Hoya refers to a genus of tropical plants known well for their blooms and succulent-like leaves. However, like all houseplants – Hoyas are susceptible to pests and poor growing conditions, both of which can lead to your Hoya’s health decline. Making an effort to mitigate pests and poor growing conditions will aid in preventing the decline of your Hoya.
But as always – just as a PSA, remember that you are not a “bad houseplant parent” if you do end up letting go of your Hoya. Whether you are trying to revive your dying Hoya or if you’re planning on letting it go (to the compost or a friend), just know that whatever choice you make is a good one that makes the most sense for you right now.
If your Hoya appears to be in a state of decline, you can always take measures to try to bring it back to life.
In the rest of this post, we discuss ways you can reduce the likelihood of your Hoya from declining in health, and steps you can take to improve its health should it already be in decline.
Tips for Preventing a Dying Hoya
Are you new to Hoyas and are looking for a few tips on how to ensure long-lasting and continued growth for your new houseplant? You’ve come to the right place. The following are preventative tips to ensure the sustained health of your Hoya.
Get the Right Growing Conditions
Hoyas do best in bright light, moisture, and a light watering hand. Making sure your Hoya has the correct growing conditions can prevent issues related to insufficient lighting and over (and under) watering.
Placing your Hoya in an East, West, or South window and making sure you are allowing the soil to dry out between waterings can mitigate any issues due to growing conditions. Also, consider the change in seasons – water your Hoya less in the fall and winter months. Moreover, Hoyas are tropical house plants – and as such, require warm temperatures.
Ensure your houseplant is not exposed to cold temperatures for prolonged periods as this can also lead to their decline.
Make sure your Hoya is potted up in chunky, airy potting mix to ensure proper drainage and prevent root rot from occurring.
Leave Your Plant Alone
Hoyas don’t like being touched – especially when the plant is budding. It is not recommended to prune, repot, or move the plant to a different location during the budding period. Moreover, do not deadhead any of your Hoya blooms.
Hoyas are prone to many common houseplant pests including spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids. As a preventive measure against these annoying sapsuckers, use a neem oil mixture as it can reduce pest feeding, mating behaviour, and larvae from maturing.
Tips for Saving a Dying Hoya
If your Hoya is in a state of decline, we recommend trial and error to identify the reason why your plant is declining.
If your Hoya is declining, start by looking at its growing environment. Is your plant in bright light? Or is it in a North facing window? Hoyas prefer bright lighting conditions. If your Hoya is in low light conditions, consider opting for a grow light to ensure it gets the lighting it needs.
Over (and Under) Watering
How often do you water your Hoya? Yellowing, soft, droopy leaves can indicate an overwatering or underwatering issue. If you’re unsure when to water your Hoya – we recommend waiting for the soil to completely dry out in between waterings.
If you’re unsure, you can choose to purchase a moisture meter that you can stick into the soil and as its name suggests, will indicate the moisture level of the soil. When the soil is dry, that is when you should water. Alternatively, you can stick your finger into the top 2 inches of the soil – if the soil feels wet then we would recommend waiting until the soil is dry before watering.
Poor Drainage and Root Rot
Soil – assess the potting mix your Hoya is planted in. Hoyas prefer chunky, well-draining potting mix. If the potting mix does not allow proper drainage – moreover, if your pot does not have a drainage hole – root rot is a possibility for why your Hoya is in decline. If you suspect root rot, we recommend immediately removing the Hoya from the potting mix and pot. Take a look at the roots. If they are mushy and brown – this is likely root rot.
Cut off all the brown mushy roots, and place your plant in a water and alcohol mixture (1 part alcohol, 4 parts water) for an hour. Prepare a new chunky, well-draining potting mix and repot your plant into a pot with a drainage hole.
Depending on the number of roots you cut off, understand that some of your leaves will fall off as well. This is normal and fine in this case, as the number of roots has declined – so too will the number of leaves.
If your Hoya is now the home to a colony of spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, thrips, or other common houseplant pests – do not panic.
Immediately isolate your Hoya in another room without plants. Depending on the pest there are different treatment options you can take. Just know that many pest infestations do take some time to be completely removed. Just be patient and diligent. If dealing with pests is too overwhelming to deal with, it is also completely fine to let go of your Hoya or give it to someone willing to take on the pests. Below are common pests that plague Hoya and how to deal with them:
- Spider mites and Aphids: take your Hoya to the sink (or bathtub) and blast the spider mites or aphids off the leaves of your Hoya. Rinse thoroughly. Apply an insecticide once rinsed. Isolate the Hoya in a separate room away from other plants. Check and treat every few days until gone.
- Mealybugs: dip q-tips in alcohol and dab on any visible mealybugs on your plant. Look underneath the leaves – this is where mealybugs like to hang out. I like to take a cotton ball soaked in alcohol and just rub all the leaves with it as well. Once you’ve finished with your alcohol treatment, you can rinse the plant and apply an insecticide. Place in a separate room away from other plants. Check and treat every few days until gone.
- Thrips: Thrips are by far my least favourite pest. They are relentless and have a 45-day life cycle – meaning they are never really gone even when you think they are. But no worries, patience is key when dealing with these sap vampires. Thrips lay their eggs in the plant tissue, so you will probably have to treat your plant with an insecticide multiple times. Using neem oil in tandem with an insecticide can also help. Just be sure to isolate the infected Hoya and check on it frequently, as thrips spread to other plants easily and aren’t usually gone after just one insecticide treatment.
When All Else Fails: Chop and Prop
If you’re worried about the future of your declining Hoya, you can always try again later by chopping and propagating your Hoya. That way you can save a part of your plant if your plant goes in decline beyond repair.
If you’re wondering how to propagate your Hoya in water, here are some general tips:
- Take a cutting from the mother plant that has at least 2 nodes and pairs of leaves
- Remove the leaves located at the bottom node
- Place the cutting in the water (Optional: place some rooting hormone on the bottom of the cutting)
- Replenish the water weekly as water levels dip
- Wait until the roots have grown at least an inch before transferring to soil
Growing Hoya indoors can be truly rewarding – with their continued growth and beautiful, sweet-smelling blooms – many houseplant enthusiasts have at least 1 Hoya in their collection. If you ever find that your Hoya is in a state of decline, just know that there are a few tips and tricks to bringing it back (as well as a few tips and tricks to mitigating the risk of their decline).
We wish you the best of luck with your Hoya, and hope that the recommendations above were able to help you out in some way!