Hoya is loved as houseplants because of its looks. They are plants that grow gracefully with beautiful leaves. These leaves are beautiful, but most will bring the Hoya into the home because of the blooms.Hoya in nature has a very vast habitat. There are species found in China, Australia and Indonesia, among other places. The different species all have slightly different appearances. Some have dark and oval shaped leaves, others light colored and elongated leaves.
There are species with white, pink, yellow and purple flowers. No matter what color the flowers are, they all have a sheen that makes you think they are made of wax. The Hoya is graceful, but it is also an easy houseplant that can take a beating. On this page you can read about the proper care. You will also find interesting background information about the growth and flowering and an overview of the most common species.
Table of Contents
Hoya growth habit
Hoya is a plant genus that consists of over 500 species. The genus is part of the plant family Opium. The first species was discovered in 1810 by the botanist Robert Brown. All Hoyas grow as epiphytes. This means that they have no roots in the ground, but grow on other yielding plants. Epiphyte is a compound of the Greek words “epi” (on) and “phyton” (plant). On plants, that is. The plant on which an epiphyte grows is usually a large tree with coarse bark to climb well against. The tree on which the epiphyte grows is called a forophyte. In our country we often keep these plants as hanging plants, but they are actually climbers.
Just like other plants, a Hoya needs nutrients. The plant does not collect nutrients from the soil with its roots, but is extracted from moisture, rainwater and dirt that accumulates on the bark around the roots. An epiphyte does not take nutrients from the tree it grows on, otherwise it would be a parasite.Hoya plants are evergreen and some species can grow up to 20 meters long. You don’t often reach this length in a pot in the living room, but it shows what a growth force they have.
As many Hoya species as there are, there is also much variation in the type of leaves. Some have very narrow leaves of only a few millimeters wide. Others have very broad leaves of up to 30 centimeters in circumference. Leaves range from long and narrow to almost perfectly round and all shapes in between.
The leaf surface type and color also varies. There are species with solid green leaves, others again have a mottled pattern. There are species with smooth leaves and those with a downy texture. Many species have fleshy, thick leaves reminiscent of the leaves of succulents. Further down this page in the overview of common species, this wonderful variation will become clearer.
The growth habit of the leaves is usually the same. Although some species look a little “bushier” they all grow on long tendrils where the leaves are opposite each other. These tendrils are often thin, but there are also species with thick tendrils that appear to be made of wood.
The growth habit and the leaves are beautiful, but the Hoya is most popular because of the flowers. The flowers grow in umbels. A umbellifer is an inflorescence in which flowers are attached to short stems (stalks) that arise from a common point. This is called an umbel because it resembles an umbrella
These umbels can grow very large. Some species are almost 30 centimeters wide. On the individual stems the little flowers grow. Each flower is shaped like a five-pointed star. Inside the floret is a flower nucleus that often has a different color. This core also has five points that are opposite to the points on the outside. The texture of the florets are often shiny. Hence the nickname Waxflower. But there are also species with a hairy texture, as you can see in the picture below.
Did you know that there are more than 500 Hoya species? By far the most of these grow in Asia, but there are also species that grow in the Philippines and in Australia. Of all these species, a small number are available in our country as houseplants. Most will know the Hoya Bella, which is quite popular. In addition to this variant, you will find below a number of beautiful species that are available as houseplants.
This species is also called the Large Wax Flower and is by far the most common in our country. The reason is quite simple: they are strong and beautiful plants at the same time. The Hoya carnosa is a houseplant that can take a beating and at the same time blooms beautifully.
Hoya carnosa tricolor
The Hoya carnosa tricolor is a beautiful variation on the Hoya carnosa. This variant has leaves in three colors: green, pink and white. A beautiful variation on an already beautiful plant.
The Hoya Kerrii is also called the Heart Plant because of its heart-shaped leaves. The plant blooms just as beautifully as the other species, but is sold primarily because of the leaves. You often see them as a single leaf in a pot, as pictured below.
The Hoya Bella is also called the Small Wax Flower and is a common species in our country. Below in the picture you see one. The species can be recognized by its leaves. They are narrower and more pointed than those of the Large Waxflower and usually solid green.
The Hoya Linearis has a different appearance than most Hoya species. The leaves are very narrow and oblong. They appear to grow as clusters on the plant, but this is a visual illusion. The narrow leaves grow in the same way as the other species, on stems. The flowers are flatter in shape and lighter in color, but still have that distinctive look of the Hoya flower.
The Hoya Australis is known as the Common Wax Flower, but there is nothing common about this plant. The flowers are just as beautiful as the other species. The leaves are slightly rounder and often light green in color.
The Hoya Pubicalyx has oblong, dark green leaves. On these leaves are white spots. In English, this variation is therefore nicknamed Splash Plant. The flowers are often pink to purple.
