This beautiful trailing vine originates from the Himalayas. It is commonly found in Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, growing from tree tops and fallen trees.
Many know this plant as the ‘Wax Flower Plant,’ showcasing a trail of thick round leaves around 1-2cm long. Combined with its dainty-looking leaves and green flowers that bloom each year, it cascades from the pot, making a statement to any area of the room.
The Wax flower is part of the Apocynaceae family.
It was first found in the 1880s and now has over 200 variations of its species. Hoya serpens love a mottled sunlight environment with as much humidity as possible.
Although the Hoya serpens have conventional plant needs, this article will give you more insight into how you can care for your Hoya serpens and give them the best life possible.
There have been studies to show the effects that the hoya and other species have on our air and how they help filter out pollutants- you can read about it in more detail here.
Hoya Serpens Care
Like us, being at the right temperature is vital for a happy life. At the right temperature, your plant can sustain its best appearance.
Due to its tropical origin, moderate to warm conditions are ideal climates to keep your Hoya serpens.
The Wax flower is a lover of temperatures between 13 and 27 degrees Celsius and 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The Wax flower is recommended to be kept away from drafts and artificial air flow produced by heating and cooling fans.
If you are opting to keep your Hoya serpens outside, be aware that it can’t take the freezing temperatures, so being mindful of your frosty times will prevent it from suffering. During the winter, 50-55 degrees F (10 degrees C) is the lowest range it will endure.
It’s beneficial to keep a temperature gauge in your home to monitor the climate changes during the year and ensure that your plants live their best life possible.
When you think about the Himalayas, it’s no surprise that it prefers a humid rainforest-like environment. Obtaining the required humidity level can be achievable in most households with various methods in place.
The Hoya serpens grow best in the humidity of a minimum of 60% and a maximum of 100%. They are pretty fussy when it comes to changes in moisture and may react accordingly.
Suppose your Hoya serpens are showing yellowing of its leaves. In that case, this can signal low humidity and prompt you to change its environment. The yellowing is a sign of transpiration, creating a loss of water from the plant.
The opposite end of the scale might be that the environment is too muggy for your plant, leading to the plant being sensitive to diseases and infections.
You can keep your Wax flower plant in an area of your home that produces steam, such as the kitchen, laundry, or bathroom.
An alternative to maintaining the humidity of this level is to use a humidifier in the room or cover the plant with a clear plastic bag.
When considering where to position the Hoya serpens, try to choose an area behind glass but away from direct sunlight.
This will create a greenhouse effect, and you can mist the plant with a spray bottle to keep the moisture in the air and prevent the plant from transpiring.
You can find many digital household temperature gauges now that will state the humidity of the air too. Try keeping on in the room where your plants are, and it will help to monitor the environment they are living in.
Like many plants, too little or too much water can significantly affect their life.
Knowing the signs of when your plant needs a drink is essential, but also knowing when it has had enough can potentially save it from downing.
If your Hoya serpens are situated in a beaming sunny spot with well-draining soil, watering can be done 2-3 times per week. On the contrary, watering can be reduced if the Wax flower plant is positioned in a humid area.
The best way to tell if your plant needs watering is to simply check the soil on alternate days. Take a look at the first half to a third of the pot’s soil; if it appears dry, it is time to give your plant a drink.
The Hoya serpens are similar to a succulent plant because they like to dry out before watering. So, when you do water again, please give it a good soaking.
Water drainage is super vital to your plant’s health, and providing the pot and soil have adequate drainage, you will be able to regulate a steady watering regime.
Water and soil work together, so it is worth reading the next few paragraphs to ensure you have the correct combination of these elements.
Getting the soil requirements suitable for your plant to develop a sound root system is just as important as all the other elements we have discussed so far in this article.
The Hoya serpens appreciate a soil substrate that is well-drained and has good aeration. An equal combination of peat, pearlite and Orchid mix will give your plant the best chance at growing a robust root system.
This airy combination will prevent the roots from rotting or becoming too dry.
Like many plants, the pH requirement is 6.0 to 7.0, so no significant additives need to be used to maintain levels later.
Other mediums you can consider using would be Coco chips, Fir bark, or charcoal mixed with other soilless materials. These will create a coarse environment for the roots to breathe.
If you are growing succulents at home, you can use the same soil mix for the Wax flower plant.
It’s a great idea to invest in a pH test kit for your soil, especially if you are a plant lover.
