Hoyas are adaptable, climbing plants found in South East Asia through Australia. The majority grow as vines to shrubs. Most are epiphytic or plants that grow on another plant, like a tree. One Hoya in particular is a good choice for beginner gardeners who prefer low maintenance plants. With its beautiful heart-shaped leaves, the Hoya kerri is commonly known as “Sweetheart Plant” or “Sweetheart Hoya.” This unique Hoya has succulent leaves that cascade to long, twinning stems. There are many varieties of Hoya kerri such as the variegated version called Hoya kerri “Variegata” or “Variegated Heart Leaf Wax flower.” Hoya kerri has clusters of pink blossoms, which are beautiful, waxy, tough flowers that last throughout the spring and summer.
The best way to grow Hoyas is outdoors in bright shade or filtered sunshine. To prevent rotting, use only a rich, well-drained soil mixture that contains fibrous peat, pine bark and perlite. Wait until the pot becomes root bound prior to replanting Hoyas. Keep the Hoyas pot bound in a container to help them bloom better. When ready to transplant into a larger container, choose the next size up and add time released fertilizer into soil.
Water Hoyas thoroughly during spring and summer, then allow the soil to dry between watering. After the Hoyas flower, water sparingly, but water just enough to prevent the leaves from shriveling. The simplest way to propagate Hoyas is through stem cuttings. Cut a healthy stem that has at least two to three leaf notes, then replant into soil. You can propagate more Hoyas by using their aerial roots that root easily when planted into a well-drained mixture.
Although all plants can become infected with diseases, Hoyas are very resilient against insects. However, mealy bugs can attack the foliage of Hoyas, leading to leaf discoloration. The bugs suck the sap out of the leaves and emit a sticky, waxy substance onto the leaves, thereby preventing a healthy growth. To treat mealy bug attacks, use a plant insecticide such as Safer’s Insecticidal Soap, which will take a few days to work. For light infestations, you can simply wash them way with a hose.
Hoyas tolerate day temperatures of about 70 degrees F or more. Although Hoyas prefer a minimum winter temperature of about 45 degrees F, they can survive cooler temperatures if kept dry. The “Sweetheart Hoya” is especially adapted to an outdoor environment and will be a wonderful addition to your garden!