Hoya Bilobata Care (Water, Soil, Propagation & Repotting)

Hoya Bilobata

The Hoya Bilobata is a climbing evergreen perennial that is native to the Philippines. Like other hoyas, it is an epiphyte with long vining stems.

While it is a climber in its native habitat, many growers will allow the plant to trail because it looks beautiful hanging from a pot or basket.

The plant can grow to about 2 feet or longer. This makes it among the smaller hoya species. And it has matching tiny flowers with pink hues.

In fact, before the discovery of the hoya multiflora, the Hoya Bilobata was considered to have the smallest blooms among all hoya plants.

Because of its small leaves and its bushy growth habit, the Hoya Bilobata is often confused with the Hoya tsangii and the Hoya DS-70. Both of whom also look very similar to the said hoya species.

So below, I’ll explain how to identify them to help you differentiate the three from one another.

Hoya Bilobata vs. Hoya Tsangii vs. Hoya DS-70

As mentioned the 3 plants look very similar to one another. This is especially true when it comes to their leaves. All of their foliage are small, have similar shapes and they grow in long stems that get bushy.

However, the most defining features of the Hoya Bilobata is that is has rounder leaves and has the smallest flower among the 3 hoya species. Its leaves are also smooth with no pubescence (hairy or fuzziness). Therefore, they are smooth to the feel.

Thus, it is a good idea to feel the texture of the leaves.

On the other hand, the Hoya DS-70’s foliage have a more velvety texture. In bright light, its margins also get darker. If you look at its flowers, you’ll see that they are pink with small yellow spots in the middle.

On the other hand the Hoya tsangii has larger leaves. These are also more lanceolate in shape. Its flowers are the easiest to identify of the 3 since they are yellow in color.

 

Hoya Bilobata Plant Care

Light Requirements

The Hoya Bilobata can be grown indoors or outdoors. And depending on where you plan to keep it, it is important to position it with good lighting.

That’s because the plant thrives on illumination. This allows it to grow at its best and produce more foliage. At the same time, it is unlikely to flower without sufficient light.

This means:

  • Outdoors – it does best in partial shade.
  • Indoors – it will grow optimally under bright, indirect light.

In either location, it is important to remember a few things:

  • Avoid direct sun and very harsh light – this can burn its leaves and cause it to lose its waxy texture
  • At least 6 hours of sun daily – to thrive, the plant needs at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.
  • It can tolerate low light – however, it will grow slower in this condition. The less light there is, the slower it will grow and the smaller the leaves will be as well.
  • The more light it gets, the faster it will grow – This also means that it will need to be watered more often as the soil will dry up faster as well.
  • The more light you give it (provided it is not direct sun), the higher the likelihood of it blooming.

As you can see, light is very important for the Hoya Bilobata.

And if you have a hard time getting enough natural sun for it, you can use artificial grow lights as well. Here, remember to keep the plant 8 inches away from the bulbs as these tend to emit heat.

So, if you place the plant too near the bulbs their leaves will eventually get scorched.

Similarly because grow lights don’t cover the entire color spectrum as the sun does, your Hoya Bilobata will need 12-14 hours of exposure daily.

 

Temperature

As you would expect from its love light, the plant enjoys warm weather as well. Its ideal temperature is between 60 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit which makes it easy to care for indoors or outside for most of the year.

The only time you want to be watch the temperature is when things get cold. Unlike its tolerance to heat, the plant has poor resistance to the cold.

As such, it has a hard time dealing with climates under 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

This means that it is best suited for USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11 where there is sunshine all year round and not sign of frost or snow during winter.

Under zone 10, most owners will keep it as a houseplant and take it outside during summertime. If you do, make sure to bring it back indoors once the weather gets cooler in the fall.

 

Related Articles

 

Humidity

Humidity is another important aspect that the Hoya Bilobata looks forward to. Ideally, it prefers humidity between 60% and 80%.

That’s because it is used to the warm, humid conditions of the Philippines to which it is native to. Because it is located near the equator, the Philippines has tropical climate.

Thus, there are two main seasons of the year which are the warm and rainy seasons. During these times, humidity will range between 55% and 85%, with the higher end coming when there’s rainfall.

This is why the Hoya Bilobata likes humid conditions.

Fortunately, it does have thick leaves that store moisture. While its leaves are not as fleshy as other hoyas, this does allow the Bilobata hoya to tolerate lower humidity.

Nevertheless, try to keep it at 40% and higher.

You can use a humidifier or mist the plant regularly. Alternatively you can group it with other houseplants or place it on top of stones in a water tray.

 

How Often to Water Hoya Bilobata

In general, the Hoya Bilobata only needs to be watered around once a week during the warm season and around once very 2 weeks during the winter.

However, how often you water the plant ultimately depends on how much light it gets, how warm the current temperature is, the level of humidity, kind of soil you use and a few other factors.

