Hoya Serpens: Where to Buy, Growing Guide and Care Tips

Hoya Serpens Waxy Leaves
Hoya Serpens Waxy Leaves (Source: My Jungle Shack)

So, you’ve decided to add Hoya serpens to your garden? Because of its lovely blossoms, most plant enthusiasts favor Hoya serpens as an indoor plant.

It’s even more appealing because of its unusual pale green color and enticing aroma.

New plant growers can often find it challenging to take care of the Hoya serpens, leading to stunted growth, pests infestations, and diseases.

Generally, Hoya serpens thrives best in bright indirect sunlight with temperatures ranging from (55 to 75°F) and high relative humidity levels of at least 60%. They need a well-draining soil mix, and organic fertilizer applied twice a month is sufficient to meet their growing requirements.

There are various types of Hoya species globally, and similarly, their care requirements differ accordingly.

Follow the care tips mentioned in the article to grow healthy and vibrant Hoya serpens.

Overview of Hoya Serpens

Common NameWaxflower plant
Scientific NameHoya serpens
OriginSoutheast Asia
FamilyApocynaceae
USDA ZonesUSDA 9-11
FlowerLime green, white
FoilageWaxy, round green leaves with white flowers.
Blooming TimeSummer to spring.
Height8-10 feet tall
ToxicityToxic to humans and pets
FragranceSweet smelling

Where to Buy Hoya Serpens?

Hoya Serpens is a bit rare to find in your local plant nursery. You might find other species of the Hoya plant-like Hoya lacunosa, Hoya odorata. But finding Hoya Serpens might be a little tricky.

They either need to be propagated or bought for in online stores which keep in stock.

Have a look at the different stores and websites from where you can buy Hoya Serpens from:

StoreDelivery ServicesPrice
ETSY1. Delivery within 5 to 7 days
2. Product doesn't ship to California
$125
Happy Forest1. Delivery within 4 to 6 days
2. Comes with 100% Live Arrival Guarantee
$35
My Home NatureDelivery within 7 to 10 days$36.95
Botanica1. Delivery within 2 to 3 days
2. All sales are final
$154

These plants can be grown either in pots or hanging baskets which adds to their ambiance and makes them even more attractive.

The trailing basket would be the best for showing off the beautiful trailing branches of the plant.

You can also buy this plant at your local plant nursery, plant store.

Hoya Serpens: Ultimate Growing and Care Guide

Here is a quick care guide on the different parameters and the favorable conditions required for its growth.

FactorsOptimal Conditions
Sunlight and Location4-6 hours of indirect sunlight.
Watering RequirementWater the plant two times a week.
Ideal Tempreature13-27 °C (55- 75° F)
Humidity Requirements60%.
Thrives in humidity level around 90%.
Soil MixturePeat moss, vermiculite, humus and charcoal.
Soil pH6.0-7.0
Feralization Requirements2 times in a month.
Growth Habits8-10 feet maximum height.
Flowering SeasonSummer
Pot TypeTerracotta container
Propagation seasonSummer and Spring
RepottingEvery two years.
PruningEvery two years

1. Adequate Sunlight and Proper Location

Hoya Serpens prefers to be away from direct sunlight.

Hoya Serpens grows best with 4-6 hours of indirect bright light. They prefer bright indirect sunlight and partially shaded locations.

It would be even better if the plant receives morning and evening lighting, which is not harmful.

These plants can tolerate more hours of sunlight, but it may affect the leaves and cause sunburn, scorching marks, which are difficult to remove.

You can also make use of window blinds, covers to allow only minimal sunlight to reach your plant.

Using thin linen clothing can also help prevent the Hoya plant from sunburnt and dehydrating from excessive sunlight.

The ideal location to place the plant would be near south-eastern facing windows that receive early morning light that is not scorching and indirect lighting.

Plant under the light source
Plant under the light source (source: Wikimedia)

Problems Due to Insufficient Lighting

  • It causes reduced photosynthesis, from which plants have lower food and energy for themselves.
  • It affects their overall physiological activities.
  • Yellowing of leaves
  • Dropping of the whole plant

If your Hoya plant shows these symptoms, you can place the plant outdoors in a few hours of sunlight to solve this issue.

Tips to Maintain Adequate Light

  • Install artificial lighting sources by using LED, GROW, or fluorescent lights when the plant lacks light during winter, cloudy days.
  • When grown outdoors, make sure to put them in the shade.
  • Do not transfer a plant from a brighter to lower light space.

