The Hoya Serpens is a rare hoya species that feature small round-shaped foliage. It is a climbing plant that is usually displayed in hanging baskets. As such, you’re more likely to see its trailing vines.
In addition to its long vines and small, hairy green foliage, the plant is likewise known for its beautiful, fragrant flowers.
In fact, many will argue that the Hoya Serpens main attraction is its blossoms.
That’s because they come in a very distinctive mint green color with a white and pink center. The rounded tips of the star-shapped blooms also make them even lovelier to look at.
The Hoya Serpens comes from the Himalayas. Although it is native to other Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
Hoya Serpens Plant Care
The Hoya Serpens is used to living under the forest canopy. As such it enjoys bright, dappled or diffused light.
This means that the plant appreciates locations with good lighting. However, it cannot tolerate strong, intense light or the direct rays of the sun for more many hours at a time on a regular basis.
If you allow this kind of exposure, its leaves will eventually get scorched, leaving you with burn marks.
As such, if you keep the plant somewhere there is mid-day sun, make sure to distance it away from the rays or use something to filter the light. You can use sheer curtains or a shade cloth to do this.
Ideally, the plant needs at least 6 hours of medium to bright, indirect sun for optimum growth. This will also help it produce beautiful flowers.
While natural light is best, you can likewise use artificial lights to keep the plant healthy.
Outdoors, avoid full sun. Instead keep it somewhere with partial shade.
Although the Hoya Serpens comes from the Himalayas, the plant does not necessarily take well to cold temperatures. In fact, it enjoys tropical and subtropical conditions.
This is why besides hailing from the Himalayas, it has become native to many tropical Southeast Asian nations including Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
All of these countries have moderate to very hot climates. Besides the rainy typhoon season that happens around fall, the rest of the year is mostly very sunny, hot and humid.
In fact, there are not winters, snow or frost.
Instead, temperatures stay fairly consistent even through this time dropping to just about 55 degrees Fahrenheit or so. That’s about as cold as you get in this region.
As such, the Hoya Serpens thrives when temperature is kept at 60 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. It also prefers consistent climate conditions as opposed to sudden fluctuations.
So, keep it away from radiators, fireplaces, air conditions, vents and anything that can allow cold drafts into the house (like open windows).
Speaking of which, the plant does not have a lot of tolerance for the cold. It does not do well in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. And keeping it under this level can eventually lead to cold damage.
As such, outdoors, it will do best in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11 since there is sunshine all year round.
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One of the aspects of the Himalayan and Southeast Asian regions is their high humidity. Although, depending on whether the plant you get was grow in the lowlands or in higher elevations, its humidity preference could vary.
In general, the plant enjoys humidity of 60% and above. However, those that come from higher elevations will tolerate a bit lower humidity. That’s because humidity drops an average of 4% per kilometer you go up.
As such, there’s slight variation in humidity tolerance of these plants based on where they originally grew from.
That said, the plant’s thick leaves do help.
This allows them to tolerate regular household humidity to a certain degree. Nevertheless, Hoya Serpens can be fussy with humidity, therefore, if you see any drying or crisping of its leaf tips, it means that the plant needs more humidity.
You can use mist it a few times a week provided that you don’t over-wet its foliage. Doing so can lead to leaf infections.
Also, avoid misting when the plant is budding or blooming.
Alternatively, you can invest in a humidifier as well.
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How Often to Water Hoya Serpens
The Hoya Serpens has regular watering needs. As such, the goal is to avoid the extremes here.
While it can take a little bit of drought, it does not like being left to completely dry out for long periods of time.
Instead, it enjoys moist soil especially during the summer. As such, it will need around once a week watering during this time. In the tropics or if you live somewhere with scorching hot summers, you may need to water it 2 or 3 times a week.
The goal it to keep the soil moist but not wet.
You can do so by allowing the top 1-2 inches of soil dry out before adding more water.
To check for this, simply insert your index finger into the soil to the second knuckle. If the soil at that depth feels most, wait until it dries before watering.
Similarly, the Hoya Serpens does not take well to overwatering. In fact, this is more dangerous for the plant compared to lack of water.
Due to this, you want to be more wary about adding water too often during winter. The reason being that winter is cold and there’s much less light. Thus, it takes soil much longer to dry.
Thus, you’ll only need to water once every 13 to 18 days or so depending on how cold and how little light there is.
Hoya Serpens Potting Soil
The Hoya Serpens needs lightweight soil that has good drainage. This allows its roots to breathe. It also gives them enough moisture while preventing them from staying wet for long periods of time.
Additionally, the ideal soil pH for the plant is 6.0 to 7.0.
The easiest way to achieve this is to include a component which helps with drainage. These include perlite, pumice, charcoal, orchid bark, pine bark or fir bark.
A simple combination that works well you can use is:
- 1 part peat
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part orchid bark
Alternatively, if you already have some potting soil at home, you can use that as a well. Here’s another DIY potting mix for Hoya Serpens you can make with that:
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part orchid mix
- 1 part perlite
Feed the Hoya Serpens using a well-balanced liquid fertilizer that is diluted to half strength. Once very 2 weeks or once a month works well.
