The Hoya Mauna Loa is a subspecies of the Hoya Carnosa Compacta. Therefore, you’ll likely see it labeled in many different ways including:
- Mauna Loa Hoya
- Hoya Carnosa Mauna Loa
- Hoya Carnosa Compacta Mauna Loa
- Hoya Compacta Variegata Mauna Loa
- Hoya Compacta var. Mauna Loa
Additionally, it is also known as the Lura Lei Hoya. So, it is sometimes referred to by these names as well.
- Hoya carnosa Lura Lei
- Hoya Lura Lei
- Hoya carnosa Hindu Rope
Yes, I know. Once again, this makes it confusing. But what can we do?
The best thing is to be aware of its different names and labels so you know you’re getting the plant that you want.
With that out of the way, the Hoya Mauna Loa is a epiphytic vine with thick, succulent-like leaves.
And no, it is not a succulent. Thus, you should not care for it like a succulent. Otherwise, it could get the plant in trouble.
While it does inherit the curly leaves of the Hoya Carnosa Compacta, the biggest difference of the Hoya Mauna Loa is its variegations. It has the light green/yellow-white/cream variegations that complement the green section of the leaves which make it stunning to look at.
The plant comes from the tropical regions of East Asia and Australia. And during the warmer months it will produce beautiful white, pink and red clusters of flowers.
Hoya Mauna Loa Plant Care
The Hoya Mauna Loa is a variegated version of the Hoya Carnosa Compacta. As such, you don’t want to treat them the same way when it comes to lighting.
That’s because of the light green variegations the Mauna Loa Has.
The variegations happen due to lack of chlorophyll, which is what gives leaves their saturated green color. So, while beautiful to look at, this also means it is not able to absorb as much light as the regular Hoya Carnosa Compacta which has solid green foliage.
Because plants need light for photosynthesis, which in turn it uses to create its own energy to fuel its growth, the Hoya Mauna Loa needs more light compared to the regular Hoya Carnosa Compacta.
Similarly, which it can tolerate some low light, you’ll notice the effects (slower growth, no blooms, etc) much sooner with the Mauna Loa when you give it less light.
So what does this all mean?
It means that the Hoya Mauna Loa needs bright light to thrive. It will likewise do well with medium light. But in general, it needs more illumination and can’t tolerate low light as well as the regular Hoya Carnosa Compacta.
That said, it does best with indirect, filtered, diffused or dappled light. And while it can tolerate a little direct sun, you don’t want it to sit in that location for more than 1-2 hours a day.
Thus, an east or west facing window just far enough from the sun’s rays is best. It will likewise appreciate a southern exposure but will need more distance from the window or protection (like sheet curtains or blinds to filter the direct sunlight).
If it gets too much sun, it will lose its variegation and waxy looks. Its leaf colors will likewise get dull. And it extreme cases, the strong light (mid-day and peak of summer) will burn its foliage causing brown or black scorch marks.
On the other land, you’ll likewise notice its variegations turn more green when there’s too little light in order to absorb as much of the insufficient light source.
If you find it hard to get natural light into your home, you can likewise use artificial light to supplement the natural light or use the grow lights on their own.
The biggest difference is that with natural sunlight, the plant will need at least 6 hours of exposure daily. But with artificial light, it will need 12 hours at least and 16 hours daily if you want it to bloom.
The Hoya Mauna Loa is native to the tropical regions or East Asia and Australia. Therefore, while some areas in these regions have snow, that’s not where the plant grows.
Instead, it grows in the warmer parts where temperature stays warm and sunny all year round with not snow.
This is why the Hoya Mauna Loa is perfect for USDA Hardiness Zones 10-12 outdoors. These regions have balmy winters with lots of sunshine and don’t see snow or frost.
And if you live in these locales, you can keep the plant outdoors all year round, be it in a pot or in the ground.
However, anywhere colder than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the Mauna Loa Hoya is better suited as a houseplant with summer vacations outside.
Indoors, it is easier to care for the plant because you don’t have to make any adjustments to accommodate it. That’s because it grows best in temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with the lower range for nighttime conditions and the higher end for the day time.
Keep in mind that in most cases nighttime temperature drops anywhere between 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you live somewhere colder, or during the winter, you want to see how low the temperature gets through the night.
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Humidity is another important aspect to consider when caring for the Hoya Mauna Loa.
