With its sweet aroma and stunning appearance, Hoya bilobata is an increasingly popular houseplant to add to your collection.
While hoyas can be a little difficult to grow, even beginners can care for Hoya bilobata. Read on to find out all you need to know.
What Is Hoya Bilobata?
Hoya bilobata is an evergreen flowering plant native to the Philippines. It belongs to the Hoya genus, a group of plants also known as wax plants or porcelain flowers due to the unique look of their blooms.
The bilobata wax plant was once considered one of the smallest varieties of hoya. It produces trailing vines that can grow up to 2 feet (60 cm) long and looks truly stunning in hanging baskets.
Hoya bilobata leaves are oval-shaped, light green, succulent, with a smooth, slightly leathery feel.
The inflorescence consists of a compact cluster of star-shaped flowers, sometimes as many as 25. These blooms are dark red, with a yellow center, and produce a honey-like fragrance during the night.
Hoya bilobata is a very reliable bloomer, producing numerous clusters of flowers throughout the year.
Hoya Bilobata Lookalikes and How To Tell Them Apart
Several hoya varieties look like Hoya bilobata, which can make buying one a bit confusing. Also, the fact that this plant is often mislabeled doesn’t help. Let’s take a look at some of the lookalikes and how they differ from a true Hoya bilobata.
Hoya DS-70: darker green color, fuzzy or pubescent leaves, wider flower clusters. The DS in the name stands for David Silver, and the 70 indicates this hoya’s place in his plant collection
Hoya tsangii: formerly known as Hoya odetteae, it has narrower, lanceolate leaves and dark red flowers with a yellow center
Hoya burtoniae: very fuzzy leaves, with dark red or purplish flowers growing in a wide cluster
Hoya sp. aff. burtoniae: in botanic taxonomy, the ‘sp. aff’ stands for ‘species affinis,’ meaning ‘a species that has an affinity to another species.’
Discovered in 1988, it has been listed under several names, from Hoya tsangii to DS-70, until botanists finally settled on this name as a placeholder. This plant is very similar to the true Hoya burtoniae, but the flowers grow in a compact cluster.
Out of all the species mentioned above, Hoya sp. aff. burtoniae and DS-70 are the most common in the houseplant trade. As a result, you’ll likely find them mislabeled as Hoya bilobata.
Always check the way the leaves and the flower clusters look beforehand to make sure that you’re buying the right plant. A true Hoya bilobata should have light green, smooth, hairless leaves and small flower clusters.
Hoya Bilobata Care Guide
Hoya bilobata grows best in bright, indirect light. However, like many varieties of hoya with thick, succulent leaves, it can also tolerate some direct sun. In fact, giving this plant enough light, especially during the growing season, will stimulate flowering.
When growing Hoya bilobata indoors, we recommend keeping it near a window with southern or western exposure. A few hours of direct sunlight in the morning and evening won’t harm the plant.
It’s best if you avoid keeping it in a window that’s facing south. The intense midday heat will scorch the leaves, causing discoloration and burn marks.
Hoya bilobata can tolerate a wide temperature range and will grow comfortably anywhere between 60 and 86 F (15 to 30 C). This plant is not frost-hardy and will struggle to grow in temperatures below 50 F (10 C).
You can grow it in your garden in USDA zones ranging from 8 through to 11, but remember to bring it inside if it gets too cold during the night.
Like all tropical plants, Hoya bilobata prefers medium to high humidity. Our recommendation is to aim for a humidity level of around 60 percent. The easiest way to achieve this is to place the pot on top of a pebble tray half filled with water, and the evaporation will meet its humidity needs.
Misting also works, but on one condition: you need to have excellent air circulation. If the foliage of your Hoya bilobata stays wet all the time, this will result in fungal problems. Keep your hoya in a room that’s well ventilated, and allow the leaves to dry out before misting them again.
Water your Hoya bilobata regularly, but allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Your schedule for watering this plant will vary depending on the amount of light it receives, the temperature, and the season.
On average, you can water it once every 7 to 10 days from spring until autumn, but in winter, you can reduce the schedule to once every two weeks.
We recommend using the soak and drain method for watering Hoya bilobata. Wait until the top 2 inches (5 cm) of the soil is dry, then soak the soil from the top until you see water dripping from the drainage holes.
Never allow the soil to completely dry out, as this can permanently damage the leaves and cause them to drop.
The ideal soil mix for your Hoya bilobata should be very well-draining, loose, and aerated. In its native habitat, this plant is an epiphyte, growing on trees and branches. As a result, it has adapted to living on very little substrate. Here’s a great potting mix that you can use to replicate its natural growing conditions:
- 1 part peat moss
- 1 part perlite or pumice
- 1 part orchid bark
A handful of horticultural charcoal to boost drainage and prevent root fungal problems
Hoya bilobata can be very susceptible to root rot, which is caused by a thick, compacted soil mix rather than too much water. If the soil you use is very well-draining and aerated, and if you allow the top to dry a bit before watering, you should never have any problems with overwatering this plant.
