You’re Not Imagining It – Hoya Move On Their Own

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A lot of different plants can move, the most famous probably being prayer plants, which fold their leaves up at night.

Hoya probably do move their leaves, but they do it in such a way that you barely notice, and you certainly wouldn’t be freaked out by it.

It’s the vines that like to move. And you can see it, and you might be freaked out by it.

And the vines grow so quickly sometimes that people swear they can see them growing. Especially when they find something to attach to. I could probs see this sucker move if I sit here long enough – it’s wrapped around twice since yesterday.

How do Hoya move on their own?

There are a couple of things that cause Hoya move on their own.

The first is phototropism, which is the reaction of the plant to the light. This is common in many plants – they turn to face the sun.

The second thing is thigmotropism, which is the plant’s reaction to its external environment – i.e. the plant is reaching for something.

In Hoya, we see the vines curling around something it can climb up (in my case, another Hoya).

When the tendril comes into contact with something, unilateral growth inhibition comes into play, where the side that isn’t being touched grows faster than the side that is being touched, and the vine ends up spiralling around the host.

This YouTube clip shows seedlings whipping themselves around the rainforest floor, trying to find something to climb up. When they’ve attached, they pull themselves up by creating a spiral in the tendril, thus shortening the vine.

I know how evolution actually works, but I love the image of a baby plant furiously whipping round going ‘GUYS TRY THIS!’ and all the other plants being like ‘no you fool we’ll just wait around like normal’.

There are a couple other reasons that Hoya move:

  • There could be bugs in the soil or on the plant – mealybugs etc can cause the leaves to deflate a bit
  • Gravity – never underestimate something’s ability to simply fall over

I think gravity’s gonna get this one in the end unless it can attach itself to the hideous textured wall. The other one things it’s soooo clever, but it’s gonna end up ruining everything. Yes, I could move it, but i want to know what happens.

Why do Hoya move on their own?

Same reason any plant does anything: to get more light. Hoya live in the rainforest, beneath the canopy so they don’t have that much light. In order to get more, they have to climb up.

Aroids such as Monstera and Epipremnum have aerial roots to attach themselves to trees but Hoya climb by wrapping their vines around…anything they can find.

They produce long vines and then whip them around to try to find something to attach to. This is why I can move my Hoya Parasitica’s vines away from my sofa all I like, it will move them back because it thinks it can climb my sofa (which tbf it probs can).

I moved them away this morning, and I’m going to now take a photo of where they are (say, 10 hours ago). I swear I haven’t cheated:

I wouldn’t care, I try to direct them to the Monstera near them, but they’re like ‘No! Sofa!’.

I love how the little one at the top is like ‘guys wait for me!’

Can you stop Hoya from moving?

No, not without either chopping them off or trellising them.

They just do it, it’s part of how they grow. They don’t care how creepy you find it, I’m afraid.

Don’t chop the vines off (unless your Hoy is as big as you want it). When your Hoya has found whatever it deigns to be the right spot, it’ll then start to fill those vines with leaves. They won’t stay for long – if you look, you’ll see tiny proto-leaves along the stem, that will be activated when…the Hoya tells it to.

Caroline Cocker

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

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