Hoya Imbricata is an epiphytic climber that belongs to the family of Apocynaceae. There are up to 600 to 700 Hoya species. The species is very common in tropical and sub-tropical Asia.
To care for Hoya Imbricata, one must consider the space for growth. For instance, some of my Hoya plants prefer growing in baskets, while others enjoy climbing walls. This plant needs a peat-based potting mixture that is well-draining.
The leaves of Hoya Imbricata grow close to each other, almost like a wrap. The plant is also called the ‘ant-plant’ as the tiny beings like to colonize spaces under the leaves, which are often used by them to serve as nurseries.
Mature Hoya Imbricata can grow quite long in length, forming intricate patterns by branching and re-branching.
It is not very easy to maintain the plant as it needs extra attention in non-tropical climates.
If you are an avid gardener and ready to take up the challenge even in the tough weather conditions, then, believe me, it will be worth it.
The attractive foliage of the plant, the white furry flowers, and its intriguing symbiotic relationship with the ants makes it an interesting addition to a gardener’s collection.
Table of Contents
Basic Plant Care for Hoya Imbricata
Hoya Imbricata is an epiphytic plant that is used to growing in very small substrates, so it is not unusual to find it mounted on wood and wrapped in sphagnum for display in one’s household.
Owing to the lack of substratum in these setups, you’ll probably need to water more frequently. The pH of the soil for an Imbricata must range from 6.1 (slightly acidic) to 7.5 (neutral).
Many Hoya species thrive in areas with ample limestone. So logically, it would be intuitive for me to think that Hoya Imbricata would grow well with a bit more alkaline soil.
Crushed eggshells or using oyster shells on top should suffice, as the soil will slowly get more alkaline as you water the plant.
I have one Hoya Imbricata in my kitchen, and I find that every few days, I need to spray the roots and handle it a lot like one of my air plants.
It has helped a lot to put the mounted Hoya on the same watering schedule as the air plants.
If not, I find it easier to take care of Hoya in soil. Growing Hoya Imbricata in pure cocoa chips is common in Asia.
My potting mix is usually a mix of one-third peat, one-third perlite, and one-third orchid mixture (fir bark, perlite, charcoal).
I think that gives a very aerial blend. This is especially important because Hoya Imbricata doesn’t like being kept in water.
Thorough watering of Hoya Imbricata is not a concern if you have a well-draining soil of good proportion.
I suggest watering the plant based on the consistency and strength of the light being offered to them.
The Hoya Imbricata closest to my window facing southwest undoubtedly gets a higher watering frequency. The frequency certainly increases during the summer months.
Those which I grow outside my window facing northeast, or under rising lights, would get far less water.
In certain cases, I withhold watering, depending on the condition of my Hoya Imbricata.
Hoya Imbricata was my first semi-succulent variety and also my first of the Hoya plants. I made a mistake where
I put them too close to the southwest-facing window, which caused the leaves to burn. Hoya Imbricata can’t withstand such strong, intense light.
Hoya Imbricata is native to South Asia, where the lights fall through the tree gaps, between and within the treetops.
Therefore, Hoya is more used to having dappled or diffused light. Similarly, light conditions should be recreated in your home as well.
When visiting various Hoya botanical gardens and growers, it is customary for them to grow Hoya Imbricata under 50 to 80 percent shaded cloth to protect against direct heat.
I have noticed that Hoya Imbricata can withstand around 90 percent of full sun conditions, but would still prefer a little less sun because the ultraviolet rays will break down the chlorophyll in the leaves and permanently damage it.
I prefer to grow my Hoya Imbricata under grow lights or fluorescent bulbs lights, which are indirectly passing through a sheet or cloth.
Much of the Hoya Imbricata can’t bear the cold temperatures. Anything below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) will cause harm in the form of chill damage — so be cautious if you order the Hoya plant in the Northern Hemisphere during the winter months.
You will either have to buy the necessary amount of heat packs or wait for spring to come in.
Hoya Imbricata is more used to moderate to high humidity, as they come from the subtropical and tropical areas.
In addition, the Imbricata go through a monsoon season, meaning they are used to heavy rains for part of the year.
I noticed that even with less humidity, the succulent Imbricata is not really finicky, but most will thrive if given a little more.
