Hoya Macrophylla is gaining popularity, and for a good reason. These plants are both low maintenance and generally unfussy, making them ideal for beginners. 🙂
To care for the Hoya Macrophylla,
- Place your Hoya in bright, filtered light. A warm location with as high humidity as you can manage is key.
- Allow for a very loose and airy growing medium by chunky amendments to succulent potting soils. Add oyster shells to make the mix alkaline.
- Water only when soil is completely dry, and leaves begin to lose turgor. Use pots with drainage holes.
- Fertilizing once a month during the growing season at half strength really promotes growth. Don’t fertilize in fall or winter.
- Use a moss pole to support its climbing habit or allow it to trail from hanging baskets.
- Repot once every 1-2 years.
Let’s dive into the details!
Table of Contents
What is the Hoya Macrophylla?
Hailing from Southeast Asia and Oceania, the tropical Hoya Macrophylla is a tender perennial vine. It has similar waxy, succulent-like leaves as the Hoya Krimson Queen and boasts quintessential Hoya flowers: clusters of scented pink blooms.
But this epiphyte is most prized for its uniquely variegated leaves. Its edges are painted with shades of cream, pinks or yellows.
Here’s everything you need to know to develop a healthy Hoya Macrophylla.
How to care for your plant
The ever-adaptable Hoya Macrophylla is tolerant of different light conditions. It grows in low light with relative ease, although leaves will be smaller and develop more slowly.
For best growth, placing your plant in an East-facing windowsill is ideal. This window orientation receives lots of bright light but is less intense than the direct afternoon sun, which may scorch the leaves.
North-facing windows are fine too, but ensure you place the plant as close to the windowpane as possible. The light is least bright in north-facing windows, so your plant may grow less vigorously.
When watering your Hoya, consider its thick, waxy leaves. Thick leaves are an efficient store of water, so they are drought-tolerant plants that don’t need as much water as other houseplants, like Calantheas or Peace Lilies.
For this reason, the risk of overwatering is much higher than that of underwatering. Forgetting to water your plant for a week or two doesn’t harm it. This hardy plant will be fine!
When its time to water your plant, you will notice two things.
- Firstly, that your plant’s topsoil is completely dry.
- Secondly, that your Hoya’s leaves will lose a bit of firmness or turgor. This signals that its water reserves have started to deplete.
Regularly monitoring your plant for these signs will alert you when your plant needs a drink.
When watering, don’t be afraid to soak your plant thoroughly. It is better to water deeply less often than water shallowly more frequently. So allow water to seep into the soil until you notice excess water escaping through the drainage hole from the bottom of the pot. Then, allow the soil to dry completely before watering again.
For best results, you may use rainwater or distilled room temperature water. Chlorine and fluoride in tap water can harm your plant. Alternatively, allow tap water to sit out overnight, allowing time for contained salts to dissipate.
Air circulation is an interesting part of Hoya Macrophylla care. In its native habitat, it grows as an epiphyte with aerial roots exposed and climbing on top of other plants. Because of this, your Hoya enjoys some airflow.
You may choose to use a ceiling fan or open balcony doors or windows to promote some air circulation.
As long as it’s not exposed to cold drafts or is too windy, some airflow is good for Hoyas. The added benefit is that airflow reduces the risk of mold growing on your plant!
Unlike some other succulents, Hoya is not found in the desert, instead are found in nature in tropical regions. Being from the tropics, the Hoya Macrophylla enjoys very high humidity. Generally, the more, the better!
While 80-90% is optimal, they are flexible and can tolerate humidity levels above 40% without issues.
To give your Hoya an added boost, you can raise the humidity in your home by investing in a humidifier. Here are other tips to increase water vapor in the air.
Keep the temperature between 65 and 85 degrees F (18 – 29 degrees C), with the higher end of this range preferred.
