Yes, hoyas, of which there are more than 300 species, are succulents. They belong to the Asclepiadacae family and are native to Australia and Asia.
Like all succulents, hoyas have thick, fleshy leaves that absorb and retain water for the plant to use in the event of drought, or when the soil in its pot has dried out completely.
These plants produce flowers that form clusters, called umbels.
In this article, we will discuss more about hoya plants and their cultural care, as well as how to propagate them. So, if you want to learn more about them before taking one home, just keep on reading.
What is a hoya?
The hoya is a low-maintenance, tropical flowering plant native to Australia and Asia. It is a slow-growing plant that can be kept indoors or planted outside during the spring and summer.
Other names for this plant are honey plant, porcelain flower, Indian rope plant, wax flower, or wax plant.
A hoya plant can grow up to 20 feet tall, and its flowers can be black, white, burgundy, pink, orange or yellow.
These plants are hardy to zones 8 to 11, which means they are not the hardiest and will need to be taken indoors as winter starts.
Is a hoya a succulent?
Yes, hoyas are succulents. They have thick, fleshy leaves that absorb and store water which helps keep the plant alive in times of drought. They therefore do not need watering as often as most houseplants, and can also tolerate warmer climates.
Hoya plant care
Hoyas like bright, indirect light. They do not do well under full sunlight because such intense light can cause sun damage, which results in yellow or brown leaves with crispy edges.
If you think your hoya plant is getting too much light, transfer it to a shadier spot as soon as possible. Also check the soil and, if it is very dry, water the plant thoroughly.
Conversely, if the hoya does not get as much light as it needs, it will become pale and droopy and its growth will be stunted. It may also become leggy, or etiolated.
Etiolation is when a plant’s stem becomes elongated as it tries to grow in the direction of the nearest light source. This is the plant’s desperate attempt to get light so that it can continue to perform photosynthesis. If the plant is unable to photosynthesize due to a lack of light, it cannot create chlorophyll and will thus become weak.
If you think the plant is not getting enough light, transfer it to a sunnier spot. The leggy stem cannot be fixed, but it does not do the plant any harm. If you do not like how it looks, you can cut it off using sterile scissors.
If you keep the plant indoors, place it next to a north- or east-facing window. If the only windows in your home let in very harsh light, you can still place the plant near them but you may need to use a sheer curtain to diffuse the light’s intensity.
If you live in a place where there is little to no natural light for a few months of the year, you might have to get a grow light to help the plant out.
Hoya plants, like most succulents, have thick, fleshy leaves that retain water for use during times of drought.
As a result, these plants require less watering than most other houseplants.
This also explains why they are extremely susceptible to overwatering. You can overwater your hoya by giving it too much water each time you water it, watering it more frequently than necessary, using poorly-draining soil or pots, or not adjusting your watering habits to changes in the weather, season, or climate.
An overwatered hoya plant will have yellowing, droopy leaves that feel soft and mushy to the touch. This is because the excess water in the soil has nowhere to go, so the plant ends up absorbing it to the point where the cells in its tissue literally burst from the overload. This is also why an overwatered plant might feel slimy.
Overwatering can also result in root rot. Root rot occurs when a plant’s roots have been exposed to waterlogged soil for extended periods, so that they are never able to dry out and they effectively drown. The roots will start to rot and become vulnerable to opportunistic pathogens like fungi and bacteria. These pathogens will exacerbate the rot, causing it to spread more rapidly throughout the plant. The rot will quickly spread to the leaves, at which point it may be too late to save the plant.
If you believe your plant is overwatered, stop watering it immediately and relocate it to a sunnier location to allow the soil to dry out as fast as possible.
If root rot is suspected, you may need to remove the plant from its pot to confirm this. Remove as much of the old soil as possible, and do this carefully as the roots will be delicate. Inspect all of the roots for brown or black areas; these are decaying and must be removed. Remove the rotten roots with sterile scissors until only the healthy, white roots remain.
Place the plant on a dry surface for a few hours to allow the roots to air-dry.
Fill a new pot halfway with succulent potting mix, place the plant in the center of the pot and cover the roots with more soil.
Thoroughly water the soil until you see excess water dripping from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
Even though hoya plants are more drought-tolerant than most plants, this does not mean you can skip watering them whenever you want to. An underwatered hoya plant will have wilted and drooping leaves, as well as bone-dry soil in the pot.