To give it the additional humidity, I use humidifiers or pebble trays.
Misting will also help in raising the indoor air moisture level.
Hoya Imbricata is not heavy feeders in particular, but they love some extra micronutrients and macronutrients.
I usually fertilize mine with a gentle and organic fertilizer or a balanced synthetic fertilizer, half of its original concentration, on a biweekly to monthly basis.
I also use a “bloom-booster” when I see that a Hoya Imbricata is about to flower. The bloom-booster is a little higher in phosphorus.
I cannot tell if this really allows them to bloom or not. I also use slow-release fertilizer as a secondary option.
You do not have to use all the options together because that will cause over-fertilization.
Hoya Imbricata doesn’t mind being a little root bound, as they are used to grow epiphytically.
Therefore, I don’t repot my Imbricata very much. Rather, I simply replace their soil every second or third year or so. I have repotted my old Hoya Imbricata plants once in the past three to four years and will repot them soon.
Since Hoya Imbricata tends to dry out more than most plants, I like to use terracotta pots because they are porous and can drain water from the soil or potting medium readily.
But you have to be sure to water them properly so that the soil stays moist and has enough time to dry up.
I would not suggest repotting at all unless you notice the roots of your Hoya Imbricata coming out of the drainage holes. To repot follow the steps given below:
- Firstly, take out your Hoya Imbricata from its current pot and brush off excess soil from the roots.
- Next, carefully plant the Hoya Imbricata into a new and bigger pot, preferably a terracotta pot.
- Finally, continue to water and fertilize the Imbricata as per routine.
Repotting helps to keep your Hoya Imbricata remain healthy for a long time. The process further stimulates growth and lets the plant remain green for long.
Hoya Imbricata can grow big and untidy, which is often quite unwieldy. Therefore, if you have to prune your Imbricate, that’s okay.
Any brown or dead stems can be removed. And if you have dense stems, then you can let them grow, wind them around a trellis, or simply trim them back to a node.
But make sure you don’t cut the peduncle, which is the inflorescence base. It is here that the flower will appear year after year.
Naturally, some species may lose their peduncle, but it is common for an Imbricata to retain their peduncle.
Remember that during the pruning process, the latex will also spill out while you are cutting the stems. So wear protective gloves while handling your Hoya.
Hoya Imbricata is rather easy to propagate. You can choose either the herbaceous stem cutting or the woody stem cutting method.
However, herbaceous stem cutting is the most preferred method as it is most successful.
Woody Stem Cutting Method
- Take the equipment you will be using to cut the stem and sterilize it with 70% alcohol.
- Next, take your Hoya Imbricata and cut a stem with one or two nodes.
- After that, you can choose to either place your stem directly in water, sphagnum, or even sterilized potting medium.
Herbaceous Stem Cutting
- First, I take a Hoya Imbricata plant and choose a 2 to 6 inches long stem with three sets of leaves.
- Next, I trim the cutting by making the bottom cut just below a node.
- Then, I remove half or two-thirds of the leaves, starting from the bottom of the stem. Make sure to cut the large leaves in half.
- Finally, remove all flower buds, flowers, and fruits. Dip the tip of the stem in a rooting hormone before placing it in a pot.
- The pot must have a damp and well-drained rooting mix.
- Put the stem in the hole and firm the rooting mix around it.
- Enclose the pot with a plastic bag but make sure that it is not too tightly put around it.
Hoya Imbricata flowers have three main parts; calyx, corona, and corolla. They are arranged in umbels, a flower cluster extending from the center to form some kind of curved (convex) or flat-top surface.
There are six styles of the floral petals or corolla, including spreading, reflexed, revolute, campanulate, urceolate, or incurved. The color of the flower is greenish-cream.
Hoya Imbricata, a shingling Hoya that gets only one leaf per node. Imbricata’s stems are always wiry and lactiferous, forming a sticky material that can be white, red, yellowish, or any other color.
You will note that there are adventitious roots along some stems which make rooting Hoya Imbricata especially easy. If you add higher humidity to them, the adventitious roots also expand outwards and begin to adhere to some surfaces.
Sending out long tendrils is usual for Hoya Imbricata, which will often have small, insignificant leaves.
