The Hoya Retusa is a rare, hard-to-find plant that has a very unique look. Not only does it not look like it belongs to the Hoya genus, but it also looks quite different from any other houseplants as well.
On the web, you’ll likely see the Hoya Retusa as a cute, adorable looking scruffy plant. However, in the wild, it actually grows into a large plant.
That said, this epiphyte is very distinct because it has long vining stem and flat, narrow leaves that look like sticks with round ends.
The differences between it and other hoyas don’t stop there as well.
While it does have the traditional star-shaped cream colored flowers (this one has pink accents to go with it), its blooms grow individually instead on in a bunch like most other hoyas do.
Nevertheless, these look lovely and they produce a scent that’s similar t lemon aroma.
The Hoya Retusa is very low maintenance and looks amazing in hanging baskets and planter stands. It is native to India and the Eastern Himalayas.
Hoya Retusa Plant Care
The Hoya Retusa does well in a wide range of lighting conditions including low, medium and bright light. the important thing is to keep it away from direct sun or very bright, intense light which an burn its foliage.
Instead, it is better off under indirect, diffused on filtered light.
This means that you want to keep it away from the sun’s rays or provide some kind of protection so the plant does not bear the entire brunt of the intensity of the light source.
Similarly, it will do well in low light provided it is not too dark in that location.
The easiest way to tell whether illumination is sufficient or not is to sit down where you lant on putting the plant and red a newspaper or a book. If you can read the text on those publications, they there’s enough light to keep the plant healthy and happy.
But if you need to turn on a lamp or fluorescent lighting to see the content, then choose somewhere a bit brighter.
Thus, this makes a position near an east facing window ideal. It will likewise do well in a northern direction.
Keep the plant away from the southern window since that’s the where the most, and the strongest, light will come from. The exceptions here are if you distance the plant a few feet from the window or use some kind of filter like sheer curtains or blinks to block out some of the sun.
Likewise the west will experience strong afternoon sun. So, make sure to avoid the strong rays during this time.
The Hoya Retusa is native to the tropical region of India. This makes it accustomed to moderate to very hot climates depending on the time of year. They also don’t experience snow in that part of the world.
Therefore, you want to try and give the plant something similar in your home.
Fortunately, the weather inside most homes is similar to subtropical and tropical weather which is why most houseplants are from these locations.
The plant enjoys temperature between 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit which is where it will do well. It will likewise tolerate warmer weather without problem. However, be with very high temperature conditions as this will reduce the chances of the Hoya Retusa blooming.
So, if you want it to produce flowers try to keep temperature around this range.
That said, it struggles more with the cold because it is not used to lower temperatures. Here, you’ll notice brown leaves and shriveling. Both are signs that the plant is cold. And it wants to go somewhere warmer.
Additionally, avoid temperature fluctuations as it does not like sudden changes in climate. The same is true for heaters, radiators, air conditioners and cold drafts.
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The ideal humidity for Hoya Retusa is 50% and higher. Although it will tolerate average room humidity as well. That said, try to keep the level at 40% and higher to avoid browning and crispy edges and tips.
These are the main symptoms that the plant is having trouble because the air is too dry for it.
So, when you see these signs happening, it is a good idea to help it out.
You can do so by misting the plant regularly or investing in a humidifier. Alternatively, you can place the plant near other plants so their combined transpiration will increase water vapor around them.
Or you can produce a similar result by putting a pebble tray underneath the pot. Make sure to keep the bottom of the pot above the water.
How Often to Water Hoya Retusa
Water your Hoya Retusa when at least the top 2 inches of soil has dried. The plant enjoys moist soil. But be careful not to overwater it such that the soil gets mucky or soggy.
Overwatering will cause problems as the Hoya Retusa has a fragile and small root system. Therefore, its roots can be easily overwhelmed by too much moisture, which will eventually lead to root rot.
Thus, you want to stay on the safe side by allowing part of the soil to dry out before adding more water. This way, you reduce the risk of overwatering.
That said, don’t let the soil dry out completely either. While the plant can tolerate dryness better than too much water, it will eventually have problems if you let it get dehydrated regularly or for too long.
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Hoya Retusa Potting Soil
In addition to allowing part of the soil to dry out between waterings, it is very important to use the right soil for your Hoya Retusa.
The best soil for this plant is something well-draining, light and air. Again, its root system is not large nor extensive. They also like a lot of air.
Thus, you want to avoid heavy or dense soils that retain a lot of watering. Instead, go with something well-draining to help get rid of the excess moisture. This will let the roots get the oxygen they desire.
Here are a few potting mix options that work well for the Hoya Retusa:
- Cactus mix with orchid mix and perlite
- Coco coir with potting mix and perlite
- Peat moss with perlite
- African violet mix
- A well-draining succulent mix
The last two are commercial products. So, if you don’t want to mix your own soil, those are what you want to go for. This way, you just buy them from the store and use them out of the package.
