This Is What You Do With Hoya Runners

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It’s June, and we’re well into Hoya runner season. If your Hoya are all looking suuuper leggy at the moment, don’t despair! It’s all good – that’s just the way they grow.

Why does my Hoya have a long stem?

The stems are often referred to as runners, which some plants put out in the search for more light. Hoya runners are a bit different in that they put out runners, but the runners have little leaves already on them.

tiny leaves on hoya runner

Once the Hoya has ruled that the runner long enough, the leaves will fill in after.

Hoya runners can still be leggy though. If the plant doesn’t have much light, you might end with a bare patch on the stem.

If this happens, you can either chop and prop or nip of the growth point and hope it decides to fill out the bare stem.

Why do Hoya grow runners?

Hoya grow runners so they can climb. They’re epiphytes, so rather than growing on the ground, they grow on the surface of a tree.

Plants like aroids produce aerial roots that attach to trees and they climb that way. Typically the leaf and the aerial root grow together in the wild, but in, er, captivity, they do what they want. Except for this Rhaphidophora decursiva that has found a wall and is preparing to climb:

just casually leaning against the wall

Whilst Hoya do produce adventitious roots on their stem, they don’t use them to climb. Instead, they whip their vines around, hoping to find something to attach to, and when they do, they spiral around it, using it to pull themselves up.

Sometimes it’s something worth wrapping around, sometimes it’s a vine from the same plant:

hoya pubicalyx runner
Hoya publicalyx trying to beat the system and climb himself

If I wanted to stop this runner in it’s tracks, I would provide it with something solid to wrap around. This usually prompts the vine to stop growing and the leaves to come in. However, I kind of want to know what it’s going to do.

Can you propagate Hoya runners?

Technically you can but I wouldn’t bother.

When Hoya are runners, they’re basically immature nodes, so whilst they have the potential to root, that’s not really what they’re for.

If you did want to root them, I would definitely recommend laying them on some soil whilst they’re still attached to the mother plant (propagating by layering) and keeping the top of the soil moist.

The chances of them surviving when you root them is smaller than if you rooted more mature cuttings, so I wouldn’t try snipping them with the aim of rooting them.

Hoya can be incredibly slow to root at the best of times, so it’s best to use a mature node (or layer them).

Should I cut Hoya vines?

You can cut them if you have a few. This will (hopefully) force the Hoya to concentrate its energy on the one vine. Sometimes. Other times you just regrow the vine.

Don’t cut them because you think it’s going to be too leggy. The leaves will grow in afterwards and sometimes another growth point will fork of the vine – this is really common in Hoya bella, and I assume it’s to maximise blooms because the flowers tend to appear on the ends of the vines.

Why did my Hoya runners die?

Hoya runners usually die off or dry up if the plants has been stressed. There are loads of reasons the plant could be stressed, but here are the most common:

  • You’ve moved it

Hoyas don’t like to be moved unless it’s to somewhere that’s got either the same or very similar conditions that it had before.

Moving houseplants doesn’t generally bother them unless they’re moving to a position with fewer resources (like light, warmth, and humidity) in which case they’ll complain.

Hoyas adhere to this rule unless they have peduncles. if they do, don’t move them until they’ve opened up. The slightest upset and they’ll drop the lot. You have been warned.

  • It’s been underwatered

This is super common. It’s again down to lack of resources. Hoyas often put out multiple vines, so if it’s not *quite* getting adequate hydration, it’ll nix one of them.

Overwatering is often stressful, but the plant usually wouldn’t send ut runners at all if you’re overwatering. If the vines go mushy and disintegrate, check the roots.

  • Pests

Pests can cause the vines to die off, but you’re more likely to see small, stunted, malformed leaves. Check for spider mites!

Should you trellis Hoya runners?

Trellising is a matter of personal preference. I personally don’t like to trellis my Hoya because I find that they’re a nightmare when it comes to treating pests.

When they’re wrapped around something it can be difficult to get at all the leaves and you end up creating little pockets of spider mite resistance.

If you do decide to trellis your Hoya, definitely get one that can be extended, rather than one that’s just e.g. circular. A traditional dowel trellis would work well, but those wire trellises designed specifically for Hoya I find to be a bit of a PITA.

Obvs this is just my opinion – thousands of Hoya owners love trellises.

I just let my Hoya vine and vine, and then I take cuttings in spring before they get vining again, propagate them and add them back in for a fuller-looking plant.

Final thoughts

If you really hate the look of the vines, then there are Hoya that have less of an inclination to vine but they are much easier to keep as hanging plants. Plants such as Hoya bella and Hoya lineris are great examples, as are Hoya with tiny leaves like curtsii. Hoyas that naturally trail don’t tend to vine like, for example my Hoya parasitic black margin:

hoya parasitica black margin vines

However, Hoya vine to get light, so if you don’t keep non-vining plants in good light, they might end up really leggy.

I actually keep my Hoya Bella in a north-facing window and she’s not leggy at all (and blooms like a dream), and the ones above are in a south-facing window, so I don’t think direction matters as much as, you know that fact that it’s very close to a window.

Hope this was helpful, lt us know if you have any ideas for supporting Hoya that work better than trellises!

Caroline Cocker

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

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