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How to Grow and Care for a Wax Plant (Hoya)

Incredible macro image of light pink wax flowers with red centre

Genus Hoya

Welcome to the hoya genus! This is a family of absolutely incredible looking flowering plant species that are members of the dogbane botanical family (apocynaceae), making them cousins with nerium plants, milkweed, and oleander though they look like a tropical plant!

A hoya plant is more commonly known under the names of either wax plant or porcelain flower. Wax plant refers to the plant’s gorgeous waxy leaves, whereas porcelain flower refers to the incredibly perfect looking tiny flowers.

Gardeners will often pick a hoya wax plant as the perfect indoor plant. When growing as a house plant it can grow in a pot or hanging basket, and they’re also known as being a wonderfully air purifying plant too!

What do Wax Plants Look Like?

Lovely cluster of wax flowers next to evergreen moist leaves

Wax Plant Hoya

Growth Habit

Wax plants are an epiphytic plant type, meaning that they’re capable of growing on the surface of other plants through aerial roots. This makes them a very adaptable type of plant.

Hoyas are a perennial vining plant, meaning that it will produce flower blossoms each year as long as its ideal growing conditions are met and maintained.

The overall length of the vine will vary according to the species and how much the plant is pruned, but they can grow to be anywhere from 12 inches to over 5 feet long!

Leaves

Perhaps more than their flowers, hoya plants are known for their waxy leaves. This is an evergreen species, meaning that its foliage will persist and remain green all year long.

Hoya wax plant leaves are also fairly succulent, giving them a glossy surface with a rather fleshy and thick texture to them. Each leaf will be either ovular or heart shaped.

There is many a leaf to each stem. These long slender vines are barely visible due to the high density of leaves growing along the plant that are attached by very short petioles.

Flowers

Hoya blooms are so pretty and perfect that’s it’s a little hard to accept that they’re real. Wax flowers will usually bloom in the late spring and last into the late summer and sometimes autumn.

Wax flowers are borne as an inflorescence made up of a bunch of tiny flowers. The cluster is shaped like a parachute and is comprised of many small flowers. A wax flower has small petals of either light pink, dark pink, or white, and all together it creates a start shape.

The surface of a wax flower is also usually covered in very tiny and shiny hairs, which is what gives them that artificial looking fuzzy sheen. Gardeners love these flowers because they’re known for being wonderfully scented as well.

What are some Notable Hoya Species?

Close up image of gorgeous hoya flowers of red and pink

Common Porcelain Flower (Hoya Carnosa)

The common porcelain flower is a very commonly grown houseplant that is loved by gardeners for its ease of care, wildly scented flowers, and attractive growth habit.

Hoya carnosa can be identified by its long slender vines that are covered with deep green, leathery leaves that are sometimes flecked with white. Flowers are star shaped and in clusters. A very popular h carnosa cultivar is the krimson princess which is said to smell like chocolate!

Hoya Krimson Queen (Hoya Variegata)

The krimson queen is an absolutely gorgeous cultivar of the hoya plant. They’re a superbly popular hanging plant because of their amazing looking foliage.

Hoya variegata has fleshy leaves that will first emerge as light pink, and eventually fade into a light green color with cream colored edges. These are accompanied by deep crimson star shaped flowers.

Beautiful Hoya (Hoya Bella)

The beautiful hoya is known as being the one of easiest care and that is the fastest growing. It’s like a miniature version of hoya carnosa, only reaching 2-3 feet in length.

Hoya bella has those classic waxy leaves accompanied by white star shaped flowers with a dark purple centre. They smell lovely and have a very long blooming season.

Amazing heart shaped leave growing in pots of the hoya plant

Sweetheart Plant (Hoya Kerrii)

The sweetheart plant is a superbly popular ornamental that you can find sold in nurseries especially around Valentine’s day because of its uniquely shaped leaves.

Hoya kerrii is sold specifically for its heart shaped fleshy leaves. Some will be sold as just a single heart shaped leaf, whereas others have the ability to grow as vines.

Waxvine (Hoya Australis)

The waxvine is loved by gardeners because it seemingly thrives off of neglect. It is wonderfully long lived and can grow forever if it is left untrimmed.

Hoya australis bears flowers that will start to grow in the late winter and last well into the late summer. It’s also a popular air purifying plant.

Porcelain Wax Vine (Hoya Linearis)

The porcelain wax vine is one of the more rare hoya varieties, so consider yourself lucky if you have found one. They’re loved for their growth habit that is likened to a fuzzy curtain.