2. Adequate Watering

Hoya Serpens is a rainforest plant where the soil is consistently moist. It can even survive in a moderate amount of water.

It prefers damp soil, which is not too soggy to prevent root-related diseases.

Ideally, watering the Hoya Serpens two times a week is enough for optimal growth. 

But the plant’s water requirements also depend on the amount of sunlight it receives, the temperature, humidity levels.

Drier, harsher conditions for the plant means you should adjust the watering requirements accordingly and even water up to three times within a week.

Hoya serpens goes dormant during the winter and does not require much water. Only water them once a month during the winter.

IKEA.. 403.941.18 Vattenkrasse Watering Can
Watering the indoor plant (Source: Amazon)

A healthy Hoya which receives an adequate amount of water should have vibrant foliage and healthy colored leaves.

Watering the plant can be tricky as overwatering and underwatering the plant have consequences.

Problems Due to Watering Issues

  • Underwatering: Leaves tips start wilting, yellowing, or browning.
  • Overwatering: Leaves start falling, and the petiole base looks weak and brown.

Tips to Water Hoya Serpens Properly

  • Avoid watering the plant with hot or cold water; it can cause damage to the plant. Opt for room temperature water or tepid water.
  • Use the soil moisture meter for checking the moisture level in the soil and water according to its requirements.
  • Check the soil before watering. You can also place a stick into the soil; if the bottom half is dry, it is time to water the plant thoroughly.
  • Avoid using water rich in salts and minerals as it can accumulate in the roots.
  • Always empty the saucer placed below the plant after water gets accumulated in it.
  • Make use of distilled water or rainwater while watering the plant as it is free from all the harsh chemicals like chlorine, calcium oxides present in the tap water.

3. Ideal Temperature

Being a tropical plant, Hoya Serpens grows best in tropical, warm, and humid conditions.

The ideal temperature for the Hoya serpens is around 13-27 °C (55-75°F), which is relatively easy to maintain for indoor plants. 

Be careful when the temperature dips, as the plant cannot survive at temperatures lower than 50°F (10°C) for an extended period.

These plants survive in warmer climates than colder temperatures and can tolerate heat up to 30°C.

But if the temperature exceeds 30°C, it can cause plants to lose metabolic functions due to excessive transpiration and evaporation.

Tips to Maintain Optimum Temperature

  • Increasing humidity around the plant when the temperature is high would help.
  • Make use of an air conditioner to maintain the temperature in summer and winter.
  • Avoid placing the plant near a window during the winter as the temperature fluctuates rapidly and is prone to frost and wind.
  • You can also cover the plant with plastics, insulating bags if you keep the plant outdoors in the winter.
  • Also, using quick-growing viners on the walls can be an alternate solution to maintain the room’s temperature.
  • Using heat packs around the location plant is placed can also be helpful.

4. High Humidity

Plants belonging to the Hoya genus prefer high humidity. Hoya Serpens also likes a high level of relative humidity for its growth.

Maintaining high levels of humidity all the time can be a difficult task.

Hoya plant survives in moderate humidity of around 60% and thrives in locations where the humidity levels are above 90%. 

If the humidity level decreases, the plant growth suffers severely and might ultimately stop growing.

Since the average relative humidity is around 40-50%, you will need to put extra effort into maintaining its humidity requirement.

Effect of humidity on leaves
The lower humidity sucks up water molecules around the leaves, causing excessive transpiration (Source: Wikimedia)

Tips to Maintain High Humidity

  • Mist the leaves of your Hoya Serpens to increase humidity.
  • Place a wet tray below the pot. It increases the overall humidity level around the plant when the water evaporates.
  • You can group the plant with other plants, increasing natural precipitation.
  • Placing the plants in more humid areas such as bathrooms and kitchens can benefit.
  • Using a humidifier can be expensive but is highly effective and worth the price.

Quick Note: Be careful while grouping the plants together as it may transmit pests and diseases from one plant to another.

5. Proper Soil Mix

Hoya Serpens prefers well-draining, loose soil and does not retain water for an extended period.

They prefer soil mixtures that contain perlite, peat moss, and organic substances like vermiculite, humus, and charcoal. 

These materials help retain enough water for the plant’s growth and prevent excessive pooling and quickly draining from the soil.

The plant prefers to grow in a slightly acidic environment; its ideal pH is 6.0-7.0. 

Lack of proper soil mixture may lead to waterlogging of the root, which may cause root rot diseases and fungal infections.

