Hoya are an intriguing and varied vining plant that make great houseplants due to the variety of leaf shapes, colours and patterns. They are easy to care for and can produce wonderfully strange looking, beautifully fragrant flowers.
Common types of Hoya
Hoya are vines native to Asia spanning forest areas including Japan, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Australia. They are epiphytes so they grow on other plants, using their stems to twine around other plants for support. Being native to the tropics they like high humidity, can withstand lower night time temperatures and experiences monsoon rain. Having said that, they are a species tolerant of some neglect and can withstand short periods of drought, lower light levels and are perfectly happy within our homes without the need for extra humidity.
Light requirements for Hoya
Bright indirect light is best for Hoya to grow well and rapidly. This may be back from a south facing window (consider using a thin filtering blind to avoid direct sun). Near East or West facing windows will also provide good light for Hoya with a short period of weak morning or evening sun. It is best to avoid direct sunlight which can make the leaf tips brown. Conversely, not enough light will cause etiolation where the stems become long and stretched as they reach for more light.
Water requirements for Hoya
As with many houseplants it is best to water once the pot has dried roughly half way down the pot, then to give a big soaking in the sink, allowing the water to drain away completely before putting it back in a decorative pot if it sits within one. Hoya are very helpful in giving clues as to when they need water; the leaves become slightly thinner and not as plump looking or puckered. As always, reduce watering throughout the winter months, leaving the plant to fully dry out before watering.
Ideal soil for Hoya
As Hoya are epiphytes, growing in the nooks and crannies of trees in the wild, they do not need a huge amount of rich nutrient-filled soil. A loose, well-draining soil mixture is best. Soil Ninja’s Monstera mix would work well, or For Peat’s Sake coir with added Coco bark Chips and Perlite.
Due to their epiphytic habit Hoya do not need to be re-potted often, they can go years without needing a re-pot. It is always best to re-pot in spring when the plant starts to grow after being relatively dormant in winter. Repotting will give the plant a boost of nutrients and allow more space for roots to grow.
Hoya are not known as being toxic so they are safe for homes with pets and children, however when you break off a leaf white sap will form and drip out, this can be an irritant so do take care when handling this very tactile plant and discourage children from touching.
Hoya produce strange clusters of flowers usually white or pink depending on the variety. The flowers start as small peduncles and gradually burst into bunches of small blooms. They generally bloom at night as in their natural habitat they would use their strong sweet scent to attract night-time pollinators such as moths.
How to get your Hoya to bloom
Hoya can flower when they are mature and happy. Lots of bright indirect light and regular fertiliser through summer will help the plant to flower from late summer to autumn.
It is so easy and very satisfying to propagate Hoya. As with all propagation it is best to wait until spring and summer to take cuttings, when the plant is actively growing. Hoya are easy to propagate because they have very obvious nodes. The node is the bumpy section on the stem where leaves grow from.
You will need: sharp and clean scissors or a knife, a small glass jar, water.
Step 1: Using clean sterilised scissors or a knife, cut the stem below a node. You can see the nodes on the stem, they are the nobbly section where leaves come from, this is where the new roots will grow from.
Step 2: Remove the leaves near the cut end, exposing the nodes. Take care not to touch the milk sap.
Step 3: Leave the cut end to seal over for a day and then simply place into water. After a couple of weeks roots will start to grow. Be sure to change the water every week or so to avoid a build up of algae.
Step 4: Once the roots have grown about an inch (and ideally have secondary roots growing out of the initial roots) you are ready to simply pot into the compost mix described above. Remember to not let the cutting dry out too much as it is used to growing in water.
Propagating is also a great way to make the mother plant more ‘bulky', you can plant the babies you create back into the top of the mother plant's pot.