Hoya Retusa is an evergreen vine or climbing plant, primarily encountered in its variegated form. Few plants exude the same serenity and calmness; it might be due to the thick coating of wax that makes them feel slightly plastic/rubbery to touch or their leaves’ waxy surface.
What makes the Hoya Retusa special is that it is one of the few climbing plants that doesn’t use tendrils; instead, it uses its leaves’ veins to become a more robust version of itself. This plant can be kept as both an indoor and outdoor plant if given ample sunlight.
- Scientific name: Hoya retusa
- Common names: Wax plant, Porcelain berry vine, Carabellas wax leaf hoya.
- Origin: Native to Philippines and Malaysia.
- Indoor or Outdoor Plant: Both.
- Height and structure: Climbs via the leaf veins so that it can get quite tall. It grows 5-7mm per day, so be wary of its growth.
- Temperature: Prefers warm and bright conditions. Likes average to high humidity.
- Flower Color: White.
It is best to plant the Hoya Retusa in Spring. If you are planting an already mature specimen, it can be planted at any time of year. Make sure that you have a large pot for your Hoya, as it will need a lot of space to climb.
The recommended spacing between the Hoya Retusa and its neighbors is at least 2.5 feet because it can get huge if given enough space to climb. You can plant it closer together if you are growing a smaller species.
Plant indoors/outdoors Sunlight: Hoya Retusa needs 8+ hours of direct sunlight every day. Do not grow it under fluorescent lights or insolation, as they are inadequate substitutes for natural sunlight. It may survive but will not be able to produce blooms or climb effectively.
The Hoya Retusa is an adaptable plant, as long as it’s given enough room to climb and there’s a lot of sunlight. It will thrive in the usual potting mix for potted plants: A mixture of composted organic material and soil.
If your local garden center doesn’t carry potting mix, you can make your own at home by mixing your compost with some topsoil and perlite. Bonemeal or superphosphate can be added on top of the soil to fertilize the plant once every 20-25 weeks (once every 3 months).
The Hoya Retusa will steadily grow up to 7mm per day. Keep this in mind when placing your plant, especially if you plan to keep it in a confined space. Also, the Hoya Retusa will climb via its leaves’ veins, so although it’s best to let your plant wind down very gently onto a piece of softer material at night (e.g., pantyhose).
Staking is usually unnecessary for Hoya Retusa because it naturally winds itself down toward the ground at night. However, if you want to place your plant in a hanging basket or on top of a shelf where it cannot wind downwards naturally, you can use pantyhose or sisal rope to tie the plant onto whatever structure you are using.
The number one reason for death for most tropical plants is under-watering or over-watering. You must learn your plant’s foliage well enough so you know when it needs water and act accordingly. If in doubt, give it less instead of too much water; this is better than drowning your plant with too much water! (Give them at least 3 years before expecting flowers, however. This is how long it takes for them to reach maturity).
Fertilize your Hoya once every 3 months using a balanced fertilizer at half the recommended strength. Feed it during the growing season (summer) at weekly intervals. Stop fertilizing once the temperature starts to drop to about 55 degrees F at night. This is when your Hoya enters its winter dormancy, and it will drop all of its leaves.
Hoya Retusa prefers moderate humidity levels of 50-65%. To increase humidity around your plant, place the pot on a tray containing water and pebbles. Make sure that your Hoya has enough airflow, so mold doesn’t appear.
If there’s too much humidity in the air, try placing your Hoya near an open window or fan to reduce its humidity level.
The Hoya Retusa prefers night temperatures of 55-65 degrees F and day temperatures between 70-85 degrees F. When the temperature drops below 55 degrees or above 85, your plant will show signs of stress. Also, never let it stay in direct sunlight for too long because underneath is just not enough light to support proper flower development (you can quickly tell when this happens because your plant’s leaves will be curled downwards with black blotches).
This is a method of protecting your plant from dehydration and direct sunlight. It can be done by placing a layer of pebbles or pot shards on top of the soil around your Hoya, so when you water it, the water won’t immediately run down to its roots but will instead stay in the container for longer. It’s advisable to do this, especially when watering your plant copiously because it ensures less stress on the roots.
Your Hoya will develop branches and leaves only when it has enough energy stored up. So you should let your vine grow for several months before you start pruning, but if the leaves are starting to look too crowded on your plant, cut away some of the worst branches. During summer, make sure to do this, so your Hoya doesn’t stress out too much while it recovers. Trim your Hoya Retusa into a bonsai shape during winter to only encourage growth in the branches, but don’t cut newly grown leaves until springtime.
Your Hoya Retusa should only be repotted in the spring when it has finished its winter dormancy, but this is not necessary unless you are trying to propagate your plant or give it to someone else.
