The Hoya Elliptica is a beautiful climbing epiphyte that is best known for its unique leaves. These are green in color with white outlined veins that form the pattern similar to a turtle’s shell.
One look at its foliage and you’ll instantly identify it from other hoya plants.
They likewise have a leathery texture. Although its leaves a relatively thinner compared to other hoya plants. Nevertheless, they still do store some moisture to help the plant get through dry periods.
And like other hoyas, the Elliptica also produces beautiful clustered flowers. These come in white and pink colors with a furry texture. It will usually bloom after rains come and the blossoms will last for several days.
You’ll also notice a very distinct sweet fragrance which some say smells like sweet bread.
The Hoya Elliptica is native to South East Asia.
Hoya Elliptica Plant Care
The Hoya Elliptica enjoys medium to bright, indirect light. This allows it to grow at its fastest and produce more leaves with their best colors.
As such, the best location to keep the plant is in a well-lit room.
However, it is important to note that while it can tolerate a little bit of direct sunlight, it is a good idea to keep it away from the sun’s rays especially between 11:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. when the sun is the harshest. The same is true for summertime.
If you leave it there, it could cause the leaves to lose their beautiful color and even burn the foliage.
On the other hand, the plant likewise tolerate low light. But only up to a certain degree.
Once it passes below a certain level, its growth will slow down.
Thus, both extremes (too much bright light and too little light) are both no-no’s.
This makes an east or west facing window ideal. You can likewise place it in the north as long as there’s enough light there during winter. The northern direction tends to receive the least amount of illumination if you live in the northern hemisphere.
You can likewise keep the plant facing south. But here, you want to distance it away from the window or give it some shade protection. The south offers the longest hours and strongest light especially through mid-day, which is something the Hoya Elliptica cannot tolerate day in and day out.
When it comes to temperature, the Hoya Elliptica is well-suited for indoor care. Like most houseplants, it comes from a tropical environment which makes it accustomed to the home environment.
That’s because the temperature of most homes mimic the moderate to slightly warm weather of the tropics (to a large degree). The climate conditions indoors is also fairly consistent as we are able to regulate it to our liking.
Because the Hoya Elliptica is native to the forests of Southeast Asia where it lives under the canopy of larger trees, its ideal temperature range is between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
It also enjoys being in partially shaded areas due to this (and why it cannot tolerate very intense light for long periods of time).
However, the one thing that tropical weather does not have is cold, freezing winters.
As such, the plant is not well-equipped nor acclimated to such conditions. This is why you want to keep it away from temperatures that are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the climate reaches this level you’ll notice your Hoya Elliptica’s growth slow down. And the colder it gets (and longer the plant stays in those conditions), the more problems it will likely face.
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The Hoya Elliptica thrives in humid conditions, ideally between 60% and 80%. This is what it has been used to in the tropical regions of Southeast Asia.
There, it is very humid all year round. The humidity also exaggerates the already high temperature (because the region is around the equator). As such, heat index easily hovers in the mid 90’s to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the summers.
The other thing worth noting about the Hoya Elliptica is that it has thinner leaves compared to other hoyas. This means that it does not store as much moisture in its foliage.
Therefore, it is not able to tolerate lack of water or low humidity as well as other hoya species.
For this reason it is important to keep humidity around 40% and above as much as possible. While it can tolerate average room humidity, you’ll want to monitor how it behaves at least initially.
It is also a good idea to keep an eye on it during hot, dry summers and cold winters when humidity tends to drop lower.
You can likewise get a digital hygrometer to let you easily tell what the humidity is day in and day out. This way, you can get ahead of any dry air.
If where you live has low humidity, it is a good idea to mist daily or every other day. Just be careful not to wet the leaves too much. You can likewise place the plant over rocks in a tray of water.
Of course, there’s always the option of buying a humidifier.
How Often to Water Hoya Elliptica
The Hoya Elliptica does not need a lot of water. This makes it a fairly low maintenance houseplant in this aspect.
On average, you’ll only need to water it once a week during the warmer months and once every 13 to 15 days during he winter.
The reason for this is that it is an epiphyte. Additionally, while it does not hold as much moisture in its leaves as most hoyas do, it still is able to store a bit there.
Therefore, it can tolerate dry spells and does not need to watered often.
In fact, the latter is something you want to avoid since too much watering or watering too frequently increases its risk of root rot.
Here, you want to watch out for wet, soggy soil as well as leaves turning yellow or dropping. These are bad signs that you’re watering too often.
If you notice any of these symptoms, cut back on watering.
On the other hand, you also don’t want to let it go completely dry for long periods. While it can tolerate a bit of drought, extended dryness will eventually damage the plant as well.
Thus, to tell how often you should water your plant, check the soil.
Ideally, you want to water anytime between when the soil is dry at least the top 2 inches all the way until 75% of the way down.
Anywhere between these levels will give the roots enough moisture without leaving them standing in water.
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Hoya Elliptica Potting Soil
As mentioned, the Hoya Elliptica is an epiphytic plant. Thus, in the wild, you’ll see it clinging onto and climbing up tree trunks to get as much sun as they can to grow faster.
This also means that its roots don’t stay in soil.
So, when they do get wet by the rain, the roots get soaked. However, once the rain stops, its roots dry quickly because they’re exposed to the air.
Therefore, the best soil for the Hoya Elliptica is well-draining, lightweight and has good aeration.