Pro Tip: Using coffee grounds mixture in the soil mix can be beneficial to make the soil more acidic.

You can also prepare your soil mixture for the plant by following this potting mix recipe:

  • One part orchid bark
  • One part peat-free compost
  • Two parts coarse perlite mix
  • Add vermiculite, humus, and charcoal for extra drainage
Hoya Serpens Potting Mix
Hoya Serpens Potting Mix 9Source: Amazon)

6. Fertilizer Requirements

Hoya serpens is not heavy feeder and does not grow very quickly. Hence it does not require fertilizers for its optimum growth.

Using a fertilizer rich in organic matter with a high phosphorous concentration is very beneficial for the plant.

High concentration of phosphorous leads to plants growing faster and having bright colored leaves and foliage.

You can fertilize your Hoya serpens with 2-1-2 liquid fertilizer once a month during the active growing season. 

Slow-release fertilizers would be our best bet, which releases nutrients every time the plant is watered, prevents overfeeding the plant.

The best time to use slow-release fertilizers would be around the beginning of spring, as they require humid soil to function properly.

Feeding the plant in the winter may generate an excess buildup of salt in the soil, so make sure you drain the soil sometimes.

Be careful when fertilizing your plant as it can lead to overfeeding the plant, which can be dangerous and lead to stunted growth, yellowing, wilting of the leaves, chemical burning of the roots.

Here are some commercial fertilizers that you can use for your Hoya Serpens:

Miracle Gro Liquid Plant Food
Miracle-Gro Liquid Plant Food (Source: Amazon)

Tips to Properly Fertilize Hoya Serpens

  • Water your Hoya serpens before fertilizing them. Moisture causes nutrients to pass throughout the roots system.
  • Do not fertilize during the mid-winter season as the plant are dormant during this time and may suffer chemical burning.
  • Aerate the soil without disturbing the roots to absorb nutrients and moisture quickly.
  • Make sure to dilute the fertilizer to half strength.

7. Dormancy Period

Like any other plant, the Hoya plant tends to become dormant in the winter months with decreasing temperatures.

Being dormant does not mean that the plant completely stops growing; it just means that it is saving its energy and has minimal growth during this period.

When these plants become dormant, they do not require much water, fertilizer as compared to the summer months (growing season).

Watering the plant once a month properly is enough for its growth during the winter.

The same goes for fertilizing; since the plant is not a heavy feeder, avoid fertilizing during the mid-winter to prevent chemical burning.

They do not shed leaves during dormancy or show any distinctive signs you might observe during summer or spring.

If you are placing the plant indoors, then it is best to move the plant away from the windowsills and place it in darker, more excellent home areas.

8. Growth Habits

Hoya serpens grow pretty quickly and often bloom consistently after every year.

These plants are most active during the summer when they grow the most and become dormant during winter.

It can reach a maximum height of 8-10 feet within 2-3 years if it receives the proper growth conditions.

Growing Hoya Serpens
Growing Hoya serpens (Source: myjungleshack.com)

To some extent, the plant is root bound up shows faster growth than non-root bound Hoya plants.

Fertilizing the plant every two weeks (2 times a month) can optimize maximum growth.

9. Flowering Habits and Foilage

‘Wax Flower’ is the iconic name for Hoya serpens due to its unique waxy leaves present in the plant.

The attractive foliage and waxy flowers of the Hoya serpens is the most beautiful part of the plant.

It is recognized by its almost perfect round green leaves and colored flowers. The unique shape of the leaf makes it quite popular among plant enthusiasts to add to their indoor collection.

Hoya serpens produces a wide range of colorful flowers ranging from red, white, or pink colored.

The flowers produced are star-shaped and have a wonderful fragrance, making it quite easy to differentiate from other Hoya species.

When most flowers are fully open in the summer season, it produces an even stronger fragrance. The flowers are of lime and plain green colored. The plant also has a small white crown on the inside.

Hoya Serpens flowers.
Hoya Serpens flowers. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Using a fertilizer rich in phosphorous can be beneficial in making the flowers more vivid.

The plant’s blooming season is during the summer and spring, around which time it produces flowers that last up to six days and produce minimal nectar.

10. Potting and Repotting Hoya Serpens

Hoya Serpens is an epiphytic plant that tends to grow in the woods among various other plants around it.

It does not mind being root-bound, which can benefit its growth and does not need to be repotted often.

On average, Hoya serpens should be repotted every two years, depending on the environment and its growth rate. 