To restore an underwatered hoya, simply water it immediately. Soak all of the soil to ensure that all the roots have had access to water.
The best way to ensure that your plant receives just the right amount of water is to develop good watering habits. If the top two inches of soil feel dry to the touch, it is time to water your hoya. If the soil remains slightly moist, wait one or two days before checking it again.
Like most succulents, hoya plants like soil that is well-draining, loose and airy. They do not do well in soil that is heavy and dense, because it retains too much moisture, and too much moisture in the soil increases the likelihood of overwatering and root rot.
The soil should be loose enough that even if you accidentally give the plant too much water, the water will simply drain out.
The pot that you use for your hoya should also be well-draining. It should have sufficient drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess water to escape, which also helps prevent overwatering and root rot.
Temperature and humidity
Hoyas are tropical plants, so they do best if you can replicate similar conditions in your home. Usually the temperature and humidity conditions inside your house will be fine for the plant, so you do not have to do much.
If winter is about to start, remember to bring the plant indoors, because a hoya will die if left in the cold for too long. After all, these plants are only hardy to zones 8 to 11.
If you live in a place with a particularly dry climate, you might have to take measures to provide some extra humidity. You could keep the plant in the most humid parts of the house, such as the bathroom or kitchen. You can also place a pebble tray filled with water under the plant’s pot, and as the water evaporates it will moisten the air around the plant.
Another option is to group the plant with other humidity-loving plants so that they can all create a microclimate around each other.
Or, if you have the means, you can purchase a humidifier and use that to automatically regulate the humidity in the room where the plant is kept.
Hoyas are fine with being fertilized monthly, using a fertilizer that contains potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen.
Your plant should not be fertilized more often than this, because if you give it too much fertilizer, it can cause a buildup of mineral salts and lead to soil toxicity.
Soil toxicity can cause root burn, which can damage the plant significantly.
If you think you have over-fertilized your plant, you might need to flush the soil with water to get rid of the excess minerals.
Pruning the hoya
Hoyas are slow growers so they do not really need regular pruning.
You can remove dead or dying stems or leaves from the plant as you see fit, to preserve its overall aesthetic.
How to propagate hoya plants using stem cuttings
When propagating your hoya using this method, cut off the lowest leaf from the stem of the parent plant using a sterile pair of scissors.
Fill a pot with succulent soil and water the soil until it is slightly moist, but not soggy.
Place the cutting in the soil, cut end down. Make sure you do not overwater the plant while it starts to grow new roots.
After four weeks, the cutting will have grown roots and you can check their progress by gently pulling on the cutting. If there is resistance, it means that the roots have anchored well and you can now care for the plant as you would a regular, mature hoya.
Pests and diseases
Common pests on hoya plants are spider mites, mealybugs and aphids. These pests all damage the plant in the same way: by sucking the sap from its foliage.
You can get rid of these pests by knocking them off the plant with a strong stream of water from a garden hose.
You can also kill them by wiping the affected plant parts with a cotton ball soaked in neem oil, or you can spray rubbing alcohol on the affected areas.
Make sure that the infested plant is kept away from your other plants while you treat it, so that the pests do not spread.
The most common diseases in hoya plants are caused by fungi. One of these diseases is botrytis blight, and you will know that your plant has it if you see gray patches on the plant. Botrytis blight will cause the plant to rot and, if left untreated for a long time, can even kill it.
You can get rid of botrytis blight by using a fungicide. You might also have to repot the plant in order to get rid of the contaminated soil.
Yes, hoya plants are succulents that belong to the Asclepiadacae family. Other names for them are honey plant, porcelain flower, Indian rope plant, wax flower or wax plant. They produce an assortment of beautifully-colored flowers that grow in clusters, or umbels.
Like all succulents, the hoya has fleshy leaves that can store water for use in the event of drought.
This is not the most low-maintenance of succulents, but it also does not need too much attention.
It likes bright, indirect light, and should only be watered when the top layers of its soil have dried out. Give it well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes, warm temperatures, moderate humidity and fertilizer once a month.
You do not need to prune the hoya unless you want to remove dead or dying foliage to preserve its aesthetic.
The hoya can be propagated using stem cuttings from the parent plant.
Image: istockphoto.com / Fobo