Hoya Acuta Care & Common Issues

Hoya Acuta

The Hoya Acuta is an epiphytic climber that belongs to the Apocynaceae family. It is native to Southeast Asia and most found in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

It is also known as the Hoya ridleyi. And, the Hoya parasitica is actually part of the Hoya Acuta complex.

In any case, the plant is best known for its appearance. This is thanks to is lovely narrow, oval-shaped foliage that have very distinct mid veins.

The leaves are waxy and thick with just a few spots on them. Their sizes likewise vary from as small as 1.5 inches to 8 inches long.

Of course, you can’t miss out of its beautiful, white and pink flowers. These are small but grow in bunches making them very attractive to look at. The also produce a nice fragrance.

As with many hoya species, you’ll likely come across different Hoya Acuta varieties. Thus, don’t be surprised to see very different looking plants that are labeled as Hoya Acuta.

Hoya Acuta Varieties

Here are some of the more well-known types of Hoya Acuta around. This list below is by no means comprehensive as there are always new varieties and cultivars that are created.

  • Hoya acuta albomarginata – as its name suggests, this lovely plant has white/cream margins on its otherwise oval-shaped green leaves. The size and intensity of the color do vary for each leaf which give the plant more character. You also get white star-shaped flowers with yellow centers.
  • Hoya acuta splash – again, its name gives this one away. The Acuta Splash has wider, rounder leaves that still maintain that oval shape. However, its most distinctive feature are the splashes of gray/silver spots all of its leaves. Some leaves have lots of spots while others have more dispersed splashes so you see more green.
  • Hoya acuta variegata – also called the variegated Hoya acuta, this is plant is known for its white/yellow variegations. Some will call it more light green or lime. But in any case, the variegations make up a lot of the middle of the leaves. This makes them somewhat opposite of the Acuta albomarginata, as its edges are the only parts that are green.
  • Hoya acuta pink – from leaves, we know move flowers. The pink in the plant’s name refers its beautiful pink colored flowers. These flowers feature 3-4 shades of pink to create spectacular looking blooms.
  • Hoya acuta red – this is one of the more unique ones because they produce different flowers at different times. My friend has the plant and the first time it bloomed, the flowers were red. But the next time they blossomed, the flowers were a lighter pink. So, I’m not completely sure what the exact color of its blooms are. In any case, the leaves have alight green hue to them with some flecks.
  • Hoya acuta bronze – if you like lots of blooms, this is one to go for. It produces a lovely fragrant while its flowers are pearl white in color with bronze tips. They corona was red and white while its center was yellow. The Acuta bronze also have smooth, darker green foliage with some veins on it.
  • Hoya acuta var. Hendersonii – this one has slightly larger leaves but not by much. They are longer and narrower with some visible veins and flecks on its foliage. Its flowers have a waxy, pearl white color with a pastel pink center.

 

Hoya Acuta Plant Care

Light Requirements

The Hoya Acuta likes well-lit locations. And it will grow the fastest and have a better chance of blooming under bright, indirect sun. Medium light works as well.

The important thing is to keep it away from very harsh or intense light. This includes:

  • Direct sunlight
  • Mid-day sun (between 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)
  • Summer sun
  • Full sun outside for long hours
  • Keeping it too close to grow lights (bulbs emit heat too!)

Too much exposure to this on a regular basis will turn its lovely green leaves yellow. In more extreme cases, you’ll see brown/blackish burn marks on the edges of the foliage as well.

Although the plant will survive and be okay, you’ll end up with ugly, damaged leaves.

The good news is, the Hoya Acuta can recover if you move it somewhere with less strong or hard lighting.

You’ll need to prune off the damaged foliage as they won’t turn green anymore. Instead, you’ll need to wait for new leaves to grow.

That said, the Hoya Acuta does appreciate (and actually like) early morning and late afternoon sun. This is sunshine that’s before 10:30 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m.

The reason is that the rays of the sun at these times are quite gentle compared to that during mid-day. Therefore, the plant can easily tolerate.

Giving it this light actually does help it flower (which you’ll want to happen.

The Hoya Acuta needs bright, indirect light to bloom, which is why I don’t recommend leaving it in low light even if it will do well there.

Lack of light reduces its chances of flowers and if it does blossom, it will take longer and produce fewer flowers.

 

Temperature

In addition to enjoying bright locations, the Hoya Acuta also likes warm weather. It also prefers consistency so it is not a good idea to leave it where temperature fluctuates.

Since it is native to Southeast Asia (primarily in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia), it Is tropical in nature and is used to moderate to warm environments.

More importantly, it does not see much of the cold since there is no snow or frost in that part of the world (given that it is very near the equator).