You can also change their potting mixture every year to make the plant grow even quicker. Repotting helps prevent the excessive accumulation of salt, minerals, and water in the roots.

The Hoya serpens often suffer from soil drying and requires care and effort during repotting.

Do not use a much larger container for repotting compared to the original. It can lead to excessive exergy for root development, ignoring the shoot growth.

The new container should be around 1-2 inches bigger in diameter than the original container.

I recommend using terracotta pots for repotting as it is the most suitable for the plant. It helps maintain the soil moisture while preventing overwatering of the soil.

My Recommendations

Here is the list of some best pots for Hoya serpens.

PotsSpecifications
GROWNEER 7 Inches Ceramic Hanging PlanterCeramic pot with drainage hole and removable plug
Size: Diameter 7 inches and height 4 inches

Terracotta pot with Drainage and SaucersHandcrafted round terracotta pot
Size: 6.5 inches diameter with 6.5 inches height
Yishang Large Terracotta potsTerracotta pot with
drainage holes and Saucer
Size: 8 inches diameter and 6.5 inches height

Tips to Repot Hoya Serpens

  • Hoya is a toxic plant, so you will need to put on safety measures like goggles, masks, and gloves.
  • Use a blunt knife to remove the roots while gripping the base of the stem to minimize injury to the plant.
  • Prepare the plant potting mix rich in nutrients, perlite, peat moss, and sphagnum.
  • Take a clean container 2 inches wider in diameter than the earlier container. Also, ensure you take a container that has suitable drainage holes.
  • Create a base using rock pebbles at the bottom of the container.
  • Fill the container with 2/3 of the prepared potting mixture, which should be well-draining.
  • Avoid filling the container with the potting mixture. Instead, leave some space to add compost in the future.
  • Lightly dap the soil with your hands to remove any excess air within the soil.
  • Thoroughly water the plant and place it in a well-lit area with indirect lighting.

Quick Note: Do not move Hoya when it is blooming or about to bloom.

11. Prune Hoya Serpens

Pruning Hoya Serpens regularly would be best to maintain the colorful plant and vibrant looks it brings to our plant collection.

They grow very quickly, which means it produces large vines which can be attractive.

Pruning the plant once or twice every two years is enough to maintain its good look. 

If left unmanaged, the plant can also have uneven and significant stem growth, which is not pleasing to look at for any plant enthusiast.

Because the plant thrives in the spring and summer, the optimum time to prune it is as soon as the winter is over.

Before Pruning and After Pruning
Before Pruning and After Pruning (Source: uky.edu)

Things to Consider Before Pruning Hoya Serpens

  • Since this plant is toxic, wear gloves, goggles, and a mask.
  • Remove only the foliage that is dead, dry, discolored, or infected.
  • Make sure only to use sterilized equipment to reduce chances of infection, damaging the plant.
  • Using a knife or a scissor, snip off wilting or drooping leaves.
  • After pruning, clean the area and wash your hands thoroughly.
  • To avoid contact with children and pets, dispose of the pruned sections as soon as possible.

Hoya Serpens Propagation Methods

Ordering a new plant can be expensive and time-consuming as well. You can create a new plant from the older plant by propagating it.

Propagating is the most convenient and affordable way of producing new plants through asexual reproduction, identical to the original plant.

Propagating Hoya Serpens is an easy task and does not require much effort at all.

The Serpens plant can be propagated using the stem cutting method, which means we primarily require a healthy stem cutting.

The summer and spring seasons would be best for propagating the plant.

In contrast, it might be harder to propagate them in winter because of temperature, light, and humidity issues.

Quick Check Before Propagating

Make sure you have all the required materials for propagation. Check out the list below;

Materials RequiredPurpose
Gardening KnifeFor stem cutting
Gardening GlovesFor safety
Hoya Potting MixPotting Medium
PerliteFor extra drainage
Rooting Hormone (Amazon's choice)For best growth
Terracotta Pot with a Drainage HoleBest for Hoya Serpens
HumidifierTo maintain the humidity
Liquid Plant Food for HoyaFertilizer for Hoya Serpens

Do a quick check of the plant and look for any pests, bacteria before propagating.

You do not want to propagate a diseased plant and spread more diseases.

Add nutritional ingredients to the new potting mixture with some growth powder and perlite, peat moss to create a new favorable environment for the plant.

Propagating Hoya Serpens by Stem Cuttings

Stem cutting is the most convenient way of propagating Hoya Serpens.

