My dad loved Hoyas and had quite a few of them growing in our home greenhouse in Connecticut. I inherited my love of these long-lived beauties from him. I’ve since grown them in Santa Barbara, CA and now at my new home in Tucson, AZ. Three very different climates and environments where the Hoyas all did well. That is why I want to share how to care for a Hoya houseplant and what I’ve learned over many years of growing them.
I grew them outdoors in Santa Barbara and have 1 trained as a topiary growing on my side patio here in Tucson. How to grow Hoyas outdoors is next week’s post and video. As a houseplant, they’re easy maintenance, long-lasting, durable and oh so attractive. What’s not to love?!
Some Of Our General Houseplant Guides For Your Reference:
- Guide To Watering Indoor Plants
- Beginner’s Guide To Repotting Plants
- 3 Ways To Successfully Fertilize Indoor Plants
- How to Clean Houseplants
- Winter Houseplant Care Guide
- Plant Humidity: How I Increase Humidity For Houseplants
- Buying Houseplants: 14 Tips For Indoor Gardening Newbies
- 11 Pet-Friendly Houseplants
How Hoyas Are Used
Hoyas are commonly used as tabletop plants (sitting on a table, shelf, buffet, credenza, etc) or as hanging plants.
They’re sold in 4, 6, 8, & 10″ grow pots; usually with a hanger. My Hoya carnosa variegata which grows outdoors has 4-5′ trails. In their natural environment, many grow as climbing vines.
Hoya Plant Varieties
There are many species & varieties of Hoyas sold on the market. You can find at least 1 that catches your fancy because the foliage comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors & textures. The ones I’ve seen most often are H. carnosa, H. carnosa variegata, H. carnosa compacta , H. Kerrii, & H. obovata.
This Hoya carnosa variegata hangs in a greenhouse. These grow moderately fast.
Common Names for the Hoya Plant:
Different species & varieties have different common names. As a whole they’re called Wax Plant, Wax Vine or Honey Plant.
Mine grows at a moderate to slow rate indoors. In the winter of course the growth slows down. The lower the light, the slower the growth rate. What I’ve found is that different Hoyas grow at slightly different rates. My Hoya carnosa variegata grows faster than my Hoya obovata.
How to Care for a Hoya Houseplant
Note: There are many different hoyas grown & sold as houseplants – here’s how you care for them as a whole!
Hoyas need bright, natural light to do their best. Mine sits on a table in the corner next to a sliding glass door with a north exposure & a tall, narrow window with an east exposure. We get a lot of sun all year long in Tucson so that’s the sweet spot for mine. I rotate it every couple of months so it gets the light evenly all the way around.
If you’re in a less sunny climate then an east or west exposure is fine. Just keep it away from hot, sunny windows & direct afternoon sun. In the darker winter months, you might have to move yours to a location with more light.
By the way, Hoyas need as much bright light as possible to bloom indoors. That’s where a west exposure comes into play.
I water mine when it dries out. Hoyas aren’t technically succulents but are succulent-like with those fleshy, waxy leaves. In the summer my Hoya obovata gets watered every week. In the winter I water it every 2 weeks. When I repot it into a larger container with my special soil mix, I’ll water less often.
Although many Hoyas are vines & shrubs in nature, some are epiyphytic just like bromeliads & orchids. In short, Hoyas don’t like their feet to be consistently moist. It’s better to underwater them than to over water.
Water less often in the winter. Here are some factors to consider when watering houseplants.
The very popular H. carnosa compacta or Hindu Rope.
If your home is comfortable for you, it’ll be so for your houseplants too. Just be sure to keep your Hoyas away from any cold drafts as well as air conditioning or heating vents.
Hoyas are native to the tropics. Despite this, I’ve found them to be adaptable & do just fine in our homes which tend to have dry air. Here in hot, dry Tucson mine are doing great.
If you think yours look stressed due to lack of humidity, then fill the saucer with pebbles & water. Put the plant on the pebbles but make sure the drain holes &/or the bottom of the pot aren’t submerged in any water. Misting a few times a week should help out too.
How to Feed a Hoya Plant
I’ve found that Hoyas aren’t that needy when it comes to feeding. Right now I feed all my houseplants with a light application of worm compost followed by a light layer of compost over that every spring. Easy does it – 1/4 to 1/2″ layer of each for a smaller sized plant. Read about my worm compost/compost feeding right here.
I can’t recommend a specific fertilizer because I’ve never used 1 for my Hoyas. Mine look just fine so I have no need.
Whatever you use don’t fertilize houseplants in late fall or winter because that’s their time for rest. Over-fertilizing your Hoyas will cause salts to build up & can burn the roots of the plant. Be sure to avoid fertilizing a houseplant which is stressed, ie. bone dry or soaking wet.
A close up of the foliage on my Hoya obovata. My what big leaves you have!
