The Hoya Wilbur Graves is also known as the Hoya Carnosa ‘Wilbur Graves’. It is a member of the Apocynaceae family. And the plant is epiphytic in nature.
Like the hoya carnosa, it features beautiful foliage on vining stems. But the biggest difference between the two is the Wilbur Graves has lots of tiny silver specks on it like paint had been splattered on it.
This makes it beautiful to look at and very unique to say the least.
Like the Carnosa, it also bears beautiful flowers that grow in clusters.
Unfortunately, the Hoya Wilbur Graves is very rare. This makes it very difficult to find even in online stores. And, if you happen to spot one, it will be very expensive, typically around $100 or more.
Sometimes, all you get for that price is the stem cutting too.
That said, if you can get your hands on one for the right price (or better yet as a gift), it makes for an amazing addition to your houseplant collection.
Hoya Wilbur Graves Plant Care
One thing to keep in mind when caring for the Hoya Wilbur Graves is that it is a cultivar of the Hoya Carnosa. As such, it has quite a few similarities to the Carnosa including care.
For one, its leaves have similar shapes. And, it growth habit resembles that of the Hoya Carnosa as well.
But, the Hoya Wilbur Graves does have lots of small silver specks which make its light preferences the same in some ways and different in others.
Basically, the Wilbur Graves enjoys bright light. But, it cannot tolerate direct sunlight or very intense exposure which will scorch its leaves.
On the other hand it will survive low light as well, making it well-suited for indoor care. However, be careful about too little light or dark rooms which will negatively affect its growth.
Its variegations makes it need more light compared to the Hoya Carnosa which has solid green leaves.
For this reason an east, west and south facing windows are all great spots because they offer many hours of natural sun.
The east offers gentle morning sun which requires no extra care but keeping it near a window. In the west and south, you do need to protect it from the strong afternoon sun.
Alternatively, you can also use bright fluorescent lights to keep it happy. But, since artificial lighting does not carry the full color spectrum the sun does, it requires longer hours under this kind of light. Ideally, you need at least 12 to 16 hours daily.
Outdoors, it does have the ability to take full sun. But, only during spring and fall. The summer sun is just too harsh for it.
If you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11, it will likewise be perfectly happy with winter sun. Unfortunately, it won’t be able to live through snow (which I cover in the section below). So, you need to take it indoors in colder regions during this time.
This makes a partial sun or partial shade location ideal to keep it safe during the warmer times of the year.
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Another important thing to keep in mind when caring for the Hoya Wilbur Graves is it prefers moderate to warm weather.
Its ideal temperature ranges from 60 degrees all the way to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It can likewise tolerate up to 90 degrees and a bit higher.
But, it is most comfortable (and produces its best growth) around 70 degrees.
Like other hoyas, hails from tropical and subtropical regions. Thus, it is not accustomed to and will not be able to survive freezing conditions.
This means you should keep it away from places where the temperature is below 50 degrees where the plant will start stressing. And, the colder it gets, the more it suffers and eventually sustains damage.
This is why most growers keep it as houseplants or indoors. The only conditions where it will be able to get through the cold months is if you live in areas where there is sunshine all year round.
Humidity is a similar story with the Hoya Wilbur Graves. Its prefers average to humid environments, ideally between 40% and 60%, which makes it somewhat easier than many other houseplants which prefer levels to run above 60%.
That said, many households have humidity ranging from 30% to 50%. If you live in dry regions, you may even get levels around 15% or even 10%.
If that’s the case, it is important to check indoor humidity and make the necessary adjustments.
Otherwise, the plant will eventually dry out due to the lack of air moisture. You’ll see this in its leaves as the edges turn burn and become crispy.
If you’re not sure what the humidity is in your home, I suggest getting a digital hygrometer. This will keep you up to date on what the humidity is in any room at all times.
Here are some ways to increase humidity around the plant.
