Hoya Rotundiflora for Beginners

Introduction

Houseplants help improve our moods, replenish our homes with clean oxygen, and even add to the ambiance of an environment. Today, the choices for houseplants have shifted away from the ordinary to reveal a global market full of unique and exciting plants.

The challenge as burgeoning green thumb is to find plants that will prove both hardy enough for a beginner to care for, and beautiful enough to practice patience and nurturing.

For the best of both plant-care worlds, it is time to familiarize yourself with the wonderful hoya Rotundiflora. This plant is a great choice for beginners as it is relatively low maintenance, and very resilient. You will need only a few things to get started with your hoya plant once you have acquired it: medium light, well drained normal soil, and a basket or hanging planter.

This article will also help address common questions you may have about the plant, including its ideal habitat, routine care, and interventions you may need.


What is a hoya?

The hoya Rotundiflora’s name comes from its shape and the person who first began documenting the plant.

“Rotundiflora” refers to the round flowers that bloom off of the plant, where the genus “hoya” is named after the aforementioned botanist who first documented the plant, Thomas Hoy.

The Hoya Rotundiflora is part of a very large family of plants which consist of over 700 evergreen flowering plants. This plant family is indigenous to Southeast Asia and Australia.

The Hoya family is noted for its waxy, succulent-like leaves and thin climbing vines.  

The hoya is also a perennial plant, which means it will return each year and you do not need to replant it.

The hoya Rotundiflora, while named after Thomas Hoy, was discovered at a small market in Thailand. While its genesis was initially unknown, the plant was also later discovered growing in the jungles of Myanmar.

It can be cultivated globally in homes as houseplants and, in addition to its indigenous locale, can thrive in outdoor conditions in the United States in southern Florida, Hawaii, and parts of California and Arizona.

What does it look like?

Leaves

The Rotundiflora is a vine variety of hoya plant. It produces small, fuzzy leaves off thin, dangling stems. The hoya is a climber and will trail its vines (especially if hung in a basket) off of these stems for up to 6 feet long once fully mature.

This plant is known for its rectangular leaves that are, when healthy, dark green in color. The leaves tend to have a rippled texture, and a light “furry” coating. The flowers are more compact and ball shaped and have a distinct pale color.

The leaves are thick and waxy, and they grow in an alternating pattern on each side of the strong yet thin vine. When mature, the leaves are typically anywhere from 1”-2.3” in length, and are comparable to the size and shape of a typical domino tile.

The leaves of the plant are one of its most defining characteristics.

Flowers

There are multiple flowers that grow in clusters, called “umbels”. These clusters are around 5-6” across and contain multiple flowers.

These flowers grow as pale white pinkish round buds, and the clusters seem to be almost waxy, like the leaves. They grow either hanging (like an ornament) or upright.

The plant will flower from spring to late summer months. Misting it regularly and monitoring the temperature will help produce even more flowers. During the blooming season, it will grow multiple umbels that each contain 5-15 sweet smelling flowers.

When the flowers bloom, they are white with pink centers, and unfurl in a star-like shape with 5 petal-like scallop shapes. The more the plant unfurls, the more you can see the star-shaped pink center.

For the best whiff of the sweet fragrance, visit your plants in the early evening. This is when their scent is the strongest. The flowers should stay fragrant and supple for days after blooming.

Keep in mind that this plant is sensitive to trimming and should not be dead headed. This is because the flower umbel clusters appear from the same spurs every year. If these spurs are damaged, there is nowhere left for the plant to develop and blossom flowers.


Roots

A unique trait to this plant, particularly for beginners, is that the plant has an additional set of roots, known as “aerial roots”. Most rooted plants have one source of roots, firmly tethering the plant to the ground. Creeping plants such as the h. Rotundiflora tend to seek out multiple places to grow – walls, trees, rocks, etc.

To stabilize the plant, it will grow additional aerial roots. These thin, yellow-greyish roots grow off the stem of the vine and are found approximately every 2 inches along the length of the plant.

These roots will also help the plant absorb more nutrients and will increase in frequency if there is enough humidity in the environment. It is best to leave these aerial roots untrimmed, unless they have died or you are cutting back a large portion of your plant.

If your plant needs additional support, you can use plant stakes to hold it up while it further develops its root systems.

To further support the root system, you may consider replanting your hoya Rotundiflora in a new planter every year or so, observing and taking careful note of the health of the roots each time. You may also choose a planter with horizontal or vertical climbing supports to allow the plant to meander on its own.


Soil and Feeding

Whether placing your hoya Rotundiflora into a planter, a basket, or the ground, proper soil and nutrition are critical to your plant’s health.

