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Hoya Kerrii Care: Expert Grow Tips and 1 Trap to AVOID!

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This hard to find, super popular houseplant has a bit of scandal and mystique surrounding it. I will explain shortly, but like any Hoya, Hoya kerrii is a fantastic houseplant and will make a very long-lived addition to your indoor jungle with minimal care!

I will go through some care tips for both the plain old green Hoya kerrii, as well as the variegated Heart Leaf Hoya. These plants are also called Sweetheart Hoya or Valentine’s Hoya, but this is all is part of the “trap” that I will share with you now!

My variegated Hoya kerrii


This plant is very popular and most often found around Valentine’s Day in a garden center near you or big box hardware stores. You can’t find a more appropriate plant for Valentine’s Day with its big heart shaped leaves!

The problem with these specimens that are offered for sale is that most of them will remain as a single leaf and will not grow any vines at all!

Although you can get a single heart shaped leaf to root, unless you get part of the stem (which has the node, the part where the leaf meets the stem and that produces actual new growth), it will remain as a single leaf!

There is really no way of knowing if your starter leaf contains a node when you purchase your plant, unless you take it out of the pot, but the store owner might frown upon this!


Photo credit:

Mokkie / CC BY-SA

The rooted leaves that are sold CAN remain green for years, but unless there is a node present, you will never get a vining plant! Even if you do have a node, it may take a very long time to develop into a plant.

So if you really want a real plant, I would recommend buying an actual plant and not just a rooted leaf otherwise you will likely be disappointed!

Alright, let’s go on to some growing tips!


These plants are a bit slow in the growing department, and if you don’t give them enough light, they will be REALLY slow growing! :-).

What kind of light should you give these indoors? SUN! These plants like at least a few hours of direct sun indoors. Only if you give your plant plenty of light will you experience any satisfying growth.

I would avoid North facing windows. Your plant will certainly survive and look just fine, but give your kerrii an Eastern window (morning sun), Western window (afternoon sun) or even Southern exposure for best results.

Know that all your plant’s leaves will all turn a lighter shade of green, or even a yellowish green, if it is getting a lot of direct sun. If you don’t like the look of it, simply reduce the number of hours of sun, or diffuse the sun with thin curtains or blinds, and it will green up a bit.

Having sunny windows is a blessing! You can always reduce the amount of light coming in, but it’s hard to get MORE light unless you get artificial lighting.

If you have a variegated Hoya kerrii, like the one below, these require more light than the plain green ones. Otherwise the care is identical. You will probably experience slower growth in the variegated plant since they have less chlorophyll.

Hoya kerrii ‘Albomarginata’

Photo credit:

Mokkie / CC BY-SA


Hoyas in general are great for neglectful gardeners! They can remain dry for quite a while and it will not phase them.

I allow my Hoya kerrii soil to dry out completely, and then I give it a good soaking.

Try not to let your plant stay in completely dry soil for too long though, especially during the active growing season. DO let at least the top inch or two of the soil dry out completely before watering again.

If you’ve let your soil dry out for long periods of time, and the water seems to go straight through and not absorb into the soil, you will need to work at it a bit.

Water it several times in a row until the medium moistens. And don’t worry, you are NOT overwatering. Allow all excess water to drain away.


This is a crucial topic for Hoyas! Hoyas like to stay a bit tight in their pots so DON’T overpot your plants. If your plant is pot-bound, which they like and even will respond well by blooming (but only if you have good light as well).

Hoyas can stay in the same size pot for years, but when you do repot to a larger pot, only go up ONE pot size. For example if you have a plant in a 4 inch pot, don’t go any larger than a 6 inch pot.

I personally prefer terra cotta pots for Hoyas (unless it’s hanging, and then I prefer plastic).

For a step-by-step guide with photos, be sure not to miss my Hoya repotting guide where I discuss all the important steps to be successful.


There are a variety of potting mixes that you can use. There isn’t one “magic” potting mix. What you do have to be concerned about for Hoyas is that these plants need amazing drainage.

ALWAYS have a drainage hole. But this is not enough! You need very sharp drainage in your soil mix. These are epiphytes in nature, so they attach onto and grow on trees and therefore have amazing drainage and air all around their roots.

As a result of this, your potting mix should be nice and porous and airy.

Here are a couple options that work well:

Some people like their own special blends, but like I said, there is no magic mix, as long as you have excellent drainage and your mix dries out fairly quickly.


Hoyas really don’t need a lot of fertilizer because they grow pretty slowly, especially the variegated Hoya kerrii.

My favorite all purpose fertilizer that I use is called Dyna-Gro Grow which is available on Amazon.

