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Hoya Carnosa: Care Tips and Top Secrets for Blooming

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Hoyas are among the easiest houseplants there are. There are a variety of species available to grow in the home and most of them thrive on neglect! Imagine that. A houseplant that will tend to do better if you forget about it once in a while. Keep reading and I will show you how I take care of my Hoya carnosa (although the care will also apply to most hoyas!)

hoya carnosa

Not only do hoyas thrive on neglect and have beautiful waxy foliage, hence the common name Wax Plant, but they also will flower for you! More on that later.

Hoyas in Nature

Most hoyas are epiphytes in nature, and Hoya carnosa is native to Eastern Asia and Australia. Being epiphytes, you’ll want a light and coarse growing medium. More on this later.

Did you know that Hoyas are actually related to milkweed? Which makes absolutely perfect sense because if you have ever seen a milkweed flower (Monarch butterfly caterpillars only eat Milkweed), you will know exactly what I’m talking about. There is a strong resemblance.

Hoya Carnosa Care

Although Hoyas are not succulents, most Hoyas have very thick, succulent-like leaves. Which is great because it means that they are very forgiving in the home and will tolerate (and even thrive) from some neglect!

Hoya carnosa plants are most often grown in hanging baskets, but these are vining epiphytes so you can also grow them as a floor plant using a support such as a trellis.

To illustrate exactly how easy Hoya carnosa plants are, let me show you my variegated Hoya carnosa that I’ve had in the same pot since I purchased the plant probably around 16 years ago.

hoya carnosa

It is several feet long and I sometimes will give it extra special treatment and will water her, shower her, and let her drip dry in the shower. Otherwise I would be making a big mess in my sunroom where the plant hangs in front of north and east windows.

General Hoya Growing Tips

There are many species of Hoya and some have more specialized needs, however, according to the International Hoya Association, there are a few pieces of generalized advice that apply to ALL hoyas:

  • Don’t grow hoyas in huge pots. They like to be at least somewhat root bound.
  • A well draining soil, such as a good succulent mix, is a good choice for hoyas. More on soil blends later.
  • If you don’t have enough light, your hoya won’t bloom. If you have too much light, your leaves may yellow or burn. Experiment and find a balance!
  • Finally, there is one secret that you may not know that pertains to flowering. Keep reading to find out soon.
hoya carnosa

Hoya Soil

My Hoya carnosa has been in the same pot for 16 years so I haven’t repotted this plant. However since Hoyas are epiphytes, they benefit from a light and coarse potting mix.

Epiphytes really need a lightweight potting mix. There are many combinations that you can use to create this idea potting mix.

Horticulture magazine recommends 2 parts of a soilless mix to 1 part fine grained bark mix as a great option for many epiphytes. In my opinion, this is a great option for more plants that just epiphytes. I have added orchid bark to my soil blends for a while now.

Personally, for other types of Hoyas, I have used a good succulent/cactus mix, to which I have added something “chunky” such as orchid bark, perlite or even pumice.

Adding chunky ingredients to your soil will aerate your soil, allow more oxygen to your plant’s roots, and allow it to dry out more quickly. Epiphytes will love you if you can provide these conditions.

Hoya Light

Hoya carnosa prefers brighter light. If you don’t give this plant enough light, it will produce all foliage and no flowers. This wouldn’t be a huge issue, but don’t you want to see some flowers? They are quite spectacular!

Take a look at the flowers on my Hoya carnosa. Aren’t they stunning??

hoya carnosa

I keep my Hoya carnosa in my sunroom which has a large wall of Northern exposure windows and Eastern exposure windows, as well as a skylight. It receives some direct morning sun and has done very well in this location.

Be careful not to give your plant too much sun otherwise it may start to yellow and potentially burn. My home is not blessed with any good Southern exposure windows.

If I did have some Southern exposure windows, I would place my Hoya carnosa there for sure, with some blinds to diffuse the direct sun a bit.

If you want your hoya to bloom, you must be providing enough light. This is number 1! There are other factors that will encourage your hoya to bloom, but we’ll get there shortly.

Watering Hoyas

You may have heard that you shouldn’t overwater your hoya. Overwatering is a terrible term in my opinion. So much so that I’ve written a blog post on what it really means.

Be sure not to miss my overwatering misconceptions post.

It is probably the one piece of advice that I have given people that has helped them the most when it comes to houseplant care! And it goes well beyond Hoyas!

When I water my Hoya carnosa, or any other hoya that I have, I will water it thoroughly until water comes through the drainage hole.

Discard all excess water. Epiphytes sitting in water will spell death!

After watering, I will wait pretty much until all of the soil is completely dry. In this way, I treat them very much like succulents when it comes to watering (even though Hoyas are not technically succulents).

Some people prefer to wait until the leaves pucker a bit and then water. I know that I’ve done this unintentionally a few times. Clearly, the plant has been with me for 16 years and has not complained much 🙂

If you keep hoyas TOO dry for too long, the lower leaves on the vines will yellow and eventually turn crispy and fall off.

However, a dry period in the winter time will often spark your plant into blooming in the Spring. Give your plant a 4-5 week dry period in the winter time, and then resume care as normal.

I’ve tested this with my plant, and it worked!

Fertilizing Hoyas

I never fertilize hoyas during the winter months, but will fertilize dilutely with every watering throughout the growing season.

I’ve been using an incredible fertilizer called Dyna-Gro Grow. It is a premium, complete fertilizer that contains all the micro and macro nutrients for plant growth.

