Hoya Plant Bio: Podcast Ep#25

Updated: Oct 11

Diversity is definitely one of the perks of having Hoya plants! You can have different colors, growth habits, leaf shapes, and flower colors, all within the Hoya genus. Most Hoya have thick rubbery leaves, yet some, like the image below, have thin, long leaves.


Common Name: Wax Plant, Porcelain Flower, Waxvine, Honey Plant

Botanical Name- Varieties (not all Hoya...there are a lot out there!)

  • Hoya carnosa, Krimson Queen, Krimson Princess, Exotica, Tricolor, Hoya carnosa 'Compacta' AKA Hindu Rope or in variegated form)- Hoya carnosa has the most varieties that are popular in the houseplant community!

  • Hoya pubicalyx- Splash, Pink Silver, Red Buttons, Bright Garden, Dapple Gray, Royal Hawaiian Purple, Jungle Garden, Silver Sheen, Black Dragon, White Dragon, Pink Dragon

  • Hoya kerrii- Sweetheart & Variegated Sweetheart

  • Hoya kentiana- Hoya kentiana 'Variegata'

  • Hoya obavata- Hoya obavata 'Splash'

  • Hoya multiflora- common name is Shooting Star

  • Hoya retusa

  • Hoya linearis

  • Hoya curtisii

  • Hoya australis

  • Hoya wayetii

  • Hoya callistophylla

  • Hoya shepherdii

  • Hoya lacunosa


Sun Requirements:

Hoyas are fairly easy plants because they can tolerate moderate light but they really thrive in bright light. Bright indirect is great but most Hoya can even handle partial direct sunlight (not all day). If you don't have a south or west window, they can tolerate being in front of a north or east window. If you have Hoya with any kind of variegation, or if you want your Hoya to bloom, (yes it's possible!), it is best to put them in bright light (south or west window).


Water Requirement

Different varieties require slightly different things, but overall these like the same watering consistency. Most Hoya will show you when they need water. When the leaves start to shrivel this is a sign that they are thirsty. Obviously it's best not to let the plant stress out, but that is still a good indication it needs to be watered!

MOST Hoya like to be kept fairly moist while letting the top of the soil dry out between watering. In winter, cut the water back a bit since the sun won't be shining as bright and it won't be as warm. Allow almost all of the soil to dry out before watering again in winter (for me, this means end of October- end of February). Emphasis on 'almost' because if you let it dry out completely that is when you will see those shriveled leaves.

Also keep in mind, the type of light and environment you have it in can change how often you need to water it! If you have it in bright direct light, you will need to water it more often than a Hoya sitting in a north window. Kapeesh?!


Humidity can REALLY help these guys grow to their full potential. Then can grow in a low humidity situation but they will grow much faster and healthier with medium to high humidity. Place your Hoya in a greenhouse, put a tray of pebbles below the pot, mist daily or place it next to a humidifier.


Fertilizer

In the Practical Cactus and Succulent Book it recommends the following, "Apply a half-strength liquid fertilizer once a month from spring to late summer."


I currently use Espoma Indoor Liquid Plant Food and use this at slightly less than the recommended strength every month in peak season (end of February- end of October). In winter, I fertilize every 2 months or so with the same diluted liquid fertilizer. Realistically I only fertilize in December because at the end of February I start my peak season fertilizing again. So far this has worked for me!

  • Comment below if you've done it differently. There are SO many correct ways to do this!


Propagation

I've never tried this myself but I definitely plan to! You can propagate with stem cuttings easily just like you would with a Pothos! Once you've cut below a leaf (or pair of leaves) you can place your cutting in water or in moist soil. Increasing the humidity for propagation will definitely help your results! The Doctor Houseplant book says "Maintain humidity by securing all inside a plastic bag, or by protecting with a propagator. Rooting happens within six weeks, after which the cuttings can be removed from their protection." If you have plastic to-go containers this can act a good propagator too (Noodles & Company have good to-go containers for this).

  • Let me know how your propagation experience went in the comments below!


Other Facts

  • Part of the Apocynaceae family or Milkweed Family.

  • Native primarily to tropical rainforests in Australia and Asia (also found in Philippines, New Guinea and Polynesia according to Plantopedia).

  • Other plants in this family are String of Hearts, Star Jasmine, Milkweed, Periwinkle, and Amsonia.

  • The foliage on Hoyas can be thin and stick-like, completely round circles, willow-like shaped leaves, oval, or spade shaped!

  • Before you see the foliage, the stem grows first! DO NOT cut off a really long empty stem because you think it's struggling! Eventually leaves will form on it (see the Hoya below for an example of the new leaf forming on the stem).

  • You can find them in a range of green, white, cream, red, or pinks. Some have white speckles that look like you dipped your fingers into white paint and flicked your fingers at the plant!

  • These do flower!!! Yes, you heard me right!!! Putting them in as much sun as possible and raising the humidity can increase your chances of flowers significantly. The flowers range from white, yellow, pink and red. They form like balloons and burst with fragrance when blooming. I've seen LOTS of people on Instagram with flowering Hoya so it is definitely possible! (FUN FACT- Hoya linearis has a slight lemon scent).

  • Their flower drips nectar, so make sure to place in your home accordingly.

  • These plants can grow can grow as long or tall as you will let them! Most varieties are epiphytes and can be trained to grow on trellises.

  • Most varieties are not considered succulents even though they have thick rubbery leaves resembling a traditional succulent.

  • These are not toxic to pets according to the ASPCA!

  • Hoyas cannot tolerate any cold weather so make sure they are not near draft windows or doors. Keep in a bright window to help increase the temperature.

  • Their roots systems like to be snug so make sure you wait 2-3 years before repotting and only increase the size pot slightly.

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FUN FACT:

Here are the Hoya varieties shown in the images from the top of the blog to the bottom...

Hoya retusa

Hoya carnosa 'Krimson Queen' (I called this Tricolor in the podcast but it is Krimson Queen)

Hoya carnosa 'Compacta'

Hoya pubicalyx (this is not the 'Splash' variety that has much more white speckles than mine)

Hoya carnosa 'Krimson Princess'

Hoya pubicalyx (potentially 'Spalsh' variety)

Hoya retusa

Hoya carnosa 'Krimson Queen'

Hoya curtisii

Hoya 'Krimson Princess"