How to Care for Hoya Kerrii

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Hoya are one of those gateway plants that can lead to a full-blown obsession, and Hoya kerrii is probably the one that catches a lot of newbie’s eyes.

It’s also called the Sweetheart plant or Valentine’s hoya because the leaves look like hearts.

Aaaand because we live in a capitalist society where we like to eek as much cash as possible out of er, everything, it’s a pretty common practice to sell single leaves as actual plants.

To be honest, this doesn’t really bother me. In fact, I’m surprised more plants aren’t treated in this way, especially Monstera – like Hoya kerrii, the leaves will root without a node and will stay alive for months, they just probs won’t grow any more.

I just think that it should be stated on the plant that any additional growth is a bonus, not an inevitability.

So, how do Hoya Kerrii like to be treated?

Do Hoya kerrii need full sun?

Hoya kerrii have very thick, waxy leaves.

Another name for the Hoya genus is the Wax plant, so most Hoya have pretty succulent leaves, but Hoya kerrii has REALLY thick leaves.

What does this have to do with the sun?

Basically, it probs can take full sun (since its leaves are designed to retain water, suggesting it grows in an arid environment), but also it pretty hardy and can do with a bit of lower light.

In my experience, most hoyas prefer bright, indirect light, but can tolerate a bit of full sun.

If you acclimate them properly, they’ll live pretty happily in brighter light, provided they’re not baking in the sun or hours.

You can keep Hoya kerrii in lower light. I have done, and it remained perfectly happy BUT it didn’t grow very much. A lot of vining and a couple of smaller leaves.

It’s worth mentioning that my kerrii is a variegated one though, so will grow slower (and *vinier*) than a regular green one.

monstera leaf

Do Hoya like to be misted?

I’m not a great advocate of misting (in fact, I wrote a whole article about why I don’t mist my plants).

You’d think that Hoya would HATE being misted, because they like to dry out so much.

Or, you’d think they like to be misted because they looove a bit of humidity.

So whilst, I’m not a mister, I do have a Hoya bella hung up in my shower, and she gets a bit of accidental misting every now and again and she…doesn’t seem to care. But then, all her leaves point downwards so the water can’t sit on the leaves – it rolls straight off.

If you want to mist your Hoya, go for it BUT keep an eye out for browning, squishy leaves and any brown marks.

(What I will say is that Hoya are one of those plants that seem to attract dust, and misting with a powerful spray is a great way to keep that dust at bay)

For those of you mist your plants because you have low humidity in your house, then I’m going to recommend that you get a humidifier.

I always recommend this Levoit humidifier that you can get from Amazon because it has the option for hot or cold mist AND you can set it so that it only comes on when the humidity drops below a certain amount.

If it’s good enough for Jenna Marbles, it’s good enough for me!

monstera leaf

How often should you waterHoya kerrii?

This is very much a ‘how long is a piece of string’ -type question, but the general rule is to wait until your Hoya kerrii is pretty dry before you water it.

Hoyas have succulent leaves that can store water in them, so they can last a fair while without getting water to their roots.

I assume this is because they’re semi-epiphytic in nature, so their roots may not necessarily be in the ground.

Having succulent leaves will allow them to store water in their leaves so it doesn’t matter so much if there’s a bit of a wait between rainstorms.

Since hoya are typically found in rainforests, I don’t think lack of water is the issue, rather it’s a case of having limited means to uptake the water.

A good rule of thumb is that the bigger and more succulent the leaves, the more water they’ll be able to hold, and the drier they can get.

It makes sense then, to assume that Hoya kerrii can be allowed to get really freaking dry since they have pretty big, thick leaves.

Personally, I like to bottom water my hoya, because, er, I bottom water most of my plants. Tbh, as long as you thoroughly soak the soil, I don’t think they really care how they’re watered, as long as you don’t wanted them until they’ve dried out.

I water all of my hoya with tap water (or aquarium water), and they don’t seem to mind. I’ve never noticed any mineral deposits on the leaves, BUT my Hoya kerrii does have some white marks on the leaves (she had them when I got her) which I assume are hard watermarks.

watermarks on hoya kerrii leaves

I’m guessing that this comes from being watered from waaaay above (like a sprinkler system) which would make sense in a greenhouse, or even a high humidity environment and then moisture has settled on the leaves.

