How to Salvage a Hoya Plant
The hoya plant, scientifically known as Hoya carnosa, is also referred to as Grandmother’s Wax Plant. The name is a testament not only to the waxy look of the hoya’s leaves and pinkish-white flowers, but to the extraordinarily long life of this tropical plant. Hoyas can live for 50 years, and are often passed on from older houseplant fanciers to younger generations.
Hoya plants are susceptible to stem and root rot caused by over-watering, but because their waxy nature makes them wilt-resistant, it can be hard to tell when they are in trouble. Blackish or brownish lesions on the stem, along with yellowing leaves, are the first indication of rot. With some quick first aid, you may be able to address the root rot and salvage your hoya plant.
things you’ll need:
- Cuticle scissors
- Perlite or vermiculite
- Expanded clay particles, available at garden supply stores
- Peat moss
- Potting soil
- Magnifying glass
- Rubbing alcohol
- Spray mister
- Feel the soil to determine if the plant has been over-watered. Hoyas must have well-drained soil, and soil should be allowed to dry out between waterings. If the soil feels muddy or soggy even though you haven’t watered recently, don’t water again until it dries out.
- Assess the amount of light your hoya is getting; it should be in bright, indirect light such as that afforded by a south or east-facing window. Too much sun won’t usually harm your hoya, but leaves may become paler in appearance.
- Gently remove the hoya from the pot to and examine the roots. They should look firm, intact and white to tan in color, with a flexible quality. Look for any blackened, brown, grayish, or mushy roots–all evidence of root rot.
- Use a cuticle scissors to gently prune any decayed roots.
- Mix equal parts of perlite or vermiculite, expanded clay, peat moss, and potting soil to create a new potting medium. Hoyas need well-drained, chunky mixtures like this one; if the hoya was potted in soil that was too fine, soil compacting–a contributor to root rot–can occur.
- Re-pot the hoya using the new potting medium. Be careful the pot you are using is not too large; hoyas are more comfortable being somewhat rootbound.
- Use the magnifying glass to examine the plant, especially undersides of leaves, for aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites and scales–all insect pests that can infest hoya plants and cause disease. Aphids are tiny, teardrop-shaped insects, usually accompanied by a sticky substance, while spider mites look like tiny blackish-reddish spiders. The telltale signs of mealy bugs are the white, cottony substance on leaves and soil. To identify scale, look for round, shiny, brownish bumps.
- Treat the pests with rubbing alcohol sprayed on with a mister, or applied with cotton swabs. Rubbing alcohol is the most effective way to kill them, and the alcohol won’t harm the hoya plant, as long as you pull the blinds temporarily. Sunlight hitting the hoya plant while it is still wet with alcohol could burn the plant.
Tips & Warnings
To keep your hoya healthy, water it sparingly, mist daily with lukewarm water, and provide plenty of light. A 15-15-15 nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) fertilizer can be used once a month.
If your hoya blooms, be careful of the sticky nectar, which can be diffcult to remove from carpets. Warm, soapy water will remove it from stone, tile, or floors.To guarantee that your hoya continues to bloom, do not remove the stubs on which the flowers appear.