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One of our favorite tropical houseplants we love to grow are members of the hoya family. Hoya have been popular house plants for decades and with good reason. There are over 200 species of the easy to grow, almost indestructible hoya plant. Hoya plants are often referred to as a Wax plant, Wax Vine, or Wax flower because of the waxy nature of their leaves and unique flowers. They bloom in clusters of sweetly smelling flowers like those of their distant cousin, the milkweed. When Hoyas flower, they can sometimes give off chocolate, vanilla, or cinnamon scents. Most varieties of hoya plants were originally found growing in the warm temperate climates of places like India, Thailand, the Philippines, Polynesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam. There are also many hoya plants native to Australia. They live a long time and will quickly become some of your favorite houseplants.


Today, hoya plants are a very popular, flowering houseplant that look beautiful hanging in a warm, bright, area of your home. Hoya carnosa is the basic species we use as an indoor plant. This type of hoya has fleshy, succulent, green leaves growing on long, twining stems. There are many colorful, hybrids of the hoya carnosa available today. The Crimson Queen hoya plant has variegated green leaves with pink, white, or cream-colored edges. The Crimson Princess hoya plant, also called a tricolor hoya, has leaves with green edges, and the center of the leaves can be any combination of white, pink, yellow, or dark pink depending on the amount of light available in the room. An easy way to distinguish these two beauties is this little saying, "The queen wears her crown, the princess wears her gown". The Crimson Queen has her variegations on the outside of the leaves and the Crimson Princess has her variegations on the inside of the leaves. Pretty cool way to remember!


The Hindu Rope plant, Hoya carnosa compacta, has thick, twisted, curly, cupped leaves which is how it got its nickname, Krinkle Kurl. There are over 50 other hoya plant varieties such as the Hoya Kerri (Sweetheart hoya) with heart-shaped leaves and the Hoya pubicalyx with elongated, oval leaves that make great houseplants.


Most varieties grown indoors produce clusters, called umbels, of five-pointed, star shaped, fragrant flowers in red, white, pink, purple, yellow, orange, and even black. A hoya plant is a semi- succulent, very forgiving, green gem perfect to hang in front of a bright sunny window. They are easy to propagate using stem tip cuttings if you want to share your plant with friends and family.  Even a plant novice will be successful growing a hoya plant if they are careful not to over-water.


Here are a few pointers to be successful growing your hoya baby!


Light - Hoya plants do best and bloom more often in very bright, indirect light. They are one of the few indoor plants that can handle direct morning sun. Avoid all day, direct sun at all cost! They are very sensitive to the high intensity  and will burn in a heartbeat. They can tolerate low light, but in those conditions, they may focus their energy on growing more leaves rather than producing those beautiful, fragrant waxy blossoms. That’s not necessarily a problem, as the thick leaves themselves are beautiful gifts. However, proper light will give them enough energy to bloom.

Temperature - Hoya plants can adapt to almost any moderate temperature, but prefer 65°F- 80°F during the day and  60°F - 65°F at night. Keep the room temperature warm year-round, try not to let it drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also best to keep plants from touching cold windows and away from heating and cooling vents.


Hoyas love to take summer vacation outdoors on a covered, protected east or west facing porch. They love our high humidity here in Northeast Tennessee. Just don't leave them outside if temps drop below 60F at night!

Water  - Hoyas are semi-succulent plants that store water in their leaves. Allow the soil to practically dry out before watering. These plants thrive on neglect, but do need additional water when in bloom. If your water contains fluorine or chlorine, allow it to sit out 24 hours or more so the chemicals can dissipate before using it. These chemicals are very harmful to a hoya plant.


Some people even wait until their leaves start to wrinkle or pucker slightly before giving them a drink. When you do water, give them a thorough soaking. But make sure it all drains, and remember to remove excess water from the saucer. If the plant is too dry (which is rare), the lower leaves on the vine will start to yellow. If it’s too wet, it will attempt to shed moisture by dropping leaves. During their dormant phase in winter, they’ll need even less frequent watering.

