hoya carnosa care: how to keep them happy

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hoya carnosa care: how to keep them happy

plant description

The Hoya Carnosa is one of the best plants for house plant beginners. It’s very easy to maintain, requires little water, and adapts well to its environment. Wax plants are native to Eastern Asia and Australia. Interestingly they are in the milkweed family. This tropical plant features waxy deep green leaves and features delicate flowers that smell incredible.

Just like their native climates in the tropics, these plants love plenty of sun and high humidity. The Hoya is versatile in its growth habit as well and can thrive as a topiary, trailing, or climbing arrangement.

plant facts

common nameWax Plant, Porcelain Flower, Honey Plant
botanical nameHoya Carnosa
no. of varieties200-300
familyApocynaceae
biological life cycleperennial
foliageevergreen
mature sizetendrils grow 12-20 feet
time to maturity4-8 growing seasons
originAsia, Australia, Southern India
light conditionsbright, indirect light
soil typewell-drained, aerated
soil pH6.1 to 6.5 pH
USDA Zone8-11
toxicitynon-toxic to both humans and plants
  • Krimson Princess – This variegated hoya features leaves with creamy white centers edged in green with pink stems and light pink to red new growth. 
  • Krimson Queen – Another variegated example of the Hoya Carnosa has green leaves edged in white while new growth is often pink and fades to white. 
  • Grey Ghost – If you have the budget and patience this is a very rare variety of the Carnosa. It’s a very slow starter and features almost completely silver spotted leaves. 
  • Argentea Princess – This is another of the slowest growing and rare varieties of the Wax Plant. It features variegated leaves with creamy centers edged in white. 
  • Chelsea – The stunning thick and waxy leaves are heart-shaped and turned up at the edge. Its foliage emerges from vines that are pink in color when new. 
  • Indian Rope Plant – As the name suggests this Hoya is native to Southern India. Its trailing stems are covered with solid dark green fleshy curled leaves. The light pink blooms of flowers with five-point centers will have you smiling.

how to take care of a hoya carnosa

light 🔆

Best light: bright indirect light

Growing in amongst the canopy of the beautiful jungles of Asia, the Hoya carnosa likes medium light, but not too much. Avoid southeast-facing windows that receive direct sun as that will likely cause leaf burn. Find a place in your home that receives indirect sunlight for part of the day. This is very important to consider in your hoya plant care.

water 💧

Water requirements: water sparingly when the top 3 inches of soil feel dry (once per week)

The wax pant likes its water schedule to mimic its natural environment. Be conscious of the seasons when watering Hoya plants. In the spring and summer watering once per week is sufficient while in the winter, the season of less growth, you can water every 2 weeks. Avoid soggy soil as overwatering can cause root rot. In spring you can withhold water for 4-5 weeks which helps to simulate the dry season in the tropics. This water stress encourages beautiful hoya flowers.

Source: Pinterest

humidity 🌫️

Jungles in Asia are about as humid as one can imagine. You can easily create a humid environment by lightly misting your hoya plant regularly. If you live in an extremely dry climate you could consider a small humidifier.

temperature 🌡️

The honey plant will thrive in temperatures between 65-80°F. Avoid consistent exposure to winter temperatures in the 50’s and below as this can cause chill damage.

hoya carnosa care

fertilizer 💩

fertilizer preferences: A general indoor plant fertilizer is sufficient for wax plants because they are not heavy feeders. Select an option that has an NPK ratio of 2-2-2. When you notice your plant is about the produce flowers you can use a bloom booster which has a higher phosphorous content. Remember only a mature plant will produce flower buds.

soil 🪨

soil type: Well-draining moist potting mix is best. African Violet potting soil cut with perlite and orchid bark.

pH level: 6.1-6.5

African Violet potting mix is great for the wax plant. It’s light and airy which helps to promote good drainage. Consider mixing in a small amount of perlite and orchid bark to aid in keeping the hoya roots from becoming too saturated. Wet feet is certainly one of the most important things to avoid with the wax plant.

