Hoyas are exotic and striking tropical epiphytic plants that grace any home or garden. One rare variety of Hoya is Hoya verticillata, distinguished for its cream-colored blooms with dazzling pink or reddish centers.
If you’re lucky to have one of these rare plants in your possession, you need to know how to care for them properly. This article will teach you everything you need to know about Hoya verticillata, including fun facts, care tips, and common problems you may encounter.
How To Identify Hoya Verticillata
Hoya verticillata is an epiphytic climber typically found scaling up large trees in tropical rainforests. This stunning Hoya stands out for its cream-colored clusters of star-shaped blooms that dazzle with pink or reddish centers.
The flowers also emit a pleasant fragrance that will further enchant you.
Leaves are waxy like other Hoyas and typically come in an ovate or oblong shape. They are also whorled, which helps distinguish this plant from similar Hoya species.
Though Hoya verticillata typically has dark green foliage with no patterns or variegation, you’ll find some stunning varieties that showcase more color and interest.
Below are a few Hoya verticillata varieties and a description of what makes them distinguishable:
- Hoya verticillata’ Albomarginata’: Dark green foliage with pleasant white, yellow, or pink edges.
- Hoya verticillata’ Variegata’: Bright yellow foliage with green edges.
- Hoya verticillata ‘Splash’: Dark green foliage with silver speckles.
All varieties mentioned above will still have the characteristic cluster of star-shaped cream blooms with pinkish centers. However, researchers have found native specimens with flowers in other colors and shapes.
Because Hoya verticillata is an incredibly rare plant, there is a lot of confusion about what characteristics define the species.
Therefore, it is unclear if these recently discovered specimens are all-natural varieties of Hoya verticillata or if they are entirely different species.
If they are varieties of Hoya verticillata, then perhaps more colorful versions will be available on the market in the future to delight Hoya enthusiasts.
Other Names & Synonyms
When shopping around for Hoya verticillata, you may find that it is sold under other names. Some of these names include:
- Ridley’s Hoya
- Wax Plant
- Wax Vine
- Wax Flower
Remembering these names may prevent you from accidentally overlooking any great Hoya verticillata plants you come across. But remember that some of these names are also given to other Hoya species, which can add further confusion.
In addition to these names, Hoya verticillata has a few synonyms that can trick up even the most experienced plant enthusiasts. Some of these synonyms include:
- Sperlingia verticillata
- Hoya acuta
- Hoya parasitica
Fun Facts About Hoya Verticillata
The genus Hoya is a reference to an 18th/19th-century botanist Thomas Hoy. The specific epithet verticillata comes from the Latin verticillatus, which means ‘whorled.’ This refers to the whorled leaves, distinguishing this plant from similar species.
Hoya verticillata is native to Southeast Asia, with sightings in India, southern China, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Bangladesh, and Singapore.
These Hoya are found in various habitats but typically enjoy climbing on large trees in rainforests, coastal forests, and shorelines.
In humid and tropical climates, Hoya verticillata makes for a great garden plant, adding beauty and interest to any form of garden you cultivate. It even looks great in a pot or container.
However, if you live in temperate or colder climates, you should keep your Hoya verticillata indoors as a houseplant as it doesn’t tolerate dry air or cold temperatures.
Though Hoya verticillata is a gorgeous plant, you should use caution around it. All parts of the plant are toxic if ingested, so keep your children and pets clear of it.
Furthermore, it contains a poisonous, milky white sap that can irritate the skin upon direct contact, so it is best to use gloves when handling the plant.
Though Hoya verticillata is not a common plant to encounter, luckily, that doesn’t mean it is threatened. It is currently classified as ‘Least Concern’ with no noted threats.
How To Care For Your Hoya Verticillata
If you have all the right growing conditions, then Hoya verticillata is an easy plant to grow and care for. It has been known to have a moderate or fast growth rate when properly cultivated.
Below are the requirements that Hoya verticillata needs to thrive.
In its native habitat, you’ll find Hoya verticillata climbing a giant tree beneath the dense canopy of the rainforest. Therefore, it prefers medium to low light conditions, so you should place it in a location with indirect light or partial shade. Direct sunlight may burn and scorch the beautiful foliage, and too little light will prevent your Hoya from growing.
