The Hoya Shepherdii is also known as the string bean hoya due to the shape and appearance of its foliage. These are green in color and semi-succulent which means that they store water to help the plant tolerate dry periods.
Their vining nature makes them perfect for hanging baskets, although you can allow them to climb or grow them in pots as well.
The most prominent feature of the Hoya Shepherdii are its long, narrow leaves which can reach about 4-8 inches in length. They have dual colors having a dark green hue to the top side and a lighter green color on their undersides.
Native to the Himalayas and Assam, the plant also blooms after maturity. These appear as clusters of white star-shaped flowers with a sweet fragrance.
Hoya Shepherdii Plant Care
The Hoya Shepherdii thrives under medium to bright indirect light. It appreciates the morning sun which makes a spot near an east facing window ideal. This will give it a lot of bright light that’s gentle (which helps the plant bloom).
Similarly, in winter, you won’t need to move the plant side this exposure still gives the plant sufficient illumination to stay healthy.
If you don’t have access to an east-facing window, the next best spots are the west and the north for different reasons
- Western exposure – this side is similar to an eastern exposure. But, instead of the getting the morning sun, it receives the harsher afternoon rays. Therefore, a little distance from the window or using sheer curtains to filter the light is a good idea. If you do this, the plant will get enough light without overexposure.
- North-facing window – this gets the least amount of light from all directions (if you live in the northern hemisphere). However, the plant has not problem as long as the light does not get too low. As such, the one time of the year you want to look out for is winter. If it gets too dim there, move the plant to a brighter location during this season.
With the Hoya Shepherdii, the two things you want to be careful with are the extremes.
- Too much light – this is either very strong light, direct, mid-day or summer sun. It cannot take long exposure to this kind of lighting as its leaves will turn yellow and possibly get scorched as well. So, avoid the rays of the sun (with the exception of morning sun before 10:30 a.m.).
- Too little light – the Hoya Shepherdii is actually quite good at tolerating low light and does not have a problem with it. But there’s a limit. Too little light will cause it to grow slower. More importantly, lack of bright light will reduces its ability to flower. So, if you want to see your Hoya Shepherdii bloom, this is not a good spot to keep it.
If you don’t get enough natural light indoors, you can use fluorescent or artificial lights. This will keep the plant happy as well. However, it needs more exposure.
To give you an idea, with natural sunlight, the Hoya Shepherdii does best with at least 6 hours exposure daily. With artificial or fluorescent lighting, you’ll need to supply it with at least 10-12 hours a day.
The Hoya Shepherdii prefers a slightly cooler climate compared to many other hoya species. Nevertheless, it is still not frost hardy so you want to keep it away from freezing temperatures as much as possible.
Its ideal temperatures is between 50 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. And as much as possible you want to keep it there. The higher up you go, the less optimal its growth will get, although it won’t experience any harm until it gets quite hot.
Similarly, avoid much lower than 50 degrees as it will likewise feel some stress the colder it gets.
The reason the plant can withstand cooler conditions is that it originates from the Himalayas. Thus, the altitude makes the climate cooler than the lowlands especially since most hoyas come from tropical Southeast Asia which hugs the equator.
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Given a choice, the Hoya Shepherdii prefers humidity between 50% and 70%. If you can consistently provide it with this kind of environment, it will grow faster and produce more foliage.
However, because the plant has thick leaves (which store moisture) and originates from higher elevations, it is able to tolerate lower humidity without any problems.
This makes it relative easy to care for indoors as it does well in regular home humidity.
The only exception here is if you live in the desert or somewhere that has very dry air. If hits is the case, you may need to give the plant a hand.
Similarly, hot summers and cold winters also tend to dry the air. So, you want to watch out for these periods as well.
Indoors, keep the plant away from air conditioners, heaters and radiators as these appliances likewise cause the air to dry up quite a bit.
I do suggest in picking up a digital hygrometer (which is quite inexpensive). This will let you monitor humidity on a day to day basis and see how the plant responds when it drops.
