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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!
THE HOYA KERRII TRAP
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.
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:
- 2 parts of Miracle Gro potting mix and 1 part orchid bark
- 2 parts of succulent soil to 1 part perlite OR 1 part pumice
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 TOXICITY
Hoya kerrii is non-toxic to cats and dogs according to the ASPCA.
OTHER HOYAS SPECIES TO GROW AT HOME
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:
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OHIO TROPICS PLANT CARE STOREFRONT