Hoyas, aka Wax Plants, love a rich mix with excellent drainage. All the mixes & amendments listed below are organic.
I’m currently using Smart Naturals because of its high quality ingredients. It’s great for container planting, including houseplants.
Succulent & Cactus Mix
I use a locally produced succulent & cactus mix. Here’s an online option for you as well as this popular 1.
I use Tank’s local compost. Give Dr. Earth’s a try if you can’t find anywhere you live. Compost enriches the soil naturally.
I’ve found Hoyas love orchid bark. It ensures excellent drainage. You can also add charcoal instead if you’d like or a combo of both.
This is my favorite amendment, which I use sparingly because it’s rich. I’m currently using Worm Gold.
This environmentally friendly alternative to peat moss is pH neutral, increases nutrient holding capacity & improves aeration.
This is the approximate ratio: 1/3 potting soil, 1/3 succulent & cactus mix & a 1/3 of the orchid bark, coco coir & compost. I sprinkle in a few handfuls of the worm compost & also use a thin layer as topdressing.
Repotting/Transplanting a Hoya Plant
This is best done in spring or summer; early fall is fine if you’re in a warm climate. Hoyas like to grow a bit potbound so don’t rush to repot yours if it’s dong fine.
Regarding transplanting & repotting, don’t think your Hoya will need it every year. Like orchids they’ll bloom better if slightly tight in their pots so leave them be for a few years.
I hadn’t repotted my large variegated Hoya for 3 years & did it because the soil was way down in the pot.
My H. carnosa variegata stems have been in water for 6 months now. They root very readily this way.
You can prune a Hoya to control the size, make it more bushy, to thin it out or remove any dead growth. I don’t prune off too many of the short stalks from which the flowers emerge because that’s what they bloom off of next season. In other words: a hard pruning (which is sometimes necessary) will delay the flowering process.
Here’s an entire post on propagating Hoyas so click on for all the details. The condensed version: I’ve had great success with 2 of methods – propagating by stem cuttings in water & layering.
For layering you simply take a softwood stem of the plant (which is still attached to the mother) & pin it into a pot filled with light mix. Make sure the mix is thoroughly moistened. Most times you’ll see little roots appearing on the stems and that’s what you want to get on top of the mix.
When grown indoor Hoyas can be susceptible to mealybugs. These white, cotton-like pests like to hang out in the nodes & under the leaves. Also keep your eye out for scale & aphids. It’s best to take action as soon as you see any pest because multiply like crazy.
Ring the bells! Hoyas are one of the non-toxic houseplants. Just know that if your pet or child chews on the leaves or stems, it could make them sick.
Saving the best for last – Hoya flowers are beautiful! Their waxy, star-like blooms are intriguing & can be found in many colors, sizes & forms depending on the species of Hoya.
Some bloom in the first year & others take a few years to establish before they bloom. My Hoya carnosa “variegata” took almost 3 years to bloom so be patient. And, it doesn’t bloom every year. I say Hoyas bloom when they feel like it!
How often they bloom seems to depend on the type of Hoya, age of the Hoya, conditions they’re growing in. And, as I said in “Pruning”, don’t cut the old flowers stems off; let them remain on the plant.
The wonderful flowers are fragrant too, especially in the evening. The icing on the floral cake!
Indoors they take longer to bloom, depending on the species. If yours is indoors & has never bloomed, it’s most likely not getting enough light.
Close up & personal with my H. carnosa variegata. As they age & grow, many white leaves & pink stems will appear. So pretty!
Hoya Plant Care Tips
As houseplants, Hoyas bloom when it’s warm & prefers cooler temps in the winter months to set buds.
They’re also more likely to bloom when tight in their pots.
Don’t prune off the fresh side growth because that’s where the flowers form.
Give your Hoya a shower every now & then. Make it part of your Hoya care routine. It keeps the gorgeous foliage clean & dust & dirt free. Besides, it’ll temporary up the ante on the humidity factor.
People have asked me about yellow leaves on Hoyas. My Variegated Hoya occasionally gets yellow leaves because it’s about 6 years old now, grows very full & that’s what happens as they age. If the leaves are yellow & a bit mushy, then you’re overwatering. It could also be due to a nitrogen deficiency.
I hope these tips have helped you out. If you’re a beginning houseplant gardener be sure to give 1 of the Hoyas a try. Just remember, no pampering and no overwatering. Hoyas are very independent when it comes to maintenance!
Want some Hoyas? Here are a few sources for ordering online:
Variegated Hoya (like mine with the pink & white foliage)
You Might Also Enjoy:
How I Prune, Propagate and Train My Stunning Hoya
Repotting My Large Hoya Topiary
Care Tips For Growing Hoya Plants Outdoors
This post may contain affiliate links. You can read our policies here. Your cost for the products will be no higher but Joy Us garden receives a small commission. Thank you for helping us spread the word & make the world a more beautiful place!
