The Ultimate Hoya Care Guide

2021 Jul 27th

Hoya Care Guide

By Hoya Shop Canada

Haven’t heard of Hoya? Don’t worry, you will. Like high-waisted pants, fondue, John Travolta, and other things that peaked in popularity in the 1970s, Hoya plants are making a comeback. 

Houseplants, in general, saw a huge bump in recent years, fueled by social media “plant-influencers” and growing knowledge about the physical and mental benefits plants can provide. But the off-the-charts enthusiasm for Hoyas, also known as wax plants or porcelain flower plants, has collectors seeking out specialty Hoya shops for less common varieties and buying Hoya plants online as quickly as they are stocked.

Why Are Hoya So Popular?

What accounts for the appeal of Hoya? Hoya plants are unique in several ways. They are vining succulents, with leaves that are thick and waxy (hence the wax plant name) or in some cases, fuzzy, rather than thin and pliable. Unlike a lot of other succulents, however, Hoya are vining, which means they’re ideal for hanging baskets and in many cases can be trained to climb walls or trellises. And there’s nothing like a basket of Hoya sunrise, or Hoya australis lisa climbing a trellis. One look and you’ll be hooked on Hoya.

As succulents, Hoya tend to be lower-maintenance plants in terms of care. Even though they are native to regions with tropical climates like Asia, Polynesia, and Australia, they do well in average household conditions and aren’t as fussy as other tropical plants about light or humidity. Hoya are also non-toxic to pets.

One of the biggest selling points of Hoya are their blooms. When Hoya plants flower, they produce lovely clusters of delicate-looking star-shaped flowers, which is why Hoya are sometimes referred to as porcelain flower plants. The blossoms can be as diverse as the plants themselves; Hoya mathilde, for instance, has waxy white flowers with red centers, while Hoya sunrise has fuzzy pink blossoms. Many Hoya blooms give off a strong, sweet scent, which is often described in confectionary terms, like desserts: chocolate, cinnamon, butterscotch, vanilla. 

There are literally hundreds of different species of Hoya plants, each with a distinct leaf size, shape, texture, and bloom, which can make them fun to collect. You can find many varieties here at Hoya Shop Canada, from the petite teardrop-shaped Hoya mathilde to the flat, heart-shaped Hoya kerrii. Many less common species must be purchased online where you can find a wide variety. But they do sell out fast so don’t delay! 

Hoya History

Hoya plants originated in India, Asia, and Australia, but they got their name when 18th-century Scottish botanist Robert Brown published a paper about these perennial flowering plants and called them Hoya in honor of a friend, fellow botanist Thomas Hoy. Hoy was the Duke of Northumberland’s gardener, and it is likely he is the reason Hoyas first became popular. 

Hoya are part of the Apocynaceae or dogbane family of plants, in a subfamily known as milkweed. Brown had noticed that some plants previously in Apocynaceae had distinct characteristics, and split them off into a group he called Asclepiadaceae or milkweed. 

It’s no wonder Brown had a difficult time classifying Hoya, because their characteristics vary so widely. Some share characteristics with succulents, while others resemble vining plants more, and still other Hoya are woody shrubs. Even the way they grow can vary. Hoya can thrive in soil or out of it; like orchids, they are what is known as epiphytes, which means they have the ability to absorb nutrients and moisture from their environment and so can grow on trees.

Hoya plants also vary widely in appearance. While many have green leaves, some have a distinctive white speckled appearance, usually designated by the word “splash” in the name; for instance, Hoya mathilde splash. Many Hoya have variegated, or multicolored, leaves. Hoya australis lisa, for example, is well known for its variegated leaves, which can be varying shades of pink, red, cream, yellow, and green. Hoya Krimson Queen, aka Hoya carnosa tricolor, and Krimson princess are also known for highly variegated leaves. Still another variety, known as Hoya sunrise, has leaves that turn deep red with enough sunlight, and have unique veining.

While their appearance alone can make you want to rush out to your nearest Hoya shop or to a website to buy Hoya plants online, it’s important to know how to properly care for your Hoya before making a purchase.

Ready to start exploring the world of Hoya plants? Here is everything you need to know about the care and enjoyment of these fascinating plants, and what to be aware of before you make a purchase at Hoya Shop Canada or buy any Hoya plants online.