There is an easy method to check for obvious signs of acidity in your soil. That is by adding half a cup of baking soda to 2 tablespoons of moist soil, if it fizzes this is a sign your soil is acidic.
Watch the video below to guide you through the process of testing your soil in more detail.
Finding the right spot in your home for your Wax flower plant will affect how your plant will survive. Although it is not fussy with its light requirements, putting it in the dark or the beaming sun can be a little extreme.
Because this plant initially grows in and around the tree tops in the Himalayas, it recognizes mottled and indirect sunlight as a similar condition to its origin.
Place your Wax plant in a spot with full indirect sunlight.
Choose a partly shaded area if you are in a climate zone (Zone 11 and 15-24) where the plant can be planted outside. Aim for around 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight daily, which will be delightful for your plant.
One sign of your Hoya serpens receiving too much light may be the leaves turning yellow and dropping off. This is not a great sign, so moving to a different area will help.
On the other hand, not enough light will be displayed, with soggy leaves eventually turning yellow.
Don’t panic if your house is situated in a particularly dark area with little natural light; you can make a small investment in a grow light for your indoor plant varieties.
Hoya serpens will be content growing under artificial light, and a T5 HO light is recommended as the best bet. These can be extremely useful, especially during the winter months when the days are shorter.
Like all plants, sometimes they may need a little boost of nutrients to help along the way, mainly when producing flowers or going through the growing season.
Use a high-quality 2-1-2 or a 3-2-1 liquidized fertilizer for your Wax flower plant once a week during the spring and summer when they are at their peak.
The increase in phosphorus will assist the plant in producing flowers during the blooming period. When applying the fertilizer, ensure you add it directly to the soil and away from the stem of the plant.
You can use a slow-releasing granulated fertilizer which will take care of the plants’ needs for months. A small amount of the granules should be placed away from the stem and under the surface of the soil about an inch.
One sign of overfeeding your Hoya serpens may be the leaves starting to turn pale after their routine feed. Overfeeding with fertilizer can be toxic to the plant. Therefore, any changes to its appearance after feeding should be attended to.
As discussed earlier in this article, the soil plays a huge part when it comes to providing your Wax flower plant with the right environment to set its roots.
After choosing the right soil mix for your Hoya serpens, ensuring it is happy through the years will include being aware of when to re-pot the plant.
This air-loving plant enjoys a compact root system, so re-potting often is not necessary to increase its growth.
Approximately once every two years is ideal for re-potting your Hoya serpens, depending on their care and environment.
A common sign to look out for when deciding to re-pot your Wax flower plant is if you can see some roots are turning black or brown. If some of the roots appear to be coming out of the top of the soil surface, pruning them can help shift the energy to other plant areas.
When potting the Hoya serpens make sure you are potting into a container of the right size with drainage holes. If re-potting, the pot should be the next size up from its existing pot.
The Wax flower doesn’t need a particularly deep pot for its root system to develop, so don’t overdo it when choosing the size.
Terracotta pots are ideal for the Hoya serpens as they are porous and will assist in the drying out the process they need between watering.
Because of their trailing characteristics, the Hoya serpens look stunning in hanging baskets or planters elevated off the ground. As the plants’ runners begin to grow, they will soon fill an area, creating a lovely focal point.
You can also try planting your Hoya serpens next to a trellis, as they have the ability to climb and cover vertically. This method brings about some creativity and has the ability to achieve a unique statement look in your room.
Have a look at this video on how you can get creative and make your own DIY trellis for your Hoya serpens.
Now we know Hoya serpens is a trailing plant, what else is there to know about its growth habits?
The wax flower is regarded as semi-succulent and has been known to live up to 30 years in the right conditions.
Although it is a fast-growing plant, it can take up to 5 years to be fully mature and produce a peduncle to bloom.
Once you see a peduncle on your vine, make sure you don’t cut it off by accident.
To identify it, you will see a small spur growing from the internode; it looks like a new leaf could be emerging. Still, it will turn into a spur for the flower if it is a peduncle.
A lot of patience is required when looking after this plant, but it is truly worth the wait.
The overall height the Hoya serpent will grow is 8-10 ft (2.4- 3 metres) which is essentially that of an average ceiling height.
You can imagine your Hoya serpent on a high shelf with its dainty foliage hanging down to the floor to beautify a space in your room. The evenly spaced leaves on the vine are dark green and round-like droplets with flecks of grey.
