Though there are 200-300 species of Hoya, one of the less common and most sought-after varieties is the Hoya linearis.
Many consider Hoya linearis to be one of the most difficult varieties of hoyas to grow. However, by understanding its native habitat, growing a Hoya linearis at home doesn’t have to be a struggle! To grow it well,
- Provide bright but indirect light;
- Use a loose and airy growing media. Using a cacti or succulent mix with some added perlite is a good option;
- Water only when top inch of soil is dry. Water deeply and use pots with drainage holes;
- Keep away from cold drafts. Warm temperatures and higher humidity is best;
- Allow it to be slightly root-bound;
- Use balanced fertilizer at half strength once a month during the spring and summer months.
Let’s dive into the details.
What is the Hoya Linearis?
Hailing from the Himalayan Mountains of Northern India, Hoya linearis grows on other trees as an epiphyte. Notably absent in this unique plant are large waxy leaves like most others in the genus. Instead, this species boasts thin, draping foliage.
It does, however, have the usual clusters of white, lemon-scented flowers distinct to hoyas.
How to care for your Hoya Linearis
Like most houseplants, Hoya linearis requires between 6-8 hours of bright, indirect sunlight to thrive. East-facing windows are best for this purpose.
If your plant seems to be receiving too much light, consider filtering the light it receives or moving your plant to a shadier spot.
Signs of insufficient light are leaf drop and bald spots. Using grow lights is a great option to supplement low-light, especially in winter.
Improper watering of Hoya linearis is one of the leading reasons why growers find this variety challenging. Your linearis has weaker root systems (as reported by several growers). Its thinner leaves also carry less water than other hoyas with large waxy foliage.
The key to proper watering is, as always, to ensure the growing conditions mimics its natural habitat. To do so, keep your linearis in a well-draining pot and water only when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. This generally works out to watering once a week during the growing season and less frequently in colder months.
Using this method, water regularly and deeply, while allowing the bottom layers of soil to dry out between waterings. This is similar to the pattern of rainfall it is used to – getting soaked but drying off quickly.
Water until the soil is soaked, stopping only when excess starts to escape through the drainage hole. This avoids the common mistake of watering too shallowly.
Other tips to keep in mind are:
- Always using a pot with drainage holes. Poor draininage can cause root rot and plant death.
- For best results, use room temperature filtered water. This is to accomodate your linearis’s sensitive roots.
- Water in the morning to allow for evaporation throughout the day.
Hoya linearis does well with average to high indoor humidity levels, approximately 50 – 70% humidity. If humidity levels drop below 50% in the winter, use a humidifier.
Alternatively, use a pebble tray to support higher humidity. Another option is to relocate your plant to the bathroom where moisture levels are naturally higher, provided it receives sufficient lighting.
Due to their high altitude, temperatures are cool in the Himalayan Mountains, particularly at night.
This explains your plant’s ability to withstand cooler night-time temperatures. In its natural habitat, Hoya linearis can survive dips as low as 15 degrees F (-9 degrees C)!
Still, it does best at moderate temperatures. Maintaining a temperature of 60 – 80 degrees F (16 – 27 degrees C) is ideal and will help your Hoya thrive. As a rule of thumb, never let temperatures drop below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) for extended periods.
Hoya linearis are prized for their long, curtain-like and trailing foliage. Unlike many other hoya varieties, the leaves of Hoya linearis are not broad and waxy but relatively thin, soft and covered in delicate hairs.
In nature, Hoya linearis tends to grow rapidly and wildly. As a houseplant, it maintains this fast growth rate and can grow up to 6.5 feet (2 metres) long in several years. This variety reaches maturity between two and three years, at which point it will begin to flower.
Hoya linearis blooms in late summer to early autumn, and flowers last for about two weeks. Like other hoyas, flowers form in clusters made of individual, star-shaped blooms. The linearis’ white blooms emit a delicate lemony aroma.
Because drainage is so important when growing Hoya linearis, a light and airy growing medium is ideal.
You can make your own mix by adding:
Alternatively, add one part succulent mix to one part orchid bark and one part perlite.
This produces a slightly acidic, loose medium. This potting mix also provides a good balance between retaining some moisture and at the same time allowing excess water to quickly drain away.
