Why Are My Hoya Leaves Shriveling?

Hoya Leaves Shriveling

Native to Asia and Australia, hoyas have been popular decorative houseplants for a very long time, thanks to their gorgeous blooms. Their thick, waxy foliage and lovely porcelain flowers add a touch of class to any interior or landscape. It is no surprise that many gardening enthusiasts fall completely in love with their beauty. 

Hoyas are generally low-maintenance and easy to grow. These plants do not demand expensive fertilizer or very frequent watering, so even if you neglect them a little, chances are they will still thrive.

That said, even with good care, there are times that a hoya’s leaves may start to shrivel. This can be alarming, especially if you are unaware of the cause.

One common reason these normally plump leaves suddenly turn wrinkly is overwatering. Hoyas are tropical plants and generally do not require a lot of water as their leaves are capable of retaining enough moisture to keep themselves hydrated. 

Other reasons your hoya’s leaves are curled or shriveled could include sudden changes in temperature, or low humidity.

At the end of the day, you want to keep your hoya happy and in top shape. Knowing the reasons behind the sudden changes in its foliage will help you take the appropriate steps to save your plant and return it to full health.

Common causes of shriveling hoya leaves

Despite all the love and care you give your hoya, you may still find its leaves curling or shriveling due to various factors. These are usually environmental, so you will need to determine what may have changed recently in the plant’s environment that could be causing it stress.

If for some reason your hoya’s leaves are starting to shrivel, work through the issues below to determine whether any of them may be the culprit.

Too much water

Hoyas generally behave like succulents – they are drought-resistant and do not like to be watered a lot. This is why they have the reputation of being “easy-care” plants.

One mistake that many beginners make is overestimating the amount of water their hoya needs. Unfortunately, hoyas are susceptible to root damage if their soil is flooded with too much water, and one of the symptoms of this is downward-curling leaves. 

Needless to say, the obvious remedy is to make sure that you only water your hoya when actually needed. You may want to check whether the top two inches of the soil have completely dried out before you water the plant. Also remember that, compared with the summer months, you will need to decrease your watering frequency during winter.

A pot or container with poor drainage can also be bad for your plant, as the water will stay for too long in the soil and cause root rot. Remember that root damage can block the absorption of nutrients for your plant, and this causes wrinkled leaves. To avoid this problem, make sure to choose a container with drainage holes to allow excess water to drain freely.

An appropriate soil type is just as important as a container with proper drainage. Using a soil that is too dense may retain too much water for too long, even if you are not overwatering the plant. 

In their natural habitat, hoyas do not grow in soil. They survive by attaching themselves to other trees and absorbing moisture and nutrients from the air. This means that these succulent-like plants will do better in a well-aerated, quick-draining soil mix. To achieve this, mix equal parts perlite and potting soil to allow adequate flow of water and oxygen.

Lastly, you may need to repot your hoya every two or three years. The soil can become compacted over time, causing water retention and root damage. However, to avoid transplant shock, do not repot your plant more often than needed.

Not enough water

Even though hoyas can survive well with minimal care, these hardy plants may eventually curl up and turn yellow when not watered for an extended period of time. Just like any houseplants, you need to give your hoya a drink from time to time to keep it healthy.

If you have neglected your plant for a long time and notice the leaves turning brown, you may still be able to save it. Try to water it a bit and see if the plant responds. Never overcompensate with the watering, though, as this can worsen the problem.

You can also try adding a little fertilizer to give your plant a boost, but if it does not respond well, it may be the right time to repot it or start all over again with a new plant.

Temperature shock

Hoyas are known to survive better in a warm climate. These tropical plants do not like cold drafts and they may experience shock with sudden temperature drops. Aside from shriveling, you may also notice the leaves turning yellow when left outside during winter. With that in mind, it is best to bring your hoya indoors before the cold weather arrives. 

Make sure it is kept in a warm environment with a consistent temperature. The ideal temperature for hoyas is between 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Low humidity 

Hoyas need just the right level of humidity (neither too high nor low) to thrive. During the winter season, the low humidity levels can be just as bad for these tropical plants as a cold draft. To prevent their leaves from curling and shriveling, you may need to artificially supplement the humidity to keep it at the right level.

One way to do this is to use a humidifier indoors. You may also place the houseplant in the bathroom temporarily, until winter is over. Make sure to provide an environment that is neither too dry nor too wet, but just right for the plant to thrive.

Repotting too often

As mentioned, occasional repotting can be beneficial for your hoya to prevent compacted soil from damaging its roots. However, plants do not like to be repotted very often. Aside from curled leaves, transplant shock can also cause some of their leaves to fall off.

If you need to transplant your hoya to a new pot, expect to see a reaction. However, this is only temporary. Give your plant some time to adjust and it will be back in good shape soon enough.

Hoyas respond better to spring or summer repotting. However, if your plant is already suffering from issues like severe chlorosis or root rot, you may need to transplant it as soon as possible to increase its chance of surviving.


Certain pests can interfere with the growth of your hoya and damage its stems and leaves. Some of these bugs include mites, aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects, among others. These bugs suck the nutrients from your plant’s tissue, causing dehydrated, curled-up leaves. You may notice the leaves curled upwards as they plant tries to retain any remaining moisture while the bugs feast on it.

Aside from upward-curling leaves, you may also see webs from spider mites, and brown or fuzzy spots on infected leaves. To prevent further damage, the plant needs treatment as soon as possible. 

A good quality neem oil spray should suffice to remove the bugs and prevent them from coming back. Spray just a bit of the neem oil every night to avoid burning the leaves. Do not forget to isolate the infected hoya from your other plants to prevent the spread of the pests.

How to revive a shriveled hoya

You may still be able to revive your shriveled hoya, depending on the amount of damage it has suffered. If you notice the shriveling leaves early, then there is a good chance for your plant to recover right away.

A shriveled or wrinkled hoya is most commonly caused by a lack of water, while other issues such as overwatering may show additional symptoms such as yellowing of the leaves.

Your first step when troubleshooting a shriveled hoya is to check the soil. If it is very dry, water the plant thoroughly and evenly until you see excess water flowing from the pot’s drainage holes. Make sure that the soil is sufficiently moist without being wet, and that there is no standing water in the pot.

You can also try soaking the plant in a sink filled with two to four inches of water. Let it sit for around 30 minutes until the water has reached and soaked the top layer of soil. Then, remove the pot and let the excess water drain before returning the plant to its saucer.

Wrapping it up

Hoyas are relatively easy to maintain, but there are still some factors or conditions that may cause their leaves to shrivel. If this happens, you may also notice other accompanying symptoms such as yellowing leaves, brown spots or webs, and upward or downward curling of the leaves

As soon as you notice these signs, it is important to act right away to prevent the problem from becoming worse. Understanding the source of the issue will help you determine the right steps to save your plant and enjoy its presence in your home for longer.

Image: istockphoto.com / seven75