Ideally, it appreciates humidity between 60% and 80%. However, because its leaves are thick and semi-succulent, it can tolerate drier air. The reason is that it stores water in its foliage to help it get through drought.
As a result, it can tolerate humidity between 40% and 60% without a problem. It can likewise go a bit lower than that. But how low will depend on the other environmental factors in your home.
Therefore, once you get below 40%, you want to monitor the plant to see how it responds.
Once you see dry, brown or crispy leaf tips, it is a sign that humidity has gotten too low. If this does not happen, then it is perfectly happy with the conditions.
In case the former happens, you will need to help it out.
You can invest in a humidifier or place in on top of small rocks in a tray filled with water. Some growers like to mist it, but you need to do this regular as its effects are only temporary.
How Often to Water Hoya Mauna Loa
The Hoya Mauna Loa does not need a lot of water. This is due to 2 reasons:
- It is an epiphyte
- Its leaves are thick and store moisture
The first means that in the forest, its roots are not buried in the soil. Instead, the plant uses them to cling into trees. Therefore, they get a lot of air. And when they get wet, they will dry quickly due to the generous amount of airflow.
Similarly, because they retain water In their foliage, they are able to tolerate drought to a certain degrees. Thus, don’t need a lot of water.
This means that during the warmer months, the plant does best when you wait until the soil is almost dry before adding more water. Anywhere between 50% to 75% dry will work.
During the winter, you’ll want to let the soil dry even more between waterings because the cold weather increases the risk of root rot (as the moisture takes much longer to dry).
And to mimic how the Hoya Mauna Loa gets watered by rainfall in the forest, the best way to water the plant is drench the potting soil then allow excess liquid to fully drain. By flooding the root ball, the roots get lots of hydration (much like when it rains in the forest).
But after than, the excess water need to drain quickly (much like how the roots dry quickly in the air after it stops raining).
In generally, you don’t want the plant to stand in water for more than 15 minutes.
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Hoya Mauna Loa Potting Soil
The best soil for the Hoya Mauna Loa is well-draining, light and airy.
This follows from its native living conditions where its roots quickly dry after getting soaked by the rain.
You want to use this kind of soil because it is able to quickly drain excess water after you flood the potting mix. This way, the roots don’t end up standing in water for too long (which increases the risk of root rot).
Additionally, the plant does best in soil pH of 6.1 to 7.5 which will allow it to optimally absorb nutrients from the soil.
This means you have a number of potting soil options that work really well. Here are some that I have used successfully. If you notice they all contain an ingredient that provides good drainage (that’s the most important thing to remember).
- 1 part cactus mix with 1 part perlite and 1 part orchid mix
- 2 parts peat moss with 1 part perlite
- 1 part potting soil with 1 part succulent & cactus mix
- 1 part potting soil with 1 part coco coir
The Hoya Mauna Loa needs fertilizing. But it does not need much. The plant is light feeder so it is perfectly happy with a weak fertilizer or if you dilute the standard houseplant fertilizer. Also, it only needs to be fed monthly during its growing seasons (spring and summer).
Not that if you live in the tropics, the plants growing season will last all year round. And you’ll see it continuously growing 365 days a year. That’s why in Southeast Asia and South America, you can water and fertilize the plants outdoors 12 months of the year.
But that’s not the case in the northern hemisphere because the weather is a bit different. That said, if you live in Florida, Texas, California and the other southern coastal areas, the growing seasons will be a bit longer.
That said, be careful not to overdo the fertilizer. Once the plant stops growing (it will as the season gets cooler), stop feeding it.
This is why it does not need to be fed during wintertime.
You can use a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength during spring and summer.
Flowers / Blooms
The biggest giveaways that the Hoya Mauna Loa is a Hoya Carnosa Compacta subspecies are:
- Its curly vining leaves which look almost exactly like the regular Hoya Carnosa Compacta with the exception of the variegations
- Its flowers
The Mauna Loa Hoya will produce beautiful flowers that look very much like that of its parent plant. You bet a ball-shaped clusters of white star-shaped blooms with reddish-pink centers.
Each ball will have anywhere from 20-40 small flowers.
Although patience is necessary as the plant will not bloom on command. Instead, you’ll need to wait for it to mature. This usually means about 2 years (more or less) if you get a small plant.
In addition to that, the Hoya Mauna Loa will only flower in the right conditions. This means a few things:
- Lots of light, preferably natural light from the sun although grow lights can do the job as well. It needs bright, indirect light This is the most important thing as the plant won’t bloom in low light.