Hoya linearis have light requirements when it comes to fertilizers and benefit from an all-purpose, houseplant fertilizer. Fertilizers should be diluted to half-strength and applied once a month during the growing season (spring and summer). Hold off fertilizing during the winter months.
To encourage blooming, apply a phosphorous-based fertilizer when your plant is fully mature.
Your plant is a light feeder, so don’t be overzealous in your fertilizing – too much of a good thing is harmful to your Hoya.
Hoyas, in general, do not need to be repotted frequently and can live happily in the same pot for many years. This is because their roots grow slowly. Also, the Hoya linearis prefers to be slightly rootbound as this encourages flowering.
So don’t be in a rush to repot!
You will know it is time when your plant’s growth rate begins to slow. To confirm, gently remove your plant from its pot and check its root system. If you notice many large roots tightly circling the pot, repot your plant.
The best time for repotting is during spring, at the start of the growing season.
All hoyas are considered non-toxic. However, within their stems and leaves is a white sticky sap that can cause skin irritation. Be careful when handling any broken leaves or stems. When pruning, always be sure to wear gloves.
Propagation through Stem Cuttings
Due to its fast growth rate, Hoya linearis is well suited for home propagation. Propagation through stem cuttings can be achieved in a few easy steps.
- Cut off a vine. Divide the stem into a three-inch long portions, making sure each portion has two or three nodes and a few leaves.
- Without damaging your cuttings, carefully remove the leaves from the lower half of each stem cutting. Use sterilised garden shears to do this.
- Dip the ends of your stem cuttings into a rooting hormone.
- Carefully plant each cutting in moistened potting mix. (See Soil section for details on the ideal potting mix.)
- Keep the cuttings moist. Soil should never be allowed to fully dry out, but it should be well-drained and not waterlogged.
- While your cuttings are forming roots, it is essential to keep the pots out of direct sunlight. Also important is to maintain high humidity levels. A clear sandwich bag placed over your cutting and pot can support this.
Given its rapid growth habit, you may choose to prune your plant to maintain your desired shape and length. However, the Hoya linearis doesn’t need to be pruned for its own sake.
When pruning, take care not to cut off your plant’s woody peduncles (flowering ends). This is because your plant blooms from the same peduncle spot each time.
Because hoya sap can cause skin irritation, always use gardening gloves.
Common Pests and Diseases
Like other houseplants, hoyas can be susceptible to several common plant pests. The best defence against insect invasion is to maintain proper growing conditions so that your plants are healthy. But if pests invade, don’t despair.
Below are some of the most common pests you’ll likely encounter and how to safely and effectively eradicate them.
Signs of a spider mite invasion include a yellowing of the leaves, leaves with a mottled appearance and webs on the undersides of leaves.
As the infestation continues unabated, leaf drop and eventual plant death will occur. Read our guide on how to get rid of spider mites here.
Scale and Mealybugs
Mealybugs are soft-bodied varieties of scale insects that appear as small, fluffy white dots along the stems and leaves of affected plants. Hard-bodied scale insects appear as small, brown, domed bumps, primarily on plant stems. Both varieties can be damaging, causing leaves to wilt, curl, discolour and eventually drop.
If the infestation is small and isolated, it can be managed using a neem oil solution or by spot-treating using rubbing alcohol. Here’s an in-depth guide to using neem oil as an insecticide.
For larger infestations, use insecticidal soaps. This one is our favourite – we always have a bottle on hand.
An aphid infestation causes hoya leaves to turn yellow and grow stunted, curled and misshapen.
After feeding, aphids leave behind a sticky residue on affected plants, which can help you to identify if you have an aphid problem. Again, large infestations are best combated with insecticidal soaps.
Why is my plant dropping leaves?
Drafty conditions commonly cause leaf drop. Hoyas hung in windows are particularly susceptible to cold drafts during the cold winter months. Consider moving your Hoya to a warmer location until spring if temperature fluctuations are to blame!
Prolonged periods of underwatering or insect invasion may also cause leaves to drop. Carefully inspect your Hoya for signs of pests and check the Watering section to ensure your plant is being watered properly.