Hoya linearis differs from other species because it has multiple long and fuzzy stems and instead of glossy succulent leaves, leaves are soft and slightly hairy. These are accompanied by umbels of white flowers with yellow centres.

Where is Hoya a Native Plant?

Wild vining wax plant growing with pink blooms

Usually it is very important to learn about where a species is considered as being a native plant. If it grows naturally in a climate super different than the one you live in, it may not be a great match.

However, when it comes to hoya plants, they can be grown pretty much all over the world because they are mainly grown as house plants! If you want to grow them outdoors, you’ll have to live in USDA growing zones 9, 10, or 11.

Hoyas are native plants to eastern Asia and Australia. They can be found growing wild in humid tropical and subtropical rainforests, as well as in warm rocky areas.

What are the Ideal Growing Conditions of Wax Plants?

If you’re a person who is good at caring for succulents or cacti, you should have no problem caring for a wax plant. Hoya plant care is very similar and will seamlessly fit in with the care of the rest of your indoor plant friends. Just follow these simple tips and tricks!

Blooming wax plant in the ornamental garden with evergreen leaves and vines

Soil Type

Since wax plants are epiphytic plants it is very important that they are able to grow in a soil type that is specific to that type of plant. It is absolutely essential that they grow in an open potting medium, otherwise the plant will quickly get root rot.

This means that the soil needs to have more than excellent drainage so that the roots get a ton of aeration. Ideally they can grow in a very large grade material like a mixture of perlite, pumice, and even ceramic balls.

Water Level

Wax plants will require frequent watering but not like regular plants do. When growing in the wild the plants only get water through the moisture in the air, so the best way to replicate this is through misting.

The plant will likely need to be misted every day for it to be perfectly happy, but there is also the option of keeping it in a bathroom close to a window so that the humidity from the shower keeps it moist.

Sun Exposure

When growing in the wild, wax plants are used to being shaded by the canopy of the trees above. This means that bright indirect light is ideal for this type of plant.

They are completely tolerant to partial shade or full shade, though not so much to direct sun. When planted in an area with direct sunlight for many hours there is a good chance that the plant will get leaf scorch.

Lovely tiny cluster of bright pink blooming wax flowers

Temperature

Though wax plants are able to tolerate moderately low temperatures, they are not super tolerant to frost and not at all to freezing temperatures.

Their growing season will truly begin once temperatures regularly hover between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. These plants thrive in areas that get a ton of heat and a ton of high humidity, very similar to a succulent plant or cactus.

Fertilizer

Wax plants love to be fertilized. This helps enable their quick growth, their lovely flowers, and overall great plant health. There is a specific type of fertilizer you can purchase for epiphytic plants that should be applied once a month during their active growing season.

Pruning

Due to their super quick growth habit it is rather important to prune your wax plant in order to keep it in check. Don’t forget, if left untended they can grow to be over 5 feet long!

Potting

Another super important part of caring for a wax plant is making sure that it is comfortably confined. They seem to be happiest when they are nearly root bound.

Once it is completely root bound, only transplant it to a slightly larger pot as a pot too large can cause the plant to go into shock. Make sure not to transplant when the plant is flowering as this can cause the flower buds to drop.

How do you Propagate a Wax Plant?

Growing wax plant with variegated heart shaped leaves

The best way to propagate a wax plant is by starting with a stem cutting. Though it is possible to grow a new specimen from seed it can be wildly time consuming, so gardeners hope to find a fellow plant lover to offer them a cutting.

1. Wait until the spring or summer to take a cutting from an existing plant. Take a cutting that is 4-5 inches long and has at least 3 leaves on it. Remove the lower leaves so that when planted, the leaves will not touch the soil.

2. Prepare a pot filled with a mixture of perlite, sand, and vermiculite. Water the potting mix very thoroughly and set it aside to let all the water drain out. You want the potting mix to be completely moist before planting your cutting.

Alternatively, you can also propagate a new cutting simply by keeping it in a clear glass filled with water. Make sure to constantly be switching out the water to keep the cutting happy.

3. Dip the cutting in rooting hormone and plant in the pot. From here, place the pot in an area with bright light. Maintain soil moisture as the plant is getting established.

Beautiful cluster of bright white flowers with red centres of the wax plant

FAQs

Are wax plants deer resistant?

Wax plants usually grow high enough in the wild to not be bothered by larger pests, though since they are mostly grown as house plants you needn’t worry about them being nibbled on by deer, rabbits, or squirrels.

How are wax plants used?

Gardeners will often grow hoya wax plant as the perfect indoor plant. When growing as a house plant it can grow in a pot or hanging basket, and they’re also known as being a wonderfully air purifying plant too!

