Hi again Hoya lovers! Today I am going to write about the beautiful Hoya Kentiana. Like most plants from this family, it is a tropical perennial cultivated for its interesting foliage.
Hoyas never cease to bewilder with all the wild shapes and sizes their leaves develop to be. Native to the Philippines, Hoya Kentiana is in the Acanthostemma section of Hoyas and grows evergreen, smooth, and sturdy leaves that look like fingers creeping from a pot.
They have no visible veining and a dark margin that develops a red hue if it is provided with enough light. Ideal for a hanging basket close to an east-facing window, Hoya Kentiana has the potential to be a seriously gorgeous addition to your personal jungle.
It’s relatively easy to care for and has similar needs and wants as other Hoyas.
It will reward your caring efforts with fragrant flowers in mid-spring and early summer, and in case it catches the eye of a family member or friend, I will tell you how to propagate it easily, but let’s get to the basics first.
Hoya Kentiana or Hoya Wayetii?
So you’ve probably been browsing online for a while and can’t really tell the difference between a Hoya Kentiana and a Hoya Wayetii.
Yes, this happens with a lot of plants, we are after all amateur houseplant enthusiasts and not botanists with in-depth education on the classification of plants.
Nurseries and garden centers also often mix up plants, mark them incorrectly, or don’t mark them at all.
Fortunately, I have researched for you and will explain how to differentiate the two.
The main difference is the pedicel color.
The pedicel is the small stalk that bears the flower of your plant. In Hoya Kentianas this is a pinkish color, while in Hoya Wayetii they are just green.
Apart from that, a Hoya Kentiana will have lighter green leaves with a lighter margin than a Hoya Wayetii.
One thing you should not rely on for identification is the flowers since their color and number greatly depends on the environment of the plant, like light conditions and nutrient availability.
Now that you made sure what Hoya you have, keep on reading for an in-depth care guide that will help you achieve an Instagram worthy Hoya Kentiana.
For Hoya Kentianas the ideal case scenario is a peat-based potting mix.
A one part peat moss and one part perlite soil mix is just what your plant needs. In case you don’t have any peat moss available, any chunkier, bark rich soil mix will do.
If you have already read one of our ”custom made” soil mix instructions, you will know that for succulent like plants and most Hoyas a one part perlite one part orchid bark, and one part regular growers mix is best.
It will afford your plant a well-draining, aerated growing medium that will prevent any water logging or root rot.
If you have a poorly lit home with no artificial growing light I would advise against getting a Hoya Kantiana.
They actually enjoy a lot of bright indirect light and will thrive if you provide them with a couple of hours of direct morning or evening sunlight.
Be careful not to put it in mid-day direct sunlight for multiple hours.
That could burn the leaves and will cause irreparable damage. A spot in dappled shade and with ample light will give your Hoya Kentiana the best shot at success.
This could be achieved a couple of feet away from a south-facing window or near an east-facing window.
If you live somewhere where it is hot year-round, this Hoya will do great hung in a basket on your porch or on a balcony or terrace that has enough shade.
Watering your Hoya Kentiana will be similar to other Hoyas and succulents.
It likes its soil to dry out a bit between waterings. This is great because that means you don’t have to watch it like a hawk and water all the time.
Its needs do change throughout the season though and you will have to adapt the amount of water it gets depending on what your plant is up to at the moment.
During the growing season, you will have to water your Hoya when the soil dries out.
You can check that by sticking your finger in the soil. If your finger comes out clean and dry it’s time to water.
Alternatively, if you are trying to keep your manicure intact you could use a moisture meter and stick it in different parts of the pot.
If it is showing your soil is neither wet nor moist that means it’s time for thorough watering.
Water from the top with a narrow spout, especially if you are dealing with a large pot with a lot of growth, get into all the crevices and in between the leaves and stems and make sure the soil is evenly moist.
I like to water for as long as it takes for water to drain through the drainage holes. When your Hoya Kentiana is not mid growth season and it is just chilling in dormancy, it will be using less water.
You can still water it according to the method described above, but be mindful that the soil will dry out more slowly.
When you feel the urge to water but are not sure, postpone it to the next day and see how it feels. Until the leaves are not wrinkly there is no reason to stress about it.
Your Hoya Kentiana will best thrive in temperatures from 65 – 80°F (18 – 26°C). This will be the ideal temperature for it during spring and summer. Try to keep it around 55 – 60°F (13 – 15°C) during winter but no lower than 45°F (7°C).
These temperatures will encourage flowering during late spring and early summer in the next growing season. Be careful not to expose it to lower temperatures as it is not a hardy plant and it will develop frost damage or even die.
This means that if you live in a temperate climate with significantly lower temperatures in the winter you should keep it away from doors, windows, and drafts.
Hoya Kentianas are tropical plants which means that you will have to provide it higher humidity conditions. Far from the excess of a humidity dome or terrarium though, regular misting or a humidity tray will do the job.
A humidity tray is a cheap DIY way to increase humidity around your plants. You place your pot on a saucer with pebbles and water in such a way that the water doesn’t come in direct contact with the bottom of the pot because it sits on the pebbles.
