The Hoya imbricata plant is an unusual creeping plant with long climbing stems and overlapping leaves. Mysterious, otherworldly, and secretive, the plant seems to imply that it knows more than you do.
With its penchant to stick to surfaces rather than grow vertically, the Hoya imbricata is one amazing plant.
Today, we will learn about this peculiar Hoya variety, how to cultivate it, and how to propagate it, and at the end of this article, you will learn to care for the Hoya imbricata plant like an expert gardener.
- What Is Hoya Imbricata?
- Hoya Imbricata Care
- Frequently Asked Questions
- – What Is the Name Origin of the Hoya Imbricata Plant?
- – How Big Does the Hoya Imbricata Grow?
- – What Do the Leaves of the Hoya Imbricata Look Like?
- – Why Is the Hoya Imbricata Also Called the Ant Plant?
- – What Do the Roots of the Hoya Imbricata Look Like?
- – Does the Hoya Imbricata Produce Flowers?
- – Where Can We Usually Find the Hoya Imbricata Plant?
What Is Hoya Imbricata?
The Hoya imbricata plant belongs to the Apocynaceae family, more commonly known as the dogbane. A rare plant that many collectors long to possess, this plant can be a little tricky for some growers. The unusual foliage and fragrant flowers make this Hoya highly desirable among many Hoya collectors.
Hoya Imbricata Care
Caring for the Hoya imbricata plant can take a little more work than usual as this is a special and rare variety that is slowly becoming endangered. Keep reading to know about it further.
– Water Requirements
The Hoya imbricata plant does not require constant and abundant watering. The plant is an air plant, or an epiphyte, which can thrive extremely well by clinging to trees in its natural habitats. The aerial roots of the plant then efficiently procure an adequate amount of water and nutrients from the surrounding air which allows the plant to flourish.
The higher the level of light that the Hoya imbricata plant receives, the more it needs watering. However, you should ensure that the substrate has sufficient draining characteristics that promote enough moisture retention without clogging the root system with water.
Warmth is another factor that can increase the watering needs of the Hoya imbricata plant. Warmer temperatures plus high indirect lighting may require even more watering. Nonetheless, it is ideal to check the substrate and the roots of the plant to see if they are dry.
The substrate should ideally remain damp, and the root system should not be dry. Note that you can reduce watering activities during colder periods of the year especially if you live in more temperate regions.
– Light Requirements
The Hoya imbricata plant prefers diffused lighting conditions as it is used to growing on trees that provide dappled lighting in the wild.
The most ideal shade level for this slow-growing Hoya plant is around 50 to 90 percent. Too much exposure to ultraviolet rays can break down the chlorophyll that is present in the leaves, which ultimately damages them.
A sign that the Hoya imbricata plant is becoming sunburnt is when the normally green leaves turn reddish. This indicates possible overexposure to ultraviolet rays and must be moved or covered immediately to shield the plant from further damage.
In outdoor settings, you can place your Hoya imbricata plant under trees, plants, and on poles that are shielded from direct sun exposure but still receive a fair amount of indirect light. Indoors, you can opt to place them near sources of light that are diffused through sheer curtains.
– Soil Requirements
The ideal substrate for the Hoya imbricata plant should be similar to its native environmental conditions. Bark, wood, and moss mounts are some of the most recommended substrate materials for this creeping plant.
Slabs provide the plant with an optimal growing surface while the shape and the material make it an ideal display mount for many growers.
For outdoors, it would be best to use tree trunks if you live in an area where temperatures do not fall below 50 F. If you are located in regions with temperature fluctuations or where cold seasons are present, it would be better to place your Hoya imbricata plant on a slab or mount that you can easily bring indoors during the colder months of the year.
– Temperature Requirements
The temperature level is important to the overall growth of the Hoya imbricata plant. As a tropical plant used to warmth, anything below 50 F can harm the plant. This can cause irreparable damage to the whole plant system and may cause the plant to perish.
Ideally, the Hoya imbricata plant should be kept at temperature levels from 75 to 90 F as it prefers warmth. If you live in an area that can have fluctuating temperatures throughout the year, it is recommended to invest in heaters or heat packs and pads that provide adequate warmth.
Always make sure to bring the Hoya imbricata plant indoors once cold periods set in if you are one of the many Hoya growers in temperate regions. You can overwinter the plant until warmer seasons arrive.
– Humidity Requirements
The Hoya imbricata plant prefers to grow in mid to high humidity conditions similar to its natural environmental conditions. The subtropical and tropical regions are perfect to grow this particular Hoya plant as it responds positively to high levels of air moisture content.
