Hoya Kentiana is a unique variety that grows extremely long and slender finger-like leaves.
This plant makes a great houseplant that is easy to care for. The Hoya Kentiana is an excellent variety for novice gardeners and makes an uncommon plant to give to experienced gardeners as a thoughtful gift.
We will show you how to make sure your Hoya Kentiana plant has the best chance at good growth.
We will give you some tips for propagating these special plants and how to encourage them to produce delicious smelling butterscotch scented flowers all season.
What is Hoya Kentiana?
These plants will seek out tree trunks to climb, where the Hoya Kentiana leaves will lay flat against the bark, helping stabilize the vine as it climbs. The Hoya Kentiana is a night blooming variety that is pollinated in nature by night creatures like bats and moths that are attracted to the sweet, sugary-smelling nectar.
In your home, these plants might produce so much sap that it will drip off the flowers.
– Hoya Kentiana vs Wayetii
These two species are closely related and are easily confused, even by professional botanists.
Both plants feature similar leaves and flowers since they both belong to the Acanthostemma group of Hoya plants. Botanists group Hoya plants according to the shape of the flowers. Kentiana and Wayetii varieties both produce “revolute” flowers.
Parts of the Plant
The flowers are made of three parts, the calyx, corolla, and corona. The Hoya plants in this group develop flowers in which the corolla- the outer flower petals- curl back to form a ball-shape. The corona- the center petals- also turn back and follow the shape of the corolla. The calyx supports the blossom and is difficult to see due to the curvature of the corona and corolla.
Differences Between Kentiana and Other Varieties
The key to identifying the difference between Kentiana and other Hoya varieties is in the shape, size, and color of the blossoms.
Wayetii is difficult to tell the difference, since both plants produce similar shape, size, color, and fragrance. The key is in the difference between the corona with Hoya Kentiana flowers having more of an upright, creamy color and a looser bunching of flowers than Wayetii.
Differences in the Leaves
Several closely-related varieties of Hoya plants feature similar leaf shapes to Hoya Kentiana leaves. Wayetii and Sheperdii varieties both feature spear-shaped leaves like those of the Kentiana.
To complicate identification even more, variegated versions of both varieties exist, making it even more of a challenge to tell them apart. You can spot the difference between the green varieties because the Wayetii variety has dark red to almost black edges while Kentiana leaves are brighter green. Hoya Kentiana leaves grow longer than other varieties with similar leaf shape.
Sheperdii varieties have a similar leaf structure but grow differently on their vines, giving that variety its common name- string-bean Hoya. The Sheperdii variety develops a totally different type of flower that closely resembles Hoya Carnosa varieties.
– Hoya Kentiana Vs Hoya Kentiana Variegata
The normal Hoya Kentiana grows bright green foliage sometimes with lighter or darker edges. The Variegata variety is even more rare than the normal color phase. This type displays reddish to bright pink edges around the leaves.
Gardeners can increase or decrease the amount of visible coloration simply by adjusting light and watering. We will explain how you can encourage your Hoya Kentiana to develop unique colors below.
How to Care for Hoya Kentiana
It’s essential to always keep in mind that Hoya plants are slow-growing tropical plants. Getting phenomenal growth from your Hoya Kentiana is going to take patience and your plant will require special care in order for it to be healthy enough to bloom.
– Soil Selection
The Hoya Kentiana plant won’t grow well in most commercially available soil mixes. You’ll want to formulate a custom soil mixture for growing your Hoya Kentiana plants that provide the plant’s ideal conditions to grow strong and healthy roots.
In nature, you would find Hoya Kentiana plants growing in nooks and crannies between tree roots and rock piles where there is a lack of soil. Instead, these plants will grow in the decomposing leaf litter from the lush rainforest trees. You will want to make a soil mixture that closely resembles the natural soil these plants grow well in.
You can mix your soil for Hoya Kentiana plants using commonly available ingredients. A simple mix is two parts peat moss and one part perlite. This mixture provides excellent drainage which is essential for these plants and also helps to hold enough water to benefit the humidity requirements of the plant. Some gardeners will mix one-third of rich, organic potting soil into the peat and perlite mixture to help provide nutrients. Still, it’s essential to keep the soil chunky.
