Hoya Elliptica – (Best #1 Care Guide for a THRIVING Hoya!)

hoya elliptica growing with thick succulent-like leaves and a cluster of flowers

The Hoya Elliptica is a beautiful, low-maintenance plant native to Southeast Asia. Like many Hoyas, it is a climbing plant (called an epiphyte) that grows thick leaves. What’s unique about this Hoya is its leaves have silver veins that remind us of turtle shells!

Of course, it is also known for its strong, honey-scented flowers…. these first appear as greenish-yellow buds that bloom into clusters of white blooms 🙂

Care-wise, this species is easy to grow, and also grows quickly! Sufficient light encourages healthy growth and flowering. We generally place it in the sunniest spot in our home.

Allow the Hoya Elliptica to dry out between watering and ensure humidity is >60%. Being native to South East Asia, warm climates year-round are best for your Elliptica.

Let’s dive into the details 🙂

How to Care for Your Hoya Elliptica

Light

For best growth, we like placing our Hoya Elliptica in the sunniest spot in our home. In our experience, they do better in brighter conditions compared to other common houseplants like Monsteras and Philodendrons.

Though Hoyas can tolerate lower light, loads of light help speed up their growth rate… and ultimately rewards you with fragrant flowers. Which of course, is why we love Hoyas to begin with!!

Hoya Ellipticas are hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11. If you’re growing your Hoya outdoors, look for a spot that receives indirect light, as light intensity outdoors is much stronger than indoors.

Water

Hoya Ellipticas do best when they are allowed to dry out between waterings. This is because Hoyas have thick succulent-like leaves that store water efficiently. As a rule of thumb, the Elliptica needs watering once every 10-14 days.

The best way to know if you should water is to use your finger to check if the top 2 inches (5cm) of soil has dried out. If the topsoil is dry, proceed to water your plant slowly and deeply near the soil line. However, if the soil still feels slightly damp, hold off watering and check back in a couple of days.

In the fall and winter, a Hoya Elliptica’s watering needs naturally reduce as your warmth-loving plant grows much slower. Checking the topsoil’s moisture level is the best way to know when to water your plant.

An alternative way to check if your plant needs watering

An alternative way to check if a potted plant needs watering is by lifting up the pot to feel its weight. Does the pot feel lighter compared to its weight just after its been watered? Sure, this method takes a bit of practice, but it will feel intuitive once you get the hang of it!! 🙂

topview of hoya elliptica plant with oval green leaves and silver veins

Overwatering

Overwatering can really damage your Hoya. Leaves and veins will swell up and eventually burst cell walls! This is why it’s so important to only water your Hoya when the topsoil is dry. Another important tip is to use loose soil that is well-draining.

Humidity

The Hoya Elliptica loves humidity. Ideally, between 60-80% humidity is best. Here’s 4 ways to increase the humidity level in your home.

Temperature

The best temperatures for growing a Hoya Elliptica are 60-85 degrees F (16-29 degrees C). Luckily, this should be the same as most indoor temperatures.

It’s also important to keep your plant’s temperature relatively stable, so place your Hoya away from drafty doors, under air conditioners, or near heaters.

Growth  & Flowers

We love that the Hoya Elliptica grows rapidly. It’s the ultimate low-maintenance plant, that doesn’t demand too much. In our experience, slow growth is usually due to insufficient light, humidity or warmth.

Get those things right and your Elliptica will be a happy camper. 🙂

When mature, clusters of honey-scented white flowers (up to 20 at a time!) will grow. Look carefully – the corolla (middle of the flower) is pink, and edges of the star-shaped flowers are yellowish!

hoya elliptica flowers - clusters of star shaped white flowers with pink corollas and yellow edges

Soil or Growing Medium

For the Hoya Elliptica, we recommend using a well-draining soil mix. Like many houseplants, it is sensitive to having its roots sitting in stagnant pools of water. Plus, it is an epiphyte, so isn’t used to having dense soil around its roots.

Our favorite mix is using an orchid potting mix as a base and adding some chunky amendments to lighten the soil, allowing water to drain freely. We like using:

Instead of an orchid potting mix, you can also use a potting mix for succulents or cacti.

Fertilizer

Being a fast-growing vine with lots of lush foliage, your Hoya Elliptica benefits from a nutrient boost. We like Dyna-Gro Grow as its nutritionally complete.

We’ve started mixing our fertilizer into our water so that our plants can receive a steady stream of nutrients. In the case of Dyna-Gro,

  1. Mix a quarter teaspoon for every gallon of water.
  2. Use this to water your plant, every time you water during the spring and summer months.

There’s no need to fertilize your Hoya Elliptica during fall and winter months.

Repotting

Repotting typically takes place every 2 years or so. Wait until your plant shows signs of being root-bound before repotting. They actually prefer to be slightly root-bound, so don’t be in a rush!

Signs of a root-bound plant:

  • Roots peeking out from the drainage hole.
  • Roots circling above the soil or around the pot.
  • If you are using a plastic pot, press against the edges – if it has no “give”, chances are that the roots are pushing against the pot.
  • Water seems to drain through the pot immediately without being absorbed at all, or;
  • The plant seems extremely thirsty all the time.

If you see these signs, schedule your repotting for the upcoming spring.

Remember to always use fresh potting mix (nutrients deplete over time). And to only upsize your pot by 2 inches!

Pick one that has drainage holes too. 🙂

Toxicity

Thankfully, Hoyas are not toxic to humans or pets. But they do have a milky sap that can irritating to sensitive skin, so you may want to wear gardening gloves when cutting or propagating your Hoya.