You can mist the plant, group it with other houseplants or place it on a pebble tray to help increase humidity around it. Similarly, you can invest in a humidifier.
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How Often to Water Hoya Shepherdii
The Hoya Shepherdii is an epiphyte. Additionally, its leaves store moisture. Therefore, it does not need a lot of water. in fact, it is somewhat drought tolerant.
This means you don’t have to worry or stress if you forget to water the plant once in a while. It can easily go for weeks without watering. But avoid letting the soil go completely dry for extended periods of time. This will cause the roots to get dehydrated.
If this happens often enough, it will eventually damage the plant.
That said, the thing you want to watch out for is overwatering. Its roots don’t like standing in water and if you leave them in this kind of environment, they’ll eventually rot.
As such, it is a good idea to wait until the top 1-2 inches of soil is completely dry before watering. This will prevent you from watering too frequently.
When you follow this simple system, it will automatically adjust your watering schedule causing you to water more regularly in summer when the soil dries quickly due to the hotter weather and less often in winter as the cold makes soil stay moist longer.
By doing so, you avoid overwatering without having to remember so many thigs.
When watering, you can;
- Water on the soil – when you do this, give the soil a thorough watering. This means flooding the root ball until the liquid starts trickling down from the bottom of the pot. Then stop and allow the soil to completely drain right after.
- Water from the bottom – instead of watering the soil, place the water container under the pot and allow the soil to absorb the moisture on its own. Watering from the bottom reduces the risk of overwatering, although it takes longer as the soil does the work slowly.
Hoya Shepherdii Potting Soil
The best soil for Hoya Shepherdii has good drainage. This is the single most important thing when choosing the right soil for the plant.
Good aeriation, lightweight and soil pH of 6.1 to 7.5 also help. But, drainage is essential as it is what will prevent overwatering (and the process any risk of root rot).
On the other avoid any water-retentive soils or those that get compacted. Anything that gets waterlogged or stays wet for long periods of time puts the roots at risk of rotting.
The good news is, there are a few ways to do this.
If you like using store-bought mixes, you can go with regular houseplant potting soil. Try to find one that is well-draining.
Or, if you already have some at home, observe how the soil does with the plant.
If it holds too much moisture, add a few handfuls of perlite. Adjust the amount of perlite you add as you go.
I, on the other hand, prefer to make my own DIY potting mixes. They are cheaper and let you customize the mixes based on a given plant, where you live and how much sun it gets.
To make sure it gets enough drainage, you can use any of the following ingredients. These include perlite, pumice, vermiculite, orchid bark, pine bark, charcoal, fir bark and coco coir.
The important thing is that the soil drains excess moisture quickly, has good aeration, does not get compacted and won’t retain too much moisture that the soil stays wet.
Here are some DIY potting mixes for Hoya Shepherdii that work well.
- 1/3 cactus soil with 1/3 orchid mix and 1/3 perlite
- 1/2 potting soil with 1/2 orchid bark
- 1/3 potting soil with 1/3 coco coir and 1/3 perlite
Also, don’t forget to choose a pot with a drainage hole at the bottom. This way, after the soil drains the excess liquid, that liquid can get out of the pot.
The Hoya Shepherdii is a light feeder. And it is not picky about the kind of plant food you use. However, it is important to fertilize the plant as it needs the nutrients to grow optimally and stay healthy.
You can use a general purpose or a balanced liquid fertilizer. Apply during spring and summer and dilute them to 50% strength.
Stop feeding around early or mid fall as the plant’s growth will slow considerably during this time due to the cold. Don’t feed it in the winter.
Flowers / Blooms
Part of the Hoya Shepherdii’s beauty are its lovely blooms. These are fuzzy, small, have a star shape and are white in color with pink centers.
They grow bunched up together in groups called umbels. And each umbel hangs like a parachute.
As with other hoyas, the Shepherdii’s blooms grow from spurs which are leafless flower stalks. It is important to identify these and be aware oft them when you see them.
The reason is that you don’t want to prune them, even.
Unlike other plants, it is not a good idea to deadhead the Hoya Shepherdiis flowers even after they’ve faded.
