Hoya vitellina, or chocolate-flower wax plant, is part of the Hoya genus and belongs to the same family as gardenias and lilacs. These plants are tropical vines that grow natively in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, and other parts of Asia. But they do just fine as houseplants in the U.S.
They have captivated plant lovers everywhere with their beautiful purple and white striped leaves that shimmer in the light. But as fascinating as this plant’s appearance is, you may be wondering how to care for it in your home or office.
The Hoya vitellina requires little maintenance to grow and flower indoors, which makes it an excellent houseplant for even the most inexperienced gardener. Check out these care and growing tips for Hoya vitellina to keep yours looking beautiful and thriving all year long!
Here are some of the best tips on how to grow hoya vitellina plants successfully.
Origin and descriptions
Hoya vitellina is native to Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines. The plant grows up to 6 inches (15 cm) tall with a stem diameter of about 0.8 inches (2 cm). The leaves are green and oval-shaped, measuring about 2 inches (5 cm) long by 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide on mature plants.
They are arranged alternately along a vine that can reach 10 feet (3 m) in length or more if left unpruned. Leaves are thick and leathery with prominent veins running along their length. Hoya vitellina has tiny flowers that are white or pale pink. Flowers grow from leaf axils at nodes along stems and branches.
Individual flowers last only one day but new ones open every day for several weeks during warmer months. If you want your hoya to flower, keep it warm and well-lit year-round—ideally 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) during the winter months and 75 degrees F (24 degrees C) during the summer months.
Hoya vitellina propagation
Since Hoya vitellina is a tropical plant that does best in warm, humid conditions, it’s not very difficult to propagate.
As long as you have another Hoya vitellina plant with roots or leaves, you can attempt to grow your own. Cuttings from ripe (i.e. orange) leaves can be placed directly into soil mixed with peat moss or perlite and water when they are planted.
If you’re starting with cuttings from unripe (green) leaves, let them sit for a few weeks until they turn orange before planting them.
While rooting may take some time, don’t give up! It may take several months for new plants to grow. If you’re propagating by leaf cuttings, make sure to use healthy leaves that haven’t been exposed to chemicals or pollutants since these will likely kill your new plants.
When using seeds, make sure to sow them in well-drained pots containing sterilized potting mix such as vermiculite or perlite. The seeds should germinate within two weeks of sowing but be patient; many species of Hoyas require anywhere from six months to two years to reach maturity.
You’ll know your Hoyas are ready for transplanting when their stems begin producing aerial roots at their base.
Hoya vitellina care information
Hoya vitellina are fairly low-maintenance plants. They thrive on good sunlight, warm temperatures, and little water once they’re established. They can also take a wide range of soil types. If you’re new to caring for hoyas, start with Hoya vitellina ‘Christmas Gold’; it’s extremely hardy and easy to grow.
You should avoid repotting hoyas more than once every two years. During hot summer months, cut back on watering your plant until nighttime temperatures begin to drop again in late fall or early winter. Hoyas can be propagated from tip cuttings taken in spring or summer (after flowering) or by division in spring or fall.
It’s a good idea to keep your Hoya vitellina in an area with plenty of indirect sunlight. This plant can also thrive when exposed to bright indoor lighting; however, be careful not to leave it in direct sunlight for extended periods of time.
If placed in a drafty or cool location, you may see some leaf drop. You should water your plant regularly but avoid over-watering it by letting the soil dry out before giving it more water.
The soil should be rich in nutrients, such as composted manure or wood chips. Use a potting mix containing peat moss or sphagnum moss instead of bark; these contain lower levels of acidity and are easier on roots. Cacti and succulent potting mixes can also be used as long as these have not been treated with pesticides or chemicals.
The pH level of your soil is important, too: cacti like their soil slightly acidic (between 5.5 and 6), while most other plants prefer neutral to slightly alkaline soils (around 7). If you’re unsure about your specific plant’s needs, consult an expert before making any changes to its environment.
Hoya vitellina is a moisture-loving plant, so it should always be kept moist—you should never let its leaves or roots dry out. In order to avoid having to check up on your hoya frequently, place it in a sunny spot with good air circulation.
If you forget to water your plant one day, do not give it a deep watering to make up for it; simply water normally as soon as you remember.
This will prevent root rot and other problems that can arise from giving too much water at once. When you notice that your plant’s soil has dried out, gently remove any dead leaves from around its base before watering again. This will help prevent fungal diseases from spreading through them.
