Hoya Macrophylla belongs to the Apocynaceae family, and it is one of a variety of plants widely known under the name of wax flower. Its scientific name, macrophylla, is derived from the Greek words “big” and “leaf”, referring to its shiny, large leaves.
These plants originate from the tropics of Asia and Australia, where they can still be found as native plant species. If you would like to add Hoya macrophylla to your home garden, continue reading this article for growth and care tips!
What Is Hoya Macrophylla?
Hoya macrophylla is a tropical vine that can grow up to 5 feet in height and 2 feet wide. You can grow it in a hanging pot, where it will charmingly fall over the pot’s edge, or in a container with support, along which it will twist and climb.
Its large, fleshy, shiny, leathery leaves with embossed nerves are dark green when they are young. However, as they grow, they get a cream or white border, which makes the plant very decorative. Each leaf can grow 4 to 8 inches long and 1.5 to 4 inches wide.
Hoya macrophylla flowers develop on purple stalks 1 to 3 inches long. They are gathered in an inflorescence bloom composed of many small, white or creamy, star-shaped flowers. The flowers appear in the summer months. In the evening and during the night, they emit a pleasant scent.
After pollination, the flowers develop flower pods with Hoya macrophylla seeds. The pods can stay for months on the plant before they ripen and open, showing the seeds only when they are ready for germination.
How to Care For Hoya Macrophylla
– Hoya Macrophylla Light Requirements
Choosing the right place is one of the crucial factors in growing this plant. Too much sunlight can cause burns on the variegated leaves, and insufficient lighting is always accompanied by slow growth, leaf fading, and lack of flowering.
In its natural environment, Hoya macrophylla grows as an epiphytic plant. It climbs along with tropical trees, sheltered by their canopies from direct sunlight. It needs similar conditions when growing as a potted plant far from its homeland.
In other words, you should place it in a position where it will get a lot of diffused, filtered light. The ideal locations are next to the east or west window. Its large, leathery foliage is sensitive to direct sun, so you should avoid the spots next to the south windows.
– Hoya Macrophylla Water Requirements
In the wild, the shallow Hoya macrophylla root grows in the surface layers of the soil, which dries out quickly even after heavy rains. Therefore, the plant can not rely only on soil moisture. The plant has developed the ability to absorb the humidity from the air, fog, dew, and evaporation of surrounding vegetation to survive and fulfill its needs.
Additionally, its thickened, almost succulent leaves deposit water reserves, helping the plant overcome dry periods. Therefore, Hoya macrophylla is not a plant that you need to water frequently. The substrate in the pot should be completely dry before watering it again. Soggy, moist soil is the most common cause of the decay of this plant.
How often you water your Hoya macrophylla depends on its position, size, amount of substrate in the pot, season, and room temperature. Roughly, during the growing season, the soil in an 8-inch pot dries out over five to seven days. Yet, it is best to check with your fingers or stick a toothpick or wooden stick. If the soil sticks at the lower end, do not water the plant!
When watering Hoya macrophylla, do not use cold water directly from the tap. Naturally, it would be best to water it with rainwater, but a good alternative is stagnant or distilled water or water from the aquarium.
– How to Water Hoya Macrophylla Properly
Believe it or not, the way you water your plant can make the difference between a healthy plant that thrives well and a plant that suffers and eventually withers. The secret is that when watering, the soil should be thoroughly soaked.
Since Hoya grows in porous soil, if you water it by just pouring water on the surface of the substrate, some parts of the shallow root may not get water at all!
So, first, pour water into the tray to soak the substrate closer to the bottom of the bowl. After about ten minutes, pour out what the soil has not absorbed. Then water the plant from above until the surface is evenly soaked. Excess water will accumulate in the tray. Leave the plant for an hour to sit in the wet substrate and only then pour the water out of the tray, drain the plant, and put it back in its place.
– Hoya Macrophylla Soil
All Hoyas like light and permeable soils and do not feel comfortable in the heavy and compacted ground. In addition to good permeability, Hoya macrophylla prefers alkaline soil that is rich in calcium. Therefore, when planting your Hoya macrophylla, you should avoid peat-based substrates because it acidifies the mixture, which is unacceptable for this plant.
