Encyclopedia of Houseplants

How to Grow and Care for Hoya Plants

updated Jun 6, 2020
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You’ve probably seen hoya eye candy all over Instagram. The evergreen perennials are known for their vines and clusters of star-shaped flowers, and are commonly called the “wax plant” because they look like their leaves have been carved from wax. You can usually find them in hanging baskets, with their vines happily overflowing.  

“Hoyas are becoming the new hottest plant to have,” says Lisa Eldred Steinkopf, houseplant guru and best-selling author of “Houseplants: The Complete Guide for Choosing, Growing, and Caring for Indoor Plants“. “They have a myriad of leaf shapes and they are quite easy to bring into bloom in our homes. The right light, a snug pot, and careful watering is all that is needed.”

On top of that, Hoya carnosa and Hoya kerrii (Sweetheart Hoya) are nontoxic to dogs and cats, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). 

Credit: Horti

Hoya plant types

There are hundreds of species of hoya, and they widely range in appearance. We’ll touch on a few fan favorites:

Hoya carnosa is the most commonly cultivated species of the plant, with variations that include the Hindu rope plant (Hoya carnosa compacta), also known as Krinkle Kurl, and the Krimson Princess (Hoya carnosa ‘Rubra’).

Credit: Yasser Chalid/Shutterstock

And Sweetheart Hoya, which is a leaf off of Hoya kerrii, makes a perfect “thinking of you” gift.

Steinkopf is partial to a few rare varieties. She says Shooting Star Hoya (Hoya multiflora) is less succulent than other hoya and has a closer resemblance to a pothos or philodendron, due to its thin leaves. 

She also likes Hoya pubicalyx, with its long and oblong leaves and patches of pinkish-cream. “They are easy to grow and bloom beautifully in a bright window with south or west exposure,” she says. 

Hoya plant care 

Hoya is happiest in bright, indirect light, which is why it’s often found hanging in windows. The plant likes baskets on the smaller side so that it can be a bit rootbound. 

Make sure your soil has good drainage, and water it enough to keep it moist, but not wet. The waxy, thick leaves hold a lot of water, so you might not need to water it as often as you think.  

How to get your hoya to bloom

The answer is, with patience. Hoya plants can be slow growers—it might take years for yours to bloom. (Sorry!)

Most importantly, once your hoya is in bloom, don’t move it! Don’t even rotate it. And don’t cut the stem that the flower cluster is coming from, however tempting it might be. Essentially, once your hoya is blooming, just watch it in awe.

Hoya propagation

Steinkopf says all you need to propagate a hoya is a leaf or two attached to a piece of stem. “Pin to a container of damp potting medium, and it will send out roots in a few weeks,” she says.

It’s important not to forget the stem in this process. The lack of stem is why a single heart-shaped leaf of Sweetheart Hoya in a small pot will never turn into a larger vine.

Dealing with mealybugs

“For some reason, they love hoyas,” Steinkopf says of the insects. “I use Bonide houseplant insecticide, which is a systemic granular. If I put it in the potting medium when the hoyas arrive in the house, hopefully I can keep [the mealybugs] away.”

If mealybugs have already attached to your plant, Steinkopf says use to dip a Q-tip in isopropyl alcohol, wipe them off with that, and then add the insecticide. She says neem oil is a nice option, as well.