Warm climates are best. Avoid temperature dips below 55-60 degrees F (12-15 degrees C), which will trigger your Hoya to go into dormancy.
Dormancy is not harmful to your plant but means that your plant is conserving energy and, akin to hibernating, is not putting out new growth. You may also notice some leaves dying back.
When temperatures heat up, and it can sense better-growing conditions, it will naturally awaken. This usually happens when spring approaches.
Growth and Flowering
This variegated plant grows more slowly than most Hoyas. When mature, its leaves can span up to 4-6 inches (10-15cm).
We’ve mentioned that your Hoya Macrophylla grows as an epiphyte, so it climbs up on other trees and plants. You can use a trellis or moss pole to support your plant’s climbing habit and helps it develop lush leaves.
Alternatively, the Hoya Macrophylla can trail, so you can opt to admire its foliage from a hanging basket or sprawled down from a high shelf.
It produces fragrant clusters of star-shaped, pink and white flowers. These emerge in late spring or early summer.
An unusual feature of Hoyas is that they tend to send out new (usually leafless) vines but occasionally allow these to die back. This is because they are scouting for new areas to grow. If it doesn’t find optimal conditions for new growth or decides to focus its energy elsewhere, it may choose to “abort” the vines.
This means allowing vine tips to die away. This behaviour is natural and nothing to worry about. You can trim off any dead vine tips to keep your plant tidy.
There are two main things to know about potting soil for your plant.
- Firstly, unlike most houseplants, Hoya Macorphyllas prefer alkaline soil. This is because, in nature, it tends to grow in limestone areas. This means many generic houseplant soil needs to be amended to use for your Hoya, as these soils tend to contain slightly acidic peat moss.
- Secondly, given that your plant is an epiphyte with aerial roots, soil that is loose and airy is key. Compact, or dense soil suffocates roots, something your Hoya Macrophyllas really detest.
With these two things in mind, the best soil for your Hoya Macrophylla is:
- A potting mix made of 1 part succulent mix (we love this one), 1 part orchid bark, 1 part charcoal. Plus, throw in a handful or two of oyster shells or egg shells. Shells increase the alkalinity of the soil and work to seep through the soil when watered.
- Make sure that you purchase a specially-formulated succulent potting soil (again we love the one in the link above) that is lighter and less moisture retaining than the usual soils.
- Alternatively, you can use the same mix above but swap charcoal with either coconut coir or perlite. All three function to provide an airy growth medium.
Hoyas, in general, are not heavy feeders, but they really appreciate an occasional nutritional boost. We fertilize our Hoya Macrophylla once a month, diluted to half-strength, during the growing season. It makes such a difference!
But whatever you do, don’t fertilize in fall and winter; this will do more harm than good!
We use a high-nitrogen liquid fertilizer to stimulate foliage growth. Look for the nutrient ratio on the fertilizer label. A ratio of 2:1:2 (N:P:K) is sufficient to encourage lush leaves.
But once we spot flowers starting to develop, we switch this over to a high-phosphorous fertilizer which encourages flower development. A ratio of 5:10:3 is ideal, with the added boost of Phosphorous. From then on, use a high-phosphorous fertilizer two months before the Hoya’s usual flowering season.
Like most trailing plants and orchids, your Hoya Macrophylla doesn’t mind being a little root-bound. Note, this is a little, not VERY. They grow better when slightly root bound, even tending to bloom more when feeling crammed in its pot.
For this reason, you don’t have to repot your Hoya annually. Every 1-2 years is fine.
Like all Hoyas, the Hoya Macrophylla is considered non-toxic. However, it does have a milky sap that may prove irritating to sensitive skin. For this reason, we always use gardening gloves when pruning or propagating our Hoyas.
Propagating your plant is easy and can be done through stem cuttings. We prefer to use sphagnum moss as a propagating medium before replanting in its permanent potting mix.
- Identify healthy parts of the stem, 5 inches long, with at least two leaves.
