We spent a week at the Melia Tortuga Beach resort on the island of Sal in Cape Verde, flying with Thomson. This is a brief account of how it went.
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Hoya Plant Care
The following guidelines are mainly based on my own experience. I have kept Hoya plants for many years and have successfully grown many other varieties of plants. The aim of this guide is to help you to give these beautiful tropical plants a basic level of care. There are other articles in my library that may give you more inspiration, such as this article on Epiphytic Plants
In the case of most Hoya, they inhabit tropical regions and generally enjoy relatively warm, humid conditions. Tropical substrates for epiphytic plants like Hoya can be as basic as a tree branch or a crevice in bark, and tend to be ‘just moist’ for most of the year. Hoyas also encounter heavy rainfall for a few months during wet seasons, or may be exposed to prolonged long dry periods, depending upon the origin of your plant.
Buy Hoya Plants
This is the first, and probably one of the most important steps for you and your Hoya.
When you buy your Hoya, select only the healthiest specimens. If you are buying ‘in person’, this is easy, as you can visually inspect your purchase. Pick the plant or plants up, check the leaves, stem, any visible roots and the overall appearance of the plant before committing to buy.
Avoid damaged plants, however attractive a discount may be. Whilst you may well be able to nurse a damaged plant back to health, it is worth spending that extra money on a healthy specimen – you will be rewarded in the long term.
Inspect Your Plant
Don’t be afraid to look around the plant, and always ask questions. Any good Tropical Plant seller, like myself, will be delighted to answer questions about how the plants has been grown and how to care for it.
If you are buying by mail order, ask your seller to provide a photo of the actual plant you are buying.
I am always happy to send photos with the final invoice so you can see what you are paying for.
Avoid Hoya Pests and Diseases
If you find something untoward that you can treat yourself, put the plant in quarantine for a couple of weeks. This period of isolation will help ensure that your new plant will not pass on any unwanted bugs or diseases to your current stock. Most pests and diseases will manifest within the 2 week period, at which point you either treat the plant and eradicate your problem, or destroy it to remove any trace of the problem. If you take this action you will prevent a wide-scale disaster if something is wrong.
It is a similar process to introducing new fish to an aquarium. Always isolate and observe a new fish for a week or two at least, before introducing it into your main aquarium. This prevents all those expensive fish getting infected and saves a catastrophe!
Please see my Guide to Common Pests and Diseases for advice on dealing with tropical plant problems.
Hoya Potting Mix
I use a half / half mix of potting compost and Perlite, along with a little sharp sand to add a bit of structure, as well as a little weight to help keep the pot upright when the young Hoya grows. This mixture gives the roots the optimum airy, well-drained conditions they need. I recommend that you use a similar mix for your Hoya, although some Hoya do require a bit more specialist care.
Many Hoya varieties are epiphytic and merely have nooks and crannies in a tree’s bark as a substrate. They use their roots to anchor themselves into the crevices in the bark, extracting nutrients from the decaying material and water run-off. This tells you that they need good drainage to prosper.
Hoya tend to flower more profusely when pot-bound, so don’t be afraid to leave potting up for an extra year or two. Most Hoyas are well-suited to growing in hanging baskets, but many can easily be kept for years in traditional pots. There are Hoyas that look amazing entwined between other plants, and some, like Hoya kerrii, form huge mats of leaves, speckled with the odd strongly scented flower. The type of pot will very much depend on the plant. I grow all my cuttings and starter plants in 3 inch pots. This usually means they don’t have to be re-potted for at least 2 years, which reduces my workload! If they are trailers I grow them from shelves, and if they have a climbing habit I grow them up a trellis. Either way, you can produce a fantastic display of foliage, dotted with exquisite flowers.
General Hoya Plant Care
For most Hoyas, allow the compost to become nearly dry between waterings and keep them almost completely dry over the colder months. A dry Hoya can be watered, but a rotten one can’t be dried out!!
I mist most of my Hoyas and other tropical plants with water every few days– most plants enjoy the humidity and it allows me to apply foliar feed in a convenient manner too. I feed with a half strength of organic seaweed extract solution about 4 times in the growing season, and each time a plant is in bloom. When feeding your plants, always start with a weak solution to judge how your plant reacts. Increase doses during the growing season as your confidence grows.
Temperature for Hoyas
Hoyas should not be exposed to temperatures below 10°C for long. If you are over-wintering them in cool conditions, please make sure they are very dry. Remember that Hoya are Tropical Plants and whilst many are very tough, some have a more demanding nature. I maintain a minimum temperature of 15°C for my plants and have good results. A cool winter rest period does benefit many plants, especially cacti and many succulents. Orchids also enjoy rests, allowing reserves to build up that will fuel the magnificent Blooms.
A Note on Naming Hoyas
Many Hoyas have pseudonyms and there is much debate over name variations of many species. Where there is any doubt over nomenclature, I have listed the plant under the name I bought it.
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