The secret of successful Hoya care: Part 1 The basics
A complete guide to let your Hoya thrive.
Taking care of your Hoya can be time consuming and stressful at times, especially if you have a home full of gorgeous plants. Luckily Hoya are mostly quite easy and resilient plants. In this Hoya care guide you can read all about the best ways to care for your beloved Hoya and hopefully let your Hoya thrive and learn to get the most out of your plants. Sometimes you just need to know a few tips and tricks.
What is a Hoya plant?
Hoya originate from tropical South East Asia and even parts of Australia, growing in tropical regions as well as in higher altitude regions. Hoya belong the the Apocynaceae family. Often they are called ‘wax plant’ or ‘porcelain flower’, referring to their thick and waxy foliage and textured flowers. Hoya are mostly easy and resilient plant which are also highly decorative. You can either let them grow on a trellis or let them trail down from a height.
The history of Hoya
The genus Hoya was first discovered in 1802 by a botanist Robert Brown, who named the plant after his friend and gardener Thomas Hoy. Hoya have been grown as houseplants for a very long time. In literature from the 1970’s and 1980’s some Hoya varieties are already described. Mostly Hoya Carnosa, Hoya Bella and Hoya Australis. Perhaps you have even seen Hoya before at your (grand)parents homes. Since a few years houseplants have gained popularity again and it seems Hoya have a special place in people’s harts. If you love plants for their foliage, there are plenty to cool Hoya to choose from. When you’re into Hoya for their beautiful flowers, there are just so many to collect. There is a Hoya for everyone!
When reading some old literature and comparing it to more recent information it seems many new variety have been discovered. Not only in their natural habitat, but also new species have been created by crossing two species together (what we call hybrides). Many of the old books speak of about 200 different Hoya species and nowadays it’s likely to be that there are more than 500 species.
What is the best care for my Hoya?
What is the best care for my Hoya? Now that we know a little bit more on the background of Hoya it’s time to find out in what way we can let them thrive in our homes. Generally speaking Hoya are quite easy and resilient house plants to keep. As there are so many different varieties, Hoya are perfect plants for beginning houseplant enthusiasts and die-hard collectors. A few elements need to be kept in mind when taking care of a Hoya.
A good substrate for your Hoya is one of the essential elements for growing a happy Hoya. There are many different types of substrates you can use and most of them are becoming more easily available. Generally speaking you can use either a soil based substrate or a non-soil substrate.
When using a soil based substrate for your Hoya always make sure the soil is well draining. How do you know if your soil is well draining you might ask? A well draining soil is mostly a mixture of products combined. For example you can add some perlite and bark to your potting soil to make it light and airy. Are you unsure about mixing up your own soil mix? We have two pre-made mixtures which are ready to use. For a good basic mix go for our Premium mixture, or our Deluxe mixture if you want some a bit more fancy.
Currently using soil free substrates, like pon or grit, for your house plants is becoming much more popular. To some it might be a huge transit or a risk you’re not willing to take. To be honest we were a bit skeptical at first ourselves to grow houseplants and especially Hoya in something other than a soil mixture. But after giving it the benefit of the doubt we have to amid we’re a fan of soil free substrates for Hoya! In our experience Hoya grow very well in a pon mixture or a grit mixture. Both are a fine mixture of pure minerals that holds nutrients and moisture for your plants. Biggest difference between the two are the size of the granulates. Those of the grit mixture are a bit bigger.
Watering your Hoya can ‘make or break’ your beloved plant. Did you know that most plants die in result of root rot from overwatering? You might want to pay some extra attention for this species. The roots are the base of your plant and when the roots are healthy they can take in all the water and nutrients that it needs to thrive. A happy Hoya is certainly one with happy roots. The big question is, how much water is enough?
Generally speaking for plants there are two seasons. The growing or summer season (generally from March/April to September/October – depending on your local climate) and the winter season (October/November to March/April). The frequency of watering and amount of water given to your Hoya is different for each season.
In winter your Hoya is likely to get less sunlight, meaning your plant has less energy and the growth is slowing down. It’s nothing to worry about, that’s just nature. In this period it is however very important to scale down on watering as your Hoya will require less water. If you would give the same amount of water in the winter as you would do in the summer, getting the roots to rot is a huge risk. In most cases it’s sufficient to water your plants once every 2 to 3 weeks.