Other additions you can make to the soil include orchid bark, clay balls, broken terracotta pots, and similar objects that improve drainage. The primary key with any Hoya variety is to prevent the soil from compacting. It must stay light and airy for the roots to grow. Too dense of soil or soil that doesn’t drain well will result in root rot, poor growth characteristics, and other problems you want to avoid.
– Fertilizer for Growth
In nature, Hoya Kentiana plants get most of their nutrients from decaying leaf matter, not the soil. When you are growing Hoya Kentiana in your home, you’ll need to provide the nutrients the plant requires and can’t get from the soil mixture. You can begin using a high-quality organic liquid fertilizer in mid-spring when you notice new growth beginning.
You will want to use a fertilizer with higher nitrogen levels in spring and early summer. If your plant is showing signs of possible blooming in the mid-summer, you can switch to a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus to encourage flower development.
– When to Repot Hoya Kentiana
Unlike many types of plants, Hoya Kentiana plants prefer to be somewhat root-bound in their pots. In fact, repotting into a large pot will cause the plant stress and may kill it. These plants have weak, delicate roots that do not like rough handling. You should only repot Hoya Kentiana when it’s necessary.
You’ll know that it’s time when roots start to grow out of the top of the pot or through the drainage hole and almost all of the soil or potting mixture is consumed. Select a new pot in the early spring that is no more than one size larger. Don’t break up the root ball any more than is necessary to remove old soil before moving the plant into its new pot. Don’t forget to water thoroughly after you repot Hoya Kentiana.
– What’s the Best Type of Pot
You’ll see lots of examples of healthy Hoya Kentiana plants on the internet growing in hanging baskets. A hanging basket is a great way to display the fascinating foliage of these plants, but there are other fun options available to creative gardeners.
Some fun ways to encourage healthy growth from Hoya Kentiana plants while displaying the vibrant foliage include the use of trellising to provide a climbing surface. When Hoya Kentiana plants climb, they may change the size and shape of leaves on the new growth. These leaves will be larger, longer, and broader than leaves in a hanging basket.
– Can Hoya Kentiana Grow Outdoors?
Unless you live in an area where temperatures don’t drop below 45 degrees and you have plenty of year-round humidity, growing Hoya Kentiana plants in the garden can be a significant challenge. Most gardeners are going to have the most success picking a location indoors to grow Hoya Kentiana.
In nature, these plants grow in a tropical region near the equator. This region sees very little seasonal change in temperature. You’ll want to replicate that type of environment in your home to provide the best opportunity for Hoya Kentiana plants to grow strong.
– Hoya Kentiana Light Requirements
You will want to make sure that your Hoya Kentiana plant has the ideal quality and quantity of light in order to develop beautiful foliage and eventually blooms. Thinking about the conditions these plants grow naturally clues you into the type of light they like. You will want to find an area that gets lots of bright, indirect light all year. Hoya Kentiana will grow in lower light conditions, but will develop long, leggy vines, few leaves, and rarely flower.
Hoya varieties differ in the amount and type of light they require. You can tell how much light a type needs based on the shape and size of leaves. Larger, broader leaves require less light than thinner, less succulent types such as Hoya Kentiana. You may find that your Hoya Kentiana will want to be in brighter light than other varieties of Hoya plant.
If you place these plants in bright, direct light, they will suffer horribly and are likely to quickly die. Finding an outstanding balance between too bright and too dim can be challenging, mainly because these plants are slow-growing. It may take some trial and error to find the perfect spot for your plants. Once you have them in a good spot, it’s best to leave them alone. They don’t like being moved from one spot to another.
– Artificial Light
Hoya Kentiana plants can benefit from artificial lighting to encourage strong growth habits. You can use standard T5 fluorescent lights for starting cuttings, but for growing plants, you’ll need a stronger light.
Gardeners have had lots of success using HID grow lights that provide a full spectrum, but you can also use less expensive T21 lights. Artificial lighting is a great addition to indoor environments that get less than ideal light, and you can even use lighting to encourage blooming.
– Hoya Kentiana Water Requirements
Most of the problems that gardeners encounter growing Hoya Kentiana involve improper watering. Varieties of Hoya plants have unique watering requirements that differ for each type.
You can get an idea of the amount of watering your Hoya variety desires by looking at the leaves. Thicker, more succulent leaf varieties will require less frequent, deeper watering because these plants store water in their leaves. Thin-leaf types such as Hoya Kentiana require more watering than other varieties.
The best way to ensure your plant is getting the correct amount of water is to keep an eye on the soil and the leaves closest to the pot. You want to let the soil dry at least one inch down from the surface between waterings since these plants don’t like to be in wet soil. You can also feel the texture of the leaves near the soil. If they are firm and crisp, the plant isn’t ready for the water. When the leaves begin to feel soft and pliable, you know the plant wants water.
How to Water Hoya Kentiana Plants
Just like finding the perfect balance of light, you’ll need to experiment with how much water your plant wants. Hoya Kentiana plants growing in warmer, brighter locations will need more water. You will also need to water more frequently during spring and summer when the plant is growing. Don’t forget to cut back on watering during the fall and winter to prevent rot, fungus, and mold problems when the plant isn’t using as much water.
– Using the Right Type of Water
Many people who grow Hoya Kentiana plants have discovered that these plants are sensitive to hard water like most U.S. water faucets. In nature, the rain trickling through the canopy of trees absorbs nutrients and becomes soft long before making its way to the ground. You will want to closely replicate the type of soft water found in nature for watering Hoya Kentiana correctly.
Gardeners have a few options to produce soft water for plants. Commercial water softening devices can help you produce better water and introduce unsafe levels of dissolved salts. You can mix collected rainwater with your softened water to reduce the salts, or you can use distilled water to water your plants. Do not use deionized water for watering plants- it strips the soil’s nutrients and can kill your plants.
– Humidity Levels
The Hoya Kentiana plant is a humidity-loving species, so you’ll want to ensure you provide some humidity. This is particularly important in summer and winter when artificial climate control leaves the air dry. You want to aim for humidity levels between 40 and 80 percent for Hoya Kentiana plants’ optimal growth. There are some easy ways you can improve the humidity where you are growing Hoya Kentiana plants.
One easy method of increasing humidity during warm weather is to lightly mist the leaves of your Hoya Kentiana plant every day. Don’t forget to use distilled water or rainwater, as tap water often contains elements that can cause harm to the surface of delicate leaves. Mist both the top and bottom of leaves but keep an eye out for mold, mildew, and fungus growth that indicate too much moisture.
Another standard method of adding additional humidity is to build an evaporative tray. Use a shallow tray and fill it with pebbles, pumice stones, or small rocks. Add enough water to nearly cover the rocks and set your Hoya Kentiana pot on the top. Do not let the pot sit in water because it’ll absorb too much liquid and cause health problems. As the water in the tray evaporates, it will increase humidity around the plant.
A commercial humidifier can provide the ideal conditions for your plant. However, this is a more expensive, less elegant solution that tends to work best when you have an entire room of humidity-loving plants to care for. A humidifier may be the only solution possible for some growers working in arid conditions.
How to Propagate Hoya Kentiana Plants
Many varieties of Hoya plants are incredibly challenging to reproduce from seed. These plants rarely reproduce in nature in this way. Instead, you’ll want to learn to propagate your Hoya Kentiana plant from a stem cutting, also called cloning.
This method produces an identical copy of the plant to get the same leaves and flowers as the original plant. Once you learn to reproduce plants through stem cuttings, you’ll have tons of success propagating nearly all types of plants.
– How to Make a Stem Cutting
Before you start to propagate your Hoya Kentiana plant, you will want to have some supplies handy. This process must be completed quickly, so it’s essential to have everything ready before you start.
Make sure you have a pair of scissors or a sharp knife that’s sterile. You will also need a pot for every cutting you plan to make with an adequately mixed potting soil that is well watered. Liquid or powder rooting hormone can be a big help when making stem cuttings. Rooting hormone is commercially available, or you can make your own at home for free.
Make your cut from a growing vine in spring or summer that does not have flowers. Cut just below a leaf node, then cut the leaf stems off the vine. Place the vine cutting in rooting hormone. Once the hormone has had an opportunity to work, make a hole in the prepared pot deep enough for the stem to sit, but don’t let the leaves touch the soil.
Gently press the mix into place to hold the cutting. It can take one month or longer for roots to develop—test by gently tugging on the cutting to feel for resistance. New foliage growth is a sign the cutting is ready to be planted in a pot.