Though it is a tropical plant, Hoya verticillata doesn’t require too much water. It is recommended that you only water about once a week (or even less) and let the soil dry in between each watering.
However, your Hoya may need water and moisture more often if you grow it without soil.
Since Hoya verticillata is an epiphyte, it doesn’t grow in soil often in its natural habitat. Therefore, if you decide to plant it in soil, you need to keep the soil dry and only water occasionally. Furthermore, the soil must be well draining and aerated, as Hoyas need lots of oxygen to reach their roots.
Humidity and Temperature Requirements
As a native to Southeast Asia, Hoya verticillata does best in warm, humid climates. So if you live in a similar climate, you shouldn’t have any problems caring for your Hoya verticillata outdoors.
However, if you live in a temperate or colder climate, you’ll have to work harder to create the perfect humidity and temperature conditions.
To mimic its native rainforest habitat, you must keep the indoor temperature warm and mist your plant often. It may also help to have a humidifier to keep the air consistently humid.
In general, Hoyas are light feeders and usually get enough nutrients from whatever potting mix you provide.
However, some sources recommend fertilizing Hoya verticillata monthly during the growing season (spring and summer for temperate climates; all year for tropical climates) or annually before the growing season with a fertilizer that contains nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
When repotting your Hoya verticillata, don’t place it in an overly large container. Hoyas typically prefer a snug pot to large ones because they prefer to be root bound.
It is recommended that you repot your Hoya once a year or after it has doubled in size, whichever comes first.
The best way to propagate Hoya verticillata is by stem cuttings. First, cut off a stem with two or three leaf nodes to do this.
Next, place the stem in water until roots emerge and grow to about 2 inches long.
After this, transplant the stem to well-draining soil and water the soil whenever it dries out. However, you can skip the water step and just directly place the stem into well-draining soil.
Spring and summer are generally the best time to prune Hoyas. However, you should not prune the blooming stalk as this will prevent your Hoya verticillata from blooming anytime soon.
Instead, it will use all of its energy to grow the stalk back instead of creating a beautiful cluster of flowers.
How To Make Your Hoya Verticillata Bloom
Hoya plants are primarily foliage plants, but since their blooms are so distinct and attractive, it’s understandable to want your plant to bloom at some point.
Hoyas, in general, don’t have a specific time-dependent blooming schedule. However, your plant will most likely bloom in the spring or summer if you live in a temperate climate.
To get your Hoya to bloom, you need to ensure it is in an environment where it is thriving. In other words, ensure the environment is adequately warm and humid, and the plant has access to plenty of indirect light.
You can also feed it a fertilizer with phosphorus to encourage blooming. It’s also essential to ensure the plant is root bound in a snug pot and is not relocated often.
6 Common Problems, Pests & Diseases
Like all plants, Hoya verticillata is susceptible to problems, pests, and diseases. Below are the most common issues you may encounter while caring for a Hoya verticillata (or other Hoya species) and some tips to prevent or deal with those issues.
Aphids and mealybugs
The best way to get rid of these is by using an insecticide. Follow the instructions of your insecticide of choice but don’t apply it inside your home.
Prevent root rot by letting the soil dry between waterings. The most common cause of root rot is consistently wet and soggy soil.
Pale yellow leaves
This could indicate a deficiency in nitrogen, so you may need to apply more fertilizer.
Leaves are yellow and burnt
This is a sign your Hoya is getting too much sun. Place it in a location where it will not get direct sunlight.
This is a sign of too much water or fertilizer. Only water after the soil has thoroughly dried out.
Leaf drop or blackening of the leaves
Indicates too much water in the soil or the environment is too cold. Cut down on your watering schedule and turn up the temperature in your home. Leaf drop may also signal your plant is not getting enough light.
Here are some videos we have gathered to help give you a better visual of the plant, along with additional information:
References + Resources
- Academic – Hoya
- International Hoya Association: Hoya Propagation
- International Hoya Association: Plant Culture
- NParks Flora & Fauna Web: Hoya Verticillata
- Nparks Flora & Fauna Web: Variations In The Hoya Verticillata Complex In Thailand
- Royal Botanical Gardens KEW Plants Of The World Online
- Royal Horticultural Society: Hoya
- Robert Brown: Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen