Hoya shepherdii is among the most enchanting of the Hoya plants. It’s popularly known as the string bean Hoya due to the elongated shape of its leaves.
Like most Hoyas, this plant species develops pendulous veins and vibrant foliage, which makes for a beautiful houseplant. It looks particularly stunning if placed on a hanging basket.
With time, it also produces clusters of fragrant flowers- another aspect that makes it a suitable ornamental indoor plant. If you’re looking to grow the Hoya shepherdii, here’s an in-depth guide to help you.
- 1 Hoya Shepherdii Care Guide
- 2 Common Problems with Hoya shepherdii
- 3 Tips to Keep Hoya shepherdii Problem-Free
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions about Hoya Shepherdii
- 5 Conclusion
Hoya Shepherdii Care Guide
When choosing a potting medium for the Hoya shepherdii, the most crucial aspect to consider is drainage. You want to pick soil that is not only fertile but also well-draining.
This way, water can drain easily, leaving ample room for oxygen. The plant’s roots need adequate oxygen to grow healthily.
For my shepherdii, I prefer to blend my own potting mixture as opposed to using store-bought soilless mixes.
This gives me the freedom to incorporate components that improve soil fertility while also ensuring proper drainage and aeration.
My potting mix typically consists of one part peat-free compost (for enrichment purposes), and one part coarse vermiculite or perlite (to improve drainage).
If you like, you can also add a little sharp sand. It helps to improve the soil’s structure by creating channels through which water and air can move freely.
Like most Hoyas, the shepherdii prefers medium to bright, indirect sunlight. Exposing it to a little morning sun is okay to help the plant bloom. However, be careful not to subject it to very intense sunlight as it can scorch its leaves.
I always place my shepherdii on an east-facing window. This allows it to receive just the right intensity and amount of sunlight. If you’re not able to position it in a similar spot, you can still place it on a windowsill but behind a sheer curtain.
While an east-facing window provides a suitable spot for growing this Hoya, it’s good to take note of seasonal changes as well.
For instance, when days are shorter, and the sun only shines for a short while, your window may not receive adequate light. It means you might have to supplement with grow lights.
A major selling point of the Hoya shepherdii is that it’s drought-tolerant. It means it can survive for days or even weeks on little water. However, it’s wise to water it from time to time to prevent it from wilting.
So how do you know when it’s ’s time to water the plant? Simply, poke your fingers about two to three inches deep. If the soil feels completely dry, then you should water.
But if it’s not, leave it and check after a couple of days. Watering before the soil becomes completely dry is not advisable as it can make it too wet or soggy. This can in turn cause root rot.
In my experience, it takes about a week or more before the soil can dry out completely. Thus, I usually water my plant once every week.
Also crucial to take note of is the technique you use when watering. At times, the water ends up running down the sides of the pot, meaning the soil fails to absorb enough moisture. To prevent this, I like to water my plant from the base. It allows moisture to be absorbed in a more efficient way.
This plant prefers a cool atmosphere. It will thrive in temperatures ranging between 50°F (10°C) and 77°F (25°C). It’s particularly important to maintain this temperature during its blooming stage.
The Hoya shepherdii is a plant, which fares well on standard household humidity. But, it’s good to mimic its natural habitat where the plant receives up to 70% humidity.
If the atmosphere in your home is too dry- which is often the case during winter- there are a few things you can do to increase the humidity levels. These include:
The easiest way to keep your Hoya shepherdii moist is to mist it. Simply add water to a spray bottle, then spray on your plant.
While you can use tap water for this, I prefer filtered water because it doesn’t contain any chemicals. You can also use rainwater, if available. Some gardeners also like to incorporate a bit of neem oil to keep bugs away.
While misting works well, it’s only a temporary solution. So if your home is excessively dry, you’ll have to mist your plant every other day. Instead of this, consider grouping plants as explained in this next point.
Group several plants together
This is a tactic that works really well. Grouping your indoor plants together increases the level of moisture around your shepherdii. As a bonus, you also end up with gorgeous home decorations.
Sometimes, all you need to do is rethink the placement of your Hoya. If you’ve positioned it near a radiator or other heat source, then the air around it is bound to become dry. Similarly, underfloor heating can make your home’s indoor air too warm for the shepherdii.
To keep this plant moist, place it in more humid spots, such as the bathroom. Also, keep it away from doorways and corridors to prevent exposure to draughts, which tend to lower humidity.
Apart from maintaining the right humidity, it’s also crucial that you feed your Hoya shepherdii. Applying fertilizer confers several benefits, such as speeding up growth, improving the plant’s health as well as helping it to bloom.
When it comes to timing, the ideal time to apply fertilizer is during spring or summer. This is when most Hoyas achieve peak growth. For winter, you might want to reduce the amount of fertilizer by a half. Or, you could do away with the application completely.
The reason for this is that feeding it when it’s cold results in an unnecessary accumulation of salt in the soil. So if you’re going to feed your shepherdii during winter, be sure to leach the soil from time to time.
Propagating the Hoya shepherdii is relatively easy. The ideal time to propagate is either spring or summer when their growth reaches the peak stage. This is because the cutting will develop roots and grow faster than it would during winter.
