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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!

variegated-hoya-kerrii
My variegated Hoya kerrii

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!

hoya-kerrii-care

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!

LIGHT

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.

variegated-hoya-kerrii
Hoya kerrii ‘Albomarginata’

Photo credit:

Mokkie / CC BY-SA

WATER

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.

POT SIZE

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.

POTTING MIX

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.

FERTILIZER

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!

HUMIDITY

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.

SUPPORT

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!

hoya-kerrii-support

Photo credit:

Tangopaso / CC BY-SA

GROWTH HABIT

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!

FLOWERING

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 🙂

hoya-kerrii-flower

Photo credit:

Hobbykafe / CC BY-SA

PESTS

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 TOXICITY

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!

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:

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:

OHIO TROPICS PLANT CARE STOREFRONT

Vicki A

Saturday 12th of June 2021

I have a Hoya Kerrii Heart single leaf that was beautiful green one month ago. I water about 1 oz once/week. Did not have it in direct sun in my office, just on top of file cabinet. It was about 15 feet in front of a window a/c unit (in Florida). 3 days ago the base started turning yellow! This scared my. The nursery I bought it from shrugged their shoulders and said "Maybe direct light outside...?" The yellow continues to spread. It now covers 80% of the heart. Is this normal? If not, how can I save it?

Raffaele

Sunday 13th of June 2021

Hi Vicki! There are a few things going on here. When you water, I would not recommend measuring the amount of water. Your goal in watering any plant is to thoroughly moisten ALL of the potting mix and let the excess drain. Too many people are scared of "overwatering," that they actually go too far in the other direction and dehydrate the plant from improper watering. Shallow watering is very detrimental to the roots, and if you have pockets of roots that remain dry from not soaking everything well, your plant will suffer because those roots will die. Secondly, was your plant 15 feet away from a window? If so, that's much too far. Lastly, if you only have a single leaf, it may not ever grow into an actual plant. If they didn't get a node when it was propagated, it will stay as just a single leaf. I hope this helps and gives you some information to think about.

Liza

Saturday 13th of February 2021

Do you mean the Dyna-Grow Grow fertilizer? The link to the fertilizer produced a variety of results for me.

Raffaele

Saturday 13th of February 2021

Hi Liza! Yes, Dyna-Gro Grow. Sorry about that link! I'll have to fix it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Arlette

Saturday 6th of February 2021

Hello!

One of my hoyas seems dehydrated (thin, concave leaves), and another one is following its steps :(

I cannot figure out what I’m I doing wrong. The room I keep them in is 24 C in average and have great light (no direct sunlight). I water them and let them drain. I put some water in a cup to keep the humidity... could you please shed some light?

Arlette

Sunday 7th of February 2021

@Raffaele, they are right next to the window (it has one of those films you put for privacy, so I don’t have any drapes). I water them with a shower in small quantities about once a week (it could be twice, depending on the weather). This is a fairly warm room and keeps its temperature (last night at midnight it was 20C, I usually keep the door closed to keep the heat). I appreciate your comments!

Raffaele

Saturday 6th of February 2021

Hi Arlette! How far are your plants from a window exactly? What exposure? Tell me about your watering routine?

Kate Metcalfe

Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

Hi Thankyou for your informative words.Im in New Zealand and thought I would try my luck at buying a Hoya Kerrii Splash on Trademe (like ebay). The two leaf node went for $1250 NZ dollars that's near $2000 US ! Crazy days!

Raffaele

Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

Hi Kate! Wow, that is really crazy! I've heard from others that plant prices in New Zealand are insane!

Vee

Thursday 17th of December 2020

Hello! I live in a condo with not the greatest light source. I also live in Canada with winter climate. I watch the watering...I don’t have my larger variegated plant near the winter and I lost my 7th leaf today! Brown spots and softness on some before falling off (tried a cinnamon paste on spot but no luck in recovery) Any advise would be appreciated! Ps your plant make me jealous!

Raffaele

Monday 21st of December 2020

Did you mean that you don't have it by the window (instead of winter.)? These really need to be right in front of a window, especially since you are so far up north and during winter time. Without enough light, all plants will suffer.