Rumour has it you can remove the marks with lemon juice, but I’ve not tried (I don’t really mind how they look, and tbh, it’s a hoya. Five minutes after I clean it, it’ll be covered in dust anyway).

I really should try a few methods and update you. I’ll make a note in my planner to add to the million other articles I’m yet to write.

monstera leaf

Will aHoya kerrii grow from a leaf?

No, you can’t propagate Hoya kerrii from a single leaf.

‘LIES,’ I hear you cry. ‘My brother’s wife’s niece’s orthodontist bought a single leaf and it grew into a vine.’

Yes, but also no.

You need a node to grow a Hoya, not just a single leaf.

If you have a single leaf that grew, it will also have a tiny bit of stem and a node attached.

Nodes can be pretty small, so it’s not really worth uprooting your store’s entire collection of single Hoya kerriis – they can be tricky to see if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

There’s a chance that your Hoya leaf will grow, but a better chance that it won’t.

If you want a vine though, you’re best of buying a proper plant or cutting, not a single, potted leaf. These Etsy stores had them in stock (with good reviews) at the time of publishing:

There’s a decent selection of green ones, variegated ones, and splash ones (which are green with splashes of (usually) silver.

It’s kind of annoying that the single leaves are so easy to get hold of, but if you want more than that, it’s not so easy.

They’re not rare by any means, but why sell one plant with eight leaves for £20 when you could sell each of the leaves for £5 and make £40?

monstera leaf

Do you need to fertiliseHoya kerrii?

Hoya are pretty slow-growing, so you don’t need to worry about keeping up with a feeding schedule. I don’t fertilise my variegated Hoya kerrii ‘properly’ at all, I just water it with aquarium water.

If you don’t have access to aquarium water, a very diluted (twice as diluted as the manufacturer says) house plant fertiliser every 6 weeks will do fine.

I wouldn’t fertilise any more than that, but you could probably stretch it to every two (or even three) months.

monstera leaf

Does Hoya Kerrii bloom?

Yes, buuuuut not mine.

Never mind.

I’m assuming it’s a light issue – my Hoya bella is in a south-facing window and she bloomed beautifully this year:

hoya bella bloom

Hoya kerrii blooms look similar, but the flower is more spherical, and the individual flowers are packed much tighter together.

Hoya blooms have a weird range of scents – the bad news is that Hoya kerrii don’t smell like much.

The news, however, is that some angel has compiled a list of what a load of hoya blooms smell like. Check it out here. I bloody love a good spreadsheet.

And I’m excited for my krinkle 8 to bloom because apparently they smell like coffee and vanilla. YUM.

There’s no easy way to convince your hoya to bloom.

For starters, age is an issue – some hoya aren’t designed to bloom until they’re a couple of years old.

You want to make sure that you’re providing your hoya with adequate light (mostly bright, indirect with a couple of hours of bright light is perfect), and plenty of humidity (preferably over 60%).

…and then we wait.

monstera leaf

AreHoya kerrii slow growing?

Hoya as a genus are pretty slow growing.

In my experience, they grow in little fits and starts – my krimson princess grows and grows and grows and grows and grows, has a couple of repots in a season, and then does nothing at all the next season.

Your best best at getting your hoya to grow faster is to increase the light and the humidity.

monstera leaf

How to propagateHoya kerrii

My favourite way to propagate Hoya is in the Aerogarden, though I understand that not everyone has a spare Aerogarden lying around.

They root waaaaay faster in an Aerogarden than in leca or water – I’ve gotten roots in under two weeks before.

If you think of an Aerogarden as fancy water propagating, there are a few things you can do to replicate the conditions:

  • Add an air stone and pump to aerate the water
  • Keep the cutting someone bright, like a windowsill

…that’s it really.

You can propagate Hoya by just sticking the cutting in a jar of water, but it takes MONTHS (or it did for me anyway).

However, I did find that once roots do start growing, they don’t stop, and new leaves follow shortly afterwards (compared with, say, a Rhapidhora tetrasperma which takes an age to root and then even longer to produce new growth).

Please bear in mind that propagation timelines vary a TONNE. Some people only have to LOOK at a RT cutting and it’ll root, but mine is a stubborn little sod.

Once I’ve got my cuttings to root, I like to move them into leca. If I’m going to lose a propagation, it’ll be when I’m transitioning it back to soil, so now I, er, don’t.

If you do want to put it back in soil, I like to wait until there are new leaves before putting it in soil.

If you’re trying to make your hoya plant bushier by adding more cuttings to the pot, you can keep the cutting’s roots moist by misting the soil, rather than soaking the whole thing and risking root rot.

monstera leaf

Why is myHoya kerrii not growing?

There are three main reasons that your hoya isn’t growing. Obviously there are others, but these are the big three:

1 – Overwatering

Hoya are pretty prone to root rot, I think because they don’t really look that succulent.

You shouldn’t be watering your hoya until the soil is dry. Like, dry dry.

I like to use a moisture metre. They’re not particularly accurate if you have your hoya in super airy soil, but I’ve found that they work quite well in the dense soil that hoya usually come in.

Root rot isn’t caused by overwatering as much as it’s lack of oxygen to the roots. IF you suspect that the soil is compacted or hydrophobic it might be time for either a repot or a stir around with a chopstick to loosen the soil

2 – Lack of humidity

Hoyas come from the rainforest, and they grow best in humid environments. They’re not THAT picky, but anything under 60% could mean slower growth.

A humidifier is best, but my Hoya bella really loves living in the bathroom.

3 – Not enough light

This should really be number one, since it has the biggest impact, but overwatering is so common that it made sense to put that first.

Hoya grow *ok* in bright-indirect to medium light, but bright to bright indirect light is best.

My Hoya THRIVED under grow lights, particularly my Fluval COB aquarium lights, so they’re a great option.

Other reasons your hoya isn’t growing:

  • It’s needs fertilising
  • Its over fertilised (they don’t make it easy, do they?)
  • It’s in too big a pot
  • The pot is too small (-_-)
  • It has pests
  • It has a weird coir plug thing around the roots*

*These are very common in hoya (and aglaonema, two plants that are rarely grouped together).

The plantlets are grown in coir plugs, and then when they’re up-potted to be grown on into proper plants, the coir plug isn’t removed – they just plant the whole thing.

The idea is that the coir will break down over time, but in reality they, er, don’t. They don’t do *that* much damage but they can result in giving your plant a weird ‘waistline’ (or a bottleneck, if that eas a confusing reference) which causes it to become top heavy and unbalanced.

I bloody hate those things. Sometimes they use net stuff instead, which also doesn’t break down.

Oh, and sometimes you get whole plastic grow pots that will NEVER break down. That tends to be a dracaena-in-a-cheap-supermarket thing.

It can be a pain to remove those plugs, so just gently ease away as much as you can, and leave the rest.

monstera leaf

Why aren’t my Hoya kerrii leaves heart-shaped?

This is a perfect Hoya kerrii leaf:

Ok, so it’s super dusty and covered in soil (we had a little accident when i was moving her the four feet from her shelf to my desk)

But she’s so HEART SHAPED.

Which is, you know, as it should be. Hoya kerrii are famous for…looking like hearts. It’s a whole thing.

But they don’t always.

I guess these are the ones that don’t get picked to be valentine’s gifts:

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a different type of Hoya, but nah, they’re from the same damn plant.

There are a few reasons your plant may not be heart-shaped:

  • Not enough humidity when the leaf was forming (or, knowing plants, to much)
  • Not enough light, causing stunted growth
  • Pests, also causing stunted growth
  • Physical damage, so someone or something touched the plant before it was fully formed

But sometimes…plants throw out weird leaves. It happens, and there isn’t much you can do about it.

You’re quite likely to see the first new growth on a cutting look a little something like the leaf above.

Sometimes a cutting needs to have a few tries at making the leaf the right shape before it gets it right, and that’s ok!

monstera leaf

Pests common toHoya kerrii

My hoya bella has had both spider mites and thrips, and she seemed to do a pretty good job at shaking both, which is impressive. Spider mites and thrips are usually the ones we all dread.

Hoya are suuuper prone to mealybugs though, so keep a close eye on them. They can be a pain to get rid of because they can squeeze into tiny cracks and crevices, so check your hoya over regularly, especially if you have mealies elsewhere.