Now, to the fun part! To propagate, start by looking for a stem cutting of a healthy Hoya shepherdii. It should be about 15 cm long (6 inches) and have a few leaves (at least two). Ensure the stem cutting is long enough so that it anchors itself nicely inside the pot.
Once you have your stem cutting, you can proceed to propagate it in one of two ways:
- Place your cutting in a jar containing water, and wait for it to root. Allow the roots to reach 5 to 10 cm long (2 to 4 inches).
- Place the cutting in a small container filled with your preferred soil mix. A potting mixture that contains 3 parts coco-peat, 3 parts perlite, and 1 part vermiculite is the best for propagating. While you can plant your Hoya in any mix, I’d recommend this particular combo because of its superb water retention capacity.
All you have to do now is wait for the cutting to grow roots.
If you use the first route, you will be able to monitor the development of the roots through the glass/jar containing water.
However, if you propagate in a potting mix, you’ll have to remove the cutting from the container to check progress.
Once it roots, you can transfer it to a different pot for continued growth.
One problem that novice gardeners grapple with is picking the right pot to grow their plants. Luckily, the Hoya shepherdii is not fussy about where it’s grown.
As long as the container facilitates good drainage and doesn’t dry out too quickly, then it’s suitable for this plant.
Hoyas have long lifespans, and the shepherdii is no different. But there are a few things that can force you to repot the plant, namely:
- If it dries too quickly, even after watering
- If you can see the roots through the container’s drainage holes
- If the plastic container becomes too small to accommodate the growing plant
Although you’ll have to repot your shepherdii at some point, it could take up to a year or two. Now, if you’re planning to repot it, it’s best to do this during early spring or midsummer.
Another factor you should take into account is the size of the container where you’re repotting your plant. The rule of thumb is to use a pot that’s no more than 1 to 2 inches larger than the original one.
If it’s too large, it will end up retaining water for too long, leaving the soil soggy and encouraging root rot.
Common Problems with Hoya shepherdii
There are three main garden pests, which like to attack the Hoya shepherdii, namely red spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids.
Thankfully, they’re not difficult to get rid of. One of the most effective treatments involves system insecticide.
A systemic insecticide is designed in such a way that makes its contents are completely soluble in water.
This aspect allows the insecticide to be readily absorbed by the plant and moved around. For the best results, consider this systemic insecticide, which can be used against a variety of pests.
If you don’t wish to go the chemical-route, you can make your own insecticide like I like to do. Simply mix liquid soap with water, put the solution in a spray bottle and you’re good to go.
Although you can add other ingredients, such as garlic or vegetable oil, the primary ingredients are soap and water to dilute its effects.
Regardless of the soap you use, it’s important to dilute it so that it gets to a point where it can destroy the pest without harming your plants.
So how does insecticidal soap work? Well, it contains a proportion of fatty acids, which deprives pests of oxygen. With other pests, the soap solution dehydrates them by eliminating their outer waxy coatings.
Tips to Keep Hoya shepherdii Problem-Free
As we mentioned earlier, this plant is drought-resistant. It means that for the most part, it can withstand a bit of neglect. But to avoid issues, such as wilting of leaves, root rot; and diseases, adhere to the following:
- Place it in a spot that receives bright, indirect light
- Water only when the top layers of soil are completely dry
- Maintain the right humidity level- about 70%
- Keep the temperature between 50°F (10°C) and 77°F (25°C)
- Use a well-balanced fertilizer to boost its growth
Frequently Asked Questions about Hoya Shepherdii
What is the best fertilizer for a Hoya shepherdii?
There’s no specific fertilizer that I’d recommend for this plant. It all depends on the ingredients that each one has. For Hoya shepherdii you want to look for a fertilizer with high contents of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
These are the most essential nutrients. Without them, your shepherdii won’t be able to build new cells for growth or repair itself.
Can Hoya shepherdii grow and bloom under fluorescent lighting?
Yes, it can. If you have no access to natural lighting, a fluorescent bulb is an excellent alternative. Since the plant thrives in bright lighting, look for a fixture that generates between 4000 and 6500 Kelvin. Such a bulb gives out the right intensity for indoor plants.
Does the Hoya shepherdii enter dormancy during winter?
This plant species is semi-dormant. It means that though the plant won’t enter into a state of complete rest, you’ll likely notice a decrease in activity. A combination of low lighting and extremely low temperatures cause this plant’s growth rate to decrease.
However, if you were growing your shepherdii using artificial lighting, and maintaining the right temperatures, then the plant will continue to bloom at a fairly similar pace.
An evergreen species, the Hoya shepherdii makes an excellent indoor plant. It has stunning foliage, which is sure to add a wow factor to your space. And, it’s incredibly easy to care for.
The most crucial aspects to keep in mind when growing this plant are the type of potting mix, temperature, humidity, and light.
Specifically, it’s good to use a rich, but well-draining soil; and expose the plant to bright indirect light.
Similarly, the plant fares well in temperatures ranging from 50°F (10°C) to 77°F (25°C) and at least 70% humidity level.