Since the plant does not need a lot of fertilizer, avoid overfeeding. This can lead to fertilizer burn as the salt residue accumulates in the soil.
Also, the plant only needs to be fed during its growing seasons which are spring and summer. If it is still growing in the fall, you can extend a bit into then as well.
However, as the weather gets cooler, its growth will stop. As such, you don’t need to feed the plant by mid to late fall. Also, skip fertilizing during winter as the Hoya Serpens does not need it then
Flowers / Blooms
The Hoya Serpens is best known for its stunning flowers. Even among hoyas, it features unique colors and a look that’s distinct from the others.
Like other hoyas, its flowers grow clusters. And they have a star-shaped appearance.
But what makes the Hoya Serpens blooms different is the soft-edges of the flowers that round-off the tips of their star shape. Additionally, the blossoms are light green in color and have small hairs that make them fuzzy.
The centers look like mini-flowers as well composed of white and a pink center.
When they’re bunched up in a cluster, they look amazing.
Once they bloom, they will stay around for about 7 days.
However, be sure not to deadhead the flowers even after they’ve faded. You don’t want to cut off the spurs or peduncles from which these flowers grow from.
That’s because new flowers will grow from these same peduncles in the coming seasons.
The Hoya Serpens is a fairly fast grower. As such, if you are able to accommodate its slightly fussy behavior (especially with humidity and watering), you’ll be able to enjoy its beauty.
Besides its vigorous growth rate, the plant can likewise grow to between 6 and 10 feet.
However, it is not a big plant per so as its size has more to do with length that it has with overall coverage.
As such, most Hoya Serpens owners keep the plant hanging from a basket.
This allows its trailing vines to drape down and grow long.
As such, depending on how long and how bushy the plant gets (or you want it to get), you can prune it as much or as little as needed.
Cut any excessive growth along with leggy stems and dead leaves.
How to Propagate Hoya Serpens
The most common (and easiest) way to propagate the Hoya Serpens is by using stem cuttings.
The best time to do so is during spring and early summer. And you can sue the stems that you pruned off. So, don’t throw them all away.
It is also worth noting that the plant’s sap, which is the milky substance that comes out when you cut its stem can cause skin irritation in come people. Therefore, if you have sensitive skin, I recommend wearing gloves.
Here’s how to propagate the Hoya Serpens using stem cuttings.
- Use a sterile pair of scissors. You can wipe down the blades with cotton and rubbing alcohol. This will prevent passing any pathogens to the plant as you cut.
- Pick a healthy stem at its about 4 to 6 inches long with at least a few leaves on it. Then remove the lower leaves. Keep the upper leaves.
- Prepare a small pot and fill it with well-draining potting mix. Water the soil to get it moist but avoid adding too much that the soil ends up soggy.
- Plant the cutting into the soil.
- Then leave it in a bright spot with no direct sunlight.
- It takes about 4 to 6 weeks for the cutting to root.
You can likewise propagate the cuttings in water.
To do so, place it in a glass container filled with water. You’ll need to change the water once very week or 2 weeks.
After about 2-4 weeks, the roots will have gotten longer and increased in volume. Once they reach 1-2 inches long you can move them into soil.
How to Repot or Transplant Hoya Serpens
The Hoya Serpens is an epiphyte. Additionally, it enjoys being slightly pot bound. This means that you don’t need to repot it on a regular basis.
Instead, it takes around 2 years before the plant needs a larger container.
That said, the timeframe can vary depending on how fast the plant grows. The more light it receives, the faster it will grow and vice versa.
Another important thing to note is that don’t move the plant when it is about to bloom or is blooming. It is more sensitive during this time, so you don’t want to chance any of its environment.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
The Hoya Serpens is not considered toxic to people or animals. Therefore, it is safe for pets like cats and dogs as well as young children to play around.
However, like many other houseplants, its leaves and stems are not meant to be eaten. Therefore, chewing or ingesting them can still cause stomach discomfort and side effects like gagging, choking or vomiting.
Problems & Troubleshooting
The Hoya Serpens will attract a few pests. In almost all cases, these will be sap sucking insects. The most common of which are mealybugs.
However, you may see aphids, thrips and scale as well.
All of them will grow in population quite quickly. And they are much easier to get rid of when there’s only a few of them.
Therefore, spotting any pests early is essential.
Once you see any, you can spray them off using water. You can use the sink if the plant is small, the shower or garden hose for longer Hoya Serpens.
Try to get all the bugs including the adults and eggs. Otherwise, if you leave one or the other, they cycle will resume after a few days.
You can likewise use insecticidal soap or sprays to get rid of these pests.
The Hoya Serpens is fairly resistant to disease. However, it can still happen.
Therefore, you do want to keep an eye out on the leaves for any abnormalities. Any strange or odd thing that appears there warrants an investigation.
This includes spots, strips, yellowing, curling or anything else.
Also, avoid overwatering as it can lead to root rot.