Hoya plants can be a lovely addition to any home. They’re fragrant, beautiful, and naturally lush. They also like climbing their surroundings.
So, how come they’re not a super popular house plant?
In a nutshell, it’s because these finicky plants will be a big headache before you figure out their needs, as they’re very sensitive to the conditions surrounding them. One of the biggest factors in the plant’s health—and its fussiness—is water.
If you’re having trouble watering your Hoyas, don’t declare yourself a failed plant parent just yet; these little devils are a challenge even for experienced plant owners, which is why we thought they needed their own watering blueprint.
In this Hoya watering guide, we’ll cover some of the most common questions about watering a Hoya plant, different species and their needs, and more.
Yes, that plural is there for a reason. What a lot of people miss about Hoya plants is that it’s an entire genus! A genus is a classification that’s one rank above a species.
The Hoya genus contains between 200-500 species depending on who you ask. Quite a big range, but that’s because botanists are still consolidating species from across the world.
While some sources count up to 520 species of Hoya, others believe that there are lots of duplicate species and only recognize around 250. That’s partly why caring for Hoya plants can be so confusing.
Despite having so many species, only a few dozen are famous among nurseries and gardeners. So you might think you have one species and care for it accordingly, only to find out the stranger plant in your home is a different type.
Hoya is more commonly known as the wax plant or flower because of the lovely layer of sheen on its leaves as well as its glassy flowers. It’s an evergreen genus with dark leaves. It blooms a fragrant orb of compact, shiny, star-shaped flowers.
Most Hoya species are climbers and will vine beautifully all over any structure in the vicinity. You can tell if a Hoya species can climb by the weight and size of its leaves.
As with a lot of household favorites, Hoya is endemic to the Australasia region. It can grow in the soil or on other trees, and its vines can be dozens of feet long in nature.
Because of that, most Hoyas need bright sunlight to thrive. Optimally, it should be filtered, but it can also be direct sunlight.
If kept in a shaded area or a spot that only gets sunlight for an hour or two a day, it’s more likely to have growth issues.
Since they mostly grow epiphytically in nature, these aromatic plants generally require very little amounts of water. Of course, the exact amount depends on the species and the conditions it’s in.
So we’ve covered the basics of what Hoya plants are and where they thrive; now, let’s get to the main question of the article: how much should I water my Hoya plant?
Before we dive into the dos and don’ts of watering your Hoya plant, though, there are some key attributes you need to understand about it.
Hoyas are highly prone to being overwatered because of how they developed in their natural habitat. As tropical, largely epiphytic plants, Hoyas mostly get their hydration from the air rather than the soil.
That means it needs a good level of humidity and doesn’t like to be drenched. Hoyas will flourish when placed in a sunny spot near a sink or a pond.
Its roots are very sensitive to overwatering and can rot fairly easily. That’s why you need to make sure the soil is well-aerated and drains quickly.
To set yourself up for success with a new wax plant, first, you need to make sure it’s in a snug pot that doesn’t go too far around its leaves. Hoyas are a lot more prolific when placed in a small pot, unlike your average house plant.
Second, make sure that it’s potted in a high-drainage soil mix that contains a good amount of perlite or similar material that airs out the soil.
The general rule of thumb is that your pot should drain fast enough to start dripping excess water within a minute.
Of course, it can survive in a more dense soil but it might not do as well. It’ll also be a bit harder to figure out the right amount of water.
The results you get when you look up how often you should water a Hoya can be quite exasperating. One source will tell you to water it once a week while another will say that’s a surefire way to kill your plant.
So let’s start by establishing that watering your Hoya every week is risky business, but it’s not entirely wrong.
There’s a handful of factors that decide how often you should water your plant. Some of these are the season, species you have, and average temperature and humidity in your plant’s space.
We’ll cover these factors in this section, but the general rule of thumb is that it’s often best to hydrate by misting as well as watering. You should also let the soil dry out completely in between.
You can test if the soil is dry by sticking a coffee stirrer into the soil and seeing if any part of it looks wet with dirt when it comes out. It’s a good idea to test this as close to the pot’s wall as possible so as not to damage the roots.
Over-misting causes very manageable issues compared to overwatering. So, start with a minimal watering routine with more focus on increasing humidity or misting, and adjust the frequency based on your plant’s reaction.
There’s such a wide array of Hoya species, and their needs vary quite a bit. For example, a Hoya Carnosa watering routine will look quite different from a Hoya heart plant or a Hoya Compacta.
This is because Hoya Carnosa, one of the most well-known types of Hoya, is on the leafy side while the other two are more on the succulent side.
There’s also the unfortunate fact that a lot of Hoya species can get mixed up because they look similar while their blooms are different.
So, before you decide how often you’re going to water your Hoya, double check the exact species that you have and research its needs online.
