This tender perennial is a hot favorite among beginners. Indeed, the plant is long-lived and super easy to care for. If you have never owned a hoya before, our complete guide will show you all the expert tips you need to care for this exotic plant!
Table of Contents
Origins and Appearance
This flowering plant is native to Borneo, an island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. In the wild, they grow on the surfaces of other plants (like trees) and there are hundreds of species.
This particular variety’s name – the “macrophylla” part – gives you the defining feature that sets it apart from other hoyas. The term basically means that this particular species has the largest leaves and they are also evergreen and often variegated. As a vine, you will be treated to the unusual sight of tendrils sprouting from the pot!
This species often produces star-like flowers that release a hyacinth-like scent at night. The petals’ colors range from white to pink. Since both the flowers and leaves have a shiny, hard appearance, hoya macrophylla falls under the category of “waxy houseplants.”
Temperature and Humidity
Bright indirect sunlight is best. But your hoya macrophylla also needs different temperatures as the seasons change. During summer and spring, your plant will love anything in the range of 65° – 80° degrees Fahrenheit (18 – 26°C). During the winter, aim for 55° – 60° degrees Fahrenheit (13 – 15°C).
This plant also loves extremely high humidity. While most people find that their hoyas do well at 40 percent humidity, its ideal range is 90 percent or higher.
How do you deal with a thirsty hoya? You just have to keep its natural habitat in mind. These plants grow in areas where rain is not abundant but when a shower comes along, it’s very thorough! Also, remember that these shallow-root plants also grow on other plants and have adapted to survive with little water. Overwatering is never a good idea with any hoya species.
Test your plant in two ways. First, stick your finger deep into the soil and when it comes out clean-ish then you might need to water the plant. Confirm that it’s time by examining the soil at the drainage holes near the bottom of the pot. If dry, give your plant a thorough watering and allow the water to run through completely.
Pro tip: Hoya macrophylla does not respond well to tap water. You can give your plant distilled, bottled, rainwater and even aquarium water.
Follow our expert tips on how to correctly fertilize a hoya and your potplant will look like a prizewinner in no time!
- Only feed your plant during spring and summer.
- Don’t fertilize near the end of summer.
- Use organic fertilizer.
- Give lower doses than what the instructions indicate.
- If you spray fertilizer on the leaves, don’t place the plant in the sun immediately afterwards (you risk burning the leaves).
- Good examples of fertilizers that hoya plants love include fish emulsion and orchid fertilizer.
Soil and Repotting
This wax plant loves alkaline soil that drains well. You can make your own mixture by taking equal parts of regular potting soil, charcoal-rich orchid mix and perlite. This blend ticks all the boxes for your hoya’s soil needs.
If all goes well and your hoya continues to thrive, you need to repot it at least once every two years. Some owners wait until their plant is completely root bound before repotting and that’s okay too. Keep in mind that your wax plant is one of the few house plants that doesn’t necessarily need a bigger container when repotted. They do need fresh soil, however.
How to Repot Your Hoya Macrophylla
- Make sure the new pot is clean and disinfected if it’s second-hand.
- Lightly water your plant. This is to loosen the soil so that the plant can slide from the old container more easily.
- Add a couple of inches of soil to the new pot.
- Hold gently but firmly onto the plant.
- Turn the pot slightly upside down and tap the bottom to dislodge the plant.
- Once free, remove excess soil from the roots but don’t remove too much.
- Place the plant’s rootball on top of the soil inside the new pot.
- If you feel that the plant is sitting too low, remove it and add more soil to the bottom of the new pot.
- Once you are satisfied with the plant’s height, fill in the remaining space around it with fresh soil.
- Lightly tamp the soil around the plant.
- Water the plant gently but thoroughly.
Macrophylla Hoya is a low-maintenance pot plant. Mild trimming is usually the only pruning you will ever need to do. For example, when you spot a dead leaf or a shrivelled vine, you can simply snip it off.
Pests and Diseases
The good news is that most wax plants, hoya included, are not prone to pests. But mealybugs, aphids and spider mites can sometimes make an appearance. You can treat an infestation by removing the critters by hand or using an organic insecticide.
Here are the signs to look for when you want to identify a pest on your plant.
- Mealybugs: True to their name, they leave a mealy or cotton-like substance behind.
- Aphids: Pretty unmistakable, these green or white insects are tiny and cluster in groups along the underside of leaves and wherever there is new growth.
- Spider mites: Silky threads, yellow or white spots on the leaves.
Overwatering is a common mistake made by first-time owners, often leading to devastating root rot or fungal issues. It’s critical to water this plant correctly. Coupled with hoya’s love of high humidity, overwatering and the related fungal problems with this species comes at a bigger risk than most other house plants.
The reason is most likely low humidity or leaving your plant in a drafty area.
Yes, you can. Hoya propagates easily via stem cuttings. Generally speaking, a successful cutting takes about a month to root.
Yes and no! Most macrophylla plants have green leaves and this type is quite abundant. However, you also get a variety called hoya macrophylla “variegata” and this one is pretty rare. It is known for large leaves that are marbled along the edges with white or pink.
The short answer is no. All hoya species, including the macrophylla variety, have a degree of toxicity that is not safe for children and pets. Keep it well out of range to avoid a medical emergency.