The Hoya Bella (botanical name: Hoya Lanceolata subsp. Bella) is a climbing, or trailing plant from the milkweed family. This Hoya is known for forming clusters of star-shaped flowers that emit a honeysuckle scent, earning its nickname, the Honey Plant. 🙂
Happily, the Honey Plant is easy to grow and fairly pest-resistant too.
To grow well, it requires at least 6 hours of direct light a day and benefits from a monthly application of high-Phosphorous fertilizer to encourage flowering. Choose a loamy, well-draining potting mix to reduce the risk of overwatering. Average room humidity is sufficient, but don’t let temperatures dip below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C).
Let’s dive into the details!
What is the Hoya Bella’s origins?
According to the Missouri Botanical Gardens, the Hoya Bella is native from the Himalayas to northern Burma. This explains its ability to tolerate colder conditions than most tropical plants. 🙂
Hoya Bella White Flower
The Hoya Bella White Flower is a rare variant of the Hoya Bella. True to its name, it has totally white flowers with white, not pink, centers.
Caring for your Hoya Bella
When growing indoors, a location with at least 6 hours’ exposure to direct light per day is best for your Hoya Bella. For this reason, South or West-facing windowsills are the perfect locations. 🙂
A note of caution: some plant guides correctly refer to the Hoya Bella requiring dappled shade (30-50% sunlight), but do remember that this is true only when the plant is grown outdoors. Outdoor light is more than double the intensity of indoor light.
While your Hoya Bella can grow well in lower light conditions, if you take this too far, you may observe smaller and less lush foliage. Also, insufficient light will stop your plant from producing flowers.
If you’re struggling to provide your plant with enough light, we suggest investing in a grow light. You’ll thank us later!
Unlike many other Hoyas, the Hoya Bella doesn’t have ample water reserves in its leaves. While the plant still can store some water, its foliage is smaller and less thick.
Because of its limited water stores, the Hoya Bella cannot be left to dry out completely. It tends to be quite a thirsty plant during the growing season.
- Check the topsoil every few days.
- Once the top 1 inch (2.5cm) of soil dries, water your plant deeply until excess water runs off the drainage hole. Watering deeply promotes healthy root growth and reduces the risk of mineral-salt build-up from fertilizing.
Using this method, you’d find that watering frequency naturally reduces in colder months. Your plant slows its growth and eventually turns dormant during winter, requiring less water.
Hoya Bellas grow best in humidity between 40-60%, which is a little lower than typical houseplants.
We find that the Hoya Bella is not too fussy regarding humidity levels.
While your plant can tolerate some cooler temperatures, it is not cold-hardy. Temperatures below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) may slow growth, stop blooming, and cause dropping leaves. Over an extended period, cold chills usually result in plant death.
Optimally, keep temperatures to 70-75 degrees F (21-24 degrees C). Like many other plants, it doesn’t like large fluctuations in temperature. Avoid keeping it near drafty windows or doors or cold air vents.
If you’re an impatient gardener like us, the good news is that the Hoya Bella is a faster grower than most other Hoyas. In 2-5 years, you can expect your Hoya to reach its maximum length and spread of 0.3 – 1.6 feet (0.1 – 0.5 meters).
The branches of Hoya Bella are spread out and tend to have lots of leaves. Leaves are green, lush, and oval with pointed tips. They are slightly waxy but neither as thick nor succulent as other Hoyas.
When mature, the Hoya Bella flowers profusely, blooming intermittently through summer and autumn. They take around 6-8 weeks to emerge as fully-formed flowers from their peduncles, usually growing in clusters of 10-30 flowers that flop downwards. We like placing our plant in a high spot to appreciate its downward-facing blooms!!
Alternatively, you can opt to grow your plant as a climber, using a trellis to support its growth.
Like many flowers from the Hoya genus, Hoya Bella flowers transfer pollinia to visiting insects by adhering to an insect body part. The insects are attracted to its honey fragrance, which is most potent in the evening. 🙂
Soil or Growing Medium
Hoya Bellas do best in sandy and loamy soils with sharp drainage properties.
Getting the potting mix right is really important, as your Hoya Bella is prone to be overwatered. Generic commercial mixes tend to retain too much water, which leads to root rot… and heartbreak!
On the other hand, it needs enough moisture for healthy foliage. Getting the balance right is tricky, but using any of the following are great options:
- Potting mix specially formulated for African Violets;
- Mix together 1 part orchid potting mix with 1 part perlite and 1 part sand;
- LECA. If you’re new to LECA, you can read more about using LECA here.
Fertilizing once a month during the growing season is sufficient for your light-feeding Hoya Bella. Using a balanced, liquid fertilizer once a month during half strength is adequate. You can switch to a high-phosphorous fertilizer when you see flowers starting to develop to promote flowering.
It isn’t more complicated than that!
