How to Grow and Care for Hoya Shepherdii

hoya shepherdii flower and leaves

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Hoya shepherdii is a vining plant known for its fragrant flowers. It's sometimes called string bean hoya because of its long, thin, succulent leaves. This tropical plant is native to Southwest China and the Assam region of India but can be grown indoors with the proper care and conditions. Like other hoyas, Hoya shepherdii grows best with lots of bright, indirect light and chunky, well-draining soil. It's a relatively rare houseplant in the United States, but you can often find it at specialty plant shops or online.

Common Name: String bean hoya
Botanical Name:  Hoya shepherdii
Family:  Apocynaceae
Plant Type:  Succulent, Vine
Mature Size: 12-20 ft. long
Sun Exposure:  Partial
Soil Type:  Well-drained 
Soil pH:  Neutral, Acidic
Bloom Time:  Summer 
Flower Color:  White, Pink, Red
Hardiness Zones:  10-11 
Native Area:  India, China 

Hoya Shepherdii Care

Hoya shepherdii can make great houseplants. Here are some ways to provide the best care for this plant:

  • Plant in a rich, well-drained soil mix.
  • Keep in a place with bright, indirect light.
  • Water when the soil has dried out almost completely.
  • Fertilize with a balanced houseplant fertilizer during the spring and summer.


Hoya shepherdii will grow best in a place with bright, indirect light. Keep the plant out of harsh direct sunlight, which can burn the leaves. Low-light conditions can cause plant leaves to yellow and eventually drop.


Pot your Hoya shepherdii in a loose, well-drained potting mix. You can blend standard potting mix with perlite, pumice, or orchid bark to add drainage. Some gardeners find success with premade succulent soil or African violet mix.


Allow your Hoya shepherdii to dry out completely or almost completely between waterings. Check the soil moisture regularly and decide when to water based on that. Hoyas can store water in their succulent leaves, making them much more drought-tolerant than other tropical houseplants.

Temperature and Humidity

Hoya shepherdii grows best in temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and high humidity, between 60 and 70 percent. You can run a humidifier near your plant to boost humidity in your space, or grow the plant in a glass cabinet, tank, or grow tent to create the proper climate.


Hoya shepherdii isn't a heavy feeder, but the plant can benefit from regular fertilizing during the spring and summer. Give the plant a balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength. Stop fertilizing when temperatures cool in the fall, then resume the following spring. Be sure to fertilize after giving the plants a good watering.


Hoya shepherdii doesn't require regular pruning, but you can cut back dead or damaged leaves as they appear. You can also prune back Hoya shepherdii in spring or summer if the plant's vines are getting leggy or too long for your space. Avoid removing more than a third of your plant's total growth at one time.

Propagating Hoya Shepherdii

You can propagate this rare hoya by taking stem cuttings from a healthy, mature plant and rooting them in water. You'll need a small glass or jar, water, and clean, sharp pruners or shears. Here's how to propagate Hoya shepherdii.

  1. Choose a healthy stem that has several leaves. Take a cutting about six inches long, making the cut just below a leaf node. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting.
  2. Place the cutting in the jar. Add enough room-temperature water so the nodes on the lower half of the stem are submerged.
  3. Put the jar in a warm place with lots of bright, indirect light. Keep the jar topped off so the nodes stay below the water line, and replace the water if it gets cloudy.
  4. You should see roots begin to form within a few weeks. When the roots are at least one inch long, you can pot up the cutting in soil and care for the plant as usual.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases 

Like other hoyas, Hoya shepherdii can be susceptible to houseplant pests like spider mites, scale, and mealybugs. Examine your plant regularly for signs of pests, and act quickly if you spot signs of an infestation. Remove pests with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol, or use horticultural soap. Another potential pitfall is root rot, which is caused by overly wet soil. Watch out for brown, black, or mushy spots on stems, which can signal advanced root rot.

How to Get Hoya Shepherdii to Bloom

With the right care and conditions, a mature Hoya shepherdii plant will grow fragrant flowers. Hoya flowers form on peduncles, or flower spurs, that grow from the spots where leaves and stems meet. Note that it can take at least five years for hoyas to mature, so it's best to purchase a mature Hoya shepherdii rather than propagating your own if you'd like to see flowers quickly.

How Long Does Hoya Shepherdii Bloom?

Hoya shepherdii usually blooms in the summer months. Flowers can last anywhere from a few days to one week.

How to Encourage More Blooms

There are a few reasons a mature Hoya shepherdii might not bloom. Try moving it closer to a source of bright, indirect light, but out of direct sunlight. Overwatering can affect the plant's ability to bloom. So can putting the plant in too large of a pot. In fact, hoyas in general prefer to be slightly potbound. You can also try using a houseplant fertilizer that's high in phosphorous, which can help encourage the plant to bloom.

What Do Hoya Shepherdii Flowers Look and Smell Like?

Hoya shepherdii flowers are clusters of tiny, star-shaped flowers that are white or light pink with red centers. The flowers are highly aromatic and have a sweet, perfume-like scent.

Deadheading Hoya Shepherdii Flowers

Avoid deadheading Hoya shepherdii after it blooms. Instead, let spent flowers drop off of the plant naturally. The plant will flower from the same peduncle next year, so it's important to leave that structure intact.

Common Problems With Hoya Shepherdii

Like other hoyas, Hoya shepherdii can sometimes be tricky to keep happy. If you see any of these symptoms of common problems, act quickly to help your plant recover.

Leaves Turning Yellow

Yellow leaves on Hoya shepherdii are often caused by overwatering. Check the soil moisture—if it's overly wet or soggy, allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. It may help to repot the plant in a terracotta pot that wicks away excess water. Lack of light can also cause hoya leaves to turn yellow.

Drooping or Wrinkled Leaves

Wilting or wrinkled leaves are a sign that you've waited too long between waterings. Give the plant a deep watering and check soil moisture frequently to avoid letting the plant dry out for too long in the future.

Leaves Falling Off

A sudden change in temperature can cause Hoya shepherdii to drop some or all of its leaves in extreme cases. Keep the plant in a warm place and away from cold, drafty doors, windows, or air conditioning vents.

  • What do Hoya shepherdii flowers smell like?

    Hoya shepherdii flowers have a sweet scent that's been described as similar to perfume, honey, or jasmine.

  • Can Hoya shepherdii grow indoors?

    Yes, Hoya shepherdii makes an excellent houseplant with the proper care and conditions.

  • Where should I put Hoya shepherdii in my house?

    Put Hoya shepherdii in a warm place with high humidity and bright, indirect light. Keep the plant away from cold drafts and air vents.