The Hoya Retusa is a light feeder. However, it does need fertilizer in order to grow optimally and stay healthy. As such, you want to avoid overfeeding it.
The best time to fertilize the plant is during its growing season which runs between spring and summer. If you have warmer weather, it can extend to around fall.
The important thing is to only feed when the plant is growing. Once it gets colder, growth will usually slow down which is why it is a good idea to stop feeding come early fall or at most mid fall.
If you live in tropical weather, you can feed the plant all year long since the sun will stay up through winter with warm, balmy weather. Thus, the Hoya Retusa will continue growing through this time.
This is what happens in Southeast Asia and South America because they are near the equator (thus, get sunshine all year round).
But if you live somewhere with winter weather, there’s no need to feed during the colder months as the plant will take a rest during this time.
Use a standard houseplant fertilizer diluted to 50% strength. A liquid mix makes this easy as you can add water to dilute it.
The Hoya Retusa will not grow into a large plant. Its size maxes out at about 15 to 20 inches. But despite this, it can be a fast grower during its growing season (spring and summer).
And because of its long vines and messy growth habit, you’ll be pruning it every now ant then to keep it neat.
On the other hand, size and length control may or may not be an issue depending on where you put it. Many growers keep in on a hanging basket or a plant stand which allows its stems to get long and drape over the edges. Thus, you can let them keep growing and trim less.
However, on pots or tabletops you will need to do regular trimming to keep its stems from getting too long.
How to Propagate Hoya Retusa
The best time to propagate your Hoya Retusa is early spring. This gives the new plant a lot of time before the winter arrives. This way it has grown a bit and gone through one growing season before the cold weather arrives.
- Begin by taking a stem cutting or multiple cuttings depending on how many new plants you want to grow. Pick a stem cutting with at least 1-2 leaf nodes.
- Next, decide whether you want to propagate the cutting in water or in soil. Both methods yield good results so you can choose the one you prefer.
- If you decide to propagate the stem cutting in water, place it in a glass jar with the nodes submerged. Change the water once a week to keep it from getting murky.
- If you decide to propagate the stem cutting in soil, dip the cut end into rooting hormone then plant it in moist well-draining soil. Try to keep the soil consistently moist without letting it go soggy or wet.
- Leave the stem cutting in bright, indirect light in a moderate to warm location.
- It will take 3 to 6 weeks for the cuttings to develop roots.
- With the water propagation, once the roots get to 1-2 inches long, you can pot it up into soil.
How to Repot or Transplant Hoya Retusa
Because of its size and small root system, the Hoya Retusa does not need repotting often. On average, you will likely do so every 2 to 3 years. However, I know a few growers who have kept their hoyas in the same pot for 5 or even 10 years.
In part that’s because hoyas like being pot bound a bit. So, there’s no hurry here.
That said, when you repot, move up in container size one step at a time. It won’t ever need a large pot, so go up 1 to 2 inches each time.
Also, make sure that the container you use has drainage holes to allow excess moisture to exit.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
The Hoya Retusa is not toxic to cats, dogs or humans. Thus they are safe to keep around kids and pets. However, note that when damaged or cut open, it will “bleed”.
The white milky liquid that oozes out is its sap. And while it does not affect most people, it can cause irritation if you have allergies or sensitive skin.
Hoya Retusa Problems & Troubleshooting
Pale Colored Hoya Retusa
Make sure your Hoya Retusa gets enough bright, indirect light. It will be happy with moderate lighting as well. It you see pale colored leaves and notice the plant is growing slowly, it may not be getting enough illumination.
Try moving it somewhere brighter.
If the leaves are curling, the most likely culprit is lack of water. But before you add more water, make sure to verity first but feeling the soil.
If the soil is very dry, it means that the plant needs more water. It should recover quickly after you water.
On the other hand, if the soil feels moist, then check lighting.
Too much intense light or direct sun exposure will also make the leaves curl. You may also see them get brown.
Therefore, check if the plant gets hit by the sun’s rays at any point during the day. If it does, move it somewhere with less intense light.
Mealybugs, aphids and scales are the most common pests that will come around to bother your Hoya Retusa. You can use neem oil as a preventive measure.
But like all plants always do regular inspections so you can spot any pest problem early. The fewer they are when you discover their presence the easier it will be to eradicate them.
Also, if your Hoya Retusa is a new plant you just got from the store or someone else, always check for pests. I like to quarantine any new plants for a couple of weeks to make sure there are no problems before moving it alongside my other houseplants.
Root rot is the most common problem that have happen especially if there’s too much moisture. But it is completely preventable as you can avoid this issue by making sure you do 3 things:
- Allow the soil to dry at least the top 2 inches before adding more water.
- Use well-draining soil
- Make sure the pot you use has drainage holes
This will prevent overwatering and waterlogging which are the main causes of root rot.