If you want to ensure adequate soil for your plant, you could make a mixture combining standard soil for potted plants, perlite, and orchid mix in equal proportions. When you prepare the mixture, add to it chopped eggshells or oyster shells for supplemental soil calcification.
– Hoya Macrophylla Temperature Requirements
If you live in a frost-free climate zone, you can plant the Hoya macrophylla in the garden as a climbing trunk. At lower temperatures, the plant will simply enter a dormant phase from which it wakes up as soon as the temperature rises and the day lengthens.
However, outside these climatic areas, this is a plant that cannot spend the winter outside. It comes from the warm tropics and suffers already at temperatures below 50 °F. It means that unheated spaces inside the house, such as hallways or bright basements where the temperature can stay below 40 °F for several weeks, are not suitable during winter months.
In other words, Hoya macrophylla is a typical indoor plant that thrives at a comfortable 65 to 85 °F throughout the year. It is sensitive to changes in location and environment. So, once you place it, it is best not to move it in summer or winter if other conditions are stable. After all, it is decorative enough to deserve to be constantly in front of your eyes, and the living room is the right place for Hoya macrophylla!
– Hoya Macrophylla Humidity
Since it comes from humid regions, Hoya macrophylla is used to humidity levels that exceed 90 percent. This value is natural only in the tropical region and significantly exceeds averages in other areas. However, this should not be an obstacle to the successful cultivation of this plant.
First, 90 percent humidity is ideal, but this adaptable plant can survive much lower values, down to 40 percent. Second, although it sounds challenging, maintaining a high humidity level is still a solvable issue. Here are some ways you can effectively address it:
- Pebble tray: It is a practical way to create favorable conditions in the microenvironment of the plant and it will not take you much time. Once you place the pot with Hoya macrophylla on the pebble tray, all you need to do is occasionally add water!
- Humidifier: This device will allow you to control the conditions and adapt them to the needs of your plants.
- Misting the plant with lukewarm water is unquestionably an uncomplicated method. Still, it is also an obligation because Hoya needs daily spraying of the leaves, except in the budding and flowering phases.
– An Extra Tip: Do Not Group Hoya Macrophylla
Any tropical plant grower will tell you that grouping plants is also an effective way to raise the humidity level in their micro-ecosystem. However, avoid this method and do not surround your Hoya macrophylla with other plants!
The humidity level indeed rises in such an environment, but it is also true that the air has difficulty circulating in such a space. Humidity and stagnant air contribute to the development of fungal diseases to which, unfortunately, Hoya macrophylla is quite prone.
– Hoya Macrophylla Fertilizer
Additional feeding of the plant in the growing season is a useful but not necessary treatment. Hoya macrophylla does not grow fast because, like other large-leaved Hoya species, it needs a lot of energy to develop individual leaves, which is a rather time-consuming process.
If you want to ensure that the plant has everything it needs in the soil, you can top it up once a month with some natural fertilizers such as animal manure, bone meal, shellfish, or fish manure if you don’t mind the unpleasant smell.
Whichever option you choose, always dilute it to at least half the recommended concentration, and leave the plant in a shaded place for a few hours after feeding.
If you do not have organic fertilizer on hand, you can alternatively use orchid fertilizer. In this variant spray the solution, diluted in half, directly on the leaves using a fine nozzle. Repeat this process once a month. Adding the fluid to the substrate is not a good idea since it may alter the pH and cause root damage.
– Hoya Macrophylla Repotting
Hoya macrophylla has a shallow root that develops slowly, gradually filling the pot. In addition, it does not seem to mind the tightness, so the plant can stay in the same container for a long time before you have to transplant it into a larger one.
However, if you have added orchid mix to the soil, this rule is no longer valid. Namely, the orchid mix will start to disintegrate after two years, which results in acidification of the substrate. Since acidic soil can damage the root, you should change the mixture to a fresh one.
If you did not add orchid mix, it is not necessary to replace the pot if the root ball still has room to grow. A period of two years is generally also the period in which the root will most likely outgrow the container, so transplant your Hoya macrophylla every other spring into an inch larger pot than the one in which it previously grew.
