Hoya Care: Grow Fragrant Hoya Carnosa Wax Plant

One word describes Hoya Plant Care – EASY!

The popularity and interest in the Hoya wax flower is growing. These vining plants have been grown by indoor gardeners for generations.

hoya bloom - there are many hoyas - 557 in Sept 2017

What is a Hoya plant? It is an evergreen climber with showy, fragrant star-shaped flowers in loose clusters on trailing stems.

Hoya plants are a climbing, clambering, creeping, or wax-stemmed vining plant with a thick wax leaf making them excellent indoor houseplants and hanging baskets as well.

Known as the “wax flower plant” their easy-going disposition as an indoor houseplant is one reason Hoya plants have been enjoyed for generations.

The most common Hoya species grown is Hoya carnosa. It also has a variegated variety.

The common name “variegated wax plant” comes from the waxy texture and thick waxy leaves of green, rimmed with red and white.

Hoya Plant Care

Size & Growth

The striking waxy leaves and foliage of carnosa Hoya variegata with its succulent foliage are quite variable and sometimes change as the plant matures.

The compact form – Hoya carnosa compacta, a curious variation with crumpled foliage, puts out one of the most spectacular blooms of the species.

As with most plants, the Hoya responds to good plant care. They do resent pampering, hovering, constant handling, and moving.

Hoya Flowers and Fragrance

Hoya flowers are often called the porcelain flower. They look almost artificial and appear in spring and summer when the Hoya plant is most active.

The star-shaped, wax-like flowers in a variety of colors hang together in beautiful clusters.

wax flower

Hoyas have one peculiarity worth noting. Hoya plants produce flowers on knobby spurs which stay on the plant even after the flowers fade.

New buds will be generated there to provide bloom the next time.

The lesson to learn. To encourage prolific blooming, leave the flower spurs on the plant.

Also, for fuller flowering, most growers recommend as a part of good Hoya plant care is keeping the roots pot-bound.

The star-shaped, wax-like flowers hang together in beautiful clusters. You smell the nectar and can see a distinct drop of honey in each flower.

Some may drip down onto the leaves.

Light & Temperature

Hoya Light Requirements – a north window providing bright indirect light is a good location.

The Hoya plant does not need direct light. Hoya likes to be in a bright position but not strong sunlight. They do not do as well when placed away from a window.

Another option is to grow them under fluorescent grow lights.

Hoyas grow well in a normal indoor room temperature of 70°-80° degrees Fahrenheit.

They like slightly cooler temperatures during their rest period from fall until the early spring.

Watering and Feeding

When you water your Hoya keep the soil moist but in spring and summer. Allow the soil to dry in winter but not to the point of shriveled foliage.

potted hoya carnosa variegata
Variegated Carnosa Hoya

In dry climates, more frequent watering may be necessary. Too much water can lead to root rot.

Some homeowners like to mist the leaves frequently. To increase high humidity, and cleaning the leaves, misting is fine. Do not mist the your Hoya is budding or in flower.

In spring Hoyas react favorably to feeding producing vigorous growth. Fertilize using a balanced liquid food, once per month during the spring and summer growing season.

Withhold food during the winter months. More on applying liquid plant foods.

Lack of water or too much houseplant fertilizer will cause foliage to brown around the edges and perhaps leaves will drop.

Over-feeding causes Hoya buds to drop.

Potting Mix & Transplanting

When potting or replanting usea moist, well-drained, light potting soil mix. An African violet soil with some added perlite is a good growing medium.

A good well draining potting soil or substrate is:

  • 1 part peat moss
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part cactus mix

For old Hoyas plant or repot only when absolutely necessary.

Handle the root ball carefully when repotting to avoid injury to the root system. Make sure to always use pots with a drainage hole.

Handle Hoyas carefully when repotting to avoid root damage
Handle plants carefully when transplanting or repotting | sablinstanislav-Adobe

How To Propagate Hoya

Propagate Hoya plants from cuttings of top growth, or by leaf cuttings in the same manner as African violets and gloxinias. The average cutting or leaf start will produce a blooming plant in two years or less.

The easiest method of propagation is by air-layering. Layers mature faster and do not need as much patience.

Pin down a stem, at the joint, in a moist potting medium or soil. Sever and pot the new plant after roots form.

Propagate H carnosa using simple layering.

I have taken a mature Hoya variegata; severed and planted every leaf and stem, and in less than a year have produced 78 healthy Hoya plants!

I prefer small clay terracotta pots over plastic, although either can be used.

Tips For Rooting The Hoya Plant In Water

The most fetching hanging vase I’ve ever seen was a brown jug filled with rooted Hoya rubra wax plant cuttings, all growing in water.