The best time to feed a Hoya vitellina is in its active growth period (spring to fall). Use an all-purpose plant food with a balanced mix of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Apply fertilizer once every four weeks (or twice a month) at half strength. Scratch some fertilizer into the top layer of soil around your Hoyas leaves using your fingers or a pencil.
You can also fertilize every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20.
Hoya vitellina plants need a warm environment to thrive. They like temperatures in excess of 70°F, but will do just fine if temperatures stay above 50°F. If you’re growing your plant indoors, place it near a window that receives direct sunlight during at least part of the day.
If you’re growing outdoors, make sure it has plenty of sun exposure during spring through fall; winter is too cold for hoyas, so they should be brought inside during colder months.
The Hoya vitellina plant loves humidity. If you’re growing one of these plants in a house with low humidity, set your HV on a humidifier for an hour or two each day.
You can also spray water onto its leaves (being careful not to drip water into its center), or try misting it with room-temperature water every couple of days if you have low humidity throughout your home. Keep in mind that higher humidity means more fungal growth, which can harm your plant.
The ideal humidity range is 40-60%. If you’re growing your Hoya vitellina in a terrarium, try adding more perlite to keep up with evaporation. You can also place a pebble tray beneath your plant to catch excess water. If you’re growing your HV in a room with high humidity, consider moving it to another area of your home where there’s less moisture.
Hoya vitellina is a great choice for bonsai enthusiasts. You can keep them smaller than they are in their pot by pinching off new growth. Once a year, cut back all of your hoyas to about 6 inches from where new growth emerges; you will be surprised how much healthier your plant looks with regular pruning!
Don’t discard any old leaves; just pile them up on top of each other to start forming a platform for roots to grow upon. Use a sharp knife or scissors when cutting your hoya back. Be sure not to leave stubs behind, as these can cause rot in humid conditions.
When to repot
New hoyas should be repotted after they have flowered, usually every two to three years. Ideally, you should repot them before flowering (as soon as they’re big enough) so that you don’t miss any flowers. If that isn’t possible, be sure to wait until all flowers have faded before repotting your hoya plant—no blooms means no bees or other pollinators.
In its native habitat, Hoya vitellina is dormant from fall to spring. Since its growth cycle differs greatly from that of most other Hoyas, you may have trouble deciding when to water it, but don’t fret: During dormant periods, Hoya vitellina needs only a minimal amount of water (once every two or three weeks) to ensure survival.
Hoya vitellina flowers & fragrance
This tropical climber features glossy green leaves with white, star-shaped flowers that appear in mid to late summer. They also have a sweet fragrance, which is released when their leaves are gently rubbed.
Hoya vitellina has an average growth rate but can grow quite tall if left to its own devices. It has numerous pseudobulbs that can make it easy to overwater, so be sure to check how often you’re watering. If you let it dry out too much between waterings, you risk root rot; if you water too often or with too much water, you risk rotting foliage.
Toxic to cats, dogs, and humans; potentially fatal if ingested. The sap can cause skin irritation in humans. Contact with eyes or prolonged contact with skin may cause allergic reactions.
USDA Hardiness Zones
Hoya vitellina will thrive in USDA hardiness zones 10b through 11. In areas with cold winters, grow it as an annual or bring it indoors to enjoy as a houseplant. Keep it on a sunny windowsill, but avoid direct sunlight, which can scorch its leaves. Water regularly when soil is dry to touch; do not allow water to pool at its base.
Pests and diseases
Hoya plants are generally pest-free, although aphids and mealybugs sometimes take up residence on their leaves. Sticky traps should keep them away. Mealybugs can be removed with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol. Aphids can also be removed by dabbing them with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.
Severe infestations may require insecticidal soap, but it’s best to try safer methods first. The most common disease affecting Hoyas is leaf spot, which manifests as small brown spots or lesions on leaves.
It can usually be treated with an over-the-counter fungicide; however, if your plant is particularly vulnerable, you might want to consider moving it outdoors during the summer months when temperatures are more moderate.
Hoyas are one of those wonderful houseplants that provide lots of color and interest without too much upkeep. This flowering vine can fit into almost any space, is great for brightening up window sills, and makes an excellent hanging plant—and if you’re interested in learning how to grow a hoya vitellina, we hope you found our care tips helpful!