If you only want to use one fertilizer for all your houseplants, get this one. I’ve been really pleased with the results of using this amazing, premium fertilizer on my houseplants.

It contains all the micro and macro nutrients that plants need and there will never be any nutrient deficiencies if you use this fertilizer.

Follow the directions for use on the label, but I fertilize from about March through October or so.

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


Hoyas in general are tropical plants and grow as epiphytes in tropical Asia. So they love humidity! But they are remarkably tolerant of average humidity indoors.

However, it’s always a good idea to increase humidity for your Hoyas and other plants, especially if you have forced air heat. Winter air can be painfully dry (both for your skin and your plant!)

I run a humidifier all winter in my sunroom where I keep a lot of my plants. I describe my favorite humidifier in the link that I included above.


The beauty in growing these plants is that they’re versatile in how you can display them. You can have them as hanging plants, or if you’d like something more structured, you can give them a support.

If you give them a support, it will be more similar to how they grow in nature since they’re epiphytes and will have tree trunks and branches as supports.

Many people train their Hoya vines with U shaped bamboo supports that are simply inserted into the pot. You can train and tie the vine to the support as it grows and you will have a lovely plant with a little time and care!


Photo credit:

Tangopaso / CC BY-SA


You may notice that your Hoya kerrii has long, bare stems at the growing tip. This is normal!

Hoyas put out vines that have large internodes (the area of the stem between the leaves). This is simply how they grow. Give them time and the leaves will eventually grow and look not-so-bare anymore!


Hoya kerrri will flower for you eventually. Here are some tips to encourage flowering.

Good light is important! Be sure to follow my tips in the light section. This is paramount for flowering.

Keep the roots tighter and don’t grow these plants in huge pots.

A dry period in the winter time of a few weeks may help encourage blooming during the active growing season.

Just be careful when they do flower though. The flowers have a sticky nectar that they exude so be careful if you have a piece of furniture that you care about in the proximity 🙂


Photo credit:

Hobbykafe / CC BY-SA


Hoyas are rarely bothered by pests in general, except for mealy bugs! Mealy bugs will appear as white, cottony spots on your Hoyas.

When you do notice mealy bugs, you should spray your entire plant down with either Neem oil or a horticultural oil.

Be sure to spray the entire plant including the undersides of the leaves as well.

Always follow the directions on the label when using any pest control product.

And it is not a one-time spray! You should continue for a few weeks, even after you don’t see the mealy bugs anymore. This is because there may still be little critters crawling around that are hard to see with your naked eye.


Hoya kerrii is non-toxic to cats and dogs according to the ASPCA.

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


Have you caught the Hoya bug? And I’m not talking about mealy bugs! There are so many beautiful Hoyas to grow in your home, so be sure not to miss my other blog posts on other Hoyas that I grow:

Hoya curtisii

Hoya obovata

Hoya linearis

Hoya carnosa

Hoya compacta

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:


Joan Wright

Wednesday 26th of April 2023

thank you for all this amazing information! I can't wait to nurture and experience this plant.


Friday 28th of April 2023

You're very welcome Joan!


Friday 17th of February 2023

Hi I need help... My plant is dying so I cut it up to salvage what I can. I noticed black spots showing up at the stem where the leaf comes out. Is this something of concern? I am also dealing with scale bugs on some of my other hoya kerriis. Should I worry about the black spots I see?


Friday 17th of February 2023

Hi Jasmine! I would need to see a photo to better gauge the situation. If you can use the contact form on my website, please include your care details and routine (light, watering etc), and when I reply, you can attach photos of your plant so I can see those black spots you're referring to.

Staci Holland

Thursday 10th of November 2022

Help please, my Kerrii has some brown spots on some of her leaves! What can I do?


Friday 11th of November 2022

Could maybe be a fungal issue. Try spraying with a fungicide. Maybe spray one leaf first, and wait a day, and then look at the leaf to make sure it didn't have any adverse effect. Then spray the whole plant.

Nury Salazar

Friday 21st of January 2022

Hi there. Thank you for the. Wry informative article. I need your help with my kerrii. Where can I email you so I can send pictures or videos?


Friday 21st of January 2022

You're very welcome! You can use the contact form on my website, and after I reply back, you will be able to attach anything.


Friday 19th of November 2021

i just bought four Hoya Kerrii leaves for my grandchildren and was looking on line and found your column and several others that call these "leaves" a hoax. I bought them because they are adorable and I knew exactly what I was buying and am not feeling "trapped." I wish you had used the space you filled with why this was a mistake to tell me how to care for these lovely tokens of love for little ones.


Saturday 20th of November 2021

Hi there! The article describes how to care for it. Did you read the entire thing? Whether you just have one leaf or a larger plant, the care would be identical.