the perfect potting mix combo for hoya carnosa

repotting 🪴

Wax plants don’t mind spending a good amount of time in the same pot, but you don’t want them to become root-bound. In the jungle, you will find the Hoya growing epiphytically, which means it likes to grow on a host plant and harvest its water from tiny pools that collect. Plan on repotting every two to three years. Keep in mind that hoyas don’t like wet feet and choosing the right pot is important. Terra cotta pots with drainage holes are ideal as they tend to absorb excess water and breath more easily than plastic. You’ll also want to use plenty of fresh new potting mix to encourage new root growth.

propagation 🌱

The Hoya carnosa is very easy to propagate from stem cuttings. First things first, you’ll need small cuttings from a healthy hoya that you’d like to grow. Using clean pruning shears cut the stem near the tip of a vine at an angle that includes at least one pair of leaves. Now you can apply root hormone to the cut end of the cuttings and place it into either a jar of water or a small pot of very loose soil. If your propagating with the jar method make sure no leaves are submerged in the water. Remember to keep the water fresh or maintain slightly damp soil. In about 2 to 3 months when roots are nicely developed you can gently place your stems into a nice pot of loose well-draining soil. In 2 to 3 years you will have a hoya plant that is producing beautiful fragrant porcelain flowers.

hoya carnosa

pruning 🌿

Just as promised, the hoya does not require much maintenance. If you encounter a vine that is becoming unwieldy you can trim it back to a node. Any dead stems can also be trimmed with no ill effect. Be wary of pruning your plant when it is in bloom. You’ll want to make sure you don’t cut any flowers as new flowers will continue to grow from the same spurs at the end of the stems called “peduncles.” Once these spurs are removed no new star-shaped flowers can grow. Wax plants are known to have peduncles for life and will grow new flowers from them year after year and even multiple times in the same blooming season.

pests and diseases 🐛

pests: spider mites, mealybug and aphids

Wax plants are generally resistant to pests. You may encounter mealy bugs, spider mites, or white aphids around the flowers. Remove any pests with a strong stream of water from a spray bottle. Then apply insecticidal soap or a neem oil spray to kill any remaining pests and deter new ones from eating your lovely hoya plant.

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plant care tips

1. Avoid doing anything to your hoya once it’s in flower. You’ve likely waited a long time for the day these incredible flowers emerge. You may be tempted to water, mist or move the plant to get more sum. Practice non-doing and let your hoya flourish in all its glory.

2. Never prune peduncles. Peduncles are the part of the Hoya carnosa that produce flowers. Once established they will likely always produce flowers from the same exact peduncles. Pretty cool huh?

3. Avoid direct sunlight and dark spots. Bright indirect sunlight is the key to keeping the chlorophyll in your hoya’s leaves happy. Avoid harsh summer morning sun and find a nice spot like a north-facing window to help your hoya thrive.

4. Keep your plant dry for 4-5 weeks during the spring blooming season. This step of hoya plant care is very important. Early spring is blooming time for the wax plant. This dry period mimics the hoya’s natural jungle environment when rain is scarce.

Common Problems / FAQs: 

Q: Why does my hoya have dropped flower buds?

There is a very good chance your watering schedule wasn’t quite right. Either your hoya was getting either too much water or too little. Make sure to follow the appropriate water schedule and prepare to stress your plant just before blooming season.

Q: Why are my leaves turning red?

Keep light levels in mind. Red leaves are a sign that your wax plan is receiving too much bright light. Always remember to avoid direct sun. Either move the plant slightly to reduce sun exposure or choose another place in your house with bright indirect light.

Q: Why hasn’t my wax plant produced flowers?

Hoyas need to be at least 2 years old before their first porcelain blooms will appear. Just before Spring fertilize with a liquid fertilizer specifically formulated to encourage blooming. Then stress the plant for 4 to 5 weeks and flowers should appear!

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