Do not fertilize in fall or winter. This is when your plant is growing slowly or is dormant. Too much fertilizer will end up harming your plant.
If you see a white crust developing on the surface of the soil, this could be due to salt build-up from overfertilising. In this case, flush your plant with room-temperature water.
Repotting is not a frequent occurrence for small vining plants. They like being slightly root-bound.
If you just bought your Hoya Bella, it’s best to keep it in the same pot it came in for a while. This gives your plant time to form its root system fully.
Here are some repotting tips for your Hoya Bella:
- The best time to repot is in spring, at the start of the growing season. This is when your plant’s roots are actively growing and can establish in its new pot.
- Avoid repotting when your plant is blooming.
- When repotting, choose a pot 2 inches bigger than the original. Upsizing to a pot larger than this encourages overwatering, as unused soil retains too much water, damaging the plant.
- Water your plant the day before repotting it.
- Repotting once every 2-3 years is sufficient unless you see that your plant is severely rootbound. Signs of a severe root-bound plant are: when roots emerge from the bottom of the drainage hole or can be seen circling above the soil’s surface; and when water drains out immediately without being absorbed.
- Choose a pot with drainage holes. Your Hoya Bella hates when excess water is kept in the pot, which encourages root rot.
- Breathable pots such as terracotta are best. Porous pots encourage airflow.
Your plant is not considered toxic. However, like all Hoyas, the Hoya Bella produces a milky, sticky sap from its stem when cut. This sap may irritate sensitive skin, so it’s a good idea to use gardening gloves when repotting, pruning, or propagating your plant.
The easiest method of propagating your Hoya Bella is through stem cuttings. Propagation is best done in spring.
- Identify a healthy stem that is around 5 inches long. The stem should have at least three nodes (this is the knobby bit on the stem).
- Using clean garden shears, snip off the identified portion of stem.
- Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the stem cutting.
- Submerge the stem cutting in a jar of room-temperature water. Ensure no leaves are submerged, but at least two nodes are underwater. The nodes are the sites where new roots will develop.
- Place the water jar in a warm spot that receives plenty of bright light.
- Place a clear plastic bag over the jar to increase humidity levels. Remove the plastic bag from the jar every day for 30 minutes for fresh air.
- In 2-3 weeks, roots will start to develop.
- Once the roots are 2-3 inches long, transfer the stem cutting to a pot with moist potting mix, it’s permanent home.
- Treat as you would any other Hoya Bella.
Given your vining plant is a moderate to fast grower, it can grow unwieldy pretty quickly. Regular pruning is a good idea.
When pruned, your Hoya will tend to grow more basal branches rather than invest energy in growing long vines. This gives it a bushy, fuller look.
Importantly, pruning to keep your Hoya Bella to a small size encourages it to produce more flowers rather than spend its energy on new growth.
Here are some pruning tips:
- Prune in late winter.
- Don’t prune when flower buds start to swell.
- Don’t remove old flower peduncles (where the flowers emerge), as new buds will develop from the same peduncles. Allow old flowers to die and fall away naturally. These will collect in a small pile under your plant that you can sweep away.
- Remove dead or damaged vines or leaves, cutting just above the node. Cutting just above the node prevents “die-back” and reduces the risk of infection.
- When pruning, cut at a downward angle, allowing water to run off easy. Pooled water at the newly-cut site encourages fungi growth.
- Don’t prune away more than a quarter of the length of the plant at once. This will shock your plant as its ability to produce food drops significantly.
- Use gardening gloves to protect yourself from irritating Hoya sap and clean garden shears.
Common Pests: Mealybugs
Mealybugs are the most common threat to indoor Hoya Bellas. They love water-stressed plants and also love plants that have high levels of nitrogen. For this reason, overwatering or overfertilising your plant attracts mealybugs.
Mealybugs can be easy identified on your plants if you look closely. They are 1/10 to 1/4 inch long and look like cotton masses that cluster together on leaf axils, leaf undersides and hard-to-reach areas. They harm your plant by piercing plant tissues and feeding on sweet plant sap, depriving your plant of nutrients.
On top of this, mealybugs secrete honeydew while feeding, which attracts the growth of sooty mould. However, if you spot mealybugs early enough, you stand a good chance of saving your plant. So, it’s a good idea to regularly inspect your plants for signs of infestation.
There are three main ways we recommend removing mealybugs. You can either use an alcohol solution, neem oil, or an insecticide spray. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get rid of mealybugs.
Other Pests and Diseases
While your plant is generally pest-resistant, other pests or diseases that may cause trouble are:
- Insects or mites like aphids, thrips, scale insects, and spider mites. Use neem oil or Bonide insecticide soap to kill these off.
- Overwatering can lead to root rot and fungi growth. If you see a dying plant with yellowing leaves alongside wet soil, check the extent of the damage by removing your plant from its pot and examining its roots. Brown, black and foul-smelling roots are a sign of root rot. Snip off damaged roots and replant them in fresh soil. Make sure you use a sharp draining potting mix (see Soil section for details), have a pot with drainage holes and water deeply but infrequently, and only when the topsoil is dry.
