Today I will tackle the popular houseplant Hoya carnosa or Wax plant. Hoya carnosa is part of the plant family Apocynaceae and is native to both Eastern Asia and Australia.
Mainly grown for its attractive foliage and known to be a pretty hardy plant, houseplant enthusiasts from all over the world share their love for this climbing plant.
Without furder ado, let’s dive right into Hoya carnosa care now. As usual, we will start this article off with our basic care tips for the plant in question.
Hoya Carnosa Plant Care Basics
Generally speaking, the soil for Hoyas should be very light & airy.
The single most important factor when choosing soil for Hoya carnisa is to actually choose soil that is well-draining.
Bright, indirect sunlight is what your Hoya carnosa likes best. As with many other houseplants, keep it out of direct sunlight, as this may result in its leaves getting burned.
If you are unsure about what bright, indirect sunlight means exactly, we encourage you to have a look at our guide on light levels.
That said, Hoya carnosa is not very picky about the exact amount of indirect sunlight it gets. So you could either place it in a eastern, western or northern-facing window.
A southern-facing window is not recommended, though, as your Wax plant would get too much sunlight like that.
During growing season, you will want to water when the top layers of soil (top 2-3 cm, top inch respectively) are dried out.
In winter, water less. In fact, in winter your hoya will only need a minimal amount of water. Regular waterings are not recommended during winter.
Compared to many other houseplants, most hoya species (hoya carnosa included) like to dry out a bit more between waterings.
Waterlogging needs to be omitted at all cost.
Hoya carnosa feels comfortable in average room temperature, that is between 18 and 24 degrees Celcius or 64 to 75 Fahrenheit respectively.
In winter, make sure that the temperatures are not dropping below 11 degrees Celcius (52 Fahrenheit).
Hoya carnosa likes high humidity levels (around 60% is ideal), however, it also tolerates average room humidity (around 30 to 40%).
To increase the overall humidity for your Hoya carnosa, you might want to do one or serveral of the following things:
- Regularly mist the leaves (don’t mist the leaves when the plant is flowering, though)
- Put the plant on a tray with damp pebbles
- Group your Hoya carnosa together with other humidity-loving plants
- Use a humidifer
As pointed out before, higher levels of humidity are ideal for Hoya carnosa but are not a must.
During growing season, feed your Wax plant twice a month.
In winter, fertilizing your Hoya carnosa is not necessary at all.
In fact, fertilizing houseplants is a somewhat controversial issue.
Many houseplant enthusiasts swear by not feeding their houseplants at all, while others do indeed think that fertilizing is essential.
The general rule of thumb when fertilizing is that you should not overdo it.
Overfertilizing can have devastating effects on your houseplants.
Fertilizing too little, on the other hand, often is not a big issue at all.
As hoyas do flower once in a while (usually about once or twice a year), you will want to make sure that you do feed a little bit more when the plant is in the process of flowering.
Hoya carnosa can be propagated through stem cuttings. We lay out the process for you in more detail a little bit further below.
Hoyas like to be in pretty small pots. It is not uncommon that you can keep Hoyas in the nursery pots that you buy them with for many years.
However, for decorative purposes, you might want to place your hoya in a somewhat more beautiful pot.
When choosing a pot, make sure that is comes with drainage holes.
Also, we would like to encourage you to choose a heavy pot, as Hoyas grow quite a lot, and they usually become top-heavy.
If you do have problems finding the right amount of water for your Hoya carnosa, you could also very well go for a self-watering pot.
If you have alraedy purchased your Wax plant but don’t have the perfect planter yet for this beautiful plant, have a look at our article about the best places to buy planters & plant pots online!
Repotting your Hoya carnosa often just becomes necessary after a couple of years. And even then, you probably don’t need to repot into a bigger pot, as Hoyas feel comfortable in small pots.
So you might just want to provide your Hoya with fresh new soil once in a while (every 2 years or so) and then “repot” in the same pot.
Hoya carnosa propagation
Hoya carnosa propagation is pretty straightforward. The technique of choice is propagation through stem cuttings.
The cool thing about propagating Hoya carnosa is that you only need a few nodes to root your stem cuttings.
The stem cuttings can be propagated both directly into the soil or also in water.
Another way to propagate your Hoya carnosa is by rooting the stem cuttings in long-fiber sphagnum moss.
Here’s a little step-by-step instruction to propagate Hoya carnosa through stem cuttings:
- Get a sharp knife or scissors
- Clean your weapon of choice with rubbing alcohol and hold it in a flame (eg. a lighter will do) for a few seconds. You’ll want to have a pathogen-free tool!
- Find a suitable, healthy stem.
- Cut below a node as a node is needed to successfully propagate your Hoya carnosa. The stem cutting should be at least 10 cm long and it should have at least two leaves. If you cut off just a leaf itself, you will never get a new plant out of it.
- Now, we recommend to put some cinnamon on the wound (where you did the cut!) of the main plant as well as on the cutting as this will enhance the rooting process and prevent rot.
- You can now put the cutting into your medium of choice for propagation. Our propagation media of choice for Hoya carnosa are either straight into water or straight into moist soil.
- If you are using water make sure that the water is not cold (lukewarm water is fine). Make sure that the nodes are submerged in water (the leaves, on the other hand, should not get in contact with the water!)
- Place your cutting in a bright spot where it gets bright indirect light and make sure that it is also rather warm as this encourages root growth
- Wait for several weeks depending on the season and the conditions. Propagation plants takes some time. Please be patient! And then suddenly…voilà, you have successfully copied your Hoya carnosa!
