir, as and when I need to, with either nutrient water or plain (tap) water, whichever I have at the time.

I always recommend Hoya bella as a beginning hoya because they’re hard to kill and bloom readily.

How to switch Hoya to leca

I’ve had a lot of success with rooting hoya in leca. As I said, they’re great for giving as gifts because you can just say fill up the water reservoir (mark a line!) rather than explaining when to water. Give a little bit of fertiliser as well.

You can also root cuttings in water and then transfer them to leca when the roots are a couple of inches long.

I have transferred a full plant from soil to leca, but it’s not something I’d advise a beginner to do. Hoya roots are quite thin and brittle, so you can end up losing a tonne of roots. This isn’t usually that big of a deal when switching plants from soil to leca, but Hoyas don’t have very big root systems (because most of them are epiphytes) you can end up having to reroot the whole thing in water.

Hoya can be slow to root so you might end up losing leaves as well.

How to water Hoya in leca

A lot of people like to use the shower method to water Hoya in leca, which involves soaking the roots for an hour or so, and then pouring the water out. Some people don’t leave the roots to soak, they literally run the leca under the tap, and that’s it. It’s up to you – I have no idea if letting the leca soak makes any difference.

Hoya are often cited as being succulents, and therefore not needing very much water. Whilst they do have succulent leaves, they do come from forests where it rains a LOT, so if you’re going for the shower method, you’re going to want to be showering your Hoya weekly. More if you live somewhere dry.

Hoyas do prefer high humidity (again, because they’re epiphytes) so you can usually get away with being, er, negligent if you have super high humidity.

How to fertilise Hoya in leca

What I do is just top up the reservoir whenever I’m fertilising my other plants, which I tend to do every other time I water.

Do not do this. It is not the correct way.

What you’re supposed to do is flush the leca through with plain water monthly, and fill the reservoir with fresh nutrient water. Add plain water to top up the reservoir as and when it’s required – checking the level every week should be often enough.

You should also pH test your nutrient solution.

If you don’t test your nutrient solution, and keep just topping up your reservoir with whatever you have to hand, you’re running the risk of getting nutrient lockout.

The thing about nutrient lockout is that you don’t really know that you have it with plants like Hoya, until you notice that they’re not growing. Mine kept growing and blooming, so I kept half-assing it!

Do Hoya bloom in leca?

Yes – at least, my Hoya bella did. To be honest, that’s not saying much. Several of my Hoya bella produced blooms when they were tiny cuttings. They’re like apple trees – it would be hard to stop them from blooming/producing apples.

My Hoya krinkle 8 never bloomed in leca, but it did grow faster. You may be wondering why then I chose to shift all my plants to soil, rather than all to leca.

Then answer is actually quite embarrassing. I know it was strong plant, because it lived through drought, overwatering, and a constant parade of pests. When I decided I wanted one big plant, rather than a couple of smaller ones, I just found a big pot, and put both plants in, in their respective substrates, then filled in the gaps with a mix of leca and potting mix.

Over time, the substrates have merged into a very airy, leca-filled potting mix which it really likes.

Which is better for Hoya: soil or leca?

I think that Hoya grow faster in leca, but not significantly enough for me to recommend one over the other.

I also don’t think some plants do better in leca than others in terms of species. It depends more on the care you give them. Because I think how you care for them depends how well they do waaay more than the substrate they’re in, it makes sense that I recommend you keep them in whichever substrate you prefer.

If you don’t have a lot of free time and find it easier to keep all your plants to a schedule, leca can be great. However, it can take time and patience to switch them over. If you’re more ad-hoc when it comes to plant care, and are happy to flit around with a watering can but will never be bothered to take pH readings, you might be better in soil.

I go through phases of both, hence flipping my plants between soil and leca on a regular basis.

Can Hoya grow hydroponically?

You can grow Hoya in just water, but it’s not one I try, for purely practical reasons.

Hoya, as we’ve already established, have a shallow, light root system. I grow my variegated Monstera hydroponically, and use her thick, heavy roots to keep the stem out of the water. The aerial roots also go back into the water and help keep her upright (though she will need a pole at some point, I imagine)

Hoya need a trellis or something to climb up. If you let a Hoya in water trail, the weight of the leaves will end up pulling the roots out of the water. If you let it climb, you’ll need to find a way of securing a trellis to the pot. The other option is to attach some mesh or something to a convenient wall for it climb up or let it climb nearby plants. But then it becomes a bit of a pain to dump out and refresh the water.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to support a Hoya in water, just that it requires some forethought. They would probably do well in an aquarium – especially if you rigged up a trellis behind it – because you don’t need to worry about refreshing the water (because you should have already worked out how to do water changes).

Final thoughts

Hoya can do really well in leca, but not necessarily better than they would in soil. If you prefer keeping plants in leca, there’s no reason why your Hoya won’t thrive. A lot of people swear by keeping Hoya in pon, so that’s something to consider, especially if you’re on the lazy side and would prefer not to fertilise your plants.

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

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