Let them grow. Give the Imbricata time to grab something and tendril around it. When a suitable place and enough sunlight has been identified, it will also start to grow its leaves out whose maximum length is about 9 inches.
Hoya Imbricata are used to drying out, so when it comes to having water, they become opportunistic and let their adventitious roots serve as a way to soak water when they find it. The overall plant grows up to 10 to 12 feet.
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Common Problems for Hoya Imbricata
These bugs are notorious for causing large infestations in greenhouses and gardens. Normally, these bugs are found in warmer climates and have soft bodies.
They appear as white masses on leaves and insert their mouthparts inside them. They suck out the sap from the leaves resulting in the yellowing and curling of leaves.
Once these bugs are done feeding, they leave behind honeydew. This sticky material becomes a spot for fungal growth, thereby causing fungal diseases.
To control mealybug growth and spread, prune out the parts where they are growing heavily. Treat small areas with a Q-tip that has been dipped in 70% alcohol. Otherwise, go for more natural methods, such as neem oil.
It disrupts the growth of pest insects as it has anti-repellant properties.
Overwatering or fertilization should be kept under control as those are their favorite conditions for growing.
If you have just planted your baby Hoya Imbricata, then aphids are the pests that you need to look out for. They are commonly found on indoor plants, which form a mass on newly growing plants.
Heavy infestations of aphids result in curling, wilting, yellowing of leaves, and overall stunted growth in Hoya Imbricata. Just like mealybugs, after aphids are done feeding, they leave behind sticky honeydew. This attracts more ants and promotes the growth of sooty mold.
To control the spread and growth of aphids, cut or pinch the part of the plant which has the pest growth. Do not overwater or fertilize your plants as that promotes aphid growth.
These pests like soil with extra nitrogen and over-fertilization results in that issue. Use organic fertilizers as they release nutrients slowly.
Tips for an Unhappy Hoya Imbricata
The following are tips you should keep in mind when caring for your Hoya Imbricata:
- If the leaves of your Hoya are turning red, it is time to change their place as their leaves are burning up from the direct heat
- If the plant has started to shrivel, you need to water it more or increase humidity by using a humidifier
- If your Imbricata isn’t flowering, then the plant isn’t receiving an adequate amount of light
Frequently Asked Questions about Hoya Imbricata
Why has my Hoya Imbricata started to look limp?
The roots of your Hoya Imbricata might have started to die due to overwatering or lack of water. Examine the roots and see if that is the case. The next step would be to propagate by cutting the healthy part of the plant.
Why are the nodes of my Hoya Imbricata extended?
If the nodes of your Hoya Imbricata are extended, it means that the plant is not getting enough light. It is stretching its nodes to look for a source of light. Move it closer to a light source.
Why are the buds of the Hoya Imbricata starting to fall off?
If the buds start to fall off before they have bloomed, it means you have either kept the potting mixture too dry or too wet for an extended time.
Why are the leaves of my Hoya Imbricata falling off?
If the leaves fall off your Hoya Imbricata, it means they have been exposed to very low temperatures and, as a result, have gotten a chill. Ensure that the plant is placed in a warm and humid environment.
Why does my Hoya Imbricata have sticky leaves?
Check for any sap-sucking insects, such as aphids or mealybugs. This sticky substance may be an indicator that the plant contains pests and should be taken care of accordingly. Make sure to clean the leaves to keep aphids and mealybugs away.
What is the best fertilizer for Hoya Imbricata?
The plant food for Hoya Imbricata should have high nitrogen content as it is a foliage plant. If your Imbricata is at the flowering stage, then provide a fertilizer that is high in phosphorous to encourage blooming.
Does Hoya Imbricata do well in coffee grounds?
If the pH of the soil is too acidic or basic, adding coffee grounds to your soil can actually stabilize it to almost neutral. This is important as soil with neutral pH will provide the necessary nutrients for a horticulture plant-like Hoya Imbricata.
Probably, Hoya Imbricata’s specific growing needs make it a fussy plant for gardeners in non-tropical regions.
But for those plant-lovers who are not daunted by the challenges of providing warm temperatures, humidity, and good light throughout the year, this species might be the ideal plant.