This means the Hoya Acuta likes indoor temperature between 60 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid leaving it in spots that get colder than 50 degrees.

And if you keep it consistently in above 95 degree temperature, its growth will slow down.

Thus, avoid the cold as well as very hot conditions.

Outdoors, it is best suited for USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11 since these regions have climates that are similar to tropical weather. You’ll find them in Texas, Florida, Southern California and other lower coastal states.

All of these locales don’t have snow even during winter. In fact, the weather is sunny between December through March there.

 

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Humidity

The Hoya Acuta loves humidity. And it thrives when you keep it under 40% to 80% humidity.

Depending on where you live, this may or may not be a problem.

If you’re not sure what the humidity is inside your home or in certain rooms, I suggest picking up a digital hygrometer. This device is inexpensive and you can test the humidity in any location before placing your plant there.

It also lets you easily tell what times of the year have higher and lower humidity so you can better care for your houseplants.

In most cases, humidity only becomes a problem if you live somewhere with very dry air. This includes desert cities or areas where the summer gets really hot and dry. Winters also tends to decrease moisture in the air.

Indoors, keep the plant away from heaters, radiators, air conditioners and other similar devices as these significantly cause humidity to drop when you turn them on.

 

How Often to Water Hoya Acuta

The Hoya Acuta is an epiphyte, which means its roots don’t like being left in water for long periods of time. As such, when and how you water are both very important.

So, when should you water your Hoya Acuta?

How often you water your Hoya Acuta will depend on how soon the soil dries.

During the warmer months, you’ll need to water more frequently depending on how sunny and hot the weather gets. In the winter, the cold (and shorter days with less sunlight) means the soil takes longer to dry, so you want to wait longer.

Additionally, the plant is actively growing during the warmer months so you want to make sure the soil is kept moist. Meanwhile, in winter, the cold causes the plant to rest (more than grow). As such, to avoid overwatering, it is a good idea to let the soil dry out a bit more.

Therefore, to make things easier, the best time to water your Hoya Acuta is to wait for the top 1-2 inches of soil to dry before adding more water. By doing so, you’re able to automatically adjust your watering schedule based on how the soil reacts to the weather.

That said, because the plant does store moisture on its leaves it can tolerate some dryness.

Therefore, you can even wait until the soil is dry 50% to 75% of the way down.

Anywhere in between will keep the plant’s roots happy and healthy.

Next is how to water your Hoya Acuta.

Water it thoroughly. Then allow any excess moisture to drain right after.

What this means is to drench the soil with water until the root ball gets completely saturated. You’ll known when this happens because the liquid will start tricking down from the bottom of the pot.

Once this happens, stop adding water and allow the soil to drain any excess water completely. This takes some patience but it is essential you do this every time you water.

The plant’s roots don’t like sitting in water and waterlogged soil will cause yellow leaves and eventually lead to root rot. It not treated early enough, it will cause plant death.

 

Hoya Acuta Potting Soil

Because you want the soil to drain the excess moisture fast after watering it, using the right potting mix is essential.

This is why the best soil for the Hoya Acuta needs to be well-draining. It will also appreciate light, airy soil with pH between 6.6 and 7.5.

Good drainage will reduce the time between the soil staying wet and getting dry. I typically don’t want my plants sitting in water for more than 15 minutes especially those which are sensitive to overwater (like the Hoya Acuta).

So, the potting mix you use needs to be able to drain any excess moisture to prevent this from happening.

You can do so by using the right components. Any of the following will work including perlite, pumice, vermiculite, pine bark, orchid bark and charcoal.

Here are some DIY potting mix recipes that will keep your Hoya Acuta healthy and growing well.

  • 1 part potting mix with 1 part orchid bark
  • 1 part potting mix with 1 part perlite
  • 1 part potting mix with 1 part orchid soil and 1 part perlite

Additionally, it is important to use a pot with drainage. This will allow the moisture that gets out from the soil to drip out of the pot and not just pool at the bottom.

Does the Hoya Acuta Climb?

Yes, the Hoya Acuta is a climber and will go up a support if you let it. Because it follows the shape of the structure, many owners will use shaped wires or wood which the plant will follow.

This way, it become decorative and looks prettier.

This is why you’ll see it grown in trellises as well as circular shapes and rounded wiring.

Of course, you can keep the plant in a pot as well or place it in a hanging basket.

 

Fertilizer

The Hoya Acuta is a light feeder. This means it does not need a lot of fertilizer.

However, if you want it to grow optimally and produce more blooms, it is a good idea to supply it with the proper nutrients. The important thing is to avoid giving it too much plant food as this will eventually cause more harm than good.

