Some people grow a plant for its beautiful flowers, others appreciate the endless shapes and colors of plant foliage. The hoya plant not only blooms with large, symmetrical blossoms but also displays a mass of green foliage, available in a wide range of shades and leaf variegations. This easy-to-grow, durable, and long-lasting plant is also low-maintenance and hassle-free. Plus, they’re non-toxic to people and pets. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a newcomer to growing green things, the hoya plant is a perfect choice.
There are more than 200 plants in the genus Hoya. In addition to being so easy to grow and care for, you can choose a hoya plant to fit a specific space in your home due to their different growth structures.
To bloom, even houseplants need light. The genus Hoya is a native plant that grows from Southeast Asia to Australia. Some hoyas will grow in shade, but don’t expect them to bloom unless they have access to plenty of bright sunlight. Filtered, morning sun works best, while hot, direct light can burn the leaves. Many people choose to plant hoyas in pots during the warmer months and display them on their patios or porches. Before the first frost arrives, it’s best to bring them indoors to a brightly lit location, although most can tolerate temperatures that dip as low as 45 degrees.
Different types of plants require different amounts of water to survive. Examine your hoya’s leaves, checking for thickness, color, and size. Plants with thinner leaves that are larger and darker in color prefer shadier, wetter, surroundings. Thicker leaves — similar to those of succulents — mean they're a type that holds more moisture in their leaves. These ones need brighter light to thrive, but can go longer between waterings. Hoya carnosa, with its semi-succulent leaves, prefers to dry out for a few weeks before spring flowering.
If you’re choosing the hoya for its ease of care, grow the plant in a lightweight, organic soil that drains well. The soil should be light enough that the roots have contact with the surrounding air — orchid soil works well. In milder climates, you can grow the hoya outdoors, but the same rules apply. Plant in well-drained, airy soil in a location with access to lots of indirect, bright light.
Many types of hoyas that grow in the wild are epiphytic, meaning they grow on another plant that supports them, pulling most of their moisture and nutrients from the air. Try your hand at growing a hoya without soil by wrapping the roots in Sphagnum or planting it in another type of soil-less substrate. You’ll need to water more often and mist every few days.
Beautiful, star-like, and often fragrant, the hoya’s flowers are a joy to behold. Once it matures, this plant blooms in clusters of just about any color you can imagine. From pristine white to soft or intense pinks, vibrant reds, bright yellows, and even an almost-black purple, there’s a color for every taste and decor. The Hoya inflata erupts in groups of yellowish, parachute or bell-shaped blooms, but has little or no fragrance. The Hoya pallida displays extremely fragrant white flowers. Avoid the temptation to pick the flowers. New hoya blooms will emerge from the same node, year after year.
Dark, light, or speckled, and smooth, fuzzy, variegated, or square-tipped, hoya plants also have an array of interesting and attractive foliage. The Hoya kerrii, or Sweetheart Plant, grows heart-shaped leaves, for example, although these plants are sometimes hard to find. Some hoya plant leaves grow up to 15 inches long, but there are miniature versions that produce tiny half-inch leaves as well. You’ll discover a range of variegated treasures in the hoya family, including the Hoya caudata. Its leaves have a large, rough surface with splashes of silver and red undertones.
Hoyas don’t like cold or hot air blowing directly on them, so find a spot for your houseplant that’s out of the direct line of drafts and vents. In the winter, the air in our homes tends to get a bit dry due to our heaters. Try using a humidifier to keep moisture in the air during those months of the year. Also, hoyas attract pests like mealy bugs. Most of the time, spraying your plant on top and bottom of the leaves with plain water will get rid of them. It may be easier to handle larger infestations by placing them in the shower. Root-knot nematodes can also be a problem. Some varieties, like the Hoya lanceolata, are more susceptible to spider mites. Insecticidal soaps are effective in eradicating most pests.
Hoyas are light feeders, but monthly nutrients — except during the winter — will help them bloom. General-purpose houseplant fertilizers work well. Hard pruning will slow down the blooming process. Trim leaves carefully in the spring to keep the plant from spreading out too far. Don’t remove the flower spurs after the bloom has faded, as these can help increase the number of blooms in the future.
In the gardening and house plant world, nothing is more rewarding than growing new plants from the ones you already have. Do it in the spring. The easiest propagation method is to take cuttings that are four inches long — no more than five — with two to six leaves each. Dip in rooting hormone and place the cutting in water or a pot filled with organic potting soil. Increase the humidity around the plant, if possible. Keep the soil moist but never drenched. You’ll know the propagation was successful if you see new root growth around the bottom of the stem