When the temperatures are rising your Hoya will gradually ‘wake up’ and start to grow. This naturally means that your Hoya will require more water. Generally it is recommended to water your plants once a week in the growing season.
If you’re unsure about when to water your plants and how much water is enough we recommend you to use a moisture meter. One easy to use moisture meter are these from SUStee. They’re super easy to use and available in different sizes. There’s always one suitable for your plant. All details about the advantages of the SUStee moisture meter can be read on our website where we’ve also added a useful video.
Light is perhaps the most important factor in letting your Hoya thrive. Light gives your Hoya the much needed energy to grow. The amount of sunlight your Hoya can withstand depends on the variety. Most Hoya do great when receiving sufficient indirect sunlight. For those a place near your east or west facing window is perfect. Hoya that are much more succulent like can withstand some more sunlight and can be placed even in a southeast or southwest facing windowsill. In our personal experience we have Hoya Carnosa Krimson Queen, Hoya Kerrii and Hoya Diptera in a southwest facing window loving some more sunlight. It seems that also Hoya with much speckled leaves, or variegated leaves appreciate just a bit more light, for example Hoya Pubicalyx Silver Splash and Hoya Macrophylla Variegata.
If you’re a bit less fortunate when it comes to the location of your window rest assured to know that Hoya can also be fine when grown in lower light conditions. They do tend to grow slower and might become a bit more leggy when given less light. Personally we have great experiences with our Hoya Linearis. This one seems to love growing in front of our northeast facing window.
Hoya are fairly easy plants when it comes to temperatures. In most cases they’ll be fine with temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius. It’s not recommended to let temperatures fall below 10 degrees Celsius at night or during the winter.
Another important factor in Hoya care is the humidity you keep your Hoya in. Most Hoya are not too fuzzy and will do well in an average household humidity. To let your Hoya thrive however it’s recommended to keep the humidity between 60% and 80%. Especially in the winter months, when the heating comes on the air inside your house dries quickly. Keeping your humidity on point is easy with a simple humidifier.
How do you know if your Hoya will be fine with a lower humidity? With so many different varieties there is no ‘one size fits all solution’. Hoya that have thick succulent-like leaves, like Hoya Obovata, seem to be more resilient to a lower humidity. Whereas Hoya with delicate leaves actually need a higher humidity level, for example Hoya Linearis.
Fertilising your plants can give them a little extra push to grow faster and healthier. Fertilizers are available in all sorts and varieties so choose one that fit your needs best. It’s always very important to carefully follow the instructions on the bottle to avoid over fertilizing your Hoya. For the best results add some fertilizer to your water regime from spring to late summer.
When looking for a suitable fertilizer for your Hoya try to find out the NPK rates (Nitrogen-Phosphoros-Potassium). Fertilizers with a higher level of nitrogen will encourage leaves to grow. When you notice your Hoya is about to bloom it’s smart to switch to a fertilizer which is rich in Phosphorus and Potassium. We can recommend using Plagron Alga Grow first and Plagron Alga Bloom for your Hoya when you want it to bloom.
Hoya are one of those plant species that like to be a bit root bound in their pot. Therefor it’s not necessary to repot your Hoya often. Repotting your Hoya every 2 years is a good time frame to keep in mind. Once you’re about to repot your Hoya remember that it likes to be a bit root bound. Therefor it might be sufficient to just give the plant some fresh soil and keep it in the same sized pot. If you’re sure your Hoya needs a bigger pot, put it in a pot that is only 1 size bigger than the current pot. This will give your Hoya some space to develop some new roots. If you would use a pot much bigger your Hoya will put a lot of its energy in developing those new roots. Energy which can’t go towards new leaf growth or even the ability of your Hoya to develop flowers.
Common pests on Hoya
Hoya seem to be sturdy plant which are less prone to pests. Most pests that may affect your Hoya are mealy bugs, scale, aphids and/or spider mites. Luckily most of these are very easily treatable and don’t have to cause you a bad headache.