- Mist it 2 or 3 times a week
- Place it on top of rocks in a water tray
- Group it together with other plants
- Use a humidifier
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How Often to Water Hoya Wilbur Graves
Your Hoya Wilbur Graves has average watering needs. As such, you want to be careful not to overwater it. This is because is it epiphytic.
That manes in its natural habitat the plant does not live on the ground. Instead, it clings onto larger plants like trees. This keeps its roots dry as they gets lots of air circulation.
And, if they get wet, they dry fairly quickly as well.
Thus, too much water or watering too frequently are big no-no’s when caring for the Wilbur Graves. Although it does need sufficient water during the spring and summer because it is actively growing during this time, it will not tolerate wet, soggy or waterlogged soil.
This means you want to wait for soil to dry a bit between waterings.
The best way to do so is always check the soil before you water. If the top 1 to 2 inches feels dry, water is thoroughly then allow to completely drain (this takes about 15 minutes). This will keep the soil moist.
Avoid flooding the soil or leaving it wet as this will eventually lead to bacterial and fungal problems as well as root rot.
Once the weather cools down in the fall and gets colder in the winter, cut back on water. During this time, the cold climate means it takes much longer for soil to dry. So, you should allow the soil to dry out even more.
Plus, the plant also takes a breather from growing and blooming which means it does not a lot of water.
Soil for Hoya Wilbur Graves
Soil plays a supporting role to watering (among many other things it does). And, since the Hoya Wilbur Graves can be prone to overwatering, it needs soil that is light, airy and well-draining.
This kind of medium will allow excess moisture to drain while holding enough to keep the plant hydrated.
Similarly a small pot that keeps the plant snug is ideal. That’s because its roots like to be tightly packed together.
Finally, don’t forget the drainage holes at the bottom of the container. This will allow water to escape so the excess moisture does not pool at the bottom of the pot.
You want to avoid heavy soils or those that retain a lot of water as this will keep the plant’s roots sitting in water for long periods of time increasing the risk of root rot.
Fortunately, there are many ways to achieve this kind of medium. Here are a few options you can use.
If you prefer a commercial mix, consider any of the following.
- Orchid mix
- African violet soil
- Succulent soil
You can likewise use regular potting mix if you already have that at home. But, make sure to add perlite to increase drainage.
Avoid sand if you can. While sand does improve drainage it also gets compacted over time. Since hoyas don’t need to be repot regularly this can become a problem over time. It is less so if you repot annually.
I prefer to make my own mix since it allows you to customize it to drain well and be a bit chunky to allow more air flow to the roots.
I like to use a combination of peat moss, perlite and pine bark.
Other ingredients you may want to consider are coco coir chips, pumice and loam based compost. All of this improve drainage.
Feed your Hoya Wilbur Graves only during the spring and summer. During this time, it is actively growing and will need extra sustenance (sunlight, water and fertilizer) to grow and promote flowering.
You don’t need to feed it during the fall and winter as it takes a breather after all the growing its done the seasons before.
I like to use a water soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength once a month. A balanced one works well (15-15-15) although other options I’ve tried that work really well are 2-1-2 and 3-1-2 N-P-K formulations.
The latter two are ideal of you want to promote more foliage growth. Or, if you find that the plant isn’t producing enough or large enough leaves.
The higher first number signifies more Nitrogen which promotes vegetative growth (foliage development).
On the other hand, if you find that the plant is not blooming enough you can switch to a 5-10-5 blend. This one is higher in phosphorus, which promotes flowering. You do need to start about 2 months before the expected bloom period.
As always avoid too much fertilizer. The Hoya Wilbur Graves is not a heavy feeder. And, it has a small root system which won’t be able to tolerate that much chemical residue from the fertilizer.
Thus, it is a good idea to flush the soil every few months to get rid of excess fertilizer salts so they don’t accumulate in the soil over time.
The Hoya Wilbur Graves is a fairly rare houseplant. As such, you’re not going to find a lot of pictures of its flowers online, which is sad.