The Hoya Wayetii is not widely available in garden centers in our country. And that’s a pity, because it is a beautiful Hoya species. The leaves are narrow and the flowers are often dark purple.
Hoya Krimson Queen
This variation is called Hoya Carnosa ‘Krimson Queen’ and is also called Hoya Variegata. The leaves are green with white sections and give the plant a playful and unique look.
This is a fast growing species that is also called Fishtale Hoya. This nickname was given to the plant by the growth habit and the pattern on the leaves. Below in the picture you can see this well.
The Hoya Obovata is a species that you will find in nature in Indonesia. There this plant grows on large trees in the tropical rainforest. The Hoya Obovata has broad, oval leaves that end in a point.
The Hoya Lacunosa differs from the rest because of the color of the flowers. Better said: the color of the inside of the flowers. In the popular varieties this inside is pink, in the Lacunosa it is yellow. A very nice combination.
The Hoya Retusa is a species with very narrow, elongated leaves. Because of these narrow leaves it is also called the Grass Hoya. The flowers are white with a burgundy interior.
The nice thing about the Hoya Heuschkeliana? The flowers. These flowers have the same structure as its siblings, a bit wax-like, but in this case are more spherical in shape. Most Hoya species have flatter flowers. The flowers of Hoya Heuschkeliana are orange and sometimes pink.
The Hoya Macrophylla really stands out with the mix of colors on the leaves. In addition, the pale pink and white flowers are also a feast for the eyes!
Overall, these are very strong plants that are fairly easy to care for. However, easy does not mean that you can neglect the plant. There are, of course, a number of points to consider. For each specific species there are specific requirements, but in general you can care for all species in the same way.
Light and location
The right amount and type of light are important for good and healthy growth. Type and amount are two different things:
- The right type of light. The important thing is that the Hoya gets indirect sunlight, not direct sunlight. The reason for this can be derived from its natural growth habit. In nature, these plants grow on and under tall trees in the tropical rainforest. The foliage there blocks the sun’s rays. Only in the morning hours does the sun pass under the leaves and reach the Hoya. Direct sunlight in the afternoon is too hot and the leaves can burn as a result.
- The right amount of light. So indirect sunlight, but as much of it as possible. These plants also do well in a spot with a little more shade, only then the growth will be a little slower. Too much shade can lead to the plant never flowering. And that would be a shame.
Finally, when choosing a location, it is good to take into account the growth habit. You can keep these plants as hanging plants or climbers. A pot on the ceiling or a standing pot with a climbing frame are good options.
These plants naturally grow in tropical areas, yet they can withstand lower temperatures well. They will grow just fine at normal room temperatures. A temperature lower than 12 degrees is not recommended. You should also be careful of sudden temperature fluctuations. These can be caused by an open window, drafts, a radiator or an air conditioner. Keep your Hoya away from these.
How much water does a Hoya need? This is a question we often get and is something that often goes wrong in care. The most important principle is that the soil should never dry out completely, but should not be too soggy either.
In practice, it is good to just feel the soil. Stick a finger into the soil and judge whether it is time to water. Does soil stick to your finger? Then the soil is still wet and you should wait a while. If no soil sticks to your finger, the soil is dry. Then you can water it.
You will notice that your plant needs more water in summer than in winter. It is therefore good to keep an eye on the soil and judge on that basis whether you should water. A fixed schedule can work, but only if you have had the plant for a long time and know exactly what its needs are.always give water in small amounts and preferably at room temperature.
Above you could read about the natural habitat and growth habit of these plants. They grow in the tropical rainforest against trees with aerial roots. They have these aerial roots because of the high humidity in their natural habitat. Unfortunately, the humidity in our living rooms is a lot lower and it is important to do something about it.
This sounds a lot harder than it really is. Take a plant sprayer and set it to mist mode. Mist the leaves of the Hoya until they are completely wet. Doing this daily will prevent a lot of problems like poor growth and brown leaf edges.
If you use tap water for misting you may notice white spots on the leaves. These are lime deposits that remain after the water has dried. This is not harmful and can be wiped off the leaves. If you prefer not to do this you can use rainwater
Fogging several times a week may sound like a lot of work, but the plant will appreciate it. Most likely you have more houseplants that can also benefit from this. Consider, for example, the Maranta or the Tradescantia. Include these plants in the routine of watering.
There is a good chance that your plant will do fine in normal potting soil. We prefer not to do this because it has too dense a structure. As you water more often, the potting soil will sink further and the roots will get less and less oxygen. In the natural growth circumstances the roots of the Hoya are not even in the soil at all. Choose, for example, a mix with coconut or a potting soil for an orchid.