Propagation

Hoyas are extremely easy to propagate, and follow the same general steps. We usually like to propagate through stem cuttings placed in water, and once they take root, plant them in potting mix.

Do this in spring! This is when growth conditions are optimal.

Here’s how.

Propagation through stem cuttings

Before getting started, we always like to sterilize our garden shears by dipping these in 70% isopropyl solution. This prevents infections from spreading from plant to plant.

  1. Identify a healthy stem around 4 inches (10 cm) long that has at least 2-3 leaves.
  2. Using clean garden shears, cut the stem just below the node.
  3. Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the stem only.
  4. Prepare a jar of room-temperature water.
  5. Place the stem cutting in the jar, ensuring that no leaves are submerged.
  6. Place jar in a warm spot with plenty of filtered light. If you have a humidifier, set it at 80%.
  7. Replace with fresh water every few days.
  8. In a couple of weeks, you’ll see little roots growing.
  9. Once the roots are about 2 inches (5cm) long, plant the cuttings in potting mix.
  10. Treat as you would any other Hoya Elliptica. 🙂

Pruning

Pruning long and unwieldy Hoya Elliptica vines encourages new growth near the base of the plant, rather than spend all its energy growing in length.

As a result, you’ll have a bushy plant that looks fuller and rounder.

Personally, we like that full look. 🙂

The plus point is that by pruning off long vines, you can also propagate them! (See Propagation section above).

Also, prune off all yellowed, damaged, or wilted leaves and stems. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY for all Hoyas – do not cut off flower peduncles (flower stalks).

New flowers grow from the same peduncles, year after year. If you snip them off, they will not re-grow!

topview of hoya elliptica plant in a small orange pot

Common Pests and Issues

Root Rot

Since overwatering is one of the most common issues for Hoya Ellipticas, it’s no surprise that root rot is a common disease.

Root rot is the result of an overwatered plant. It happens when water crowds out air molecules, preventing your plant’s roots from breathing. This suffocation causes root decay and decomposition… which can also attract moisture-loving fungi to feed on it!

Either way, the result is soft and mushy black or brown roots. They sometimes have a foul smell and are unable to perform the normal function of the roots: drawing water and nutrients to the plant.

In severe cases, root rot leads to plant death. Here’s our guide on how to save your overwatered plant from potential death via root rot.

Of course, the way to avoid this to begin with is to always check that the topsoil is dry before watering, and to use well-draining soil.

Pests

The University of Florida reports the most common pest of Hoya plants are aphids. Other common pests are scale, spider mites and mealybugs.

To identify them,

  • Aphids – Look for pear-shaped insects with long antennae that gather together. These come in multiple colors.
  • Scale – Look for small round bumps. At first glance, they may look like part of the plant! On closer inspection, they may appear like small brown barnacles.
  • Mealybugs – Look like small bits of cotton wool, clustering together at hard-to-reach spots. They have white, segmented bodies.
  • Spider mites – Look for tell-tale fine webbing on leaf undersides and stems.

All these pests can be effectively eradicated if you catch them early. Apply an insecticide soap spray or neem oil solution.

several pear-shaped aphids clustering together along the stem of a plant
An aphid infestation

The best defense against such pests is to keep your plants healthy!

  • Inspect your plants regularly, and especially before introducing a new plant to your home. Cross-infection of plants is very common. Also, given how quickly they reproduce and spread, early detection makes all the difference.
  • Use a dilute neem oil solution on your plants, as a preventative measure to ward off pests.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I buy a Hoya Elliptica from?

Ellipticas are not common Hoyas, so looking up Facebook market place or Etsy for reputable sellers is your best bet. Alternatively look for a specialist Hoya nursery.

How do I encourage blooming?

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Flowering requires lots of bright indirect light. At least 6 hours a day is necessary for blooming. If you struggle to find enough natural light for your plant, use a grow light.
  • High humidity of at least 60% encourages blooming. Use a humidifier if you live in an arid region.
  • Allow your plant to get slightly root-bound. This promotes flowering.
  • Remember not to trim off old peduncles, as this will be re-used by new flowers!
  • Lastly, be patient and enjoy the process! Flowering takes time.

Do Hoyas Like to Climb or Hang?

The Hoya Elliptica is an epiphyte, so it naturally likes to climb. While you can allow your plant to hang, it seems to grow more vigorously when allowed to climb. You can use a trellis to support its climbing habit.

What kind of scent does the Hoya Elliptica have?

The Hoya Elliptica has a sweet, honey-like scent. Other descriptions we’ve heard from friends are a jasmine or sweet floral fragrance. 🙂

Other Great Hoyas to Check out

Hoya is a popular genus comprising over 200 species of tropical flowering houseplants. They are loved for their foliage and clusters of star-shaped, often fragrant flowers.

Here are some of our favorites:

topview of a hoya bella plant with 7 white flowers with pink centers, and green fleshy leaves
The beautiful white and pink flowers of a Hoya Bella. They have honey-scented blooms!
Pink-variegated foliage of the Hoya Krimson Queen, also known as Strawberries and Cream
Pink-variegated foliage of the Hoya Krimson Queen, also known as Strawberries and Cream

Wrapping Up

The Hoya Elliptica is a rapidly-growing Hoya that doesn’t ask for much. To help it thrive,

  • Place in the brightest spot in your home;
  • Stable indoor temperatures – place away from vents or air conditioners;
  • Use chunky, well-draining soil;
  • Let dry out completely between watering;
  • Humidity >60%, ideally 80%;
  • Avoid fertilizing in the fall and winter;
  • Don’t cut off flower penducles;
  • Allow your Hoya to get a little root-bound (this encourages flowering).

Happy growing!

Deborah

Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.