Hoyas grow and bloom in spring and summer and thus require more water and nutrients. A good average is to water it every 2 weeks and mist it every few days.
This also gives you a good delivery method for plant food, which you’ll need during these seasons. Hoyas have a small appetite so it’s always best to start with weak dilution of fertilizer and work your way up if needed.
In the fall and winter, Hoya will still grow and some species could even continue to bloom in the winter, especially if it’s in a warm spot.
However, it should definitely get less water than in summer and spring. That can look like a monthly thorough watering with regular misting and good humidity.
We’ve mentioned it a few times already, but it’s still necessary to highlight the fact that Hoya plants prefer moisture and humidity over being soaked.
Naturally, that doesn’t mean that you won’t water it, but it means you need to make sure it’s not in a dry environment.
There are also some species that prefer drier conditions than your average Hoya so they don’t need any special preparations.
To provide ample moisture for your Hoya, you can do any of the following:
- Place it near a humidifier.
- Mist it regularly.
- Place a tray or a plate full of water in its vicinity.
- Place the pot over a pebble tray, which is a relatively deep tray filled with pebbles of any kind and water.
The amount of water you use when watering your Hoya will depend on how fast the soil drains. For the purpose of this article, we’ll assume that you’ve gone for the best choice for your plant, which is a fast-draining soil.
Pour water into your planter until it starts dripping excess water from the bottom. Let it drain all the excess water and remove it from under the plant.
It’s hard to say exactly how fast this should happen, but a small pot with the right soil type will probably drain all excess water and stop dripping within 10 minutes.
There are quite a few other ways you can water a plant, but all of them don’t require you to measure out exactly how much water you use in Hoyas’ case.
If you have a soil with slower drainage, though, you will need some trial and error, knowing that an error in this case may cause root rot.
Start with a small amount of water and work your way up. Dry roots will always be better than rotten ones.
So far, we’ve mentioned that you’ll need to adjust your watering routine to your Hoya’s specific needs a few times now. But how do you do that?
When figuring out the watering routine that works for your Hoya plants and the conditions it’s in, you’ll need to start with less frequent pours and increase it if you get signs that your Hoya is thirsty.
While the specific signs will depend on the species, practically all Hoya plants will show that they’re not getting enough water through their leaves.
Examine the leaves and see if they feel leathery, bendy, and soft. This indicates that they don’t contain the amount of water to keep them fresh and lively.
Another sign is that the leaves and vines may start dying from the drying, yellowing, or wilting from the tips.
Overwatered Toya plants are extremely prone to root rot, which can kill a plant in a matter of days. That’s why you should always pay attention to the look and feel of your plant’s vines, especially closer to the roots.
An overwatered Hoya will exhibit all the yellowing and mushiness closer to the roots. You’ll also be able to see that your Hoya is overwatered through the leaves. They will look droopy and may be too heavy for the plant to carry.
Overwatering will have worse consequences than underwatering it, so you’re likely to see all kinds of unhealthy signs. If you’re ever in doubt about the amount of water to use, go for less.
The amount of time a Hoya plant can survive without water is why we highly recommend that you choose to give it less water while figuring out the hydration it needs.
As an epiphyte, Hoya can survive on nutrients in the air far longer than your average plant. That means that it can thrive for a month or even more between watering sessions.
Self watering planters can be a game changer for a lot of people. In fact, many rely on them almost completely to keep their house plants healthy.
If you’re one of them, we’ve got some great news for you. Self-watering pots are a good choice for hoyas, especially the species that like more humidity and water.
Naturally, you will still need to water it the way we’re familiar with to wash down any minerals that develop in the soil. You’ll also need to keep distilled water in the pot.
The most popular and simplest way to propagate a Hoya plant is by placing a cutting in water until it roots. If that’s what you’d like to do with your plant, then it’ll definitely handle being in the water for a while.
Once it does root, however, it will need soil. Hoyas are prone to rot and overwatering, which means they can’t handle being soaked in water only.
Hoya plants are often quite misunderstood. A lot of nurseries might tell you to water every week or two, but it tends to be more nuanced than that. On that account, we’ve covered all you need to know about this genus’s needs in this Hoya watering guide.
Hoyas are tropical epiphytes, so they love humidity and don’t like being in mud. A lot of people forget that these plants really love a good misting.
You’ll have to do some experimentation to figure out the exact right routine for your exact plant species. However, it’s always safer to stick to lower amounts of water.
Hoyas are very sensitive to overwatering and can rot in a day or two. On the flip side, they can last for weeks without a single drop of water, especially with the right humidity.
If you stick to a routine that has minimal watering and ample humidity sources, you’re likely to end up with a blossoming, fragrant gorgeous little wax plant.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.