Top Tips & Info
- Care Difficulty - Easy to Moderate
- Water once the soil's top third dries out, reducing this further in the autumn & winter.
- Offer a humid location by introducing a pebble tray to keep the surrounding moisture high; the use of artificial humidity is not needed in the summer.
- Provide a bright location, avoiding more than three hours of direct light or excessively dark environments.
- Fertilise using a 'Houseplant' labelled feed every four waters throughout the year.
- Regularly check for pests, most notably Mealybugs, that'll infest the cubbyholes of the stem & foliage.
- Keep the ambient temperature above 10℃ (50℉) throughout the year, especially if placed outdoors in the summer. Drastic fluctuations may lead to lower leaf loss or short-lived flowers.
- Repot every three years using a 'Cactus & Succulent' potting mix and the next sized pot.
Location & Light
Perfecting the amount of light a Hoya receives is crucial for a long-lasting specimen. During the spring and summer, be sure to provide a brightly lit spot away from any direct light. Excessive exposure during this time will negatively affect the plant in the likes of sun scorch and dehydration. Once the autumn kicks in, be sure to include an hour or two of direct light per day to get it through the dormancy period, lasting until the following spring.
Although there are over two hundred species of Hoya, they all follow the same rule of thumb when it comes to their care requirements. Allow the top third of the soil to dry out in between waters, reducing this further in the autumn and winter. When it's time to irrigate, be sure to avoid saturating the cubbyholes or flowers unnecessarily, as excess moisture will cause anaerobic conditions which may result in rot. For those situated in shadier environments, allow around half of the soil dry out in between waters to counteract the chance of over-watering, especially in the winter months. Under-watering symptoms include stunted growth, yellowing leaves, a lack of flowers or sudden flower loss. These issues could be a product of many elements; however, too much sunlight or forgetfulness are usually the culprits. Over-watering symptoms include the yellowing or loss of leaves and flowers, stunted growth or a rotten base.
Create a humidity tray to provide a moist and stable environment for your plant. If the surrounding saturation is too low or the heat too high, its leaves may start to brown over and curl, especially in the direct light. Hose the foliage down from time to time to hydrate the leaves and to keep the dust levels down. Inconsistent levels of surrounding air moisture will upset the specimen, resulting in flower loss and stunted growth.
A product that favours nitrogen (N, P, K) is best for smaller specimens that need further development of foliage. Once the Hoya has reached your desired size, switch to a tomato feed (N, P, K - potassium) every four waters in the spring & summer to entice the plant into bloom. If, however, you're not into gardening, a general 'Houseplant' fertiliser will still do the trick, once every four waters throughout the year.
Dormancy Care & Annual Flowers
Trying to achieve a bloom isn't the hardest of tasks, with those who have a cooler room without artificial light at night being on the upper-hand. The following steps should be done at the start of autumn when the plant is entering its dormancy. Remember - a good dormancy always results in better chances of flowers in the spring and summer.
They're better off staying pot bound for several reasons, including the prevention of root rot or transplant shock, and to put momentarily stress on the plant. Although this may sound harsh, a restriction of roots is the best way to obtain flowers, as it'll send out a spike in response to becoming under threat. As long as the plant is subsequently repotted tri-annually in the spring, no harm is done.
For those with species flowering in the winter, continue to follow these steps. The drop in temperature should ideally last until the inflorescence finishes blooming, although it can still be transferred into the main room as long as it sits on a pebble tray. You'll be at a significant disadvantage if the ambient temperature is kept constant throughout the year, as these species of Hoya will only respond with flowers in cooled environments. Never exceed the minimum temperature as it could lead to plant death or yellowed foliage at a bare minimum.
Sunlight & Location
Be sure to provide a bright location with little to no direct sunlight. Although the winter rays won't necessarily hurt the plant, you can easily fall in the trap of sun-scorch and severe dehydration.
For the specimen to fully become seasoned, avoid the use of artificial lighting or locations that boast temperatures higher than 18℃ (64℉).
Reduce waters so that about half of the soil becomes dry. It's essential to keep them on the drier side to life, as they'll think that hard times are ahead and therefore will need to pass its genes on to the next generation.
While in bloom, use a Tomato fertiliser to provide monthly nourishment of potassium.
This one is to remind you that everything needs to be reduced - especially the temperature.
This is the most significant step; reduce the temperature down by around 5℃ compared to the summertime, or place in a room that's around 14℃ (57℉) at night. The drop in temperature should ideally last until mid-spring before relocating it back into the desired location in the house. Without the prolonged exposure to the cooler temperatures, your Hoya won't be able to fully winterise, thus reducing the chance of a bloom in the spring or summer months. Increase waters and fertilisations from mid-spring onwards, and follow the table below for more advice.
|Time of Year||Care Requirements|
|January & February||Resting/Dormancy Period. Maintain reduced irrigations & fertilisation.|
|March & April||End of Resting/Dormancy Period. Increase waters & feed using a nitrogen-based fertiliser at monthly intervals. From mid April, use a potassium-based feed fortnightly during this period; water once the top third of the soil dries out.|
|May & June||Flowering Period. Maintain moist soil & fortnightly potassium-based feeds.|
|July||End of the Flowering Period. Gradually decrease fertilisation in the soil - remove spent flowers as they wilt.|
|August & September||Water once the top third of the soil dries out; supplement using houseplant feed or a general plant fertiliser, at monthly intervals.|
|October - December||Resting/Dormancy Period. Reduce irrigations & fertilisation.|
N. B. - If you're located in the Southern Hemisphere, push each section six months forward to keep in sync with the current seasons. Example: January & February will become July & August.