If you do not live in areas with high levels of humidity, you can still increase the air moisture content of your spaces by misting the plant with water from a sprayer. Make sure your water is distilled or rainwater to prevent any untoward reactions from your Hoya imbricata plant.
Additionally, place a shallow tray filled with pebbles or gravel just under the mount, and fill this tray with water. The evaporating water should create enough humidity for your Hoya imbricata plant. By use commercial humidifiers to increase the air moisture content around your plant.
The more humidity the Hoya imbricata plant is exposed to, the more it is encouraged to grow. Humidity spurs the plant to produce more leaves and roots as the high air moisture content signals ideal growing conditions for this tropical Hoya plant.
– Fertilizer Requirements
The Hoya imbricata plant is not a heavy feeder although it appreciates applications of extra nutrients from organic sources. In the wild, the plant does not have access to inorganic fertilizers, so you should ideally feed this Hoya plant with organic sources such as organic manure.
Some gardeners have reported success in using inorganic fertilizers, although it is best to be cautious in the amount, strength, and frequency of inorganic fertilizer application. Applications should be once or twice a month using very diluted solutions, with fertilizers high in nitrogen for foliage growth and fertilizers high in phosphorus for flower development.
Do not fertilize during the colder seasons if you live in temperate regions. Only resume fertilizer applications during the warmer periods of the year.
Pruning the Hoya imbricata plant can benefit it by lessening the untidy network of dead leaves and roots. Before pruning, ensure that your tools and equipment are clean and that you are wearing protective clothing and gloves.
The Hoya imbricata plant can produce latex when a live stem or part is cut. This sticky sap can be an irritant for some people, so it is best to be prudent and wear gloves during any pruning activities.
When pruning the Hoya imbricata plant, do not cut off the peduncle or the base of the inflorescence. Even if the peduncle appears to be dead, it is most likely where another inflorescence will appear.
Propagating the Hoya imbricata plant is surprisingly easy. All you need to do is follow the steps below and you should be able to propagate your Hoya imbricata plant.
Start by sterilizing your tools and equipment such as shears or knives with alcohol. Remove a stem from your Hoya imbricata mother plant. The stem should have three nodes and be around six inches in length. Remove two-thirds of the leaves and make sure that the stem cutting does not have buds or flowers.
Place the stem cutting in a container with an orchid mix that has great drainage and moisture retention properties. You can use sphagnum moss to hold the stem cutting vertically. You can use liquid or powdered rooting hormones during this stage to encourage root growth.
Mist the substrate and the plant well. Ensure that everything is damp but not wet. Create a temporary terrarium condition by placing the pot and the cutting in a clear plastic bag. When you see the roots appear, your Hoya imbricata plant is ready to be placed in its final container or mount.
The Hoya imbricata plant can encounter some issues when the plant is under stress and becomes vulnerable to pests. Pests such as mealybugs and aphids are common to many Hoya plants and the Hoya imbricata is one of those that can become affected.
Mealybugs appear as white masses of soft-bodied growths which can encourage fungal growth from their sticky residues. Simply use insecticidal solutions or neem oil solutions and spray on affected leaves, nodes, and other parts of your plants.
Aphids are also a common issue for Hoya plants which are usual in indoor spaces. Aphid infestations are recognized by wilting, yellowing, or curling leaves. You can use insecticides or neem oil solutions to combat aphids easily and quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
– What Is the Name Origin of the Hoya Imbricata Plant?
Hoya plants have more than 300 species, with each one slightly deviating from the other. Hoya plants are endemic to many tropical Asian countries and are often sought for their beautiful clusters of waxy flowers.
The Hoya plant is known by many names, among them Waxvine, Waxplant, Waxflower, and Porcelain Flower. This is due to the wax-like nature of the flowers that are borne in large clusters. The wax-like texture sometimes extends to the foliage of the plant.
The genus name Hoya refers to the botanist Thomas Hoy, whose surname was used by his friend and fellow botanist Robert Brown.
The epithet imbricata is from the Latin word “imbricatus” which translates to mean “overlapping like shingles”. This is in reference to the unusual foliage growth habit of the Hoya imbricata plant.
As a cultivar, the Hoya imbricata plant does not have a formal common name, although many gardeners like to refer to this plant as the Ant Hoya, the Ant Plant, and other similar names.
– How Big Does the Hoya Imbricata Grow?
When left to grow in ideal growing conditions, the Hoya imbricata plant can reach eight to over ten feet in height. As an enthusiastic climber and grower, the plant can quickly reach the tops of some trees. Trees that support the plant look like they are covered in large leaf scales.
The Hoya imbricata plant may grow quite big on support structures although it is not a parasitic plant. Hoyas tend to be epiphytic, which means they thrive on support structures as air plants and draw moisture and nutrients from the air and surrounding areas.