This mimics its living conditions in the forest where its roots get a lot of oxygen and air circulation. And after you water, the excess moisture quickly drains off so the roots don’t end up standing in water.
Here are a few ways to achieve this kind of soil (with the least ingredients as possible).
- Combine equal parts of cactus mix, orchid mix and perlite
- Use equal parts of potting soil, perlite and orchid mix (this is the same as the previous one but you swap out cactus mix for potting soil, so you can use what you have).
- 2 parts peat moss and 1 part perlite
- 1 part potting soil, 1 part coco coir and 1 part perlite
- 1 part potting soil with 1 part orchid bark
In addition to soil with good drainage, make sure the pot you use also offers a way for the water the get out of the container.
If you place a saucer under your pot, make sure to throw away any liquid that pools in the saucer.
The Hoya Elliptica needs fertilizer to grow at its best. Although it is a light feeder.
Therefore, you wan to be careful about overfeeding the plant. To much plant food will do more harm that good. And it is worst that not feeding the plant at all.
You can use a balanced water soluble fertilizer once every 2-4 weeks during the spring and summer. Dilute it to 50% strength.
The plant does not need feeding in the fall and winter.
Because the Hoya Elliptica also blooms, you can use an orchid bloom booster when it is about to flower or while it is flowering. This contains higher phosphorus which will help it blossom.
Flowers / Blooms
The Hoya Elliptica produces beautiful clusters of white and cream flowers that have light purple and yellow middles. These are stunning too look as because they’re bunched into a ball shape.
So while the individual blooms are small, they look amazing collectively.
In addition to their colors, they also produce a sweet aroma.
However, it does take patience to see them.
That’s because the plant will only bloom after it matures. This comes out to about 2 years if you start with a young plant.
Additionally, it needs a lot of bright, indirect sunlight to flower. And leaving it slightly pot bound also helps.
Once it does bloom, you don’t want to move it as this can stop the flowering process or make them drop. That’s how sensitive the plant gets.
The most important thing about pruning your Hoya Elliptica is not to cut off old spurs after the flowers had dropped. This is because the Hoya Elliptica (and most hoyas) will flower again on these spurs.
The spurs are perennial. So, they will keep producing flowers over the years as long as you don’t cut them off.
If you do, you’ll need to wait for new spurs (or peduncles) to grow before you can see your hoya bloom again.
The other thing about pruning is that the Hoya Elliptica is a fast grower. So, its vines will get long and eventually get messy. How long you let them get will vary depending on whether you allow it to climb or place it in a pot or hanging basket.
But in most cases, you do need to do some regular light trimming a few times a year.
How to Propagate Hoya Elliptica
The Hoya Elliptica propagates easily from stem cuttings. And you can root these cuttings in water or soil.
As such, you can grow more plants at home without spending any money.
Stem propagation is not only simple it is also effective yielding very high propagation success rates.
All you need to do is take a stem cutting (take multiple cuttings if you want to grow more than one new plant). You can get a stem tip or get a longer stem and split that up into smaller cuttings.
The important thing is to make sure each cutting as at least 2 to 3 leaves.
Remove the lower leaves to expose the nodes. These are where the new roots will grow from.
You can propagate these cuttings in soil or in water. The biggest difference is that if you keep the cutting in water, you’ll eventually need to pot up the cutting in soil after the roots have gotten longer.
However, in soil, you won’t be able to see how the roots are growing or if there’s something wrong happening.
As such, propagating in water is the more popular method.
It takes about 4 or so weeks for these cuttings to grow enough roots and get long enough to support the plant.
How to Repot or Transplant Hoya Elliptica
At some point you will need to repot your Hoya Elliptica. But this only happens once every 2 years, sometimes longer than that.
How often you’ll be repotting will depend mostly on:
- How fast the plant grows – the more light it gets the faster it will grow. If you let it climb, it will also grow faster.
- It enjoys being root bound – in addition to the plant’s preference for being snug in its pot, leaving it slightly root bound also increases the likelihood of it flowering. Thus, many owners will keep their Elliptica Hoya in the same container for 3 or more years.
- The plant is not showing signs of stress – unlike other houseplants that you want to repot as soon as they get root bound to let them grow bigger, the Hoya Elliptica usually stays underpotted for flowering. And, owners will try to stretch this period until the plant is getting too tight in its pot that it is not growing anymore.
- It is an epiphyte – this means it has a small, non-extensive root system. Thus, unlike other plants, it won’t need a lot of space and will not grow wide or deep. So, it is better able to stay in the smaller pot.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
No, the Hoya Elliptica is non-toxic. It is safe to keep around pets like dogs and cats as well as young children.
But while the leaves and stems are not poisonous, they can still cause gagging and choking problems as well as vomiting.
Hoya Elliptica Problems & Troubleshooting
The Hoya Elliptica does get pests. And the most problematic ones are mealybugs.
That said, spider mites and aphids can also attack the plant. If the plant has excess moisture, fungus gnats may appear as well.
Unfortunately, there is no way to 100% prevent pests. At least not with houseplants.
But you can reduce the chances of them coming around by keeping the plant as healthy as possible and cleaning its leaves. Pests are attracted to dust which tends to accumulate in the leaves unless you wipe them off regularly.
Diseases are more preventable. In most cases, they are caused by excess moisture.
Because the Hoya Elliptica enjoys humid environments, this increases the risk of extra moisture. So, you want to avoid leaving foliage wet for extended periods of time.
Similarly, overwatering can cause serious problems because it can lead to root rot.