There is a noticeable differences in my plants since I’ve started using this fertilizer so try it out for yourself! You will not be disappointed.

Simply mix 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of Dyna-Gro Grow to a gallon of water and use at every watering.

How to Get a Hoya to Bloom

Light is the #1 most important priority! You can’t expect your hoya to bloom in lower light, although the plant will tolerate lower light.

Keeping your plant potbound will help encourage blooming! My hoya carnosa did not bloom for several years, but once it started, it bloomed every single year to some degree.

Once your hoya blooms, be sure NOT to deadhead the flower! The future blooms will grow from the “spurs.” Take a look at what the spur looks like below on my plant:

hoya carnosa

So when the plant is done blooming, just gently brush off the petals or let them fall off. Don’t cut anything off otherwise you will be cutting off where the plant will flower the following year!

Be sure to smell the flowers because they have a delightful fragrance! One time my hoya bloomed and I didn’t even know. I smelled something in the other room, and I probed around the sunroom until I found a spectacular flower on my hoya.

Also, you may notice that the newer vines don’t have any leaves. There is nothing wrong with your plant. This is just how they grow so leave them alone. Take a look at the newer vine below on my Hoya carnosa.

hoya carnosa

Propagating Hoya

Unless you want to propagate your Hoya, I would recommend never cutting any vines off your plants or you may prevent it (or at least decrease) the amount of flowering. I only take dried up vines or leaves off my hoya.

If you do want to propagate your plant, follow these steps recommended by the International Hoya Association:

  • Take a cutting with 2 or 3 leaf nodes. A node is the point on the stem where the leaf meets the stem. Remove the leaves at those nodes. (You’ll obviously want to keep the leaves at the tip of the cuttings)
  • Dip the base of the cutting in a rooting hormone.
  • Place the cutting(s) in a pot of soilless mix to which you’ve added about a third perlite or pumice. (Approximately 2 parts soilless mix to 1 part of perlite or pumice).
  • Water thoroughly and discard excess water. Don’t allow the potting mix to dry out completely while the cuttings are rooting.

I like to use Garden Safe Rooting Hormone that I purchase easily on Amazon.

That’s all folks! Do you have a Hoya carnosa? Comment below! I’d love to hear from you.

There are so many other kinds of beautiful Hoyas to grow, but this one definitely belongs in any houseplant collection. Check out my posts on Hoya obovata and Hoya linearis if you want to explore more!

Please do me a favor and share this post to social media because it will help me spread the Ohio Tropics houseplant care tips to the masses! Also, check out my shop on Amazon for all your houseplant care needs:

OHIO TROPICS PLANT CARE STOREFRONT

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Gio

Thursday 10th of September 2020

I have a Hoya that was my mother's. It is at least 20 years old. About 10 years ago it was attacked by aphids. I had to cut it back to save the plant. It has flowered every year since, but only has about 3 long vines, that are calloused and few leaves on the vines. These are old vines with few leaves. How can I encourage more leaf and vine growth? It is in a southwest facing window in a sunroom, in regular potting soil, watered once a week (sometimes less), and I have started fertilizing it about a month ago, but was going to stop for the winter.

Raffaele

Monday 14th of September 2020

These plants can be slow going, so other than providing really good light, which you are, and fertilizing during the growing season and staying on top of watering, that's really all you can do. Sometimes we just have to have patience :-)

Jacquie

Friday 28th of August 2020

I bought a huge Hoya at a rummage sale, didn't even know what it was. Three years later I get this amazing smell in my bathroom of all places. I notice the pink flowers. So I investigated and found it was a blooming Hoya. I love it. It has vines as long as 15 feet.

Raffaele

Saturday 29th of August 2020

That is an amazing find Jacquie! I often smell the flowers before I see them too :-).

Ono

Sunday 23rd of August 2020

Hello, i bought hoya a month ago nd when i bought it the conditions was not good, the whole leaves are yellow and i tried every thing to turn them back to green leafs. But its not working, pls suggest me what to do. And also one of my another hoya, i mistakely kept them in sun nd all the leaves has burned. Will it survive back?

Raffaele

Thursday 27th of August 2020

All you can do is provide good, routine care as I've described in my blog post. The sunburned leaves will not turn green again, and neither will leaves that have turned completely yellow. You may have to prune the plant back if the damage is really bad. You'll have to have patience as many hoyas are not fast growers.

Cindy B

Tuesday 4th of August 2020

Hello ...what do u recommend for a blooming fertilizer...

Cindy B

Monday 3rd of August 2020

Hi..I have a carnosa hoya about 6 yrs approx..it is in a north west window...should it go under grow lights ??.... Also whatvhappens if u cut a node where flower grows from..will it produce more for flowering...mine has never flowered but gives me alot of new leaves...thanks

Raffaele

Monday 3rd of August 2020

Hi Cindy! If it hasn't bloomed, there could be numerous reasons why. Not enough light could be one reason, so in that case if you don't have any direct sun right now in its NW window, you may want to consider adding a grow light. Also, if you give your plant a very dry period during the winter (maybe 4-5 weeks or so), this may help encourage blooming in the Spring/Summer. Hope this helps! I'm not sure what you mean by cutting the node where the flower grows from? When a hoya blooms, you don't want to remove the peduncle (or the flowering spur) after it's done blooming. More flowers will emerge from that area in the future.