The soil quality can be regular, it does not need to be specialized blends. However, the hoya plant does not like wet roots, and responds best to soil that is noted for being well draining.

To improve the porousness, choose growing mixtures with large particles. Large particles, in addition to aiding water flow, also prevent the plant’s roots from drying out.

What about fertilizer? Some plants require regular feeding to be successful. For a hoya, it is not necessary, but can help with the growth and development of flowers and ensure the overall health of the plant.

Like all plants, the hoya will grow faster if there is a fertilizer solution used. Hoyas do not require year-round fertilization. It is best to use your plant food or fertilizer once per month, from the spring through the summer months.

Then you will stop fertilizing entirely until the following spring. This provides additional nutrients to the plant during its prime blooming season.


Watering

This plant comes from the forests of Southeast Asia (Myanmar and Thailand) – which are notably hot, humid rainforests. The hoya Rotundiflora is accustomed to this environment and likes to stay in environments that are above 70% humidity.

To keep your plant properly hydrated, it will require frequent watering and consistently moist (but not wet or too damp) soil. When the top 1-2” of soil are dry, it is time for your hoya Rotundiflora to be watered. If you use a mister to water your plant, avoid direct contact with the delicate flowers, and mist the roots and leaves.

In summer or warmer weather, it may need to be watered anywhere from one to three times per week. During the colder dryer winter months, watering the plant once every ten-fourteen days is sufficient. Check the soil with your finger for dampness if you are uncertain.

If there is water accumulation in the roots, the plant can suffocate and die. Overwatering can lead to this ailment, as well as cause an accumulation of mold. A lack of proper drainage for the hoya roots can lead to infection and stress in the plant.

A plant that has been underwatered will have yellow or orange colored leaves, and the plant may begin to demonstrate signs that its structural integrity are questionable.

However, this plant is a succulent, so it is hardy and adaptable. Its layer of wax on its leaves keeps the moisture-creating plant safe in a drier environment. The hoya can survive in humidity ranges from 60-85% humidity, but thrive best above 70% humidity.

Pay close attention to the leaves and keep the environment as moist as possible.

If this is not feasible, there are a handful of options to keep the plant moist:

            – Use a home humidifier near the plant.

            – Use a pebble tray under the plant. This is an easy-to-make tool for indoor plants that helps create an immediately localized humid environment for your houseplants, and will not release additional humidity or moisture into your home.

           
Sunlight and Temperature

The jungle temperatures that the hoya are used to range from 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit, but they tend to grow closer to the jungle floor. This means they require bright but indirect sunlight.

A few hours of diffused sunlight per day are all that are necessary. Too much direct light will result in the plant developing brown or yellow spots.

If this happens, simply move the plant to a location with less direct sunlight. The best light is early morning or evening light, as it is more diffused.

Direct light, where there is a straight path from the sunlight to the plant, is the most harmful for the hoya. To diffuse natural light for your houseplant, you can place it behind a sheer curtain, in a north-facing windowsill, through a tinted window, and other ideas found here.  

If your hoya begins leaning or climbing primarily toward one direction, or has large gaps between the leaves, you may need to rotate the plant to make sure it is evenly receiving sunlight. You may need to diffuse the light or relocate the plant if growth does not balance out.

An additional benefit to providing the hoya with diffused light ensures the plant is still absorbing the nutrients it needs to regenerate without also accruing sun damage or drying out the soil.

Temperature is a much more sensitive issue for the hoya Rotundiflora. If it is exposed to extreme cold or frost, the plant will develop frost burn or die. Keep the plant above 35 degrees Fahrenheit, as the plant can only tolerate temperatures this cold for a short period of time.

If you live in a cooler climate, consider making your hoya one of your indoor plants.

For warmth, the hoya does not like to be too hot or in very direct light, as this can burn the leaves.

You can treat the plant to a warm steamy environment by placing it in the bathroom during showers or baths. The warmth and humidity during the day will help spur on the plant’s growth. Mimicking nature, it prefers cooler temperatures at night to help it bloom.

The hoya Rotundiflora can survive outside in the United States, but only under very certain conditions. If you live in the United States of America, the plant thrives well in the 10a hardiness zone as indicated by the USDA.

This is a small growing area, however, and special consideration should be given to plants left outdoors in these areas.

Overall, it is much easier, particularly for a beginning plant parent, to keep the plant indoors and closely monitor its condition.


Cuttings

Many hoya owners find that once they have begun taking care for their plant, they have a desire to grow more! Many people find they also make easy, enjoyable gifts.

Building a collection of hoya plants can be done if you are carefully utilizing your current plant to propagate or make copies of. For a current plant to be propagated, it needs to have mature vines that are at least 7-8 inches in length, and multiple aerial roots along the vine’s length.