– How to Make Rooting Hormone
Here is a neat DIY trick you can use to increase your success when cloning plants significantly. It’s easy to make a rooting hormone at home as long as you have access to a willow tree.
To make a rooting hormone, cut growing stem tips from a willow tree. You want the yellow-green parts, not the brown, woody parts. Strip the leaves and chop the willow twigs into one-inch sections. You will wish to between one and two cups of cut twigs.
– Directions for Making Willow Water
Add the cut twigs to a half-gallon of gently boiling water, turn off the heat, and cover. Allow the twigs to steep for 24-48 hours. You can gently add heat to the mixture to help release the rooting hormones from the willow twigs. The liquid will resemble a weak tea. Strain the twigs from the liquid with a colander or a piece of cheesecloth. Your willow water rooting hormone is now ready to use. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to two months in a sealed jar.
– How to Use Willow Water
Willow water can increase the success of your cuttings by up to 90 percent. You have to mix half willow water and half distilled water in a small jar. Place the cutting into the water so that the cut end is completely submerged.
Leave the cutting for about 24 hours to let the hormone work. Not only will this method increase root production, but it also prevents fungal and bacterial infections.
Tips for Encouraging Blooms
One attractive feature of Hoya Kentiana plants is the delicious smelling flowers. These plants can be a challenge to flower. Often, a plant must mature for several years before it will bloom. The time varies on the rate of growth, with larger plants flowering sooner than slow-growing ones.
You can encourage Hoya Kentaina to bloom by following a few steps.
- Watering Hoya Kentiana correctly: Sporadic, inconsistent, and shallow watering leads to slower growth, which will prolong the period before your plant will bloom.
- Fertilize regularly: Using a high-quality fertilizer for foliage growth regularly throughout your plant’s growth will maximize growth. The sooner your plant can get big, the sooner it will be ready to flower. Use a bloom-boosting fertilizer when your Hoya Kentiana is showing signs of blooming.
- Light conditions: Short light cycles, too bright or dim light or irregular changes to the light can affect when a Hoya Kentiana flowers. Many Hoya growers use artificial lighting to encourage blooming.
- Be careful pruning: The Hoya Kentiana develops flowers from a unique structure called a peduncle. Even though the flowers last only about a week, the peduncle will continue to develop more flowers each year. Don’t cut off vines that have peduncles because the plant will not grow more flowers.
Hoya Kentiana Problems
These plants have few problems when grown indoors. The common issues you’ll encounter often can be corrected by changing the watering schedule, changing lighting, or adjusting the humidity.
- Vines are “leggy” with few leaves: Usually, this indicates that the plant needs more light. Move it closer to bright light or add artificial light.
- Leaves lose color: Frequently, changes to the color of the leaves indicate too low of temperatures. If the plant is in a suitably warm location, check the roots to see if you need to repot the Hoya Kentiana.
- Soft, mushy leaves and stems: This condition indicates overwatering. You should check the root and stalks for signs of rot and remove infected areas. Severe cases of rot will require repotting or discarding the plant.
The Hoya Kentiana is a very rare tropical house plant grown for its foliage and butterscotch-scented blossoms.
- Hoya Kentiana plants come from Southeast Asia, where they grow in tropical rainforests.
- Hoya Kentiana is frequently misidentified as Hoya Wayetii, a closely-related cousin.
- These plants prefer a loose, chunky growing mixture that is fast-draining.
- They require regular watering with drying out in between to prevent root problems
- The Hoya Kentiana prefers bright, indirect light, moderate humidity, and average household temperatures.
- The best way to propagate Hoya Kentiana plants is by stem cuttings.
- Using willow water significantly increases the success of rooting Hoya Kentiana cuttings.
- You can encourage blooming by ensuring the plant has the proper amount of light, water, and fertilizer.
- Most of the problems gardeners encounter when growing Hoya Kentiana plants are the result of improper conditions.
There is a reason many people start collecting Hoya varieties. The numerous differences provide a tremendous variation between types, while all are similarly easy to care for.
Once you have these plants established in the perfect place, they will grow happily for many years with little care. They are equally at home in a hanging basket, on a stand, or climbing up a trellis for dramatic effect.