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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.

Check out my blog post dedicated specifically to repotting Hoyas. You can see the entire process step-by-step and with photos.

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.

Looking to purchase a Hoya carnosa? One of my favorite and most convenient one-stop-shops for plants is Etsy. Check out the Hoya carnosa selection (link to Etsy). You won’t be disappointed!

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.

Looking to purchase a Hoya carnosa? One of my favorite and most convenient one-stop-shops for plants is Etsy. Check out the Hoya carnosa selection (link to Etsy). You won’t be disappointed!

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 more lovely varieties:

Hoya obovata

Hoya linearis

Hoya kerrii

Hoya curtisii

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

TODD

Monday 30th of August 2021

hi, just read your information on the hoya plant, thank you ! my mom past at the end of may 2021, this one is just over 50 years old and 8ft long and know one would take it so i did, i have no clue what too do until i read what you had to say. it's been over watered one, two i have no south window too put it in, three i'm looking for a good home for her. my mom did not have a computer she was a natural green thumb, she had it on the south side of the house that had french doors, it bloomed every year and there were wonderful,but for me damn they smelled very musky ! I live in michigan about 30 min north of detroit lets say mt. clements ? I dont want it to die, if you can help in any way please email me!

Raffaele

Tuesday 31st of August 2021

Hi Todd! I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. At least you have a wonderful plant to remember her! Do you have any good eastern or western facing windows that you can place your plant right in front of? I agree with you about the scent. I think they smell a little weird! :-)

Andrea Jean McAlpine

Saturday 28th of August 2021

Hi I bought a Hoya carnosa well rooted cutting last year and to date it has not grown at all except it is now well rooted. It looks to me to be self terminated and have no growing tip.It does have 7 mature leaves on it and is very healthy. Should I cut a little off the top to encourage it to sprout? Many thanks Andrea

Raffaele

Sunday 29th of August 2021

Hi Andrea! Sometimes they take a while to get going, but you can cut the tip off if you'd like. It definitely won't hurt and may help to encourage new growth.

Linda

Sunday 15th of August 2021

I also have a Hoya that is over 70 years old, just keep on handing it down and splitting it with friends. I have a powder dust going on with one of them today! Washed it with warm soapy (dawn) water, anything else I can do?

Raffaele

Monday 16th of August 2021

Hi Linda! I'm wondering if it's powdery mildew. Some people add baking soda to water, along with a little dish soap. You can also purchase a commercial fungicide that is recommended for indoor use. Just keep an eye on it and treat as necessary.

Alicia Boudriau

Monday 9th of August 2021

I grow my Hoya plant in a flower vase fill with tap water and change the water once a week and they are doing great for many years and flowers very often

Raffaele

Monday 9th of August 2021

Wow, that's amazing Alicia! Do you add fertilizer to your water?

Alba

Thursday 22nd of July 2021

Hi :) could you please give me some advice?

About 3 months ago I bought a gorgeous Hoya Carnosa Tricolor (what a beauty!) but I've noticed that all the little leaves that were there when I bought it are still...little.

The plant didn't grow at all (also, noticed a yellow leaf and a couple of soft ones and some of the new leaves even dried out!)

I'm obviously not an expert but I'm using a moisture reader to avoid overwaterning, and it's still not completely dry even after more that 20 days (is that normal?)

Moral of the story is: my plant looks great atm but there are signs that something is wrong, and I'm really feeling a bad mom.

what can I do?

Thanks a lot for your help :)

Raffaele

Thursday 22nd of July 2021

Hi Alba! I would strongly recommend ditching the moisture meter as they are notoriously unreliable. Do you have it sitting in front of a window? What size pot is it in? When you water, water thoroughly until excess water escapes the drainage hole and you moisten the potting mix completely. This is NOT overwatering. (I have a book coming out in March, and I have a section on "overwatering" because there are so many misconceptions about how to water properly, and I felt like it merited its own section.) As far as judging the soil moisture, just use your finger. Wait until the top inch or so is dry, and then water again at that point. With enough light and proper watering, your plant will rebound. Trust me on this one!