How to Propagate Hoya Macrophylla
Like all other Hoyas, Hoya macrophylla is easily propagated by cuttings that take root in water or sphagnum moss. The procedure will be as follows:
- Cut off the top cutting, which needs to have at least two nodes and a few leaves.
- Put the cutting in a glass with clean lukewarm water or a pot with sphagnum moss.
- Place the glass with the cutting in a bright and warm place out of direct sunlight. Occasionally add water so that the level is always approximately the same.
- If you use moss, keep it constantly moist and cover the dish with a plastic lid.
- The cuttings develop roots in two to three weeks. When the root ball is two inches long, you can transplant the new Hoya macrophylla plant into a pot with a substrate.
Hoya Macrophylla Problems
– Absence of Flowering
Although Hoya macrophylla has extremely decorative leaves and, even without flowers, it looks enticing, the cherry on the top is its beautiful, waxy and fragrant flowers. But making Hoya bloom indoors is not always easy.
First, young specimens do not bloom, so it takes several years until the plant reaches the maturity necessary for flowering. In addition, without enough light, the plant will not give flowers even when it is mature. So, if you want to enjoy its beautiful flowers that release a heavenly pleasant scent at night, you have to be very patient.
Do not prune young Hoya except in case of infection or disease. Hoya flowers always develop on the same shoots, so if you cut them, you might delay flowering. Also, do not move the plant from room to room unless you notice that it does not grow well in the chosen position. Any change of location causes stress, and this consequently causes a delay or absence of flowering.
However, do not be disappointed. After years of waiting, your patience will be rewarded with beautiful fragrant flower balls. Once Hoya macrophylla starts to bloom, it will give more and more flowers, year after year!
– Mold and fungal diseases
Hoya macrophylla grows in conditions of high humidity and temperature. Since the same circumstances are favorable for mold and fungi, it’s no surprise if they appear on its leaves or shoots.
You can recognize fungal diseases by the spotted dark accumulations on the foliage and shoots. Molds also attack the leaves forming large, whitish colonies. Low light levels, poor air circulation between the leaves, and daily spraying also contribute to their development.
If you notice such accumulations on the leaves, remove the diseased leaves and treat the plant with a mild fungicide. Placing the plant in a brighter spot and regular room ventilation will also help get rid of fungi and mold.
Aphids and mealybugs can occasionally settle on your Hoya macrophylla. These tiny sap-sucking pests most often inhabit the back of the leaves, so they manage to survive the daily spraying or misting.
Due to fast reproduction and transmission to other plants, these pests can endanger your plant seriously. Therefore, as soon as you notice them, you need to take appropriate measures. Coat both sides of the leaves with a solution of neem oil or insecticidal soap. Repeat the procedure until you are sure that you have solved the problem.
Since neem oil is a natural remedy, not harmful to the plant, you can use it preventively and avoid the problem.
After everything we have shared in this article, you may think that growing Hoya macrophylla as a houseplant is not that simple. However, the key is to provide it with the right conditions, and Hoya macrophylla will thrive for years without any additional care. If you are not sure what you need and do not need to do when growing this plant, here is a summary:
- Hoya macrophylla is a climber, so provide it with support to hold on to or plant it in a hanging basket.
- Place the plant in an area with enough indirect light. If necessary, you can include artificial lighting.
- For growing Hoya macrophylla, make a blend of 1/3 of standard substrate, 1/3 of pearls, and 1/3 of orchid mix. Add eggshells to the mixture.
- In the growing season, water abundantly but only when the substrate in the pot is dry. In winter, reduce watering to half the summer regime.
- Once a month, you can fertilize it with diluted natural fertilizers from spring to autumn.
- Place it in a room with a uniform temperature throughout the year, preferably in the range of 60 to 85 °F!
- Transplant it every second or third year as it grows better if its roots are compressed.
- Although it likes high humidity levels of 90 percent or more, it will cope even when the value is around 40 percent. Still, it grows better if you spray its leaves regularly, use a humidifier, or place it on a pebble tray. Do not move or relocate it unless the place where it grows is unsuitable-
- Do not spray it when it is budding and blooming.
- Do not surround it with other plants, as it is prone to fungal diseases
- Do not water it with tap water. Always use stagnant or distilled water.
Do you feel ready to start the adventure of growing the exotic Hoya macrophylla?
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