Note: If you have propagated your stem cuttings in water, after the rooting process took place, you can then transplant it into a new pot with new soil. From that moment on, care like for a mature plant
6 Steps to a Happy Hoya carnosa
1. Make sure to choose a well-draining soil for Hoya carnosa
2. Choose a heavy pot when potting Hoya carnosa. These plants grow fast and tall and easily become top-heavy
3. It is better to use rather small pots. Due to their epiphytical nature, they are used to grow in limited space
4. Provide your Hoya carnosa with bright, indirect sunlight.
5. Don’t put your Hoya carnosa in a southern-facing window. That would be too much sunlight for Hoya carnosa
6. When your Wax plant is flowering, provide it with some more fertilizer than usual
Hoya Problems & Remedies
When caring for Hoya carnosa, at some point, you will likely face some problems.
While many problems are species-unrelated and can occur on literally every kind of houseplant, some others are pretty specific to certain plant families or even just species.
Also, in most of the cases, a certain problem could occur due to numerous reasons, so it’s not always easy to find an immediate solution to the problem.
Anyway, let’s get to the point now. What are some common problems exhibited by Hoya carnosa and what can you do about it?
Help! My Hoya is dropping leaves!
Houseplants that suddenly drop leaves; we have all experienced that at some point.
Some plants are famous for this, such as the Croton. But also Hoya carnosa can exhibit this kind of problem. So what’s the problem here?
A very likely reason why your Hoya carnosa is dropping leaves is due to overwatering. Adjust your watering schedule and see if that helps!
My Hoya carnosa is dropping buds. What am I doing wrong?
It can very well happen that your Wax plant is dropping some buds. This is really nothing out of the ordinary.
While your plant is in bud, you should avoid moving it to another location.
Another reason for this could be that there is something wrong with the soil of your Hoya carnosa. Either soil too dry or too wet could cause your plant to drop buds.
My Hoya does not produce any flowers. What’s the problem?
Some plants don’t flower much when grown as houseplants. However, Hoya carnosa usually produces flowers once or twice a year, even when kept as a houseplant.
So, if you are still not seeing any flowers, what could be the reasons for it?
It could be that your Hoya carnosa does not get enough nutrients. To encourage flowering, you might want to increase plant feeding.
Another reason why your hoya might not bloom could be that it does not receive enough sunlight.
While Hoya carnosa can easily survive even under lower light conditions, it does prefer bright, indirect sunlight.
And if your Wax plant is not blooming, then this could very well be a result of it not getting enough sunlight. So if you want to see your Hoya blooming, move it to a brighter spot!
And last but not least, make sure that you don’t remove (cut off) spent blooms on your hoya carnosa plant. The reason for this is pretty simple: New blooms will actually emerge from these very same places, so let them remain on the plant!
Hoya Carnosa Pests
Common pests on Wax plants include aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs & scale insects.
Depending on the severity of the infestation, there are different measures to take to get rid of these plant pests and prevent future infestations.
In any case, isolating the infested plant from your other plants is usually a good idea, so that the plant pest won’t spread over.
Once you have done that, pest control measures vary according to the plant pest you are dealing with.
If you are dealing with aphids, read our guide: How to Get Rid of Aphids Forever.
If it is Mealybugs that you are struggling with, read our Mealybugs guide.
If you have detected whiteflies on your Hoya carnosa, head over here: How To Get Rid of Whiteflies on Houseplants
Is Wax plant care deemed difficult?
Generally speaking, Wax plants are pretty low-maintenance. These hardy plants thrive well in average room temperature and don’t necessarily need high humidity (even though they do enjoy some humidity).
Also, as far as the choice of soil goes, the most important thing that you need to look out for is that you provide your plant with a light, airy soil mix.
A regular well-draining houseplant potting mix usually does the trick here.
Then, as far as sunlight goes, Hoya carnosa is also relatively easy to please as it needs bright, indirect sunlight.
Finding a good location for Hoya carnosa is relatively easy, though, as it thrives pretty easily in different locations, be it in (or near) a northern-facing window, a western-facing window, or even an eastern-facing window.
Lastly, Hoya carnosa is also not prone to plant pests. You might need to deal with mealybugs or aphids at some stage, but that is nothing unusual.
Also, it would be best if you remembered that there are many different cultivars of Hoya carnosa. Depending on which cultivar you are growing, there is also a (slight) variation in difficulty in actually developing them successfully.
For instance, if you are growing a variegated Hoya carnosa such as the “Krimson Queen,” you might need to expose the plant to different lighting conditions (usually variegated plants need more plants) than when growing regular Wax plants.
Hoya carnosa is a non-toxic flowering plant for humans and animals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Hoya carnosa called the Wax plant?
Hoya carnosa got this nickname because its foliage looks very waxy.
Is Hoya carnosa toxic to cats?
Hoya carnosa is non-toxic to cats.
Is Hoya carnosa toxic to dogs?
Hoya carnosa is non-toxic to dogs.
What are some other names for Hoya carnosa?
Hoya carnosa is also known as the “Indian Rope” and the “Wax plants.”
Do I need a pole or a trellis to grow the Wax plant?
Using either a pole or a trellis to grow the Wax plant is a good idea.
Is Hoya carnosa a good plant for a south-facing window?
Southern-facing windows are not ideal for Hoya carnosa is they would receive too much sunlight.
Does Hoya carnosa flower?
The Wax plant flowers about once or twice a year. Please note that the flowers have a pretty strong scent. If you don’t like that kind of scent, you can cut off the flowers.
What’s the easiest species of Hoya to grow?
Hoya australis is one of the easiest Hoya species to grow.
What are some interesting Hoya carnosa cultivars?
One of the most popular Hoya carnosa cultivars is the Hoya carnosa “Krimson Queen” This variegated Hoya sports beautiful green glossy leaves with white accents on it.
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Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.