- Overwatering can also lead to fungus gnats. Again, use neem oil or an insecticide soap spray to get rid of these pests.
- Other fungi can grow due to high humidity. Air circulation in the form of a ceiling or standing fan can discourage such growth, but be sure not to create a strong draft.
What happens if I trim off the peduncles from my Hoya Bella?
If you remove the peduncles from your Hoya Bella, it will not be able to re-bloom from that same spot. Peduncles are “re-used” for a new cluster of flowers. The longer the peduncle gets, the more flowers it has produced!
They can also re-bloom from the same peduncle in the same growing season. We’ve heard of growers observing new flowers emerging from the old peduncle once the old flowers dried and fell away.
My Hoya Bella’s peduncles are yellowing, drying and falling off. What’s wrong with my plant?
The most common cause of this is insufficient light. Is your Hoya Bella getting at least 6 hours of bright light? If not, move it to a sunnier spot or use a grow light. The second reason could be too low humidity. Check out our guide on different ways to raise humidity levels.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I keep my Hoya Bella blooming?
To encourage blooming,
- Ensure your plant has lots of bright light! Use a grow light if you need to.
- Use a high phosphorous fertilizer to promote flowering.
- Prune stems in late winter, as this encourages your Hoya Bella not to invest in new growth but instead prioritize developing flowers.
- Ensure your plant is healthy by watering your plant correctly using the tips from the Water section above (arguably one of the most crucial aspects of care for Hoya Bellas). Healthy plants are a prerequisite for producing flowers!
- Make sure your plant is slightly root-bound, as this encourages blooming (rather than root/plant growth).
- Lastly, do note that plants take around two to five years to mature and flower. Only mature plants flower, so you will need to be patient!
Where can I buy a Hoya Bella?
Check your local gardening center or Etsy. If you are keen on getting the rarer variegations of the Hoya Bella, online through reputable, private sellers are the way to go.
Are Hoya Bellas rare?
Some varieties of Hoya Bella, such as the All White version, are rare. Expect to spend some time looking for these through private online sellers. Also, expect to pay a premium.
Aside from the All White version, the “normal” Hoya Bella is not considered rare.
Similar Plants and Varieties
These two variations require the same care as the generic Hoya Bella.
Hoya Bella Albomarginata
A variegated version of the Hoya Bella, the leaves of the Albomarginata are dark green with lighter green or white outlines.
Hoya Bella Louis Bois
This Hoya is known for its “reverse variegation” – dark green edges and lighter green or white centers on its leaves and red markings.
Other Great Hoyas We Love
- Hoya Linearis
- Hoya Serpens
- Hoya Macrophylla
- Hoya Obovata
- Hoya Kerrii, the Sweetheart Hoya
- Hoya Rangsan – a variegated Hoya with yellow, sweetly fragranced flowers
- Hoya Carnosa Compacta, the Hindu Rope Plant
- Hoya Pubicalyx
- Hoya Nummularioides – another great beginner-level Hoya with white fragrant flowers
- Hoya Curtisii
- Hoya Imbricata
The Hoya Bella is a beautiful vining or climbing wax plant with fragrant clusters of pink and white flowers. Best of all, it’s easy to grow. To keep your plant flowering, happy and healthy:
- Ensure it gets sufficient light, at least 6 hours of bright light a day.
- Provide it with a loamy but sharply-draining potting mix. Orchid mixes with perlite and sand are a good option.
- While it can tolerate cool temperatures, your Hoya Bella is not cold-hardy. 70-75 degrees F (21-24 degrees C) is optimal. Don’t let temperatures dip below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). If kept outdoors, bring in during colder months.
- Don’t allow the soil to dry out completely. Water thoroughly when the top 1 inch is dry. Ensure you remove all excess water in the saucer.
- Slightly higher than average humidity levels are ok. 40-60% humidity is adequate.
- Fertilize sparingly. Monthly during the growing season is sufficient. You can switch to a high-phosphorous fertilizer to encourage blooming.
- Don’t prune off peduncles – new flowers re-bloom from the same spot!
- Keep the plant slightly root-bound. Repot just once every 2-3 years or when you see that your plant is severely root-bound.
- Prune regularly to keep a compact plant and encourage basal branching and flowering. But don’t prune off more than one-quarter of the length at a time, as this will shock your plant.
- Dormancy during winter is normal!
- While your plant is generally pest-resistant, mealybugs and root rot are likely your two biggest threats. Don’t overwater or over-fertilize, and you’ll reduce the risk of these problems.
- Mealybug infestations can be eradicated by insecticidal soap spray. Root rot requires snipping off of damaged roots and repotting in fresh soil.
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.