Why are the leaves wrinkly?
Underwatering or low humidity levels commonly cause withered leaves. However, if your plant is well-watered, root rot may be the issue.
If root rot is suspected, carefully remove your plant from its pot and inspect its roots for damage. If the infection is widespread, you may not be able to salvage your plant. Instead, use stem cuttings to propagate new hoyas.
Why is my Hoya linearis not blooming?
There could be a few reasons.
- The most common reason for a hoya not blooming is that it is still juvenile. Hoya linearis will not bloom until it has reached maturity, which takes two to three years. We get it, waiting is the hardest part!
- Another common reason is insufficient sunlight. Consider if you need to reposition your plant or use grow lights.
- Do note that Hoya linearis is also more likely to bloom when slightly rootbound, so don’t be overzealous in repotting.
- If your plant is mature, lightly fertilising your plant with a phosphorous-based fertiliser can also promote flowering.
- Lastly, do not cut off the peduncles when pruning! Your plant blooms from that same spot each time.
Why does my plant look dry, brown and scorched?
Too intense, direct light is likely to blame. Remove your plant from intense light and place it in an area with filtered or dappled light. You may choose to use a shade cloth or translucent curtain to help reduce the intensity.
Why is there so much space between my Hoya’s leaves?
Insufficient lighting can cause balding and sparse foliage in your Hoya. If your plant seems to be lacking leaves, consider adding additional lighting or move your plant to a brighter window.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Hoya linearis the same as the string of needles?
You’d be forgiven to think that they are the same, as these two trailing plants look very similar. However they are not the same species. In fact, they don’t come from the same genus. Hoya linearis is from the genus Hoya, while string of needles is from the genus Ceropegia.
Is the Hoya linearis the same as the string of turtles?
Nope. String of turtles is from the genus Piperaceae and has round variegated leaves. In contract, your Linearis has much more elongated needle-like foliage.
However, both species are trailing plants.
Is the Hoya linearis considered rare?
Yes, from the perspective that Hoya linearis is not commonly found at local gardening centres. However, you can source the linearis from Etsy. The high demand vs lower supply for the linearis is reflected in the higher price!
Similar Plants and Varieties
Another vining hoya, this curtisii is less fussy than the linearis. Beginners may choose to start with the curtisii, then make their way up to the linearis when they become more comfortable. Here’s our guide to caring for Hoya Curtisii.
The Hoya Macrophylla is an easy-going vining Hoya perfect for beginners. It is considered rare, so you may need to scour Etsy to locate a reputable seller. Its creamy pink or yellow edges make it unique.
As the name suggests, Hoya odorata is known for its sweet fragrance that smells slightly like citrus. Its long trailing vines and intensely green, waxy leaves make it unique. Its large clusters of white blooms are most fragrant at night.
A classic hoya variety, Hoya carnosa is well suited for hanging baskets. Leaves may or may not be variegated on the cultivar. Like other hoyas, its long-lasting starry blooms emit a citrus fragrance.
Hoya Krimson Queen
The popular Krimson Queen is a trailing Hoya known for its pink and cream variegation on green centred leaves. Like other Hoyas, these plants bloom in clusters of star-shaped flowers. The Queen’s flowers have deep purple centres.
Also known as the sweetheart hoya, Hoya Kerrii is well-loved succulent. Its thick leaves are famously heart-shaped and are sure to charm.
Leaves can be solid green or variegated while climbing vines grow up to 13 feet (4 meters) long when attached to a trellis or moss pole.
Another vining plant is the Curo Rowleyanus. It’s not a hoya but from the daisy family Asteraceae. More commonly known as “string of pearls”, this trailing succulent grows long stems covered in small, round leaves or “pearls”. They are also very easy to propagate.
This is an excellent choice for trailing plant lovers who prefer plants that require little watering.
Other Hoyas we love
- Hoya Krimson Princess
- Hoya Bella
- Hoya Nummularioides – beginner level Hoya producing strong, jasmine-like scented flowers
- Hoya Serpens
- Hoya Obovata
- Hoya Carnosa Compacta, the Hindu Rope Plant
- Hoya Pubicalyx
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.