This way the water will not be absorbed by the roots but will evaporate rising humidity levels near your plant.
This is doable if you put your plant of a window sill or shelf, but if you decide to hang it I recommend getting a humidifier. Be careful not to place it next to heating devices or vents as these are sources of dry air and will hurt your plant.
If you love the convenience of synthetic fertilizers you can use it once a month during the growing season in spring and summer. Dilute it to half strength and fertilize your Hoya Kentiana a day after watering.
This is an important tip: never fertilize any of your plants when their soil is dry! This will cause fertilizer burn and will hurt the plant’s roots.
Alternatively, if you like going an extra mile for your plants, use an organic fertilizer like vermiculite or fish emulsion. This will help you avoid said fertilizer burn, salt or mineral deposits, and is more eco friendly overall.
When the winter season is approaching and you notice your plant is slowing down, you can stop fertilizing until the next growing season.
This plant is not easy and straight forward to propagate but it is totally doable and there is no reason why you shouldn’t give it a try. I will talk about heat mats and rooting hormones but don’t get intimidated by that.
You can propagate your Hoya Kentiana by either herbaceous or woody stems but the easier way is by herbaceous ones.
Pick non-flowering stems with at least 2 nodes and some leaves and do this process at the beginning of summer for maximum success.
Let’s go through it step by step:
Choose and your cutting. Always go for healthy cuttings free of pests or disease as this will give you a good base to start with. Decide whether you want to take one or more and make sure the mother plant still looks good after you are done.
Cut your cutting below at least two nodes.
Dip the stem of your cutting in some rooting hormone. This can be bought in any nursery or garden center. It is not a pre-requisite, since Hoya Kentiana is on the succulent end of Hoya species, they should root easily but a rooting hormone will make that happen faster.
This is important because in Hoya Kentiana’s case it does need high heat and moisture to push out roots. High heat and moisture as you know cause rot, especially in cuttings that root in soil.
Consequently, we should try and keep these new plants in these conditions for as little time as possible so they stay healthy.
Stem dipped in rooting hormone now we are ready to pot it. Pot it in a soil mix a bit heavier in organic material than the one an adult plant would grow in, so you provide even moisture for the nodes.
Provide a hot and humid environment. Easier said than done? Here is a simple way to do that. I have quite a couple of plants that need these conditions so I constructed a propagation box.
You can do it too, just find a plastic container or Tupperware that will be big enough to house your cuttings, put in a glass or two of water for humidity, and place the box somewhere where it will be nice and warm.
You should strive for an even 70°F – 21°C or more throughout the day. If you cannot achieve that naturally, don’t worry. Growers and gardeners all across the globe have been using heat mats for this purpose all along.
You can get them for cheap on Amazon or look for it in your nearest garden center or nursery.
Mist, mist, and mist some more! You shouldn’t forget to mist your new cuttings at least once a day. I seldom or never water my cuttings in the propagation box because the misting does the job well enough.
You want to create a mini tropical forest in there and your cuttings will root fast!
You should see shoots develop in three to four weeks and this is when you can repot your Hoya Kentiana cuttings into a regular pot.
Put them in a bright and warm spot for a while and keep on misting, the change in humidity and temperature will mean the cuttings could take a while to adapt. Give them some time and love and they will be perking up soon.
Ok so here comes a bit of bad news. Hoya Kentiana can be a bit of a drama queen plant. Any sudden change in water, humidity, or temperature or any kind of other stress could send this plant into partial dormancy and make it stagnate growth wise for weeks or even months.
Consequently, Hoyas in general can have a reputation as slow growers. While this is not necessarily true, it does need a stable and constant environment to be it’s best self.
This is why I don’t recommend moving it around your home too much or placing it in a high traffic area like a hallway or near drafts and sudden temperature changes.
This is also why someone in a temperate climate will see their Hoya Kentiana is not growing with as much success as someone living in a tropical or subtropical climate.
Keep this bit of information in mind so you don’t become worried if your plant stagnates after being moved indoors or outdoors or just after you brought it home from the store.
You might also be tempted to prune your Hoya Kentiana to encourage new growth as you would with a devil’s ivy or other vines, but unfortunately, this is not a good strategy and will not help you much.
You can still remove any tendrils or shoots that don’t have any leaves on them in the spring so it looks nicer, but don’t expect a growth spurt.
If you have been caring for your Hoya Kentiana well, you might just be lucky enough to see it flower. Its star-shaped flowers will come out in clusters and will smell like butterscotch like most Hoya flowers.
As mentioned before, it’s pedicels will be a creamy pink color and the flowers are a rich wine red with yellow centers. These flowers will not have hairs like many other Hoya flowers do, but they will be waxy and juicy in appearance and will attract some pests that I will touch upon later.
The important bit of information here is that Hoya Kentiana flowers from spurs.
These grow from the stem and might take some time to bud, so make sure you don’t cut them away when you first spot them. They have the potential to flower multiple times from the same spur, so don’t cut the stems away once the flowers die back a week or two after budding, or even at the end of a season.
Keeping in line with this plant being a drama queen, any movement or stress in the flowering phase will cause it to drop all of its flowers.
