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#1 Hoya Macrophylla Care Tips for Beginners

#1 Hoya Macrophylla Care Tips for Beginners

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It seems that Hoyas, also known as Wax plants, have grown to be very popular with houseplant lovers.

Hoya Macrophyllas are long-lived, low maintenance succulent vines and I am here to share with you the particularities of this plant as well as some basic tips and tricks for its care.

They like moderate amounts of light, well-draining soil, and a sparse watering schedule.

Their sturdy green leaves have yellow fading borders and you can often see tendrils sticking out of the plant reaching for something to grab on to.

Hoya Macrophyllas are flowering plants and their flowers pop up in round clusters of small, star-shaped, creamy white blooms with a wash of pink.

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the origins of this plant and how you can help it thrive indoors.

 


 

A little bit of background on Hoya Macrophylla

Hoya macrophylla’s original habitat is the Austral-Asia region.

There you used to be able to find over 500 different species of Hoyas but their numbers in the wild have dropped significantly because of deforestation.

Hoya macrophyllas are in fact epiphytes. An epiphyte is an organism that grows on the surfaces of other plants so you can find most Hoyas trailing and crawling up tree canopies and other vegetation.

There they collect nutrients from mist, fog, rain, air, and the surface of whatever plant they are chilling on.

When they flower, which in nature happens quite often, their flowers are odorless by day and start giving off their scent by night.

This is because their pollinators are nocturnal animals.

The smell of the flowers is quite particular some people compare it to sweaty socks and chocolate, but this never seems to deter anyone from procuring themselves a Hoya macrophylla.

Many still say they have a scent similar to hyacinths and deny any trace of foul odors.

They are also considered by the local tribes to be a cure for cancer, but this has not been yet scientifically explored

 

Hoya Macrophylla Plant Care Essentials

 


Soil

Hoya macrophyllas grow in limestone areas, consequently one thing that sets it apart from most house plants is that it prefers sweet, alkaline soil.

This means that firstly, you want to avoid peat since it’s acidic, and secondly, you should add in some crushed eggshells or oyster shells.

They are full of calcium and it’s a cheap way to make your potted Hoya macrophylla feel more at home.

The base of the mix should be one part organic cactus mix or regular potting mix, one part perlite for aeration and one part organic orchid mix rich in charcoal.

 


Light

Ideally, you will put a Hoya macrophylla a couple of feet away from an eastern facing window with a lot of light, while avoiding long periods of direct light.

If you decide to hang your Hoya macrophylla, maybe with one of those modern macrame plant hangers, make sure it’s far enough from a window so it doesn’t get too hot, and to hang it low enough so that the top of the plant gets enough light because otherwise, it might lose some leaves and start looking leggy and wonky.

 

Watering

If we circle back to the natural habitat of Hoya macrophyllas, we can observe hot weather with relatively rare but ample rain, depending on the season.

Consequently, they like to dry out completely and then get thoroughly soaked when planted in a pot. I am always very careful with this, and I like inspecting the plant before deciding to water it.

If I stick my finger in the pot, does it come out dry and clean when I pull it out? What about the bottom of the plant? Inspect the soil through the drainage holes, if it’s dry, it’s time for a good soak.

I dunk it in a tub of water and hold it for a while so it doesn’t float up, and leave it be for at least half an hour. Then, I also take a watering can with a thin spout and water the top of the soil making sure all of it is evenly wet.

Now that my friends, is what I call a thorough watering.

I do all that because much like Senecio rowleyanus or String of pearls it has shallow roots that some times don’t reach the bottom of the pot, especially if it was recently replanted in a bigger one.

Don’t forget to let it drain after this so you don’t get any dripping.

Like many other plantophiles I recommend watering with aquarium water if you have the chance, otherwise rain or distilled water will be good enough. Definitely avoid tap water.

 


Temperature

As I said before, these crawling beauties like it hot. As close to tropical as you can get. If you live in an area that is hot year-round you can keep your Hoya macrophylla outside.

If you happen to live in a temperate region not only would I advise against this, you should also be aware that once temperatures start to drop below 55-60 °F (12-15 °C) your Hoya macrophylla will go into dormancy.

This is nothing to be alarmed about, this doesn’t mean the plant will die, keep it in a bright place, and wait for it to wake up in the spring.

 


Humidity

In its natural habitat, Hoya macrophylla enjoy extremely high humidity, up to 90 % or more. This is clearly unachievable in your home unless you have a terrarium.

Luckily for the most part they seem to do just fine at about 40% humidity or more.

They will be grateful for regular and ample daily misting and/or a humidifier, except for when they are budding or in flower.

You might be tempted to put your Hoyas close together to increase humidity but I would advise against this since they are sometimes prone to mold and other fungi.

 


Fertilizer

I fertilize once a month with organic fertilizer during the growing season. Some people use fish emulsion but it’s way to smelly for my taste.

I dilute my fertilizer to half or even less strength and hold on the feeding when it’s dormant.

Some people have had great results by spraying their Hoya Macrophyllas leaves with some orchid fertilizer.

Be mindful not to place them in the sun right after as this could burn the leaves.

 

Propagation

If you are loving this plant and just can’t get enough of it you are in luck. Your Hoya macrophylla is easy to propagate. I do it every year and all of my friends and family already have at least one of my Hoya’s spawn.