- Using clean garden shears and wearing gardening gloves, cut off these identified stems. We usually make 3-4 stem cuttings at once.
- Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the stem cutting.
- Dip these stem cuttings in a rooting hormone to stimulate root growth.
- Plant the stem cutting(s) in moist sphagnum moss, allowing nodes to be under the surface of the moss (this will eventually grow roots). Ensure no leaves are buried.
- Use a clear plastic bag and place this over the pot.
- This increases humidity levels and warmth.
- Place the pot in a warm spot with bright, indirect light.
- Remove the plastic bag once a day for 30minutes to allow for fresh air.
- Keep the moss evenly moist but not soaked.
- In about 40 days, roots should be established in the pot. You can confirm this by feeling a little resistance when giving the stem a very gentle tug.
- At this time, repot your stem cutting in the appropriate potting mix (see Soil section above).
- That’s it! Treat the plant as you would any other Hoya Macrophylla.
With its trailing and climbing vines, your plant can grow unwieldy. Prune back to keep your Hoya Macophylla neat and compact.
We usually prune twice. The first time, we cut off any dead or diseased parts and give the plant a general tidy-up. The second time we take a little longer to closely examine which vines to trim back further.
When pruning, remember to cut just above the node (this is the nubby bit on the vine from which new growth emerges). Also, remember not to cut off old peduncles (flower stalks), as new flowers will grow from the same old, woody peduncles. It’s best to leave it be and allow new flowers to “re-use” the same peduncles!
It’s also a good idea to trim off any dead, shrivelled or damaged parts, to allow your plant to focus its energy on new growth.
Common Pests and Diseases
The usual houseplant pests may occasionally attack your Hoya. In our experience, mealybugs, aphids and spider mites are the most common pests.
Fungi and mold may also develop due to overwatering and high humidity.
According to the Royal Horticultural Society, Aphids are common sap-sucking insects. Aphids are attracted to your Hoya Macrophylla’s sweet plant sap, especially when flowering.
They use sharp mouths to pierce stems and leaves, to feed on the sap nutrients. Of course, this damages your plant and deprives it of sustenance.
Spider mites produce mottled leaves and webs on the undersides of leaves and stems. Like Aphids, they suck on plant sap and deprive your plant of nutrients. If you catch it early enough, there’s a high chance you can save your Hoya.
Mealybugs are another common pest. Here’s our guide on how to identify and get rid of mealybugs.
Mold and Fungi
Mold and fungi are other problems you could run into. This is particularly true if you live in a warm climate and your plants lack air circulation or are overwatered.
These problems may also result from a mealybug infestation, as mealybugs produce a sweep, sticky sap after feeding, which encourages mold to develop on the plant.
To prevent mold and fungi, ensure you only water your Hoya Macrophylla when the soil is completely dry. Also ensure your Hoya gets a bit of air flow. A copper fungicide can be used if your plant is infected.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between Hoya Macrophylla vs Hoya Latifolia?
As you can see from the photo below, the Hoya Latifolia does not have variegation on its leaves, while the Hoya Macrophylla does. However, the Latifolia has thick, succulent-like leaves like the Hoya Macrophylla.
Where can I buy a Hoya Macrophylla?
Similar Plants and Varieties
- Hoya Macrophylla “Variegata Albomarginata”
- Hoya Rotundiflora
- Hoya Serpens
- Hoya Imbricata
- Hoya Curtisii
- Hoya Linearis
- Hoya Krimson Queen
- Hoya Krimson Princess
- Hoya Obovata
- Hoya Carnosa Compacta, the Hindu Rope Plant
- Hoya Pubicalyx
- Hoya Latifolia
- Hoya Callistophylla
- Hoya Nummularioides
- Hoya Bella
- Hoya Kerrii, the Sweetheart Hoya, a beginner-level Hoya with heart-shaped leaves
Not Hoyas, but other succulent-like plants:
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.