Same as some other Hoyas, the scent of the flower will be most present in the early evenings and nights because their pollinators in nature are nocturnal animals that roam, feed, and hunt at night.
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Common issues with Hoya kentiana
Let’s talk about some common issues and pests that trouble Hoya Kentianas so you know what you can expect. There are quite a few potential troubles praying on your plant, from spider mites, thrips, and aphids to the dreaded black root rot.
Spider mites are just what their name indicates, small spider-like mites that leech on your plant’s juices and deprive it of energy until they die. These pesky little mites can be most easily identified by their webs that they produce and wrap your plant in.
They gather on the bottom of the leaves and multiply fast. They will cause yellowing, wilting, and dropping of leaves as the plant struggles to grow with limited resources.
Firstly you should physically remove the mites from your plant. This is best done in a shower with a strong water stream that will wash as many of them away as possible.
Then treat your plant with neem oil by spraying a neem solution all over it making sure you cover all stems and leaves from the bottom to the top on all sides.
Neem oil is a feeding deterrent, that will discourage the mites from leaching on your plant.
You will most probably have to repeat this process multiple times. Make sure you also up your humidity at this time as spider mites like dry and hot environments.
One of the most dreaded pests you could ever find on a plant is thrips. They are black, slim little insects that will suck the juice out of your plant and do some major damage fast.
They move quickly, multiply even quicker, and worst of all they can fly, making them short of impossible to control in a home and giving them the potential to infest all of your plants at once. Their entire life cycle from egg to adult takes only 2 weeks and if a plant is infected you will be able to see thrips at all stages of growth on your plant.
They can cause browning, fading, and paleness in the leaves, they can cause malformation and death of flower buds and, in severe cases, your plant could start dropping leaves and die or exhaustion.
So how do you get rid of them? If they are so dangerous, you should reach for the baddest, strongest insecticide right? Nope.
These little creatures develop immunity to synthetic insecticides quickly. This means you will lower their number but as soon as they adapt they will be back full force.
This is not a one and done mission, you will have to treat and treat and treat the plant until you win. Same as other pests first thing you should do is remove all the thrips you can see.
This is best done outside or away from your other plants. Spray it down with a strong shower stream or a hose and make sure all of them are gone.
Then, use a mild liquid soap and wash your plant thoroughly. Every leaf every stem from all sides should be lathered and washed which will kill any thrips left.
After you have done that, do a thorough Neem oil spray. This process should be repeated as many times as it takes to get rid of them. Remember this is a marathon and not a sprint.
Ah, aphids. The killjoys of the plant world. As soon as your Hoya Kentiana starts budding, especially if grown outside, it’s sweet flowers will attract aphids that will readily flock to your plant in colonies.
They will feed on your plant, sucking out the juice from flowers, buds, and soft stems destroying any prospect of glorious and rich blooms.
Fortunately, aphids are in my experience slow and dumb. They can easily be sprayed away with a water hose or any insecticide or insecticidal soap.
Try and get a head start and treat your plants regularly with neem oil so even if a pest does encounter your plant, it won’t see it as a good home and feeding station.
As with all succulent plants, mealybugs can be an issue for a Hoya Kentiana. Fortunately, these are also fairly easy to get rid of if noticed early enough.
You can remove them manually with cotton balls soaked in alcohol and spray your whole plant with an insecticidal soap solution or a mix of dish soap, water, and alcohol in a spray bottle.
As always, if they come back don’t be worried and just repeat the process.
If you have followed my instructions carefully or have your Hoya Kentiana living in similar conditions root rot should not be a problem. Root rot happens when the roots of your plant are in a constantly moist, warm, and dark environment with little oxygen.
This encourages the growth of various fungi and rotting processes around the roots. This is why I always emphasize a fast-draining soil medium with perlite for aeration, and controlled watering are so important for keeping your plant healthy.
Hoya Kentiana Care: FAQ
Is the Hoya Kentiana (variegata) toxic to cats?
Hoya plants are known to be pet-safe. Hoyas are, therefore, unlikely to harm your cat.
Is the Hoya Kentiana (variegata) toxic to dogs?
Hoya plants are known to be pet-safe. Hoyas are, therefore, unlikely to cause harm to your dog.
Is Hoya Kentiana the same plant (synonymous) with Hoya Wayetii?
No. We are talking about two different plants here. The main difference between the two lies in the color of the pedicel (pedicel = the small stalk that bears the flower of your plant). In the case of Hoya Kentianasm, this is a pinkish color, while in Hoya Wayetii, they are simply green.
Hoya Kentiana Care: Conclusion
All in all, if you have a warm, bright space for a rich, succulent, hanging plant you might consider a Hoya Kentiana. It is, in my opinion, a low maintenance flowering beauty that has eye-catching string bean-like leaves and will do well on a porch in the summer.
Water it only when needed as it is a succulent, fertilize rarely, and give it a bit more humidity, and your Hoya Kentiana will thrive. These can not be found just anywhere so if you have one please share it with us in our Facebook group.
We are always happy to see your green beauties and the members could help you if you experience any trouble with your houseplants.