That’s because new flowers will grow from existing spurs. So, if you cut the spurs, you’ll lose the blooming potential for future seasons.
The most important thing about pruning is not to cut off the spurs. This is worth repeating since doing so will prevent your Hoya Shepherdii from producing any flowers, at least until new spurs grow.
As for the plant itself, it can grow to 10 to 12 feet, although it is a bit smaller when kept in a pot or basket indoors.
Nevertheless, as a vining plant, you will eventually see its stems get longer.
Since most of this height comes from the length of its stems, it won’t grow to become a large plant per se. But, it will get long and vining.
Therefore, you will need to trim it every now and then to keep it looking neat and limit the length of the stems.
In most cases, the Hoya Shepherdii is grown in a hanging basket or allowed to climb a support. Both of these settings reduce the amount of pruning needed as they allow the plant to get longer and still look good.
How to Propagate Hoya Shepherdii
The Hoya Shepherdii is quite easy to propagate. That’s because it roots well from stem cuttings. As such, stem propagation is a very efficient method of growing more of this plant at home.
The best part, it is free and you don’t need any special equipment.
Additionally, you can propagate the stem cuttings in water, sphagnum moss or plant it directly into soil. All of them have high propagation success rates so you can choose whichever you feel most comfortable with.
The important thing is to get a healthy stem cutting that is about 4 to 6 inches long with at least 3 or more leaves on it.
You can propagate the stem cutting:
- In water and wait until the roots grow to between 2 to 4 inches long. Then move the cutting into a pot with soil.
- In sphagnum moss and allow the roots to grow from the nodes. After they get long enough, you can pot the cuttings up into soil.
- In soil so that you don’t need to move the cutting anymore, at least until the plant needs to be repotting. Use well-draining potting mix and keep it moist. In about 4 to 6 weeks the roots should develop and establish themselves into the soil.
How to Repot or Transplant Hoya Shepherdii
With proper care, the Hoya Shepherdii has a long lifespan. And at some point during that time, you will need to repot the plant.
In most cases, it takes 2 years before it needs repotting. And because it likes being slightly pot bound, you don’t have to hurry with the process.
The best time to repot is during the spring and early summer.
More importantly, you only need to repot once you see roots coming out from the bottom of the drainage holes.
When doing so, choose a container that is 1-2 inches wider in diameter compared to its current pot. Avoid going too wide or too deep as the plant does not have a large nor extensive root system.
Doing so only increases the amount of soil, which when wet, ups the risk of overwatering.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
The Hoya Shepherdii is not considered toxic to people and pets. This means it is safe to keep around young children, dogs and cats.
That said, it is always important to keep an eye out for these little ones as they can still choke, gag or experience other side effects if they ingest any part of the plant (since the plant is not edible).
Problems & Troubleshooting
The most common pest problem your Hoya Shepherdii will likely experience are mealybugs. These tiny white creatures are attracted to the thick succulent like leaves because they enjoy feasting on sap.
Additionally, spider mites and aphids are the other two pests can this plant attracts.
That said, with proper care you may never need to deal with any pests. Although it is always a good idea to be ready.
That’s because pests can happen any time. They also multiply very fast.
So, if you don’t do regular inspections, by the time you notice them, they may have grown into an infestation.
Their large number allows them to cause more damage to the plant as they suck more its sap (which contains the nutrients and water meant for the leaves).
If you spot them early, you can just spray them off with a stream of water. You can do this in the sink, shower or outside with a garden hose depending on how long your plant is.
Alternatively, you can use neem oil or insecticidal soap as well.
Diseases are another issue. While these are more seldom, you can increase the risk with excess moisture.
In most cases, bacterial and fungal infections are caused by wetness. This can be overwatered soil, waterlogged soil, leaves that stay wet for long periods of time.
Excess moisture is dangerous to your plant as it becomes a breeding ground for pathogens. And these will develop and attack your plant.
As such, leaf infections, stem and root rot can happen.
So, extra water when possible and stay on the dry side.