Hoya Heart Plants Buying & Growing Guide
The Hoya heart plant (Hoya kerrii) goes by several names, including the sweetheart plant, the Valentine Hoya, and the love heart plant. One look at the most commonly sold version of the plant and it’s plain to see why — it’s a single, heart-shaped leaf that’s a popular novelty gift sold for Valentine’s Day. But look beyond the holiday marketing and you’ll find that this single-leaf version is just a cutting from an easy-to-care-for succulent vine whose heart-shaped, jade green leaves make a beautiful tabletop plant, hanging plant, or climber. Here are some other interesting facts about hoya heart plants:
- They’re extremely slow-growing. For a full-fledged, mature plant you are better off purchasing one from a nursery than waiting for your single-leaf to grow.
- A mature Hoya heart will reward good care with clusters of fragrant pink flowers with red, star-shaped centers.
- They’re available in a variety of colors, including solid green, and variegated varieties with white or yellow edges.
Hoya Heart Plants for Sale
- Garden Goods Direct – Starting at $10.95
- Pistils Nursery – Starting at $18
- The Sill – Starting at $26
Hoya Plant Overview
|Origin||Indo-China, Indonesia, Australasia|
|Common Names||Wax plant, wax climber, Hindu rope plant|
|Ideal Temperature||60-80° F|
|Toxicity||Not toxic to people or pets|
|Light||Bright, indirect light|
|Humidity||Moderate to high humidity|
|Pests||Mealy bugs, scale, red spider mites|
Planting and Care
Whether a single-leaf or a mature vine, the Hoya heart is easy to care for. Do not expect growth from a single-leaf plant. It will root and live happily in its pot for a few years, but you are not likely to see vines or other leaves emerging. Hoyas need a portion of the plant stem with a leaf node to produce a vining plant.
Both mature plants and stem cuttings do well under artificial grow lights or bright, indirect light, and will survive direct sun as long as it isn’t too hot. Your plant will tolerate low light as well, though insufficient light will slow its growth further. If you’re hoping for blooms from a mature plant that you keep indoors, it will need bright exposure.
Though the Hoya heart originates from a tropical environment, it does not require high humidity. There’s no need for misting, though a quick spray in the sink once a week may keep it healthier. It thrives in standard indoor temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, as long as you keep it away from drafts and direct air flow from an air conditioner or heating vent.
The Hoya heart generally does better and blooms more frequently when it is pot bound, and you don’t need to repot it except for once every four or five years. Use a good quality potting mix that drains well — a cactus and succulent mix is perfect — and keep your plant in a pot that has drainage holes, making sure to empty the drainage tray to avoid root rot.
If your Hoya heart does have a leaf node and it produces a vining plant, you can train a mature Hoya heart to climb on a trellis or topiary, or let it trail from a pot. Training should be done when the plant is still in its growth stage as the vines thicken and become woody with age, making bending and training more of a challenge.
Watering and nutrients
The Hoya heart is a succulent that holds water for extended periods of time and is vulnerable to root rot. Water only when the top inch or so of soil is dry, making sure to use room temperature water to avoid shocking the plant. Empty your drainage tray after watering, and don’t saturate the plant. Be especially careful to provide only modest amounts of water if its container does not have drainage holes.
The need for more frequent watering is likely during the summer months than in the colder winter months. A reasonable watering schedule would be every seven to nine days in the summer and every 14 to 21 days in the winter, though pot size, humidity, and light exposure will play a role in your plant’s needs. Leaves starting to wrinkle is a sign that it’s time to water, while leaves turning yellow is a sign of overwatering.
Your Hoya heart’s nutrient needs will be met by a half-strength, water-soluble succulent fertilizer (7-9-5) given once a month from spring through fall. Stop fertilizing your plant during the winter.
The sale of single-leaf cuttings demonstrates the ease of propagating Hoya heart plants. To propagate your own mature Hoya heart, cut a three-inch stem tip in the spring, cutting just below a node, which is where the roots will grow from. Make sure that your cutting contains at least one pair of leaves and place it either in water with the node below the water level or in a moist potting mix with the node above the soil level. You can also cut a single leaf and place it into a moistened potting mix. This won’t grow, but it will stay alive for a few years.
Though the Hoya heart is a slow-growing plant, mature plants can benefit from pruning to control their size or make them more aesthetically appealing. Careful pruning to take out dead growth will make your plant look healthier, and clipping the tips of a vine or two will make your plant grow back in a bushier shape. If your plant has bloomed, avoid cutting off the stalks that the flowers emerged from, as these are where next season’s blooms will grow.
Pests, diseases, and animals
Like many indoor plants, Hoya hearts are vulnerable to mealybugs, scale insects, and aphids. Wipe or rinse them off with water and, if needed, treat scale and aphids with neem oil or mild dish detergent and warm water.
The Hoya plant enjoys bright indirect light. It will thrive in sunny spots where the light is filtered through sheer curtains. In fall and winter, the Hoya plant may live on a bright windowsill in direct sunlight, but it should be kept out of direct sunlight in spring and summer when the rays are stronger, especially in the heat of the afternoon, as this can cause the foliage to scorch or fade. If you want your Hoya plant to flower, then you need to position it in a spot where it will get as much bright, indirect light as possible, at least around six hours a day. If the plant isn’t getting enough light, then it will struggle to bloom.
