The Hoya Obovata is a vining houseplant that has round, button-like leaves. Under optimal growing conditions, it will reward you with clusters of fragrant, pink flowers. Care is simple:
- Use a well-draining potting mix. We like using succulent soil as the base and lightening it with perlite and orchid bark.
- Water only when topsoil is dry. Do not overwater!
- Southern-facing windows are important. This guy loves bright light. Or use a grow light.
- Fertilize to encourage rapid growth in the spring and summer months.
- Trim long stems to encourage a bushy look.
- Don’t cut off flower peduncles.
- Wipe down leaves with a diluted neem oil solution to ward off common pests.
We’ll go into more details below!
What is the Hoya Obovata?
The Hoya Obovata is a tropical species from the Hoya genus. 🙂 They have thick, flat, leaves, sometimes speckled silver (Hoya Obovata Silver Splash) or pink (Hoya Obovata Pink Splash).
Our Hoya Obovata is the Variegated version in the photo above, boasting light green centers and dark green edges.
They are a little harder to come by than the common Hoya Carnosa, but you can still easily buy one online.
Caring for your Hoya Obovata
Your Hoya Obovata loves brighter light than most other houseplants, so find the sunniest spot in your home for your plant. A South-facing windowsill is perfect.
The sun follows a southerly arc through the day, so South-facing windowsills get consistently bright light. This encourages lush foliage, and for flowers to grow (eventually).
You will want to use a grow light if the natural light in your home isn’t bright enough.
If grown outdoors in a mild climate, choose a bright spot with dappled light. However, keep your plant away from the direct afternoon sun, when the sun is at its hottest.
Remember, outdoor light is much harsher!
Those thick, succulent-like leaves store water for your Hoya Obovata so that it can endure dry spells. As a result, their water requirements are generally low.
They are also very sensitive to overwatering. So you’ll need to get your watering practices on point for this one! (Watering tips for beginners here.)
When to Water
Water your plant only when the top 2 inches of soil is dry to the touch. The exact frequency depends on a number of factors, such as climate, temperature, evaporation rate, how big the plant is, and the type of potting mix used… you get the drift.
It will also change over time, as the weather becomes colder and your plant’s growth rate drops. And vice versa.
So it’s always best to check that the soil indeed is dry before watering, rather than blindly committing to a set watering frequency.
Given your plant’s sensitivity to overwatering, if in doubt, err on the side of underwatering.
Signs of overwatering and underwatering
- Pale, yellow, and plump leaves indicate an overwatered Hoya. The plant may also appear droopy.
- Thin leaves with a slight wrinkling indicate water reserves have depleted, so you have an underwatered Hoya on your hands. The plant may also look droopy.
- You may also notice caked or compacted potting mix for an underwatered Hoya.
Use your fingers to check the soil’s moisture to confirm.
Then, adjust your watering practices accordingly.
Though your Hoya Obovata prefers high humidity (>60%), they still grow well in average room humidity.
A light misting in the mornings is sometimes recommended by gardening sites, but we much prefer using a humidifier.
This is because the effect is much longer-lasting with a humidifier.
It simply can’t compare to misting!
Average room temperatures are fine for your Hoya Obovata. Keep the temperature between 60-85 degrees F (15-29 degrees C).
Your tropical plant is not cold-hardy, so don’t let it grow outdoors if cold winters are common!
Also, avoid placing your plant too close to air vents or cold drafts. Create a warm and stable temperature environment for your Hoya.
Flowers will take about 3 years to bloom, as your plant needs to be mature to flower.
Flowers are worth the wait. They are gorgeous purple clusters that appear in upside-down clusters (umbels) of 8-15 flowers.
Our favorite part? Hoya Obovatas also emit a strong floral, musky-rose like scent. 🙂
Why is my Hoya Obovata not blooming?
If you’ve waited patiently for 3 years and your Hoya Obovata still hasn’t bloomed, here are some common reasons why:
- Insufficient light. Flowers need optimal growth conditions, so check that you have chosen the sunniest spot indoors, and bright but dappled light outdoors.
- Insufficient nutrients in the potting soil. Use a high-quality succulent potting mix – see the Soil section for details.
Also, to encourage blooming,
- Keep your plant slightly root-bound. A little snug in the pot is a good thing!
- Switch to a phosphorous-heavy fertilizer to support flowering.
- Do not dead-head the flower stalks (peduncles!). Your Hoya Obovata “re-uses” old peduncles for new flowers. So, refrain from cutting these off.
When fully grown, the Hoya Obovata can reach a length of 12-20 feet (3.7 – 6.0 meters)!
Your plant is commonly grown in a hanging basket. Let its long vines trail down so that it can show off its deep green button-foliage.
Also, flowers tend to point downwards, so having a high-hanging basket allows you to look at the flowers at eye level, in full view.
Alternatively, you can provide it a trellis to climb up on. Either works.
Soil or Growing Medium
We love a good potting mix. It makes all the difference when it comes to growing epiphytic (climbing) vines that love breathable and well-draining soils. This includes your Hoya Obovata!
We like to use this potting mix, for best results:
- 1 part high-quality succulent mix
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part orchid bark
This is an easy mix to create but so loved by Hoyas. Use a high-quality succulent mix as these are specially formulated for drainage properties, but also retain enough moisture for your plant to be nourished.