Thus, it is easier to gauge when to water your Hoya Bilobata by feeling the soil.

Once the top 2 inches of soil dry out, you can water the plant. The goal here is to avoid overwatering. That’s because it is sensitive to too much water.

On the other hand, the plant can tolerate dryness better. Still, avoid letting it go bone dry for extended periods of time as long bouts of dehydration will eventually damage the plant as well.

The thing is, you don’t need to be very precise when you water.

You can wait until 75% of the soil is dry before adding more water.

Between the top 2 inches of soil until this level, the plant will stay well-hydrated. This makes watering your Hoya Bilobata easy (and low maintenance).

In addition to knowing how often to water the plant, the way you water is also important.

In the wild, the Hoya Bilobata is an epiphyte. Thus, it lives on trees by clinging onto the trunks and climbing up larger trees.

Therefore, its roots get a lot of air. This also means when they get wet from the rain, the roots are doused with lots of water. But, they will dry quickly because there’s lots of air flow going through the roots.

So, the best way to water your Hoya Bilobata is to flood the growing medium with water so the roots get lots of water. Then once the liquid starts dripping from the bottom of the pot, let the soil drain completely.

The latter step mimics how the roots quickly dry in its native environment.

hoya bilobata

source: wikimedia commons

 

Potting Soil for Hoya Bilobata

In order to allow the excess moisture to quickly drain after you saturate the root ball with water, you need the right kind of soil.

If you use heavy, dense soil or one that retains a lot of moisture, the excess liquid won’t drain. Instead, it will drown the roots which will eventually lead to root rot.

Thus, avoid this kind of soil at all costs as it can destroy your Hoya Bilobata over time.

Instead, choose a soil with good drainage and aeriation. Something light that allows excess moisture to drain fast and let oxygen reach the roots.

To do so, you can use any of these potting mix combinations that work well for the Hoya Bilobata.

  • Sphagnum moss with orchid bark and perlite
  • Coconut coir with perlite and potting soil
  • Cactus mix with orchid mix and perlite
  • Potting mix with perlite and orchid mix
  • Potting soil with succulent & cactus mix

The one thing these different potting mixes have in common is they have at least one component that provides good drainage.

Does the Hoya Bilobata Climb?

Above, I mentioned how the Hoya Bilobata climbs up trees in the wild. And it will happily do so if you give it some kind of support to go up on.

You can use a trellis, shaped wire or any other structure. It will wrap itself and climb up the support.

Note that its growth habit is different from other climbers like the philodendron and monstera. Instead of just climbing straight up, it wraps around the structure which is why it works really well if you shape wires or use a decorative trellis.

The plant will cover the structure and follow its shape.

 

Fertilizer

The Hoya Bilobata is a light feeder. However, it does need fertilizer to get the nutrients it needs to grow and produce both foliage and flowers.

As such, you want to be careful about overfeeding it as that’s the one thing that can harm it. In fact, it is better to not fertilize the plant instead of overfertilize it.

So how often do you need to feed your Hoya Bilobata?

Once a month or once every 2 weeks during its growing seasons (which are spring and summer). You can stop by early to mid fall. Once the weather starts to get cooler, you can halt feeding as the plant’s growth tends to slow down when the weather gets colder.

This also means there’s no need to fertilizer during the winter.

You can use a balanced or all-purpose houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength. A liquid formulation will make this easy as all you need to do is add water to dilute.

Since the Hoya Bilobata is primarily a foliage plant, you want to look for a good nitrogen fertilizer product and use that most of the time.

However, when the plant is about to bloom, I like to switch to a high phosphorus fertilizer. Phosphorus encourages flowering while nitrogen promotes leaf development.

Bloom boosters are a good choice since they contain a good amount of phosphorus. You can also use an orchid fertilizer. The key is to check the P figure in the N-P-K ratio.

 

Flowers / Blooms

Part of the Hoya Bilobata’s beauty is its flowers. These are much smaller than the blooms of most hoyas. In fact, before the Hoya multiflora was discovered, the Hoya Bilobata was known to have the smallest flowers of any hoya species.

However, that does not take away how stunning they look.

What they lack in size, they make up for in color. Its blooms feature a lovely pink color. And they come in bunches. Although the individual flowers are more spaced out and the umbels likewise smaller compared to other hoya plants.

Each cluster can have as many of 25 flowers. And these produce a sweet, mild scent that’s stronger during the evenings than they are during the daytime.

Note that as beautiful as the flowers of the Hoya Bilobata are, they are not a given.

By that I mean, you need to give the plant the right living environment to increase its chances of flowering. This includes:

  • Bright indirect light. it will not bloom in low light.
  • Don’t prune off the old peduncles even if they don’t have leaves. New flowers will grow from old peduncles so you want to keep these around.
  • The plant is more likely to blossom if kept a bit root bound.
  • You need to wait until it matures before it will be able to flower.