That’s because they’re magnificent to look at.
Like the Hoya Carnosa, the plant is features clusters of small flowers that grow and form the shape of a ball. They have a pinkish shade to them and a dark maroon or burgundy center.
To help it along, there are a few things you can to increase the chances of blooming.
One is that it needs to mature. Young Hoya Wilbur Graves won’t produce any blossoms. So, it takes patience on your part.
They plant also likes to be pot bound. It enjoys being snug against the container. As such, recent repotting can cause it not to bloom.
Probably the most common problem is related to pruning.
The plant’s flowers grows on old peduncles. As such, if you happen to prune it regularly and trim off stalks with these peduncles (or spurs), then the plant won’t bloom any time soon.
That’s because it needs to regrow these stalks before having a chance to flower.
As mentioned above, pruning your Hoya Wilbur Graves means you need to be careful not to trim off the stalks where the flowers grow from.
These spurs are perennials. As such, the flowers grow from the same ones each year. And, while new spurs develop, it takes time for them to do so.
That said, the plant only requires light maintenance.
It is a vining plant so it will grow long. And, when you trim it will depend on how messy or unruly it gets as its grows longer.
So fore the most part, pruning is mostly cosmetic.
The only other reason for trim is to remove leaves that have turned a different color or have been damaged.
Hoya Wilbur Graves Propagation
The easiest way to propagate Hoya Wilbur Graves is from stem cuttings.
- Ideally, you want to take softer stems that are healthy with at least 2 or 3 leaves on it.
- Then, with a sterile pair of pruning shears cut a 4 to 6 inch length of stem.
- Plant this in a small container with fresh, well-draining medium. You can dip the cutting in rooting hormone as well although doing so is not necessary.
- In about 3 or so weeks, the cutting should develop some roots.
- And, over the next few months will grow shoots and then leaves.
The best time to propagate the plant is during spring to early summer.
How to Repot Hoya Wilbur Graves
From above, you already know that your Hoya Wilbur Graves enjoys staying in tighter quarters. This helps it produce more flowers.
But, you do need to be to able to distinguish between being slightly root bound and when the plant has already outgrown its container.
A few signs include:
- Roots showing up in the drainage holes. You can easily notice this when the plant gets too big for the pot as they roots try to sneak out the holes. Just life the pot and check the bottom.
- If the soil dries abnormally fast despite using the same amount of water and following the same schedule as you normally do. This means the plant is drinking the moisture much faster because there isn’t enough liquid to go around due to the pot (and soil volume) being too little for it.
- If the plant stops growing with no sign of problems or diseases. And, you’re giving it enough sun, water and fertilizer.
The best time to repot is during spring to early summer. Choose a container that is about 1 to 2 inches wider than the current one.
The plant is non-toxic to people and animals. This makes it safe to keep around the house even in tabletops where young children or pets can get to it.
There is no risk of poisoning in case they ingest parts of the plant.
Pests and Diseases
Another thing that makes the Hoya Wilbur Graves easy to care for its is encounters very few pest and disease problems. As long as it stays healthy and is kept in the proper growing conditions, there is a chance you may never have to bother with pests or disease.
Unfortunately, with these two issues, nothing is a sure thing. They can happen at any time.
So, while the plant is resistant to them, you do need to do your part. Regular inspection and quick action are both very important.
Mealybugs, spider mites, aphids and scale all suck the sap of the plant weakening it over time. As they grow in number, they can overwhelm the plant and eventually destroy it.
As such, treat it as soon as you see any sign of them. Neem oil and insecticidal soap are effective treatments. Although the more the pests the longer it takes for treatment to be complete.
On the other hand, Botyris blight, Sooty Mold and root rot are all potential issues. These are all moisture related as the first is a fungus, the second is a mold and the third is caused by roots sitting in too much water for long periods of time.
Thus, controlling moisture is very important. And, staying on the drier side will help keep the plant safe.