Hoyas, also called wax plant or porcelain flower, are regaining popularity as beloved houseplants. It’s hard not to end up a collector as each one is uniquely different with foliage color, size, shape, and heavenly-scented bloom. If there’s a plant with the reputation for being one anybody can grow… it’s a hoya. They seem to thrive on neglect, preferring drought-like conditions, tight pots, and rare feeding. Once they’ve reached maturity they flower regularly and the scent is unforgettable!
Hoya is an Asclepias (think Milkweed) genus of 200–300 species of tropical plants. Most are native to India, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea, and Australia. In size, leaves range from as small as 1/4″ in length to as large as 12″. There are hoyas with round leaves and others with linear leaves. One popular species, H. shepherdii has leaves that resemble string beans hanging in bunches from their stalks. Bloom colors on most species range from white to pink; there are some rarer species that exhibit yellows, oranges, and dark reds and browns, and there are green flowers. Many are wonderfully sweetly scented. The flowers appear in umbrella-like clusters at the tip of peduncles. Hoya peduncles are commonly referred to as spurs. In most species these spurs stay for the life of the plant and are rarely shed. Each flowering cycle increases the length of the spur.
1. Hoya australis
Large, oval green leaves. The brighter the light in the room, the lighter green this hoya will be. Flowering can occur at any time of the year and the petals are white with each lobe marked red. H. carnosa blossoms smell quite sweet and this is a great basic Hoya.
2. Hoya carnosa Tricolor aka ‘Krimson Queen’
H. carnosa has been in cultivation for more than 200 years and has given rise to many cultivars that vary in foliage form or flower color. H. carnosa Tricolor is distinguished by the white or cream border on its leaves. The leaves can be solid colors, along with the variegation. Usually H. Tricolor is only “tri-colored” when the new leaf growth is briefly pink. Otherwise it’s only 2 colors… green and white.
3. Hoya carnosa Rubra aka ‘Krimson Princess’
H. carnosa Rubra can be distinguished by the green leaf borders and variegation in the centers. This variegation can be white/cream/pink/yellow/dark pink depending on the growing conditions. The vines of new growth are a beautiful ruby red. The showy, fragrant flowers are white and light pink.
4. Hoya compacta (Hindu Rope)
A curly leaf version of Hoya carnosa. Unlike many hoyas, this one doesn’t climb. However, the heavy stems will droop over the edge of the container, making it ideal for hanging baskets. Clusters of small waxy pink flowers emerge among the tightly-held leaves.
5. Hoya kerrii
Large green heart shaped leaves that measure 2-3 inches across. Produces fragrant brown flowers periodically. Very unusual and rare.
6. Hoya linearis
Widely regarded by Hoya enthusiasts as one of the most difficult Hoyas to grow, this is the one for you if you’re up to the challenge! It likes to stay extremely dry and overwatering is a good way to fail with H. linearis. It has slender, soft, grey-green stems with linear, hairy, blue-green leaves. H. Linearis grows in the Himalayan region and is an epiphyte, dangling from trees like spanish moss. The blooms are bright white with very light yellow centers and open in the late summer-early fall.
7. Hoya obovata
A great Hoya with beautiful round, glossy leaves. These large leaves are dark green and can develop a speckling of silver. The blooms are very long lived and sweet.
8. Hoya pubicalyx
This Hoya’s leaves narrow, thick, and slightly spotted with white specks. Leaves commonly grow to seven inches long! The flowers are pink with maroon and grow in the typical Hoya “umbrella” fashion.
9. Hoya retusa
A small leafed Hoya from India, that except for the flower, looks nothing like the rest of the plants in the genus. The leaf clusters look like asterisks! Each end or tip of the leaf has a heart shaped indention. Flowers are flat, one or two to a cluster, white with red coronas, blooming in fall, fragrant lemony scent.
10. Hoya shepherdii
This Hoya is also called The String Bean Plant. Its leaves are a deep, glossy green, flowers a light blush pink, it has woody-looking stems and a milky sap. The blossoms are chocolate-scented and it’s known as a prolific bloomer!
Basic Hoya Care:
- All Hoyas need extremely good drainage. Be sure to use a well draining soil or mount them in sphagnum moss on a board.
- Place in indirect bright to medium light. No direct sun on Hoyas and no dark corners!
- Never cut the long tendrils unless you want to curb any new growth. Leaves and flower clusters develop from these. Don’t remove flower bracts (peduncles) after blooming, since each time the Hoya’s blooms will appear from the same bract.
- Hoyas don’t mind being a bit root bound.