There are two primary methods you can use to propagate your hoya, but keep in mind the timing.

To preserve the livelihood of both your current hoya and its future propagate, you will want to take any trimmings from your plant during its blooming season, or late spring and early summer. Waiting too long into the summer may prevent your new plant from properly taking root and growing.

Propagation Method 1: Stem Cut
The first method that is successful in producing new plants is the stem-cut. For this method, you will need:
            -A sharp knife or pruning scissors
            -A pot or planter for your new plant
            -Moist, well-drained soil

This method is nearly as simple as it sounds – you will cut the stem to create your new plant.

Bring your hoya close, and find the upper end of your vine, the newest growth, the furthest away from the soil.

Once you have identified the newest growth, measure out a piece of vine. You will move away from the new growth, toward the base of the plant and toward the soil, counting length from the tip of the new growth.

You are looking for a piece of vine that is between 7-8” and includes some aerial roots on it.
At the desired length mark, use your scissors or knife to make a clean cut of the vine.

Once you have the initial clipping, it will require a bit more cleaning up before it is ready to be planted. You want to keep the newest growth intact, and trim off the leaves (while keeping the vine intact) of the lowest ~3 inches.

Place your well-draining soil into your new planter. Plant your cutting about 3 inches deep, and place in a spot with bright, indirect light and warm temperature.

Ensure the soil is misted and the plant is sufficiently watered while it adapts to its new home and grows new roots.

In about 3-4 weeks, your new plant should have roots growing and establishing.

Approximately two weeks after these roots appear, you should see the shoots of your new plant beginning to grow. This means you have successfully propagated your first hoya plant!

Propagation Method 2: Water Cutting
This method of propagation is great if you are not planning on immediately potting your plants, or if you have multiple cuttings that you would like to start at once. These trimmings can also be given as gifts, with a small card to explain follow up care.

For this method, you will need your sharp knife or pruning scissors again, as well as a jar or container of clean, filtered water for each cutting.

Follow the same steps for identifying, trimming, and preparing the cutting as the stem cut method. Stop before placing in soil.

When it comes time to plant the trimming, rather than placing it in a pot of soil, you will place the node (the part that you cut, and any other spots where leaves may have come off) into the water. Ensure the placement is such that the nodes remain submerged.

To keep the plant healthy, change the water once per week. After one month of your plant cutting hanging out in clean water, you will begin to see the developments of the roots and small shoots.

Once the plant has been growing for approximately two months, you will begin to see a small root system emerge. It is now safe for you to transfer your cuttings to soil, following the same steps as the cut stem method.

You can keep the plant growing in water if you change it weekly and continue to increase the size of the jar with the size of the plant. Keep in mind, however, that this method of plant preservation may increase your challenges with nutrient absorption and the long-term health of the plant.


Safety and Interventions

The plant’s thick leaves, when cut or broken, emit a milky, white sap. Contact with this substance can cause an allergic reaction in some pets and individuals. Keep the plant away from animals and small children, as ingestion could be toxic.

While this plant as an indoor plant may not be exposed to as many pests, they are still susceptible to insects. The hoya primarily fall prey to insects that want to suck the previously mentioned whiteish sap. This includes insects like aphids, spider mites, and others.

Luckily, close observation can help you identify and treat any unwelcome insect guests. Promptly removing them with a direct spray of water will help the immediate treatment. For more prolonged issues or to prevent future infestations, you may need the help of a chemical treatment.

To see which mixtures are best, you need to consider the location of your hoya plant as well as the insect itself you are contending with. To find the best fit for your needs, you can look here for a comprehensive guide to homemade and store bought pesticides to treat your hoya.


Where to purchase

While it may be possible to obtain a cutting online, transportation can be harmful for the plant. If you are interested in growing a hoya and purchasing one online, take time to message the vendor and ask a few questions about the plant they are offering.

Some questions you may want to ask are:
            – Is this plant from a clipping?
            – Does it have aerial roots?
            – How is it potted?
            – How long will the transportation take?
            – Is shipping climate controlled?
            – Will it be shipped with peat moss? (This is common to help facilitate proper water drainage and moisture retention).

It is advisable, if possible, to purchase your hoya Rotundiflora from a local nursery or trusted plant shop. This way you can ask questions, compare different hoya plants, and ensure you are satisfied with your purchase before committing to bringing it home.


Summary

In recent years, the hoya Rotundiflora community have grown with appreciation and awe at this unique, beautiful, and beginner friendly plant.

The variety of planting options, hardiness, and minimal watering associated with the hoya family of plants make it a wonderful option for those both new to houseplants as well as those experienced and willing to nurture a perennial.

Take home a hoya and enjoy developing your green thumb on a truly impressive plant.  

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