Pot and repot
A Hoya is a fast grower and needs a new pot every two years. It is best if the new pot is about 10 to 20 percent larger than the previous one. Repotting is best in the spring because then the plant has all the energy it needs to recover from the move. Always use fresh potting soil when repotting.
What kind of pot you use is not so important. What matters is that there is a possibility for drainage with a drainage hole at the bottom. If you don’t have this, water will remain in the pot and the soil will become soggy. After a while you will see leaf fall and eventually the plant will die. Many pots have a standard hole. Another possibility is to work with a plastic inner pot that you put in the stone pot. When watering you take this inner pot out. You put it back as soon as all the water has run out of the holes.
You wouldn’t expect it because they can grow so fast, but these plants don’t use much nutrition. Their need for nutrition can be deduced from their natural growing conditions. In nature, these epiphytes do not have their roots in the ground and therefore do not extract nutrients from it. Instead, they must make do with the available nutrition they find on the bark of the tree. That is not nearly as much as there is in the ground.
So don’t feed your Hoya much. Every month is sufficient. You can use a standard nutrient for houseplants. When feeding it is good to pay attention to growth. It may be that your plant stops growing in the fall. If that is the case also stop feeding until growth resumes. This is in the spring. Some plants do not go through such a rest period. If so, you don’t stop supplementing either.
Pruning is important to keep the size of the plant under control, but also to get as many flowers as possible. At the same time, it is important to do this properly, because if you prune incorrectly, it can actually be to the detriment of the flowers. Pay attention to the following things:
- If a branch has bloomed, let it bloom out completely. Do not prune the dead flowers, but let them fall off the plant in a natural way. New flowers often appear on these branches.
- The branches that have finished flowering and then grow straight up will probably have finished flowering forever. These can be pruned away.
- If you cut back a branch, never cut back more than one third. Too much pruning can cause it to be at the expense of flowering.
- Always prune just below a leaf bud.
- Dead branches can be completely pruned away.
- It is best to prune in the spring. Then the plant enters the growth phase and is full of energy.
- Always use sharp secateurs that you disinfect with an alcohol swab beforehand.
Tip: do not throw away the pruned stems, you can use them to cutt the Hoya.
Frequently asked questions and problems
Is Hoya poisonous?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is: yes, these plants are poisonous. Both the leaves and stems are poisonous if ingested. So keep this plant away from children, cats and dogs. In principle, this is easy because it is a hanging plant. You can hang these plants up high and no one can reach them. A better option is a plant that is safe for humans and animals, such as the Grass Lily (Chlorophytum) or the Lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus).
The plant is not growing
First, it is good to check what time of year it is. It is normal for your houseplant not to grow in the fall and winter. As soon as spring arrives, growth should resume. If your plant is still not growing, it may be due to the care it has received. In order to grow well, the plant needs to be comfortable. Read the tips on this page for maintaining your plant and make sure it is happy!
The leaves are turning yellow
Yellow leaves can be the result of very many causes. So it’s good to read about the correct way of maintaining these plants on this page. In general, the cause of a yellow leaf can most often be traced back to two possibilities:
- Overwatering in combination with poor drainage. If you give too much water, and this water cannot drain away, the soil will remain marshy for a long period. Then root rot occurs and causes the yellow leaves. Eventually the leaves fall off and the plant will die.
- A lack of nutrition. These plants are fast growers and can therefore use some extra nutrients. If you do not give extra nutrition for a longer period of time this will result in yellow leaves.
The Hoya plant loses leaves
If your plant drops leaves, it is often a reaction to stress. This stress can be caused by the coldness of the location where the plant is located. Is your plant perhaps next to an open window or an air conditioner? Remember, these are tropical plants. They do fine as houseplants, but they don’t appreciate low temperatures. Leaf loss can also be a sign of overwatering
Is a Hoya an indoor plant?
Hoyas are traditionally grown indoors as a houseplant. They have thick, fleshy leaves and star shaped flowers that grow in an umbrella shape. These creamy white and pink little flowers are unreal looking.
Do Hoyas like sun or shade?
Most hoya plants prefer medium to bright, indirect light. Some do well with about two hours of direct sunlight in the morning or evening, but too much sun exposure may burn their leaves or turn them yellow.
What is so special about hoyas?
One of the reasons hoyas are so popular is because of their unique and gorgeous blooms. Many hoya enthusiasts work hard to bring each of their plants to bloom, some of which are very difficult to achieve.
Are hoyas hard to care for?
Hoya plants can bring the taste of a tropical springtime into your home. They overflow with lush, juicy leaves and exhale sweet perfume when they start to bloom. They’re non-toxic to pets and easy to maintain. The key to hoya care is to let them dry out in between waterings and give them lots of bright, indirect light