If you are lucky enough to have Hoya serpens that have bloomed, you may see that The wax plant produces seed pods; these kind of look like string beans hanging from the vine. You can harvest these seeds and regrow extra plants later on.
Why stop at just one Hoya serpens plant when you can multiply them so easily and share with your friends and family? Reproducing and sharing plants is an effortless but meaningful pastime.
The easiest and most common way to reproduce the Hoya serpens plant is with the stem-cutting method. You don’t need many tools or a lot of space to do this.
Here, we’ll look at the steps involved in propagating the Wax flower plant:
- Prepare the pots
Take a small pot with drainage holes and fill it with the same potting soil substrate that was discussed earlier on in this article – pearlite, sand or vermiculite is used to help with water retention and drainage. Wet the potting mix until it is damp, be sure not to over soak it.
- Take the cutting
Using a sharp pair of disinfected scissors and take a cut of the stem where there are three leaves. Aim for the stem to be 5 inches long (10cm). Take the leaf from the lower part of the stem leaving the two leaves at the top.
- Rooting powder
Use rooting powder to dip the bottom of the stem into and help with the development of new roots. Gently push the stem into the potting mix and fill the remainder of the pot with the soil. Be careful not to push it all the way into the soil so that the leaves are touching it
Position the new cutting in the same area where the mother plant was taken from and reduce the watering slightly to prevent the root from rotting.
In about 4 weeks the roots should start to form and later on new leaves will emerge.
Below is a video you can take a look at to give you an idea of how easy it is to propagate the hoya serpens.
Common Problems With Hoya Serpens
The Hoya serpens is a relatively robust plant when you think about the conditions it derives from.
There is not a lot to be concerned about when it comes to pests and diseases with the Hoya serpens, but keeping an eye out for them will ensure that no unwanted visitors will take over any time soon!
The furry looking mealybugs like to feed on the Wax flower plant so it’s best to check for these from time to time.
They are commonly seen in groups and are small, white fuzzy looking creatures with a lot of legs. These little enemies will pierce the leaves of your plant and take the sap from the inside.
In time, their feeding will cause the leaves of your precious plant to turn yellow and drop off.
Not only does the mealybug feeding regime affect your plant, but also their excretion is massively damaging too. Because of the sap they have digested, they produce sticky castings which bring about other pests and diseases.
To combat an infestation of these little critters you can use a combination of neem oil spray and insecticidal soap to create a spray.
The Hoya serpens are somewhat susceptible to sooty mold and it is commonly found on the Hoya serpens after an infestation of Aphids has been present.
Sooty mold can be identified when your Hoya serpens are in flower too. You may see the grey coating on its leaves and flowers; it can also form the sweet nectar secreted during its flowering stage.
Sooty mold can be a bit of a challenge to remove if it has been unnoticed for too long. With that being said, you can create a homemade spray to use and begin treatment.
It is recommended to soak your affected Hoya serpens leaves in soapy water first, and then spray with neem oil afterwards to combat the infection.
There have been a lot of studies by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources into Mealy bugs and Sooty Mold and you can read further about these studies with this link.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are my Hoya serpens not growing?
More often than not this is a result of over or under-watering.
If you are experiencing stunted growth, check the soil to see if it needs water. If the first few inches of soil are dry then give it a drink – a good soak.
How much water should I give my Hoya serpens?
An ideal watering regime would be every couple of days if the Hoya serpens are kept at a moderate temperature.
During the warmer months, you may have to water more regularly.
What fertilizer should I use on my Hoya serpens?
Use a full-strength liquid fertilizer with a ratio of 2-1-2 or 3-1-2 once a month during the spring and summer periods.
You can also use a granulated slow-release fertilizer with the same ratio, follow the instructions from the manufacturer for the best application.
How can I make my Hoya serpens grow faster?
You can use artificial light to increase the growth of your Hoya serpens. It’s best to make sure that all of the other requirements are met too.
For example, simply changing the light when the plant needs fresh soil won’t be a solution.
All in all, the Hoya serpens seem a somewhat easy plant to care for, the only big challenge that might be faced is with the control of humidity if kept in a dry area.
This plant definitely produces an attractive statement to the room with its delicate-looking foliage and I’m sure with enough patience its blooms will be worth waiting for.