The glass of the jug was barely transparent. They used three kinds of hoyas:

  • Hoya (plain green leaves)
  • The variegated form Hoya variegata
  • Hoya bella (miniature)

I made a similar planting, and gave the vines food by following the directions on a tub of soluble houseplant fertilizer. However, Hoya plant vines will thrive unbelievably long without any food in the water.

Seeds Are Scarce

Starting seeds is almost unheard of because the blooms seldom produce seeds. It seems that pollination is a difficult business which in nature is carried out by an insect foreign to the United States.

Hoya Plants Pests or Diseases

Hoyas have remarkably few pests. The worst is the root-knot nematode. Because of it the hoya is rarely grown out-of-doors in Florida and other frost-free sections where the climate would permit.

If there is a nematode within 100 miles, it seems to seek the Hoya plant and destroy it.

If you do find a Hoya dying from a nematode infection, you can salvage leaf and stem cuttings to start new plants. Discard and destroy the roots and soil of an infected plant.

Aphids enjoy the sweet juices of the hoya wax plants leaving behind sooty mold and honeydew, but most common houseplant insecticide sprays, organic sprays of Neem oil or insecticidal soap will easily control them.

Mealybugs sometimes attack hiding in the leaf nodes and axils, sucking the juices from the plant. Ants (which accompany aphids), and red spider mites on Hoya indoors can be kept away by periodic application of Neem oil or malathion spray.

Fungus gnat can at times become a problem.

Recommended Reading: Is The Hoya Plant Poisonous?

Beautiful Hoya flower requires minimal plant care

Hoyas Plants And Their Origins

The origin of the name “Hoya” honors Thomas Hoy (17 – 1821), the gardener to the Duke of Northumberland. Hoy first bought this houseplant with waxy leaves to prominence.

Hoya is native to southern India, and the subject of legend. Hoya plants are found throughout eastern Asia to Australia. It is a member of the milkweed Asclepias family.

Readers Share Their Hoya Plant Care Growing Experiences

by Alma Brand shares her Hoya growing experiences.

During the summer my greenhouse is festooned with hundreds of coral star-clusters from the old-fashioned wax-plant, Hoya carnosa. During the winter its ovate, leathery leaves form an ornamental pattern against the roof-glass, providing protection for shade-loving plants on the bench below.

The rounded flower clusters hang heavily from the vines overhead and are not hidden by foliage. As many as fifty 1/2″ inch star-shaped flowers make up one cluster or umbel. And on a plant exposed to the sun, as mine has been, these bouquets may be spaced less than 6″ inches apart, borne along the vine on short peduncles or spurs in the axils of the leaves.

Pink Hoya blooms held in hand
Nikilev-DepositPhotos

The vine, trained across a 6′ foot section of the glass (there must be more than 150′ feet of vine), gives the effect of a fragrant, star-studded bower. Its 10-inch pot placed on the sill leaves the bench free for other plants.

The first flowers fully open by late April. After a month or so, they darken and are pushed off the spurs by new buds forming. This cycle continues until the last flowers fall in late October.

Some like to pinch off old flower stems but should hold back with this plant. New blooms grow on the old spurs; and the older and longer the spurs, the larger the umbel of flowers will be.

For best bloom the plant should rest in winter, receiving only enough water to keep it from drying out. The plants seem to grow in any soil and will tolerate years of neglect, but a porous soil of peat moss, perlite and coarse sand, with a little charcoal, has served me well.

My Spectacular Wax Plant

By Clara Shattner

My Hoya plant care experience began when a Hoya carnosa variegata, was given to me as a small rooted cutting a few years ago. I had never seen a plant like it before but fortunately, I gave it the right care – a sunny window, water whenever the top soil seemed dry, and a pot trellis on which to climb.

The foliage is heavy, with dark green waxy leaves and a few areas of creamy white variegation. The entire plant shines and looks as fresh as though just sprinkled by a soft spring rain.

The white flowers have a delicate pink tinge and appear in umbrella like clusters. You have to touch them to see if they are real for they appear to be made of wax. In the very center of each flower is a tiny red wreath, which looks like a small crown.

When the flowers are mature, a liquid substance slowly forms in the center of each, and when it is as large as a tear it drops to the ground. This, and the fact that it blooms during the Lenten season, possibly account for one of its common names, tears of Christ.

Hoya flowers with nectar drops
alessandrozocc-DepositPhotos

There were at least fifteen flowers on my plant just before Easter last year and their sweet scent filled the house each evening. The perfume is noticeable only at night, disappearing without a trace during the day.

I’ve given many Hoyas away. Cuttings are easy to start in moist peatmoss, perlite, vermiculite, or sphagnum moss. Be careful not to take too many cuttings – if you do, you’ll cut off the blooming tips and forfeit future flowers on your old plant.

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