Hoya bilobata has moderate fertilizer needs. Throughout spring and summer, during the plant’s growing season, you can give it a nutrient boost once every two weeks. A universal fertilizer diluted to half the strength should do the trick. The plant doesn’t need any additional feeding in winter.
If you notice that your Hoya bilobata is about to flower, you can also use a fertilizer that’s rich in phosphorus. This will stimulate the blooms and also encourage the plant to flower again the same year.
Pruning and Maintenance
Your Hoya bilobata will need little pruning. You can trim some of the longer vines if you want to give it a bushy look or simply keep it contained. Use a sharp, sterilized blade to prune the plant when needed.
Be very careful when pruning a hoya that has flowered. After the blooms drop, you will notice that the peduncle will develop a thin, woody tip. This is a hoya spur, and it’s what the new blooms will grow out of.
If you cut the spur and the peduncle, the plant won’t produce any more flowers from that stalk.
Repotting Hoya Bilobata
Hoya bilobata needs to be repotted once every two or three years. As we mentioned earlier, this plant grows in very little substrate in its natural habitat, so it enjoys being a bit root-bound. If you notice that the roots of your hoya are coming out of the drainage hole, it’s time to repot it in a container that’s one size bigger.
The best time to repot Hoya bilobata is in spring and summer. Avoid repotting the plant if you notice that it’s developing flower buds. Moving it to a new container at this stage can result in shock, and the hoya will drop the buds before they flower.
We recommend using terracotta pots for your Hoya bilobata. This material is porous and provides better air circulation around the roots than plastic, for example. It also wicks moisture from the soil, which prevents it from staying wet too long and resulting in root rot.
Hoya Bilobata Propagation Guide
You can propagate Hoya bilobata through either stem cuttings or air layering. Here’s our step-by-step guide for each method.
– Propagating Hoya Bilobata Through Stem Cuttings
Find some stems that are green or semi-green, with at least one growth node. Woody stems take a longer time to root than green ones. Also, avoid propagating stems that have flower peduncles.
- Use a sharp, sterilized blade and cut the stem an inch below the growth node in 5 inch (13 cm) sections.
- You can then propagate the cuttings in either soil, water, or by wrapping the growth node in sphagnum moss.
- Keep the cuttings in a warm spot, with bright indirect light and lots of humidity. If you’re using soil or sphagnum moss to propagate, make sure that they never dry out.
- The cuttings should start developing roots in about a month.
– Propagating Hoya Bilobata Through Air Layering
- Place a small container filled with a well-draining potting mix next to the mother plant.
- Take one of the longer vines and lay it on top of the soil. You can use paper clips or small hooks to secure it by placing them on each side of the growth node. The growth node and the aerial roots should be in contact with the soil for this method to work.
- Do not cut the vine, and don’t cover the nodes with soil.
- Use a spray pump to mist the soil regularly.
- After a month, the vine should have developed roots. Wait for another month before cutting the vine from the mother plant, then care for your hoya as usual.
Common Pests and Problems
Hoya bilobata is resistant to most pests and diseases, making it easy to care for. Here are a few problems to watch out for, just in case.
– Leaves Turning Red
This is a common symptom of sun stress. Move your Hoya bilobata away from the window, and avoid exposing it to the intense midday sun.
– Leggy Growth
Your Hoya bilobata is not receiving enough light. Keep it in a spot where it can receive at least six hours of bright indirect light.
– Shriveled, Yellowing Leaves
If the leaves on your Hoya bilobata are looking soft, yellow and a bit shriveled, that could be a sign of root rot. Take the plant out of the pot, and check the roots. Trim off any that are soft and black, then repot the plant in a well-draining potting mix.
Mealybugs are one of the most common plant pests, and your Hoya bilobata may suffer from the occasional infestation. To get rid of them, spray the plant with a solution of water and isopropyl alcohol once a week for about a month.
– Why Is My Hoya Bilobata Not Flowering?
A Hoya bilobata that’s healthy and is provided with the right growing conditions should bloom when it’s at least four years old.
To encourage blooming, try giving it a few hours of direct sunlight in the morning or evening, increasing the humidity, and making sure that the soil never dries out completely. A phosphorus-rich fertilizer will also stimulate flower growth.
With its trailing vines and sweet-scented flowers, Hoya bilobata can make a truly gorgeous addition to any home. It’s also a lot easier to care for than you think. Just remember these essential tips:
- Hoya bilobata produces abundant clusters of small, dark red flowers which have a pleasant honey-like scent.
- To keep this wax plant happy, keep it in bright indirect light, well-draining soil, and never allow it to go completely dry.
- You can easily propagate Hoya bilobata through stem cuttings or air layering.
- Easy to care for, this plant has very few pests and diseases but can be very sensitive to overwatering.
Armed with this expert knowledge, you’re ready to grow your own beautiful Hoya bilobata.
- Alocasia Cucullata: Parenting the “Fortune-Calling” Buddha Palm Plant - September 20, 2021
- Philodendron Lupinum: Nurturing the Ever-Changing, Climbing Philodendron - September 20, 2021
- Phalaenopsis Violacea: The Gorgeous Tropical Beauty - September 20, 2021