I suggest you propagate by stem (tendril) in water or long-fiber sphagnum moss.

The ones rooted in sphagnum moss will adapt to soil easier, you can try and wet the root system to get the moss out of it without damaging the roots, but don’t bother nit-picking, even if some of the moss ends up potted it’s not an issue.

Here are step by step instructions for propagating your Hoya Macrophylla

Follow the steps below and enjoy the plant that keeps on giving.


1. Make sure you are not cutting off a budding tendril. These seldom survive, in my experience.
2. You only need one or two nodes to propagate. You should also have at least one leaf, preferably a couple.
3. Stick this in water or sphagnum moss that you keep moist all the time.
4. Place a plastic bag over your cutting to increase moisture. Warmth and moisture are crucial for rooting.
5. Wait for two or three weeks. When you see strong roots that are a couple of inches your cutting is ready to be potted.

 


Growth

They don’t grow very fast. It has a vine-like pattern of growth so you can either let it hang or encourage it to go up a trellis or moss stick like it would in nature.

 

Potting

I let my Hoya Macrophylla get almost root bound before repotting.

I mentioned before it should be potted in a soil mix that is one third orchid bark, this is important to keep in mind since orchid bark starts to deteriorate and become acidic after about two years, so I would suggest repotting in that tempo.

Repotting doesn’t necessarily mean increasing the size of the pot though, keep your hoya nice and snug for as long as you can.

If you are the creative kind and have a knack for DIY projects, an interesting option is hanging your Hoya Macrophylla onto tree bark.

You’ve probably seen some ferns planted like this. It’s a bit of a delicate job but you can get a big enough piece of bark or porous wood, place the Hoya on it and cover the roots with moss.

Then you secure this whole contraption with some nylon thread that won’t be visible.

The piece of bark can then be hung on a wall like a living painting.

This contraption will need to be watered more often than a potted Hoya Macrophylla, but will be a great addition to any room design if you are looking to fill wall space with greenery and create your very own urban jungle.

 
 


Common Problems with Hoya Macrophylla

This is a very hardy plant and I personally seldom had trouble with my Hoya Macrophillas.

A potential problem is as always mealybugs since they don’t pick and chose their victims.

 


Mealybugs

Mealybugs are wingless little crawlers that look like tiny cotton balls. Despite their cute appearance, they can do major damage to a plant.

If you notice your Hoya Macrophylla’s leaves yellowing and curling and you are sure you haven’t overwatered it, check under the leaves and around the stems for pests.

If you do encounter them the first course of action is to put your plant in quarantine so the bugs don’t spread, then physically removing them from the plant with a q-tip dipped in alcohol.

Do this as often as possible until the bugs disappear. It would be helpful if you also adjusted your plant’s living conditions to make sure the creepy crawlies don’t come back.

Mealybugs love hot, humid, and nitrogen-rich environments and it would probably do your plant some good if you held off on the misting and fertilizing for a while.

 

Mold and Fungus

Another problem you could run into, especially if you are regularly misting and live in a warmer climate, is mold.

Mold often goes hand in hand with mealybugs since they exude a sticky sap when feeding, which encourages mold development.

Another thing contributing to mold is poor air circulation. Fortunately, there is an easy preventative measure for both problems. A good practice to adopt is regular Neem oil treatments.

Neem oil is a non-toxic vegetable oil that is great for protecting your Hoya Macrophylla from insects and fungus and will make your plant’s leaves shine.

 

Aphids

While in bloom their sweet sap might attract aphids. Also know as greenflies or plant lice, aphids come in different colors and sizes and will feed on the aforementioned sap.

You can spot them in large numbers under leaves and bunched up around the stems and buds of your Hoya Macrophylla.

Luckily they move very slowly and are easy to remove manually with water or soap water spraying.

You can control their numbers with Neem oil as well. They multiply very quickly so you might have to be persistent and repeat this process many times to get rid of them.

Check out our in-depth guide on recognizing and getting rid of aphids here.

 

Tips to keep Hoya Macrophylla problem-free

If you are worried that you might be overwatering your Hoya Macrophylla, maybe you should consider a terracotta pot.

Clay or Terracotta pots are porous and will attract water from the soil which will prevent root rot and stagnant water in the pot.

Sphagnum moss is not readily available everywhere so if you propagate by water I have a tip to trick the plant into taking to soil with less stress.

Once you see about an inch or two or strong developed roots you can start adding soil to the water.

I do this spoon by spoon every 3 to 4 days and gradually replace all of the water with soil.

This gives the roots time to adapt to a denser and darker environment and will increase your chances of success when propagating any plant.

Wipe your Hoya Macrophylla’s leaves with a cloth or tissue dipped in water to remove any dust or grime that settled on the leaves.

This gives it a fresh and healthy look and will help the plant breathe easier.

 

Conclusion

To conclude, Hoya Macrophyllas are a perfect match for someone who wants a real piece of jungle in their home.

Planted in a pot, hung from a piece of bark, or running up a trellis, a Hoya Macrophylla will be enchanting in whatever form you choose.

Nurture it and it will reciprocate with flowers that will catch the eye of any guest in your home.

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