Common Issues with Hoyas
Root rot is a common issue with specimens sat in too moist or waterlogged soil for long periods. Symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth and a rotten brown base. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect health below the soil line. If the roots sport a yellow tinge, you're good to go, but if they're brown and mushy, action must be taken immediately.
Yellowed or blackened leaves (usually closest to soil) are a clear sign of over-watering, usually caused by too little light. Although Hoya can do well in darker locations, the frequency of irrigations must be reduced to counteract the chance of root rot. People don't realise that a plant's root system needs access to oxygen too; when soil is watered, the air will travel upwards and out of the potting mix. A lack of accessible oxygen for the roots will cause them to subsequently breakdown over the oncoming days.
Pests could arise at any time, with infestations starting from the original nursery or via contamination in your home. Spider Mites and Mealybugs tend to be the usual inhabitants, with the first being minute and almost transparent, roaming the leaves in search of chlorophyll and a site to hide its eggs. The latter, however, will stand out much more, with white cottony webs developing across the foliage and stems. Thoroughly check the plant's cubbyholes before giving it the all-clear.
When a Hoya is severely dehydrated, most of its leaves will crisp-up and fall off - leaving you with a naked plant. Although it may spell the end of juvenile plantlets, there may still be light at the end of the tunnel for more established specimens. If its stem is still plump without any signs of retraction, prune-away the seriously affected areas and contain the plant (with its pot) in a transparent bag that has small holes. Keep the soil continually moist, providing a good level of indirect light and temperatures above 15°C (59°F). After a few weeks, new life will form in the nodal junctions on the stems, signalling the start of its recovery process. Maintain a sealed environment for the following month until you feel it's necessary to release it back into the open air. For the prevention of environmental shock, be sure to introduce a humidity tray for higher levels of atmospheric moisture around the plant in its new setting. Not only will this ease the specimen back into normal functioning life, but it'll also reduce the rate of transpiration (water-loss in the leaves), and therefore downplay the risk of dehydration and further decline.
Mould developing on the soil means two things - too little light and over-watering. Despite the harmlessness of the mould, it'll prove unsightly to most gardeners and is therefore removed once known. To remove, replace the top two inches of the soil for a fresh batch of 'Cactus & Succulent' Compost. Either increase the amount of light received (no direct sunlight for the first few weeks to prevent environmental shock) or decrease the frequency of waters slightly. If the mould is accompanied by yellowing lower leaves, you may also have a case of root rot.
Sudden flower loss can be caused by an array of different issues, including an change in location, too little hydration, too hot or cold temperatures or droughts and pests. Whilst the plant is in bloom, keep the soil evenly moist to hydrate the thirsty work of producing flowers. Locations that are outside of the recommended temperature bracket, or have drastic fluctuations must also be kept off the cards. Alternatively, a setting that offers similar temperatures all year round can inhibit blooms. They'll respond very well if the autumn and winter months are a couple of degrees cooler than in summer - this will not only winterise the plant, but it'll also force it into a dormancy period which is a crucial ingredient for successful flowers. The final issue is pests. Although it's highly unlikely that an infestation will cause a sudden change in health, have a quick inspection for Vine Weevils (located in the soil), Spider Mites and Mealybugs.
Hoyas originate from tropical regions from South-East Asia to Australia, with some species being introduced to other subtropical regions around the globe. The genus was named by Robert Brown in 1810 to honour his friend, Thomas Hoy, who was also an English botanist during that era. The most popular species' name, H. carnosa, refers to the thickened leaves which enable it to survive short-lived droughts. H. kerrii or otherwise known as the ' Lucky Heart Plant' during Valentine's, was first brought back to Kew Gardens in 1910 from northern Thailand by English botanist, Arthur Kerr. The species was consequently named after him. H. linearis is species from western China, first described back in 1825 by Nathaniel Wallich, using the species' epithet 'linearis' to describe its unusually long foliage.
10° - 30°C (50° - 86°F)
H1b (Hardiness Zone 12) - Can be grown outdoors during the summer in a sheltered location with temperatures above 12℃ (54℉), but is fine to remain indoors, too. If you decide to bring this plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure any direct sunlight as it may result in sun-scorch and dehydration. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back indoors.
Most Hoya can reach lengths of up to 1m. In general, it'll take between 3 - 8 years to reach maturity, with most specimens living for over twenty years.
H. carnosa - 0.4m in height and 2m in width; maturity is reached between 3 - 5 years.
H. kerrii - 0.4m in height and 3m in width; maturity is reached between 3 - 5 years.
H. linearis - 1m in height and 0.4m in width; maturity is reached between 3 - 5 years.
Pruning & Maintenance
Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.
Via Seed & Vine Cuttings.
Seeds (Moderate) - Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for around 24hrs in a dark location, preferably on top of an operating radiator. The best soil to use is a 'Houseplant' labelled potting mix; however, multipurpose compost with added perlite and sand is just as good. Set the seeds 0.5cm (0.2 inches) into the potting mix, resisting the temptation to compact the soil. Maintain evenly moist soil and allow the excess water to freely drain from the pot's base to prevent water-logged conditions. The ideal location for successful germination is in a bright, indirect setting with temperatures above 18℃ (64℉) with bottom-heat. Keep the pot in a transparent bag to provide a stable level of humidity, along with longer-lasting soil moisture. Germination may take up to four months, so don't discard any unsuccessful seeds until this threshold has been surpassed. Remove the bag once the seedlings produce its second leaf and then split them up into their own 3cm pots.