- Snug pot. This often means leaving it in a tight pot allowing it to stay a bit root bound. The extra stress (not too much of it) help the plant bloom.
- Don’t prune the spurs. I could have placed this I the next section but I’m including here to emphasize how important this is. Hoyas grow on old spurs. That means you don’t want to prune or cut off the stalks (or spurs) after the flowers drop. If you do, they’ll need to grow back before the plant can flower again. This means wasting at least one growing season or more.
With pruning, there are a few thing to keep in mind besides not cutting off the spurs. These are the plant’s growth rate and how big it gets.
In general, the Hoya Mauna Loa is a slow grower. Although it will get longer with the ability to grow to 10-12 feet outdoors. Indoors, it usually will reach 6 or more feet.
As such, regular pruning is needed to keep tis vining stems in check.
These can get quite long. And they can go in different directions that make the plant look messy or untidy. Therefore, shaping and size control are you’ll be mostly doing as far as trimming is concerned.
However, be careful when you prune as you don’t want to remove the stalks from which the flowers grow.
How to Propagate Hoya Mauna Loa
The most effective way to propagate Hoya Mauna Loa is by using stem cuttings. You can use the stems that you pruned to grow new plants which makes it very convenient.
This way you don’t throw all the stems away and can “reuse” them for a better purpose.
The important thing when choosing stems for propagation is to make sure there are at least 1-2 nodes per stem cutting. This is where the new roots will grow from.
Having leaves also helps as they will allow the new plant to grow faster as they will help with photosynthesis.
Once you have the stem cuttings, you can propagate them in water or in soil. Make sure to remove any leaves that end up in the water or the soil.
Both water and soil will allow the cuttings to root. Although it will take roughly 4 weeks for enough roots to grow and get long enough to sustain the new plant.
How to Repot or Transplant Hoya Mauna Loa
Here, two factors come into play:
- The Hoya Mauna Loa is an epiphyte – therefore, it has a small root system that does not get big or extensive.
- You want to leave it somewhat pot bound – because the tight quarters helps it bloom.
Together, this means you don’t need to repot the Hoya Mauna Loa regularly. In fact, this is a seldom task that you’ll only need to do once every 2 or 3 years.
I have some friends you have kept their hoyas in the same container for 5 and even 10 years. They do regular prune them though.
This shows you that the plant is low maintenance when it comes to repotting.
However, if you do see it stat to struggle:
- Slow growth
- Poot health
- Lack of water or the soil dries very quickly
Then it is time to repot as the container has gotten too tight and it is now stressing the plant.
Of course, you likewise want to repot in case of emergencies like overwatering, root rot, pest infestation and other problems.
But as far are repotting due to outgrowing the pot, move it to a container that is 1-2 inches wider (nothing more).
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
The Hoya Mauna Loa is non-toxic to people and pets. This makes it safe to keep around cats, dogs and young children without risk of poison even with accidental ingestion.
That said, you do want to be a bit cautious if you have latex allergies or sensitive skin as its sap can cause irritation.
Hoya Carnosa Compacta Mauna Loa Problems & Troubleshooting
The Hoya Mauna Loa is susceptible to pests. And the most common ones that will affect this plant are spider mites and mealybugs. Bot are sap suckers.
And while they’re not problematic when only a few of them are around, they do quickly grow in number.
Once they become an infestation, that’s when they can inflict damage because you have lots of bugs sucking on the moisture and nutrients of your plant.
These insects usually hide behind the leaves and near the nodes or joints between the stems and leaves. So, don’t forget to check there.
If pests do appear, use neem soil spray to get rid of them. You can likewise use insecticidal soap spray.
Cleaning the leaves is a good way to prevent pests as dust tends to attract these insects.
Diseases are another problem to watch out for. But unlike pests you have better control on preventing them. That’s because diseases are primarily caused by excess moisture.
This means you don’t want to water the plant later in the day. And try not to wet the leaves when watering the plant.
If you do give the plant a shower to clean it or help with humidity, make sure it gets enough light and air circulation to allow the leaves to quickly dry.
Wet leaves increase the risk of bacterial and fungal infections including blight, leaf spot and mold.
On the other hand, overwatering the soil puts it at risk of root rot. Similarly, the roots don’t like staying wet for prolonged periods of time. If this does happen regularly, root rot will eventually set in.