Humidity - Basic household humidity or lower is fine for hoya plants to grow. However, Hoya are tropical plants that thrive in humid conditions. Use a humidifier to bring the humidity levels up, especially in winter when indoor air tends to be dry. A saucer with gravel and water also provides humidity as the water evaporates. Misting with room-temperature water also helps but avoid spraying the flowers.

Soil - Use a well-aerated fast-draining potting soil. Add a little sand to the soil if it seems too heavy and is not drying out quickly.

Fertilizer - Feed a hoya monthly, when the plant is actively growing, with a balanced plant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. We like to use a high phosphorus fertilizer to encourage blooms! Hold off feeding during their dormancy in the winter.


Flowering - A mature hoya plant (3 plus yrs) produces beautiful clusters of fragrant flowers in numerous colors. Each hoya flower has five waxy petals. New flowers develop on the older stems so never cut off the old flower stems. The ideal location indoors is right in front of a window facing east or west where the plant can get a few hours of direct sunlight. Try experimenting with more light, if necessary, to find the right conditions it needs. Once the flower buds form, keep the plant in one place, as moving it may cause the flowers to fall off. Provide bright, indirect light the rest of the day. Give it a 4-5 week period of drought during the winter as a way to encourage it to bloom the following spring. It’s essential to keep the roots pot-bound and not move it to a larger pot too soon. And finally, when it does bloom, remember not to deadhead the flower stems. Leave them on as this is where your hoya plant will bloom next time around.

Re-pot - Hoyas grow well in any plastic, terra cotta, or ceramic pot. A hanging basket is often a beautiful way to enjoy their trailing branches. As they like to be pot-bound, only repot them once the roots have replaced nearly all of the soil, and only select a new pot that is 1-2 inches larger than the previous one. They are also sensitive to too much water, so make sure to use a well-draining soil mix with plenty of perlite. We like a mix of 50% potting soil, 50% sand. Remember, DO NOT let your hoya stand in water for any time...this is sure death!

Maintenance - Prune in spring before vigorous growth begins. The stems with no leaves are called spurs and shouldn’t be removed. They extend bare tendrils first and then sprout leaves and flowers on them after. Flowers are produced on the same spurs year after year. Hoya are vining plants that will happily cascade from a shelf or window sill. Conversely, they are often trained onto trellises that are either vertical or circular, giving the impression of a more robust plant.

Pests - Hoya plants are susceptible to mealy bugs, spider mites, and aphids. The main plant diseases that affect hoya plants are botrytis, a fungus that causes grayish areas on the leaves, and crown, stem, and root rot, a fungal disease caused by humid warm conditions, wet leaves, soggy soil, and poor air circulation.

Propagation - Propagating hoyas with stem cuttings is easy. Take a cutting from a healthy plant in spring/summer. This is the best time to propagate hoyas as it’s their growing season so they’ll develop roots and grow faster than during winter when they’re sleeping. Fill a pot with a well-drained potting mix, such as one containing coco-coir, perlite, vermiculite, or clean sand to improve drainage. Water well, then set the pot aside to drain until the potting mix is evenly moist but not saturated. Cut a healthy stem with a least two or three leaves. The stem should be around 4 to 5 inches long. Remove leaves from the lower stem. Once the cutting is planted, the leaves shouldn’t touch the soil. Dip the bottom of the stem in liquid or powdered rooting hormone. (Rooting hormone isn’t an absolute requirement, but it may increase the chance of successful rooting.) Water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist. The cuttings need to be constantly damp to develop roots. Be careful not to overwater because soggy soil may rot the stem.

Potential Problems - Hoya plants rest during the winter months and require even less water than usual.

Special Notes - Although not considered poisonous, hoya plants may make dogs and cats ill if they eat a large number of the leaves.