In the wintertime, people tend to get the winter blues. As a horticulturist, I get the winter blues because I cannot go outside and garden or go to my backyard to get a tomato while I’m cooking supper. One way we can reduce our gloominess due to lack of gardening would be to have houseplants. One of my favorite houseplants is a Hoya.

Hoya plants, also called wax plants, are from Asia, Australia, and Polynesia. They are in the same plant family as milkweed and will have a milky sap. These plants are commonly grown as houseplants due to minimal care requirements. Hoya plants prefer temperatures of 70-75 degrees F during the day and 60-65 at night with 30-40 percent relative humidity. These trailing vines have woody stems and thick leaves that have a waxy surface. There is variance in the size, shape, and color depending on the variety. There are plain green leaves, green leaves with white or pink variegation, and some leaves that are curled up tightly. The unique flowers develop in a ball-like cluster. The individual flowers are 5/8 inch across with five white or pinkish petals and fragrant. The flowers are uniformly shaped and shiny with an unnatural look for a flower, which is why this plant is also called porcelain flower.

There are hundreds of different species of Hoya plants. Hoya carnosa variegata is a green Hoya plant with white trim around the edges of the leaves. I have this variegated Hoya to enjoy in my office every day at work. Another Hoya is called Hindu Rope Plant and it has twisted leaves that hang down to look like a rope. Another fun selection is Hoya obovata. It has round leaves that are dark green but with white speckles randomly throughout the leaves.

Hoya plants are particular about their care. They prefer bright, indirect sunlight and don’t like to be near cold, drafty windows. This plant should not be overwatered, wait until the soil dries between watering again. Also, don’t repot Hoya plants too often, they do well if the roots are somewhat rootbound. Hoya plants can be a little finicky about their growing location. They will grow and survive in most any location, but they may not flower if they aren’t in their prime location, especially if they are placed in incorrect lighting locations. Rootbound plants will lead to better flowering. Fertilize the plant during the spring and summer and that can help with flowering as well. Also, when your Hoya has finished blooming, don’t pull the flower off, this leads to production of the new flower next time. If it doesn’t bloom for you, it still makes a great greenery plant. Hoya plants are also fairly pest free, sometimes they do get spidermites, scale, or mealy bugs. If your Hoya gets any of these pests, you can set it in the sink and wash the pests off the leaves for control.

There are so many different Hoya species to choose from, I’m sure you can find one to fit your personality. They are quite easy to care for and still give us something alive and growing through the winter to help with the winter blues. I really enjoy watching the pink show up in the areas of white on the leaves of my Hoya. It adds a unique interest. They are finicky to flower, but if you can get them to flower, it will be very enjoyable. You can also join the International Hoya Association or International Asclepiad Society to find new friends who also enjoy their Hoya plants and who can help you along the way with your Hoya. Hoya plants are often gifted to us in flower arrangements but usually with limited care directions. I hope this helps you with your Hoya and if you are in the market for a houseplant, choose a Hoya.

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