How to Grow and Care for Hoya Macrophylla

Closeup of hoya latifolia bloom

epiforums / flickr / CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

Hoya macrophylla is a rare, low-maintenance hoya species with succulent trailing vines, large, waxy leaves, and, if you're lucky, beautiful flowers.

This epiphyte or air plant can grow on other plants or surfaces, not just in soil, getting nutrients and moisture from the air vapor and debris on top of the surfaces. It's ideal for hanging baskets or growing up trellises.

What makes this plant stand out from other hoya species is the size of the leaves. They can grow to be at least 12 cm, and they feature thick, raised, light green veins.

These slow-growing plants don't require as much watering or care as many tropical houseplants, but hoyas can still be finicky, and the macrophylla isn't all that easy to source.

Common Name Wax Plant, Honey Plant
 Botanical Name Hoya macrophylla or Hoya latifolia
 Family Apocynaceae
 Plant Type Perennial, Succulent, Vine
 Mature Size Up to 6 ft. tall
 Sun Exposure Full, Partial
 Soil Type Well-drained
 Soil pH Acidic, Neutral
 Bloom Time Summer
 Flower Color White
 Hardiness Zones 9-11 (USDA)
 Native Area Asia

Hoya Macrophylla Care

Letting your plant climb up a trellis encourages more vigorous growth. Other than that, offering a bright, warm position and an infrequent watering schedule should be enough to keep your Hoya macrophylla thriving for years.

Light

Don't put your Hoya macrophylla in a spot with continual direct sunlight and you should be good. A shelf a few feet away from an eastern-facing window is an ideal spot, as too much direct sun can burn the foliage tips. Your plant still needs some light, so avoid a position in the shade to prevent a leggy, lop-sided appearance.

Soil

It's easy to pick up a potting mix specially designed for hoyas. They're often slightly alkaline and always well-drained. If you're making up one of your own, avoid acidic peat and pick a well-draining mix (like one designed for cacti). Add one part perlite and one part orchid mix. Adding crushed eggshells provides plenty of the calcium these plants like.

Water

If you want to avoid killing off your Hoya macrophylla, don't forget it doesn't like wet feet. Overwatering is the biggest problem for this plant and often leads to root rot. Let it dry out completely before giving it a thorough soaking. It's the sort of plant you can submerge in a tub of water to ensure it's evenly wet.

Preferably water with distilled or rainwater rather than tap water.

Temperature and Humidity

It shouldn't come as a surprise to learn that this tropical native appreciates warmth and humidity. Temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit generally result in the plant going into dormancy.

If you aren't keeping your Hoya macrophylla in a hot, steamy bathroom, then using a humidifier, regularly misting, and keeping your plant on a tray with pebbles and water can help achieve the humid conditions this plant appreciates.

The higher the humidity levels, the greater the chance of your plant flowering.

Fertilizer

Fertilizing your Hoya macrophylla once a month during the growing season helps keep those large leaves lush and healthy and increases the chances of flowering.

Feeding diluted half-strength orchid fertilizer works well, or you can try an organic fish emulsion.

Pruning

There aren't any high-maintenance pruning requirements for the Hoya macrophylla. You just need to remove any unhealthy or dead stems and leaves.

Propagating Hoya Macrophylla

These plants can be propagated from herbaceous stem cuttings in water or long-fiber sphagnum moss. Follow the steps below for a chance of success:

  1. Take a cutting using sterile, sharp pruning shears or scissors—avoid budding tendrils which struggle to survive as cuttings. The cutting should have at least three nodes (where the leaves have been removed) and a further one to two leaves at the top of the stem.
  2. Place the cutting in water (with the nodes below the water surface and the leaves above it), or cover the nodes with damp sphagnum moss.
  3. Put the cutting in a position where it will receive bright, indirect light. If you have concerns about humidity levels, place a bag around the cutting to retain moisture.
  4. Change the water once a week or keep the sphagnum moss consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  5. Once the cutting roots are over 2 inches long (usually after two to three weeks), plant it in a well-drained, alkaline potting mix and return to the original position.

Potting and Repotting Hoya Macrophylla

You'll shouldn't repot your slow-growing, epiphytic Hoya macrophylla too regularly as these plants appreciate being slightly root-bound. Every two to three years is usually more than enough.

When it is time to repot them, make sure you don't opt for an overly large pot, as this increases the chances of overdoing it with these water-sensitive plants. One that's around 2 inches wider is usually more than enough.

When you're removing the plant from its original pot, be careful to remove as much of the old soil as possible while trying not to break too many roots. Fill the pot with a well-draining mix and water the plant before returning it to its original position.

How to Get Hoya Macrophylla to Bloom

If you keep your plant healthy and happy, you might be lucky enough to appreciate the small white, pink, purple, or red star-shaped blooms of a mature Hoya macrophylla. They don't typically bloom until they are at least a few years old and are more likely to do this when they are root-bound, not overwatered, and getting the right amount of bright, indirect light and humidity.

The flowers are typically odorless during the day. The scent they emit at night won't be to everyone's taste —some liken it to sweat and others to hyacinths or sweet chocolate.

Don't be tempted to deadhead your stalks, as, hopefully, blooms will appear again on those stalks a couple of years down the line.

Common Problems With Hoya Macrophylla

Hoya macrophylla aren't plants known for being plagued by problems, but there are a couple of things to look out for.

Yellowing Leaves

Ensure your plant has well-draining soil and that you don't water it too much to prevent the glossy, waxy foliage from turning yellow.

Brown Tips

While the Hoya macropyhlla prefers bright, indirect light to maintain healthy foliage. If you expose it to too much direct sunlight, you will start to notice the tips of the leaves brown and scorch.

Curling Leaves

To prevent your plant from developing unsightly curling leaves, take care not to over or underwater and avoid dramatic temperature changes.

FAQ
  • How fast do Hoya macrophylla grow?

    These plants are known to be slow-growing hoya species. It can take them over three years to reach maturity.

  • Is the Hoya Macropyhlla a variegate plant?

    This rare plant comes in an even rarer variegated variety called the Hoya Macrophylla 'variegata Albomarginata'. The plant features leaf margins in shades of pink, white, or alternative green.

  • How long can a Hoya macrophylla live?

    These plants will typically live at least five to ten years. With the right care, sometimes even a couple of decades.