Hoyas in Nature
As I’ve already explained in my Hoya Plant Care article, caring for Hoyas requires consideration of their natural habitat.
Hoyas can be found in almost every terrestrial habitat known to man but most inhabit tropical regions and enjoy relatively warm, humid conditions for most of the year. For example, many Hoyas originate from Indonesia, which has a tropical climate with average annual temperatures in the region of 30°C.
However, even tropical regions show variations in climate, decreasing as you get further inland and at higher elevations. It is much cooler from June through to September when the North Eastern monsoon arrives.
Many Hoyas are epiphytic and as such share their homes with, or make their homes on, other tropical plants. They become established in the forest canopy, entwined around branches and clinging to bark with their roots. Their only food is the decaying matter found in the crevices, washed over their roots by water run-off.
These observations give you an insight into the life of tropical Hoya in their natural habitat. Remember that Hoyas do inhabit an incredibly varied range of habitats and grow in many different ways. However, these observations apply to the vast majority of Hoya species found in tropical regions.
You can provide these conditions by following a few simple steps.
I use a 50/50 mix of compost and Perlite. This gives the roots the optimum airy conditions they need and prevents water-logging, which is one of the only ways to kill many Hoya. Add extra drainage holes if you want – make sure there is plenty of air around the roots.
If your potting mix is well-drained, you shouldn’t have a problem with watering. Only water when the soil is almost completely dry and you will be replicating the natural conditions. An epiphytic plant will have just enough water to get by on, but not so much that they become waterlogged. A dry Hoya can be watered, but a rotten one can’t be dried out!!
Hoyas and Light
Remembering that Hoya tend to inhabit semi-shaded forest canopies – don’t let them sit on a scorching windowsill. Direct sunlight in small doses may be of benefit, but continued direct sun will bleach the leaves and harm your plant.
Some, like Hoya australis ‘Lisa’, enjoy a bit of strong light. The new leaves are tinged with red in bright light, reverting to their variegated form in time. Bromeliads despise direct light, but in the right conditions are a fantastic epiphytic house plant, as you can see below.
To recreate humid canopy conditions, I mist most of mine every few days. This also allows me to apply foliar feed. I feed with weak feed about 4 times in the growing season, and each time a plant is in bloom.
Hoyas should not be exposed to temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius for long. If you are over-wintering them in cool conditions, please make sure they are very dry.
Remember that most Hoya are Tropical Plants and whilst many are tough, some have a more demanding nature.