What are the damaging agents to wax plants?

The greatest damage you could do to a hoya plant is planting in poorly draining soil. They must live in a potting mixture that is super well draining so that the roots get plenty of air. If this doesn’t happen the plant will very quickly perish because of root rot. This plant is also susceptible to spider mites, so keep a lookout!

Can wax plants survive winter temperatures?

Though wax plants are able to tolerate moderately low temperatures, they are not super tolerant to frost and not at all to freezing temperatures.

Their growing season will truly begin once temperatures regularly hover between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. These plants thrive in areas that get a ton of heat and a ton of high humidity, very similar to a succulent plant or cactus.

Are wax plants evergreen or deciduous?

Wax plants bear evergreen leaves, meaning that they will remain green and persist all year long.

Can a wax plant be grown indoors?

Wax plants are actually known for being a remarkably great house plant and are grown indoors more often than they are grown outdoors.

Can a wax plant be grown in a container?

Wax plants live very happily in containers and pots so long as the vessels have plenty of drainage holes and they’re planted in the correct potting medium.

Are wax plants perennials?

The wax plant is a perennial plant type, meaning that it will continue to produce flower blossoms year after year as long as its ideal growing conditions are met and maintained.

What USDA growing zone can wax plants grow in?

Usually it is very important to learn about where a species is considered as being a native plant. If it grows naturally in a climate super different than the one you live in, it may not be a great match.

However, when it comes to hoya plants, they can be grown pretty much all over the world because they are mainly grown as house plants! If you want to grow them outdoors, you’ll have to live in USDA growing zones 9, 10, or 11.

Hoyas are native plants to eastern Asia and Australia. They can be found growing wild in humid tropical and subtropical rainforests, as well as in warm rocky areas.

How often should a wax plant be watered?

Wax plants will require frequent watering but not like regular plants do. When growing in the wild the plants only get water through the moisture in the air, so the best way to replicate this is through misting.

The plant will likely need to be misted every day for it to be perfectly happy, but there is also the option of keeping it in a bathroom close to a window so that the humidity from the shower keeps it moist.

What are some other common names for wax plants?

A hoya plant is more commonly known under the names of either wax plant or porcelain flower. Wax plant refers to the plant’s gorgeous waxy leaves, whereas porcelain flower refers to the incredibly perfect looking tiny flowers. This genus was named after Thomas Hoy, a famous botanist.

Should a wax plant be pruned?

Due to their super quick growth habit it is rather important to prune your wax plant in order to keep it in check. Don’t forget, if left untended they can grow to be over 5 feet long!

Do wax plants prefer full sun or partial shade?

When growing in the wild, wax plants are used to being shaded by the canopy of the trees above. This means that bright indirect light is ideal for this type of plant.

They are completely tolerant to partial shade or full shade, though not so much to direct sun. When planted in an area with direct sunlight for many hours there is a good chance that the plant will get leaf scorch.

Where can I buy wax plant seeds?

A great resource for gardeners is NETPS plant finder. This is a website where you can find all sorts of different seeds and bulbs for purchase as well as all of the planting information you could ever imagine!

What is the ideal soil type for a wax plant?

Since wax plants are epiphytic plants it is very important that they are able to grow in a soil type that is specific to that type of plant. It is absolutely essential that they grow in an open potting medium, otherwise the plant will quickly get root rot.

This means that the soil needs to have more than excellent drainage so that the roots get a ton of aeration. Ideally they can grow in a very large grade material like a mixture of perlite, pumice, and even ceramic balls.

What is the easiest way to propagate a wax plant?

The best way to propagate a wax plant is by starting with a stem cutting. Though it is possible to grow a new specimen from seed it can be wildly time consuming, so gardeners hope to find a fellow plant lover to offer them a cutting.

How tall do wax plants get?

Wax plants are an epiphytic plant type, meaning that they’re capable of growing on the surface of other plants through aerial roots. This makes them a very adaptable type of plant.

Hoyas are a perennial vining plant, meaning that it will produce flower blossoms each year as long as its ideal growing conditions are met and maintained.

The overall length of the vine will vary according to the species and how much the plant is pruned, but they can grow to be anywhere from 12 inches to over 5 feet long!

What color is a hoya flower?

A hoya flower is commonly white, light pink, or dark pink.

What time of year do wax flowers bloom?

Hoya blooms are so pretty and perfect that’s it’s a little hard to accept that they’re real. Wax flowers will usually bloom in the late spring and last into the late summer and sometimes autumn.