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Hoya Plant Care: How to Grow Our Top 5 Cultivars

Hoya Plant Care: How to Grow Our Top 5 Cultivars


If you remember a vine creeping around your grandmother’s kitchen, chances are it was a Hoya plant. This tropical indoor plant — often called a “Wax plant” due to its thick waxy leaves — is a classic because it lives forever, grows to be enormous, and creates beautiful, porcelain-like fragrant flower clusters (it’s also often called “Porcelain flower”).

Though many swear Hoya plant care is among the easiest of all indoor plants, we’ve cared for many Hoyas in the nursery over the years, and have learned that each has its specific likes and dislikes. Here are 5 of our favorite Hoya cultivars and their care requirements. We’ll move through from most to least common, so you can master the ins and outs of Hoya plant care. Plus, we’ll share a tip to induce blossoming!

Our 5 favorite Hoya cultivars

  1. Hoya carnosa (top left)
    Why it’s special: This is the classic wax plant from your childhood. Dark green, large, almond-shaped leaves grow on long vines, which will eventually put out creamy flower clusters.
    What it likes: medium to bright indirect light. Less is more when it comes to watering; we like to wait until the leaves pucker slightly.
    What it dislikes: Direct sun, artificial light, dark corners.

  2. Hoya carnosa variegata ‘Tricolor’ (top middle)
    Why it’s special: Everything you love about the classic carnosa, but with leaves lined in white and pink, in addition to the green. Occasionally, this Hoya will have stems of bright pink and will shoot out solid white leaves. A stunner.
    What it likes: This is one of the pickier Hoyas. It needs very bright, but indirect light, to thrive. Also enjoys heat and high humidity. Follow watering procedure for normal carnosa, above.
    What it dislikes: Low-medium light, cold drafty windows. Particularly sensitive to over-watering. Portlanders, be sure you have a bright enough spot to keep this one happy!

  3. Hoya carnosa ‘Rubra’ aka ‘Crimson prince’ (bottom right)
    Why it’s special: sometimes called Krimson princess or krimson queen, this Hoya carnosa cultivar has variegated foliage that includes cream, yellow, and pink, in addition to bright green.
    What it likes: Like its variegated cousin, the tricolor, this Hoya needs a bright spot where it won’t receive direct sun. Water like a carnosa.
    What it dislikes: Low-medium light, cold drafty windows. Particularly sensitive to overwatering.

  4. Hoya obovata (top right)
    Why it’s special: this Hoya has incredible dark green, round, lightly speckled leaves. Compared to many Hoyas, this one is relatively fast to grow and sets flower earlier than most.
    What it likes: This is one of the hardier Hoyas we’ve encountered. It still wants bright light, but is tolerant of medium light.

    What it dislikes: Over-watering; those big leaves hold a lot of water. Wait until it puckers before watering. Also dislikes direct sun, and dark drafty corners.

  5. Hoya keysii (bottom left)
    Why it’s special: Those leaves! Spade-shaped, soft to touch and slightly furry (the technical term is pubescence), this Hoya also shoots out vines that grow in a more upright habit than the carnosas.
    What it likes: This one is especially succulent – likes long dry spells, nice bright light and high humidity.
    What it dislikes: Dark corners, over watering (this one is particularly sensitive – it will get mushy), direct sun.

General tips for all Hoya Plant Care

  • Never cut the long tendrils! Leaves and flower clusters develop from these.
  • Propagate Hoya plants from stem cuttings or by air layering.
  • Hoyas don’t mind being a bit root bound. Keep in the same pot for years, but remember to fertilize throughout spring and summer.
  • All Hoyas need to be potted in planters with drainage. These plants are very sensitive to too much water, so be sure to use a well draining soil with plenty of pumice and/or perlite.

When is it going to flower already?

It’s hard to predict when these plants will flower, as it occurs when the plants reach maturity. When are they mature? Depends on the growing conditions! But rumor has it that keeping your plant tightly root-bound (in a smaller than normal pot) will accelerate blossoming. Don’t down-pot your plant, though (take it from a big pot and place in a smaller pot) as that can shock your Hoya, a no-no in Hoya plant care.

Hoyas feature waxy, porcelain-like flower clusters.

And there you have it. Hoya plant care for our five favorite cultivars. Did you know that Hoyas can be made into bonsai? Check out our vining kokedama string gardens! Any tips of your own to share on Hoya plant care? Join the conversation on facebook!