As a tropical plant, this plant can tolerate quite hot temperatures and is well suited to life indoors, where conditions tend to be warm. As a general rule, if you are comfortable with the temperature in your home, then your Hoya plant is comfortable too. The ideal temperature will differ depending on the variety of Hoya plant, but most can cope just fine with temperatures ranging from 50° F to 95° F. The perfect temperature for most Hoya varieties is between 60° F and 70° F.
As a heat-loving plant, the Hoya does well in sunrooms and conservatories, as long as it is given some shade during the heat of the day. Don’t let your Hoya plant live in an unused area of your home, such as a spare room, where temperatures may drop too low during winter months if you don’t heat up that room. In conditions lower than 50° F, the Hoya plant will likely lose its leaves. Keep it away from cold drafts, such as near windows, doors, and air conditioning units, to prevent sudden changes in temperature.
This plant does well in moderate to high humidity and should fare well in the normal humidity found in homes. Keep it away from heaters and anything that may dry it out. If you notice that your plant seems to be suffering as a result of dry air, you can increase the humidity around the plant. There are several ways you can do this, including using an electric humidifier. Other methods you can use are simply spraying the plant with a water mist every couple of days or placing it on a pebble tray filled with water (Gardeners World Magazine). If you use a pebble tray, make sure the plant’s pot with holes in the bottom are not coming into contact with the water in the tray, as this will make its roots too wet and soggy.
Hoya plants, similarly to orchids, perform best when their pot is a snug fit, so don’t be too keen to repot your Hoya plant. Leaving it until it becomes root-bound will actually result in a better bloom of flowers, so you shouldn’t be repotting this plant very frequently.
However, a time will come when the plant outgrows its pot and leaving it in such tight conditions can stunt its growth. At this point, it’s time to repot. If your Hoya is in a plastic pot, you can gently squeeze the sides of the pot to find out if it needs to be potted on. If there is give in the pot when you push the sides in, then the plant can remain in the pot. If the pot stays firm, then it means the roots are compacted and need some growing room.
Repot the plant during spring by selecting a pot just one or two inches wider and deeper than the Hoya’s current pot. Using a pot that is too big for this plant can cause growth problems, as too much moisture in the new soil can overwhelm the roots and prevent flowering.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Hoya hearts poisonous?
Hoya hearts are non-toxic, but that does not mean that you should allow your dog or cat to chew on them. There is a good chance that if they do so they will get nauseous.
What can I do to make my mature Hoya heart bloom?
Hoya hearts raised indoors are not as likely to bloom as outdoor plants, but it can happen if your plant is mature enough, kept in a small pot, and gets enough light. Making sure that your plant is exposed to cooler temperatures at night, replicating the 10 or 20 degree drop that occurs outdoors, will help the plant mature. If you get blooms one year, take care not to remove the old stems or you’ll have to wait another few years for reblooms.
Other Hoya Plant Varieties
It is estimated that there are several hundred varieties of the Hoya plant in existence, with more cultivars existing in some of the varieties. This means that there should easily be a variety of Hoya to suit everyone. Most varieties are grown for their flowers, though some are more of a vining plant, appreciated for their succulent foliage. You can also select your Hoya based on its needs, as different varieties like different climates, so you can find one that will grow perfectly in your home. A small snapshot of some of the varieties of Hoya plant is listed below.
Native to Australia, this variety is one of the few Hoyas that worships the sun and can tolerate it directly all year round. It grows in the wild around the edge of rainforests and is known for its ability to attract butterflies. As a houseplant, this is most commonly seen in Australia, though it is starting to be brought to other parts of the world. With its juicy succulent-like foliage and white and pink flowers, it is a very attractive Hoya.
This award-winning plant is what most people bring to mind when they think of Hoya. It is the most popular and most commonly found variety of Hoya, native to Australia and Eastern Asia. Many cultivars of this variety exist, all of them producing waxy leaves and star-shaped flowers in an array of colors. The stand out element of this variety is the fragrant blooms, which smell especially sweet in the evening.
If you are looking for a Hoya Carnosa plant to add pleasure to your house, I would recommend getting a Hoya Carnosa ‘Compacta’, also called Hindu Rope Plant. This is a popular Hoya Carnosa plant type that you can easily find on the market.
This variety of Hoya, native to the Himalayas, produces unusual-looking flowers. Though its blooms are the typical star shape associated with Hoya plants, they have a fuzzy, almost bristle-like texture and seem to be a cross between a flower and a nettle. The blooms are always a very pale green, with the central star being white or cream. The only vibrant color on this variety is a small spot of pink found at the middle of each flower. While the flowers on this variety may be somewhat underwhelming, the foliage is lush and abundant. The waxy green leaves of this Hoya plant are round in shape and grow rapidly along the extending vines.
This plant has been named cinnamomifolia due to the similarity between its leaves and those of the Ceylon cinnamon plant. It originates from Java, an Indonesian island. This variety is rarely grown as a houseplant, which is a shame because its blooms are very intriguing. The outer part of the flowers are usually a pale green or yellow, while the central star-shaped part of the flower is a very deep and rich shade of pink or red.