Far from fusty, hoyas don’t ask for much – but they deliver in spades.
Words Sue Witteman
You could be forgiven for thinking hoyas are nana plants, but you would be so, so wrong. The humble Hoya is a hot must-have on everyone’s want list. Once you start appreciating these plants, the need to own more begins and soon you will find yourself on the hunt. Luckily there are many hoyas available, from the affordable to the (gulp) almost-not-affordable. So, let’s get to know the hoya clan.
First up, what do hoyas look like? Their evergreen leaves are usually leathery-looking and many have quite thick leaves, usually green in colour, but there are also some stunning speckled and variegated versions. They come in a range of shapes and sizes – thin, round, large, long, puckered, small, oval, twisted, heart-shaped – and some even have tiny hairs that give a downy appearance, such as Hoya serpens.
While hoyas are good-looking enough when they just have leaves, the excitement factor ramps up when the flowers appear. The flowers are delicate umbels of fragrant loveliness and, depending on the variety, can be white, cream, pale green, pale pink, rose or maroon. The flowers appear between late spring and early autumn.
At the more affordable and available end of the Hoya spectrum, you will find H. carnosa and H. bella.
When the days get warmer and the frost danger has passed, you can put your hoyas outside, preferably in dappled shade. This summer I hung my hoyas underneath an outdoor umbrella (using the handy ribs to hook them on) and they loved it so much that I shall repeat this again next summer.
If you do need to grow them inside in summer, don’t place them in a hot north-facing window – most hoyas grow as epiphytes under the canopies of trees and as such don’t appreciate being cooked. Do, however, provide lots of bright, indirect or diffused light or grow them in an east-facing window where the light isn’t as harsh. They are also fond of humidity, especially H. bella – she likes it warmer and moister than many other hoyas.