I’ve been reading joyusgarden for a while, but just started watching your videos tonight. Well, its 4 in the morning and I cant stop! Talk about binge watching! Thanks for the great info. I love your gorgeous plants.
Hi – I’m new to plants – but of course jumped in with both feet a few months ago. Zero to Over thirty on like three months?…
While looking up how to care for something I came across your site!
It’s SO well done no matter where people live and you’re very thorough in your explanations!
I find it especially SO helpful because I’m also in AZ and it makes a big difference in plant care. I think most people think only cacti grow here.
Anyway, just wanted to say thank you for your site and the great information!
I hope your move from Santa Barbara has been good! I moved from San Diego decades ago and still miss it….
All the best and thank you again!
Nell Foster says
Hi Shanon – Thank you so much – & welcome to the world of plants! There’s an advantage to living in many climate zones because I have more to share. You can actually grow many plants here in AZ & my houseplants are doing surprisingly well. I was in Santa Barbara in June & just got back from San Diego 2 weeks ago. Fortunately we live close enough to hop back for an occasional visit. All the best to you! Nell
Nell Foster says
Thank you Katherine; & you’re welcome! I love my plants & am glad others do too. Nell
Hello! My mom had a green thumb so growing up I was surrounded by plants (both inside and out) and with my mom gone and my own house I miss the life. And with my own toddler I really like hanging, non toxic plants and with my skill level I need low maintenance. Slowly learning all the research in the world doesn’t go far without having the touch. My mom had one of these plants that she loved, and had it for years before realizing it bloomed. It was always healthy and full and rather big before it decided to show off the beautiful flowers. After reading your article I wonder if it had to do with us living in CO. She built a sunroom with full light equipped with a hot tub (which probably helped a lot with the dry summer and cold winter. I’m now living in Phoenix and hoping I’ll have better luck here since with the right care you can grow almost anything (except tomatoes and strawberries maybe lol) But there was an issue when it started to bloom. Once it finally started it seemed to want to make up for the years of no flowers. The flowers were stunning! However, as soon as it started so did our allergies. Which was not something any of us were used to with a house full of different flowers. But like I said, my mom loved that plant and put years into caring for it. She ended up cutting the little clusters off before they bloomed, and that stopped the allergies. But my concern is how hard is this on the plant itself? You mentioned that hard pruning can delay the flowering process but long term would it cause harm?
Sharon Taylor says
Hi Nell! I’m an American now living in England. I’ve just acquired my first Hoya Carnosa Krimson Queen. It’s a lovely plant, and I’m looking forward to seeing it grow. Our central heating causes low humidity. I know about watering only every 2 weeks during the Winter. But would an occasional mist do any harm?
Nell Foster says
Hi Kara – My hoyas do great here in Tucson, even the 1 which grows outside.I’ve never cut the blooms off but imagine it wouldn’t hurt the plant at all. Nell
Nell Foster says
Hi Sharon – Your hoya would appreciate an occasional mist. It’s best to mist a houseplant in the morning or early afternoon. I live in the desert (dry!) & take mine to the sink & spray them every 2-4 weeks. Nell
Martin lopez says
Hi! We have a Hoya that has been very happy for at least ten years. We repotted it into a larger pot this summer to allow for a stronger trellis. It had a flimsy trellis and had been growing like crazy and the trellis was collapsing from the weight. It seemed very happy in the new pot for at least four months, but a few weeks ago it started getting yellowed leaves. The leaf stems would turn black and they would fall off. We thought it was either not draining enough or needed nitrogen so we added gravel under the pot to allow for better drainage AND replaced some of the soil with a mixture with some sand in it, PLUS added nitrogen into the soil. We were thinking it was getting better, but now I think it’s looking even paler. Some leaves look dark rich green and happy, and there is some new growth,but some leaves are very pale and some even look “veiny” – don’t know what else to try. It’s been in the same spot for years and had been very happy. There is also another plant/pot with about four stems that are all cuttings from the big plant, and it’s 20 feet away and very happy. Any thoughts or suggestions? Any info/advice would be much appreciated. Thank you!
Nell Foster says
Hi Martin – The soil mix needs to be very well drained. Many hoyas are epiphytic. The yellowing could be the mix is holding too much water, sunburn or lack of nitrogen or other nutrients. I feed my hoyas with worm compost & compost every spring & Eleanors VF-11 a few times during the growing season. https://www.joyusgarden.com/hoya-houseplant-repotting/ https://www.joyusgarden.com/compost-for-houseplants/ Hope that helps, Nell
Brandee Nelson says
My Hoya bloomed lots in my old house. When we move I notice all it’s tendrils or that’s what I call the stakes the blooms came on are now all gone and it has not bloomed on over 5 years. Should I repot it?
Nell Foster says
Hi Brandee – Apparently Hoyas don’t like relocating. I moved to Tucson 4 years ago & mine has never bloomed here. Nell