 

Pruning

As mentioned in the previous section, one of the most important things you should do is to keep the old peduncles, or spurs. That’s because they are evergreen.

This means that they’ll keep producing flowers over the years.

So if you cut them, you eliminate their future blooming potential. Also, it means you need to wait for new spurs to grow before your Hoya Bilobata can flower again.

In addition to its flowers, the Hoya Bilobata is also know for its long stems.

Over time, they will cause the plant to get longer and bushier. And depending on whether you keep it in a pot, let it climb or hang it in a basket, you’ll likely need to trim it every now and then to keep it neat.

As such, expect to do a little light pruning a few times a year.

 

How to Propagate Hoya Bilobata

The Hoya Bilobata can be propagated by stem cuttings, air layering, division and from seed.

In most cases, the easiest and most effective way to grow more of this plant for free at home is via stem propagation.

If you want to reduce the size of the plant, you can separate it as well. But make sure that both segments you split it up into have roots, stems and leaves. This way both segments are self-sustaining.

When it comes to stem propagation, you can root the cuttings in water, sphagnum moss or in soil.

These methods will all produce the same results. But their processes vary.

Here’s how to do it.

  • Take a stem cutting from the parent plant. You can use the pruned stems as well if you recently trimmed your Hoya Bilobata.
  • If you want to grow more new plants, you can get a longer stem and cut up that vine into multiple stem cuttings. Make sure that each section has at least 1-2 nodes and a few leaves.
  • If you only want to grow one new plant, you can take a stem tip cutting.
  • Make sure to use a sterile pair of scissors so you don’t end up passing any pathogens to the plant.
  • Once you have the cutting, decide whether you want to propagate it in water, sphagnum moss or directly into soil.
  • To propagate in water, place the cutting in a glass container filled with water. Make sure to remove any leaves that end up in the liquid. Also, keep the nodes submerged. Change the water once a week.
  • To propagate in sphagnum moss, prepare a small pot and fill it with the said moss. Water the medium to until moist. Avoid overwatering it. Then plant the cutting into the sphagnum with the nodes buried under.
  • If you want to plant the cutting directly into soil, prepare well-draining soil (50% peat and 50% perlite works well). Then water to get it moist. Like in sphagnum moss, plant the cutting into the potting mix.
  • For the sphagnum moss and soil, water regularly to keep the growing media moist (but not soggy or wet).
  • It takes about 4 or so weeks for roots to get enough volume and grow longer.
  • Once the roots reach between 1-2 inches or longer, you can move them from water and the sphagnum moss to soil.
  • You don’t need to transfer the cutting in the soil. The only time you’ll need to move it is once it outgrows its container and it is time to repot.

 

How to Repot or Transplant Hoya Bilobata

The Hoya Bilobata enjoys being pot bound. This state also encourages the plant to flower.

Therefore, there’s no need to hurry in repotting the plant.

This is also why in most cases, you’ll see it underpotted by its owners.

Nevertheless, you will likely need to repot every 2 or 3 years depending on how quickly the plant grows.

When the time comes, move it to a container that is 1-2 inches wider. This comes out to one size larger.

Avoid going up more than that as excess soil increases the risk of overwatering.

Also, make sure the container you use as drainage holes to let excess moisture exit the container.

 

Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs

The Hoya Bilobata is pet safe. It is also safe for humans even when accidentally ingested. This gives you peace on mind when keeping it around the home as you don’t have to worry about any toxicity problems or poisoning in case your cat, dog or young kids happen to consumer the plant.

 

Hoya Bilobata Problems & Troubleshooting

Pests

The Hoya Bilobata does have resistance to pests. However, you can never guarantee that these bugs will never come around.

The best way to do so is to keep the plant healthy and clean its leaves to get rid of dust. Insects are attracted to dust, so this helps prevent them.

The most common pest you’ll encounter with this plant are mealybugs. Although, mites, aphids and scales can happen as well. if there’s a lot of moisture, fungus gnats can appear as well.

The simplest way to get rid of pests is to spray them off with water.

You can use the sink, showerhead or a garden hose. Try to get all of them including the adults, larvae and eggs. If you leave any of them, they will grow and continue the cycle.

You can likewise use neem oil or horticultural spay as well. Both are very effective for pest elimination.

 

Diseases

Root rot is the most serious disease you want to watch out for as this can ultimately destroy your Hoya Bilobata if you don’t catch it early enough.

Because the roots are hidden under the soil, root rot is often discovered later than sooner. So, it is best to avoid the problem altogether.

This means being wary of overwatering. Wet, soggy soil or waterlogged soil that drowns the roots will cause them to rot because they are not able to get oxygen.

Therefore, allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings.