Plant Profile: How to Care For…Hoya

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I’m trying to get into making videos (it’s super hard and I’m a very slow learner) so I thought I’d start with adding my hoya collection video to my Hoya care guide. TURNS OUT I HAVEN’T WRITTEN ONE.

So that’s what this is.

Where do hoya come from?

Hoya are native to several Asian countries, including Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Until I just googled it a moment, I thought they came from Japan. It seems like I was confusing a genus of flowering plants with HOYA Japan, a company that makes optical goods. Oh well.

Several species of hoya live in Australia too.

They tend to hang out in rainforests, and many species grow epiphytically. This means they use other trees as a climbing frame. NOTHING vines like a hoya. My silver splash (which I’ve just realised didn’t make it into the video, oops) is vining towards the TV _- I think its thinks it’s a liht source. Which I guess it is.

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Where should I put my hoya?

If you’re a beginner, stick to putting them near windows. Hoya are quite succulent in nature, so they like a lot of light. If they don’t get enough light, they tend to just vine without producing many leaves.

My Carnosa tricolor lives a couple of feet away from a south-facing window and she’s doing ok – a bit of vining but still new leaves. The silver splash is about five feet away from an east-facing window and I’ll have to move it if I want significant growth. It will survive fine, it jus won’t grow.

What kind of light do hoya need?

Like I said, hoya like a lot of light. I find that if I treat them like succulents, they grow well. However, unlike succulents, hoya won’t tolerate cold weather, so make sure that if they’re in your window, they’re not too close to the glass.

I have found that they grow really well under grow lights – I have growth on my Hoya australis lisa in winter and it’s…decent growth, not crappy small winter growth.

If you watch the video you’ll see that I’m using aquarium lights – they’re more pricey, but I think they’re far superior to other grow lights, and they’re fairly unobtrusive. We zip-tie ours to the shelves because the adhesive that comes on them is super strong.

The normal, cheap grow lights are FINE for keeping plants alive, but if you want decent growth, check out these Fluval cob lights. You can get them from Amazon.

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What level of humidity do hoya need?

Hoya like higher humidity levels – makes sense when they you consider that they come from the rainforest.

I personally don’t mist plants (read why not here) but even if you prefer to, i wouldn’t mist hoya. They’re prone to rot, so let’s not invite it in.

How to water hoya

Think succulent – I let my hoya dry out completely (I water them maybe twice all winter) and then I soak them until the water is thoroughly saturated.

Whilst I’m careful to only use room temperature water for my hoya, they don’t seem to mind tap water.

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How to fertilise hoya

Ok, so a normal/nitrogen dominant fertiliser is fine for hoya, so just a general house plant feed is fine. I use a seaweed fertiliser, and usually feed my hoya every month to six weeks. BUT if you’re interested in getting your hoya to bloom, then switch to a more phosphorus-heavy fertiliser a couple of months before it’s due to flower.

In my experience, hoya bloom in the summer months, but I’m sure that varies depending on where they were grown, and when they were shipped etc.

Pests common to hoya

I read about hoya getting mealybugs a lot (makes sense since mealybugs LOVE anything with vaguely succulent leaves) though I’ve not had a problem with them.

My hoya bella did get a bad case of spider mites, but they very much sucked her dry and then moved on, so I didn’t have to battle to get rid of them, and she’s recovering well.

I’ve not (touch wood) had thrips on my hoya, which is a miracle in itself since at one point it seemed that all my plants had them.

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What potting mix hoya do need ?

Hoya are one of the plants that I do recommend repotting (or at least checking the roots of) pretty soon after bringing it home. Give it a couple of weeks to acclimatise and then check the roots. There are a couple of reasons I recommend doing this:

  1. Hoya can get root rot easily, and they’re often grown in heavier potting mixes. Cactus mix is ok, but I prefer to get them into something chunkier.
  2. For some reason a lot of hoya have a thick coir ring around the roots that can hinder growth. I hate those things so much, and I like to get them off asap. I waited too long to remove my krinkle 8’s and its roots are, er, crappy. It’ll need a lot of tlc (in the form of light, warmth, and humidity) to recover and start growing well again.

Because hoya are epiphytes, I like to use a homemade chunky aroid mix (recipe in this post). Cactus mix with some add orchid bark would do a good job too. Epiphytes typically like to have a lot of air flow around their roots.

You can grow hoya in leca – read all about leca vs. soil here – in fact a lot of house plant YouTubers like to grow their hoya in leca. It’s a great way to get that air flow I suppose.

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What type of pot do hoya need?

All of mine are in plastic, but since they like to dry out and they like a lot of airflow, they’d probably appreciate a terracotta pot. I’m an underwaterer, so plastic nursery pots are fine for my hoya, but if you have a tendency to overwater, you might be better off with terracotta.

Do hoya bloom?

Yes, and their blooms are beautiful (they don’t look real, tbh) and fragrant.

Make sure they have plenty of warmth, light, and humidity, and they should bloom well. Hoya blooms are incredibly beautiful and smell incredible. My hoya bella bloomed this year and the flowers smelled like a floral perfume. Other hoya blooms smell like chocolate or cinnamon – I’m not sure which, but I’ll let you know if any my others ever decide to.

It’s hard to give extra directions to encourage blooming because some plants need very specific conditions, but I’ll update this if I do anything different with my hoya care that results in blooms.

How to propagate hoya

The easiest way to propagate hoya is to take stem cuttings. Take a cutting remove the four leaves closest to the cut and stick it in water. Then wait.

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Are hoya toxic?

No, not exactly, but there seems to a lot of debate about this, so I wouldn’t recommend risking them with your pets/kids.

They make a lot of people’s ‘non-toxic plants’ lists, but there are also reports of pets eating them and getting sick. Stay on the safe side and keep them out of reach of little paws.

Where can I buy hoya?

I’ve noticed an increase in the varieties of hoya being sold at garden centres, probably driven by a recent surge in popularity.

These Etsy shops have a nice selection:

(I’ve not tried them, I’ve just had a look and read the reviews).

Notes

  • Hoya grow well when they’re sung in their pot, so don’t repot until you’re sure they need it.
  • Hoya kerrii (the ones that look like hearts) are commonly sold as rooted leaves. Nine times out of ten, these hearts won’t grow any more. The leaf will die eventually and you’ll be left plantless. If you just want a leave, go ahead, but if you want a plant, make sure you check it has a node (only for those of you that know what you’re doing), or more than one leaf.

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