Caring for Hoya

Luckily Hoya, even those as beautiful as Hoya australis lisa and Hoya sunrise, are generally easy-care plants. When you first bring your plant home from a Hoya shop or receive a delivery from wherever you buy Hoya plants online, you don’t have to rush to repot it. It’s best to repot Hoya during their usual growing season, from spring through summer. For the most part, Hoya are slow growers (Hoya australis lisa and Hoya mathilde are two exceptions, as they tend to pick up several new leaves per stem each month) and like to have their roots crowded, so chances are that the way your plant came home from the Hoya shop will suit it just fine for up to a year or more. 

Most of the time when you buy a Hoya plant online, it will come in a plastic growers or nursery pot. If, however, you purchased a cutting from Hoya Shop Canada or another vendor, or your Hoya plant arrived without a pot, you can make it feel at home easily.

Hoya Substrate

Hoya plants like well-draining soil that does not hold too much water. You can use a pre-bagged mix made for African violets or succulents, although it’s a good idea to mix in some perlite. Perlite looks and feels like tiny pieces of white styrofoam, but is a natural substance made from superheated volcanic glass that helps aerate soil and improve drainage. You can buy it at any Hoya shop or wherever you buy Hoya plants online. A Hoya shop can also recommend a specific soil mix if you prefer to make your own. 


Best Pot for Hoya 

Planting Hoya in pots with drainage holes will also help ensure proper drainage and prevent roots from getting too wet and rotting. Make sure you use a pot that’s on the small side, because Hoya plants like to be what is known as “root bound” where their roots take up most of the space in the soil. Hoya are mostly slow growers (again, there are a few exceptions, including Hoya australis lisa and Hoya mathilde), so they rarely need to be repotted, but some vining species will appreciate a trellis to climb. Hoya australis lisaHoya mathilde, and Hoya sunrise are all vining species that will take to a trellis or other support, and you can make a stunning statement with them. 


Best Lighting for Hoya

Hoya plants are very adaptable when it comes to light. They can thrive in low to medium light conditions, but bright, indirect light is key if you want them to bloom. Hoya need between five to six hours of bright, direct light a day, preferably in a south-facing window. Hoya will also do fine under grow lights if you don’t have adequate light in your space. 


Best Temperature for Hoya

Hoya are native to the tropics, so they don’t do well in temperatures below 15 degrees C, and warmer is better. They will thrive in most indoor spaces as long as they are not exposed to extreme cold. Likewise, Hoya aren’t fussy about humidity but they will grow faster when the humidity level is at 60 percent or above. Some easy ways to increase the humidity level in your home include grouping your plants together and setting your Hoya on a pebble tray, a dish or tray filled with stones that you add water to. As the water evaporates, your Hoya enjoys the added humidity.


Fertilizer for Hoya

Typically, Hoya don’t require fertilizer, but if you desire, you can use a liquid fertilizer during Hoya’s growing season (spring to fall). Fertilizers high in nitrogen encourage foliage growth, but if you want your Hoya to bloom, switching to a higher phosphorus content fertilizer can help. You can ask at your Hoya shop or wherever you buy Hoya online for a fertilizer recommendation. And be sure to stop fertilizing in the cooler months; Hoya go into a semi-dormant state then and their growth naturally slows.


Watering Your Hoya

Because Hoya are succulents, they don’t require much water even during their peak growing season. A thorough watering every two weeks is usually plenty for most Hoya, but it will depend on how much light they get and how well-draining the soil is. The best approach is not to stick to a schedule but rather to check the soil. You want to make sure the top inch or so of soil is dry before watering again. You can test with your finger, a wood chopstick, or a soil meter, which you can buy at any Hoya shop or wherever you buy your Hoya online. Water with room temperature water until it runs out the pot’s drainage holes. You will need to cut back watering in the dormant season, which is fall and winter for your Hoya plant.


Hoya Pests

Pests are not usually a problem for Hoya, but if you are keeping your plant outdoors you may encounter them. You may also want to take precautions against pests whenever you bring home a new Hoya you bought at a Hoya shop or wherever you buy Hoya online. It’s good to isolate new plants for a few days just in case they picked up any bugs in transit. The most common pests to attack Hoya plants are aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites, which can be attracted to the nectar of Hoya flowers. Spraying the leaves of the plant with insecticidal soap and water or neem oil can ward off pests. You can find these supplies, or others, at your Hoya shop or wherever you buy Hoya online. 


Propagating Your Hoya

Hoya are fairly easy to propagate or reproduce, from cuttings. That means you can grow a new Hoya sunrise or Hoya australis lisa plant yourself at home, and don’t have to only buy Hoya plants online or from a Hoya shop. So the Hoya fun never stops! Look out for our propagation guide in the near future.