Since the Hoya Acuta is a foliage plant, you can use a nitrogen-based fertilizer to encourage more leaf development. This is the N in the N-P-K ratio or the first number in the set of three that’s usually on the label of the fertilizer product.

To make things easy, you can likewise use a balanced houseplant fertilizer. A 15-15-15 N-P-K formulation works really well.

I like to use liquid fertilizer as it is easy to dilute. Because the plant only needs a weak fertilizer, dilute the dose by 50% when you apply. You can easily do so by adding water.

To encourage blooms, once the Hoya Acuta looks like it is about to flower, you can use a bloom fertilizer or a bloom booster. These have higher phosphorus content which will encourage flowering (more than foliage growth).

Only feed the plant during spring and summer. Don’t feed it during the cold months including winter.

 

Flowers / Blooms

The Hoya Acuta produces very beautiful fragrant flowers. Each individual flower is quite small (around 1 cm or so). However, they grow in bunches called umbels.

Collectively, they look stunning.

You’ll see anywhere from 10 to 40 tiny star-shaped flowers per umbel. Together, the form a ball-like shape.

Each flower has a white outer color and pink center. These blooms will last for about 2 to 3 weeks before they fade.

The most important thing about these flowers is that you want to leave them alone when they are blooming.

Don’t move the plant, repot or prune or as these can cause the flowers to drop or abort.

Also, good lighting (bright, indirect light) is essential especially if you want it to bloom. It is unlikely to do so in low light conditions.

Finally, don’t cut off the spurs (or peduncles) from where the flowers emerge even after the blossoms have faded and dropped.

New flowers grow form the same spurs so cutting these off will eliminate any future blossom potential.

 

Pruning

The Hoya Acuta can grow to 6 to 10 feet if you let it. Although, it is not a big plant since most of this length is from its vines. Therefore, they don’t necessarily take up a lot of space especially if you let the plant climb or drape down.

As such, the Hoya Acuta is a low maintenance houseplant. You only need to prune excess growth as well any yellow or damaged foliage.

However, as mentioned in the previous section, the most important thing about pruning is to make sure you don’t cut off any spurs as these are perennial. Thus, keeping them around gives your plant the ability to keep producing flowers from these same stalks.

 

How to Propagate Hoya Acuta

The Hoya Acuta is easy to propagate at home. And you have a few methods at your disposal.

The most efficient way to propagate the plant is via stem cuttings.

You can likewise grow it from seed, do air layering or separate the plant. But, I have not found the need to do any of the others because stem propagation is much easier, produces fast results and gives you very high success rates.

To do so,

  • Use a sterile cutting tool and cut a healthy stem with at least 3 or more leaves on it. Try to take a cutting that is 3 to 6 inches long so you have enough stem to place in water or bury in soil.
  • You can root the cutting soil or water. Both methods work really well so it is really up to your preference.
  • If you want to propagate in water, place the cutting in a glass container filled with water. Remove the lower leaves and submerge the leaf nodes in the liquid.
  • If you want to propagate in soil, do the same by removing the lower foliage. This time, plant the cutting in a small pot with well-draining potting mix. Keep the soil moist.
  • Leave the cutting in bright, indirect light with good humidity and moderate to warm temperature.
  • In about 4-6 weeks, the cuttings will root.

 

How to Repot or Transplant Hoya Acuta

It take around 2 or 3 years before you need to repot your Hoya Acuta.

How soon ultimately depends on the how quickly the plant grows. The more sunlight it gets, the faster it will get big. Similarly, the temperature, humidity, amount of water, fertilizer and other factors all affect the growth rate of the plant.

That said, the Hoya Acuta does not have a large or extensive root system. So, it will never need a large pot by any means.

Instead, when you repot, make sure to go up only 1-2 inches wider in diameter. This will give it enough space to grow without the risk of overwatering.

 

Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs

The Hoya Acuta is non-toxic to cats, dogs and people. This gives you peace of mind that you can keep it around the house even if you have pets and children running around.

 

Problems & Troubleshooting

Pests

Mealybugs are the most common threat as far as pests as concerned. These white cotton-like bugs are attracted to the plants succulent-like foliage.

So, you do want to watch out for them.

In addition to mealybugs, thrips, scale and spider mites are other insects that may come and attack your Hoya Acuta. If there’s excess moisture, fungus gnats will also join in.

 

Diseases

Root rot is the most serious disease you want to watch out for. It is caused by overwatering or waterlogged soil.

Therefore, you want to avoid overwatering by all means. And you can do so by waiting for part of the soil to dry. Also, make sure to use well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging.

Finally, your pot should have drainage holes to let excess water that drains from the soil escape.