If you find a bargainous hoya in the reduced section of a plant shop/garden centre, be extra vigilant about checking for mealies. They’re one of those pests that make a beeline for sickly plants.

monstera leaf

Is variegatedHoya kerrii rare?

No, not really. There are plenty available on Etsy.

I’ve actually never seen a green Hoya kerrii in my garden centre, but I see plenty of variegated ones.

That being said, there are different types of variegation, so you might find that ones with splashes rather than block variegation are a little more expensive.

There are a LOT of variegated hoya. I’m thinking that they crop up pretty frequently.

Variegated are reasonably stable, in my experience, but they seem to be in the habit of doing that whole ‘I’m gonna do a white vine and a green vine, but not a healthy mix of both’ thing.

My krimson princess has a green vine that suddenly decided it was variegated again.

Hoyas seem to have a very chill approach to variegation.

monstera leaf

How do you care for a variegatedHoya kerrii?

Like a lot of variegated plants, you’ll probably find a lack of bright enough light will result in a lot more green on the leaves.

If you want to keep variegation levels up, you’ll need to keep light levels up.

This would be fine, but the white parts of variegated parts burn easily (like the white parts of me), so you don’t want to be exposing them to reeeeally bright light.

To be honest, I’ve never seen any burning on a Hoya kerrii. Their leaves are so thick, I think they can probably hack it BUT the younger leaves will be vulnerable to burning before they’ve hardened off.

I’ve not had any problems with mine burning under grow lights, even when they’re directly below them.

Variegated plants grow slower than green ones because they can’t catch (?) as much light in their chlorophyll (botanists everywhere are screaming and vomiting over that explanation) as green ones, so don’t worry if yours is on a go slow.

Try moving it closer to the light, or be more patient.

monstera leaf

Why are my Hoya kerrii’s leaves curling?

Curling leaves is usually a sign that there is something amiss with the watering.

Hoya kerrii leaves don’t tend to curl (or at least mine don’t) unless they’re pretty dry and they don’t have enough humidity.

Also, as I mentioned above, sometimes you just get a weird one, like this one of mine:

hoya kerrii with curled leaves

Look at the one I’ve circled! The hell kind of leaf shape is that?! It looks like Mick Jagger’s tongue.

In short, check it’s not dry or lacking in humidity. Sometimes leaves are just weird.

Oh, and exposure to pests can cause leaves to malform when they’re young, and result in weird, curled leaves.

monstera leaf

Best soil and pot forHoya kerrii

My hoya have always been happy to be repotted, so I wouldn’t worry too much about transplant shock.

One thing to consider is that hoya like to be snug in their pot.

Not root bound, but definitely snug.

Putting them in too big of a pot can put them at risk from root rot, plus they’re less likely to bloom when they’re busy putting all their energy into filling their pot with roots.

As for soil, they’re not particularly picky about it, as long as it’s pretty well-draining. Regular house plant soil with some added perlite will do just fine.

I use my regular aroid mix, which is a combination of coir, orchid bark, perlite, charcoal, and worm castings. Recipe here.

monstera leaf

Why is myHoya kerrii turning yellow?

Yellowing leaves is usually a sign of overwatering, but there are a plethora of reasons this could be happening. I have a whole article on why house plant leaves turn yellow here.

If a lot of your leaves are yellow, then you need to get the roots out of the soil and remove any brown mushy bits. A hydrogen peroxide bath can help.

If the roots seem fine, then try feeding your plant to see if it’s chlorotic.

Remember that old leaves naturally turn yellow, so if you have a single yellow leaf that’s pretty old, it’s probably just the leaf’s time of life. RIP, leaf.

monstera leaf

Is Hoya Kerrii easy to care for?

In my opinion, yes.

But then I’m an underwaterer, and Hoya kerrii are a big fan of not being watered very much. If you’re an overwaterer you’re going to have to either change pretty sharpish, or risk your plant dying.

I’m not a massive fan of the single leaves you can buy. They’re…ok to care for, but they’re very, very easy to overwater since they’re usually in a tiny pot filled with dense soil or moss.

Not great considering they’re a plant that’s often bought by non-plant people because they’re cute – you’re setting people up to fail (and with a valentine’s gift? Harsh).

Still, they’re a great plant for beginners (a full plant, that is, not a leaf) and are pretty happy to be left alone most of the time.

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