Perlite and orchid bark are usual soil amendments to improve aeration for those roots! It really does keep those roots healthy.
Being a fast-growing vine with lots of lush foliage, your Hoya Obovata 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,
- Mix a quarter teaspoon for every gallon of water.
- Use this to water your plant, every time you water during the spring and summer months.
- During the winter and fall, we usually just use tap water, as our Hoya is not actively growing then.
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. 🙂
Happily, Hoya plants are non-toxic to humans and animals.
It’s safe to keep your Hoya Obovata around your children, dogs, and cats.
Hoyas are extremely easy to propagate. We usually like to propagate using stem cuttings in water, and once they take root, plant them in potting mix.
Do this in spring!
Propagation through stem cuttings
Before getting started, we always like to sterilize our garden shears by dipping these in 70% isopropyl solution. This prevents cross-infection.
- Identify a healthy stem around 4 inches (10 cm) long that has at least 3 leaves. Best to find a stem with a few aerial roots too, this allows your cutting to root more quickly 🙂
- Using clean garden shears, cut off the identified portion of stem, just below the node.
- Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the stem only.
- Prepare a jar of room-temperature water.
- Place the stem cutting in the jar, ensuring that no leaves are submerged.
- Place in a warm spot with plenty of indirect light. If you have a humidifier, set it at 70%.
- Replace with fresh water every few days, to prevent the water from turning murky.
- In a couple of weeks, you’ll find little roots growing from the nodes, and from the cut end of the plant.
- Once the roots are about 1 inch (2.5cm) long, plant the cuttings in evenly moist potting mix.
- Treat as you would any other Hoya Obovata!
For those adventurous ones, you can also explore propagation and growing in LECA.
Hoyas take well to LECA as a growing medium. Check out our guide discussing the Pros and Cons of LECA, so that you can decide for yourself.
Pruning long Hoya Obovata vines encourages it to grow 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.
Common Pests and Diseases
Like any other houseplant, your Hoya Obovata can experience the occasional pest infestation. They are not particularly susceptible to pests, but of course, nobody is immune!
The usual suspects are:
- Fungus gnats
- Spider mites
Overwatered plants attract mealybugs and fungus gnats, so if you need any incentive to up your watering game, let this be your sign!
Mealybugs also secrete honeydew as they feed, which in turn attracts sooty mold. So you’ll definitely want to avoid them.
If you spot cotton wool-like bugs, these are mealybugs. (3 ways to kill mealybugs here)
On the other hand, fine webbing on the underside of leaves is a tell-tale sign that spider mites are present 🙁
Neem oil solution is a broad-based natural pesticide, that disrupts the growth of all these common pests. We like to lightly spray a diluted solution of neem oil on leaves (and then wipe dry), as a preventative measure.
At the same time, it gives us the opportunity to inspect our plants for any pests or issues.
What to do when you have a fungus gnat, spider mite, scale, or mealybug infestation
- Thoroughly check all houseplants – are any others infected?
- Quarantine infected plants.
- Using sterilized garden shears, prune off heavily infested parts of the stems and leaves.
- Sterilize your garden shears using 70% isopropyl solution before and after pruning, to prevent cross-infection.
- Dispose of infected plant parts securely.
- Apply an Insecticide Soap spray (honestly, we always have a bottle on hand!)
- Re-apply per the instructions, until the pests are eradicated.
- Apply a diluted solution of neem oil to healthy houseplants, to ward pests away.
Caring for a Hoya Obovata Variegata (Variegated), and Hoya Obovata Splash
These versions need the same care conditions as the “normal” unvariegated Hoya Obovata.
The Hoya Obovata Splash usually comes in silver and pink, and have light specks of colored variegation.
The Hoya Obovata Variegata is the plant in the photos. You’d notice the light yellow-green variegation on its leaves, with darker green edges. In the unvariegated version, no light yellow-green is present.
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:
- Hoya Linearis
- Hoya Heuschkeliana, a trailing Hoya with succulent-like fleshy leaves and yellow or pink flowers
- Hoya Bella – Nicknamed the Honey Plant, the Hoya Bella is a beginner-level Hoya with white and pink flowers that smell like Honey!
- Hoya Serpens
- Hoya Krimson Queen, nicknamed Strawberries and Cream for its pink and cream variegated foliage
- Hoya Krimson Princess, a similar color palette to the Krimson Queen
- Hoya Nummularioides – another great beginner-level Hoya with white fragrant flowers.
- Hoya Carnosa Compacta, the Hindu Rope Plant
Frequently Asked Questions
What common names are there for the Hoya Obovata?
The Hoya Obovata is its scientific or botanical name.
Common names we’ve heard include: sweetheart Hoya, heart-leaf Hoya, wax plant, or wax flower (this may refer to any number of Hoyas though).
We prefer just calling it Hoya Obovata, as nicknames are imprecise and get confusing!
Especially when we love talking about lots of different types of Hoyas.
Where can I buy a Hoya Obovata?
Being a less common Hoya, we recommend checking out private sellers to buy a Hoya Obovata. As usual, do your homework and make sure the seller is reputable and established.
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.