If you feel that your pot is too small for your plant, replace it with a bigger one, so the roots don’t rot. But do not replace your pot until at least 1 year later because your plant needs time to recover after transplanting. Your Hoya Retusa must be repotted in the excellent season because they are susceptible to transplanting and will show signs of stress if you disturb them at the wrong times.
If you end up with dead roots, concentrate on saving your plant by cutting away everything below the dead section. Make sure there’s no rotting still occurring beneath the soil before you start pruning off leaves or branches above it. Otherwise, right after you’ve done this, you’ll regret it! Make sure to use a fungicide for rooting cuttings if your cut is slightly infected with fungus.
Your plant will produce new shoots fast, so you can use these to propagate your Hoya Retusa. When the newest growths are about 2 inches long, snip them off just below a leaf node where there’s a bulge in the stem (not too close though, or you’ll cut into the main branch). After that, it’s as simple as placing this cutting into some moist soil and waiting for it to root.
Some Hoya vines will snap off easily, and you can use those just as well for propagation.
Your Hoya Retusa can be divided back into individual plants by simply repotting them. For this, use a small pot because it’s only the root system you are transplanting, not your plant itself. Your vines can grow many roots when they are placed in soft soil, so do not let the roots dry out at all during this process, or else your plant will die. It’s best to use a fungicide for rooting cuttings if the roots are slightly infected with fungus.
Hoya Retusa, much like most other plants, can be affected by several types of insects and diseases that will shorten their lifespan if left untreated. You should regularly check your plant for insect infestations or signs of disease because these are easier to control when caught early on.
Treating overgrown areas of your plant with pesticides can often do more harm than good, so you have to be careful about how you go about doing this. However, some kinds of pests require severe treatment methods, which you should not attempt on your own unless you know what you’re doing!
It’s also important to catch an infestation early on before it goes out of control, so you have to be very patient when it comes to this. The best way to prevent insect infestation is by providing the right environment for your plant in its pot— that means good drainage and correct soil are key! Keeping your plant in the right conditions will be healthier and less likely to attract bugs.
There are over 1100 species of Hoya plants, and the Retusa is one of them. It was first discovered by a Dutch botanist named Willem Hendrik Korthals in 1837, who then sent it to a famous English botanist named Sir Joseph Banks for identification. Hoya Retusa is sometimes referred to as wax plant, or green rose plant because you can twist their stems into a waxy-looking ball or blossom.
Another species of Hoya is Hoyarex anitphillipsiana, but it’s a bit harder to find because there are fewer of them. They sometimes can be mistaken for each other, though, because they both have thick, shiny leaves, and the only way you can tell the difference between them is by looking at their flowers.
The third type of Hoya, Hoya pubicalyx, originates in India. Unfortunately, this plant is considered an endangered species because it’s so sought after for its medicinal purposes and beautiful wax-like bark that makes the vines look covered in snow.
Lastly, Hoya kerrii originates in the Eastern Himalayas and is named after Joseph Dalton Ker. It’s well-known for its beautiful star-shaped white blooms. The kerrii takes around two years to mature, is exceptionally hardy, and can survive indoors.
The Retusa will grow best when paired with other houseplants with a lot of space in their pots because this kind of plant likes to sprawl. It’s also good to go for low-maintenance plants because the vine will often outgrow smaller ones. When it comes to your Hoya Retusa, one good companion is a cactus which you can place at the base of your vine since they both enjoy warm climates and similar soil conditions that are loose and well-draining.
Other good options are the Ponytail Palm or Chinese Evergreen, which you can put in front of your Retusa, so it has something to lean on as it climbs upwards. The Bamboo Plant is another excellent choice because they’ll create cute little hiding places for your Hoya!
Be sure not to place the plant directly in front of a window or block all incoming light that it needs to survive. It’s best to wait until the Retusa vines grow tall enough so they can naturally hang down from one side of the pot and give them something to climb on like sticks if they grow too fast. Sometimes they’ll sprawl onto the ground, but they don’t need much light at all, so just let their roots roam free inside your home because this is where most people keep their plants anyway.
No, but the sap might irritate sensitive skin.
Hoya plants contain a chemical called scopoletin, which has been known to cause allergies in some individuals, so it’s best not to touch your vine without wearing gloves when you have cuts on your hands.
Ingesting large amounts of the leaves can also be dangerous to humans and animals because they’re full of chemicals that may affect our bodies in various ways.
If you suspect that your Retusa has been exposed to pesticides, it’s best not to eat any part of this plant until you’ve washed it thoroughly with soap and water. However, if you want an extra precaution, you can always steam the leaves at least twice since this will kill off any bacteria, viruses, or fungi that might be living on the plant surface.
Hoya plants are also notorious for carrying mold spores because they’re susceptible to humidity. The toxins contained in mold can cause many health problems, so it’s best not to place your vine near any other houseplants which could potentially harbor these harmful spores.