How to Grow Hoya Plants

Jan 20, 2020

Hoya plants have long been thought of as being difficult to grow. Fortunately for the beginning houseplant grower, this couldn't be further from the truth. Hoyas are often referred to as wax plants due to the waxy leaves that almost look artificial.

Hoya flowers are called porcelain flowers in some circles due to the exquisite flowers that are produced during the summer months indoors. Hoya produces clusters of star-shaped flowers and comes in pink shades or even white.

What is a Hoya Plant?

Hoya plants are tropical, creeping vines that have been grown indoors for a very long time — typically grown in hanging baskets or on shelves where the trailing foliage can be allowed to hang down. Wax plants can also be grown on a trellis indoors where the vines will climb up the support. Hoyas can become quite large but are easily kept in check by pruning. The cut pieces of hoya can be easily rooted in regular potting soil and given as gifts.

Tips for Growing Hoya Plants:

One of the top tips given to new hoya growers is to treat each variety of hoya differently. This statement is only partially true. Hoyas generally all require the same care. The following is an attempt to offer all the information you'd need to become a successful hoya plant grower.

What's the Best Soil for Hoya Plants?

Hoya plants prefer a well-draining soil mix. Most hoyas are epiphytic, which means they typically grow on the outside of other plants, much like a staghorn fern or orchids. They naturally absorb moisture and nutrients from the surrounding decaying surface matter.

The best "off the shelf" soil mix we have found is Espoma Organic Cactus Mix. Cactus mix contains larger particles that allow the soil to drain rather than remaining soaking wet after watering. Because hoya plants are epiphytes just like orchids, they need excellent drainage.

Be sure the pot you choose has drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess water to drain away from the roots. Hoya rarely needs repotting and flower better when they are rootbound.

What's the ideal light for Hoya Plants?

In their native range, hoyas grow under the dense canopy of other larger trees. This is the perfect indirect light situation provided by mother nature. Your job is to replicate this in your home, and honestly, nothing could be easier. Hoyas will not like it if you hang them right in front of a south-facing window.

Too much direct sunlight will burn the plant, and it will ultimately die. Indirect sunlight or bright shade is the best light for hoyas. A sheer blind creates the perfect light level near a sunny window.

How to Water a Hoya Plant:

During the spring and summer months, Hoyas will use more water. During these months, you may have to water your plants every 7 to 10 days. In the winter months, hoya plants can be watered every two weeks at a minimum. Hoyas plants grow during the spring and summer and, therefore, will need more water to maintain their vigor.

Over-watering will cause the leaves of the hoya to begin to turn yellow. If you notice this starting to happen, add a few days to your watering routine. Having a waxy coating on their leaves allows hoyas to retain moisture that would usually be transferred to the air through transpiration.

Hoyas don't mind drying out between waterings, so don't be afraid to let the plant go an extra day or two before watering. I can't stress this enough; Hoyas are succulent plants, so no matter which season we're in, don’t overwater.

Insects and diseases that affect Hoya Plants:

Rest assured that when you buy plants from a reputable nursery, the chances of it having insect problems are very slim. Hoyas have very few pests other than the occasional Aphid or Mealybug. Both are easy to control and can be done without the use of harsh insecticides.

Insecticidal Soap: Soap is a great organic option for the control of both pests. Spray the leaves (top and bottom) with a pre-mixed product such as Bonide Insecticidal soap. Soaps smother the insects, and they will eventually fall off the plant.

Rubbing Alcohol: Yes, rubbing alcohol can be applied to insects such as scale, and mealybugs with a q-tip. It won't harm the plants, but it will dry up the insects. This method is sometimes more effective on the scale and mealybugs than soap. These insects have a waxy coating that can repel soapy liquids.

Occasionally if your plants end up with an insect problem such as the ones listed above, they can get a fungus called sooty mold. This looks like a layer of soot on the leaves. It's easily dealt with, and simply wiping the leaves with warm soapy water after the insects are gone will more often than not control the sooty mold.

The waxy leaves of Hoyas can be "shined" using Bonide Leaf Shine.

Fertilizing Hoya Plants:

Feed Hoyas about three times throughout the spring and summer. In the fall and winter, the plants will rest and not need to be feed. Any houseplant fertilizer will work; be sure to follow the label directions.

We like Jack's Classic Houseplant food. It's easy to mix and offers consistent feeding. Osmocote Indoor fertilizer can also be used as a timed-release method.

Types of Hoya Plants:

Easy Hoyas for beginners:

This group of plants will boost your confidence and prepare for the next level of hoya growing.

Hoya Carnosa Krimson Queen: You'll love the pure white and Crimson highlights on the leaves of this wax plant. Once this plant starts to feel at home in your home or office, it will burst forth with the most interesting waxy, pink flowers.

Variegated Hoya Carnosa: This is one of the easiest trailing houseplants to grow period. The waxy white leaves don't wilt, and the plant can go for long periods with no water.

Hoya pubicalyx Splash: Similar in leaf shape to the hard to find hoya australis. The leaves are splashed with creamy yellow to white specks.

Taking hoya growing to the next level: The next group of hoyas are slightly harder to grow but still qualify as easy to grow houseplants.

Hoya carnosa 'Compacta': Often called the Hindu rope plant. The twisted foliage of this hoya automatically makes this the center of attention in any room or office.

Hoya macrophylla variegata: This is a bit of a rarety in the hoya world. It has larger leaves than the typical hoya plant. They are outlined with white and have a crackled look to them.

The bottom line is, don't be afraid to grow hoya plants. They're more straightforward than you would think, and there is no feeling like the feeling you'll get when you see the first blooms of your very own Hoya Plant.

Until next time, "Don't Fear the Hoya (Plants)"

Woodie