– What Do the Leaves of the Hoya Imbricata Look Like?
The Hoya imbricata is a shingling plant that usually gets one leaf from each node. The stems of the Hoya imbricata plant are wiry and emit a sticky milky substance on the stems and sometimes on the leaves.
The leaves of the Hoya imbricata plant are overlapping, with many referring to them as having a single growth pattern. The leaves are round or can be oval in shape, with dark and light green mottling patterns, they are also shaped like a dome, with the underside of the leaves concave and colored in shades of purple. The maximum size of these leaves is usually around nine inches in length.
The succulent quality of the leaves is similar to upturned water lily leaf pads. These domed leaves tend to cover trees and other supporting structures with overlapping foliage. The unusual leaf shape of the Hoya imbricata plant can prove to be a very welcoming structure for one of its greatest allies: ants.
– Why Is the Hoya Imbricata Also Called the Ant Plant?
The unusual shape of the domed leaves provides ants with enough shelter from the elements. The presence of the ants also ensures that the Hoya imbricata plant has fewer risks of pest infestation. This dynamic relationship can be called a symbiotic type, where each party derives certain benefits from the other.
The ants tend to use the domes to host their colonies, slowly building and increasing their numbers. Ants can sometimes use the roots of the Hoya imbricata plant as routes and passageways, connecting one domed colony to another.
The network of Hoya imbricata roots under each leaf absorbs all the nutrients discarded by the ant colony. The underside of the leaves also absorbs enough carbon dioxide excreted from the ant colonies, adding to the plant’s metabolism through vital stores of sugar, protein, and lipid.
– What Do the Roots of the Hoya Imbricata Look Like?
The root system of the Hoya imbricata plant is usually an interconnected network of tendrils. These roots are often found underneath the domed leaves, with adventitious roots spreading out from stems and from the main root.
These adventitious roots are especially helpful in drawing water to the Hoya imbricata plant. These roots are highly sensitive to water, being one of the ways that the plant examines for possible growing locations. When the fine roots determine a location that has enough moisture and nutrients, the plant will eventually take root in that area.
The root system of the Hoya imbricata plant can be easily trained to wrap around any desired support structures such as trees or plant poles. Simply place the tendrils on the support structure and once the plant identifies the new location as an ideal growing place, stronger roots will take hold.
– Does the Hoya Imbricata Produce Flowers?
Hoya imbricata flowers are borne in clusters from the peduncle of the plant. The flower of the Hoya imbricata plants has fuzzy yellow corolla lobes with a crown in the middle and anther appendages that create a little tuft at the center.
The inflorescence of the Hoya imbricata plant can have at least five to ten erect, concave, yellow to cream-colored flowers with bent, green, hairless peduncles that can vary in length. Hoya imbricata flowers are arranged in umbels, which is a flower cluster that extends to form a curved, convex surface.
The umbels usually are two to three inches across, and the flowers can emit an intense fragrance at night. The fragrance can sometimes be detected during the daytime when the Hoya imbricata plant is grown in its most optimal conditions.
The nocturnal preference for fragrance release indicates that the plant attracts nighttime pollinators such as moths and other insects. Hoya imbricata seeds are the result of the pollinating efforts of these nocturnal moths, insects, and other nighttime visitors.
– Where Can We Usually Find the Hoya Imbricata Plant?
The Hoya imbricata plant prefers warm, humid locations where it can remain mostly undisturbed from human activities. Countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Polynesia, Philippines, New Guinea, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and Bangladesh are endemic homes to this unusual Hoya plant.
The perfect combination of light, warmth, and humidity of these Asian tropical forests enables the Hoya imbricata plant to grow extremely well. This plant can often be found in lowland forests alongside rivers, creeks, or streams. This Hoya plant is also known to grow in mangrove forests and near coastal beaches.
Gardeners who are not used to growing Hoya plants can sometimes feel a little intimidated, although they should not. Here are some important points we have covered so far in caring for the plant:
- A slow-growing plant with overlapping leaves, fragrant flowers, and a capable host to ants, the Hoya imbricata is grown in cultivation more often as it is starting to become endangered in its local habitats.
- The Hoya imbricata plant prefers diffused lighting, warm temperatures, and high humidity.
- Watering the Hoya imbricata plant is not difficult as long as you ensure that the substrate remains damp.
- The Hoya imbricata appreciates diluted doses of fertilizers once or twice a month.
Despite its alleged reputation as a difficult plant to grow, the Hoya imbricata is surprisingly easy to care for as long as you know how to provide the ideal growing conditions!
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