To propagate Hoya by using stem cuttings, follow the steps mentioned below:

Step 1: Choose the healthy stem 4 to 6 inches long with at least 3 to 4 leaves and cut it using a sterilized garden knife.

Step 2: Remove the lower leaves from the stem.

Step 3: Put some growth hormone on the stem to induce root formation.

Step 4: After the stem has absorbed the growth powder, place it in the potting mixture.

Step 5: Make sure none of the leaves touches the potting mixture.

Step 6: Water the plant regularly after potting to ensure proper growth.

Step 7: Place the container in bright indirect sunlight until proper root development.

The roots will begin forming after 3-4 weeks of propagating.

You can also root Hoya serpens in water. Simply take the cuttings as mentioned above and place the cuttings in the glass of water, with leaves above the water’s surface. Change water every 3-4 days.

Once the roots form, you can transplant them in a potting mix.

Toxicity of Hoya Serpens

Hoya Serpens comes filled with latex, a skin irritant, and toxic when consumed by humans or pets.

It is best to place the plant away from children; animals reach high shelves or tabletops.

Overfeeding, fertilizing the plant can also make it more toxic, so be careful while applying fertilizer.

Ingesting the leaves may lead to gastrointestinal tract irritation and contains chemicals that dogs and cats cannot break down, leading to serious health issues.

Inquisitive cats near plants
Inquisitive cats near plants (Source: Pexels)

Contact your local veteran doctor or Call the APPCC at (888) 426-4435 if your pet ingests any leaves, stems of Hoya Serpens.

It is best to consider the following while handling the plant:

  • Always use gloves while handling the plant.
  • Immediately wash your hands and skin if it comes into contact with the plant.
  • Keep the plant away from children and pets.
  • Don’t ingest the plant.

Common Problems in Hoya Serpens

1. Pests in Hoya Serpens

Hoya serpens is quite resistant to pests since it is originated from the Himalayas. The conditions required to grow the plant are unfavorable to the problems.

But this does not mean that Hoya Serpens is not infested. It is always better to be prepared.

Mealybugs and aphids are a few of the pests that infest most Hoya species.

To minimize the possibility of pests, you should carefully check the plant before purchasing it.

Here are some of the most common pests in Hoya Serpens and the symptoms caused by their infestations and their major causative factors.

Common PestsSigns and SymptomsEffect of heavy infestations
Mealybugs Sooty mold formation
Grayish, white wax on the underside of leaves.
Loss of color and wilting of leaves.
AphidsHoneydew on flowers
Sooty mold formation
Suck plant's sap, leaves turn yellow and wilt

Solutions

  • Spray the plant with a water hose to remove pests clinging to the leaves, branches.
  • Use horticultural oil, neem oil which acts as a natural insecticide, and spray on the plant.
  • Make a mixture of soap and water and spray it on the plant.
  • Scrape off pests using a blunt knife or blades.
  • Dip cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol and gently dap over the infected surface.

Read more: How to Use Neem Oil on Indoor Plants?

Preventive Measures

  • Regularly inspect your plant for symptoms of pest infestation.
  • You should keep your plant away from other affected plants.
  • Spraying soap water on pests once a week can also help.
  • Pests adore it when the soil is wet. As a result, don’t overwater your plant.

Learn more about How to Identify Insect Eggs on Leaves and Treat Pest Infestation?

2. Diseases in Hoya Serpens

Hoya Serpens is a reasonably resistant plant and does not suffer from many diseases.

One of the most common diseases in Hoya Serpens is Sooty mold disease, in which black molds appear on the flower. 

The primary reason for sooty mold is due to aphid infestations in high nectar-producing flowers, leading to honeydew production, which increases mold infections.

Black sooty mold on leaves
Black sooty mold on leaves (Source: Research Gate)

Sooty mold covers the host plant in which they reside and blocks the light, making photosynthesis less efficient.

The mold attaches to study growing surface like barks, stem and absorb the moisture from the host plant, which also leads to dehydration of the plant.

It can also lead to the yellowing of the leaves due to moisture loss.

Solutions

  • Deadhead the infected parts immediately to prevent the spread of diseases.
  • Use a fungicide to tackle fungal infections.
  • Try throwing away the contaminated soil and growing in a new sterile pot.

Preventive Measures

  • Manage a proper watering schedule for the plant.
  • Keep your Hoya Serpens separate from other infected plants.
  • To avoid fungal and mold growth, avoid spraying the plant at night.
  • Fungicides should be applied to your plant once or twice a year.
  • Overwatering and damp soil should be avoided.

3. Stunted Growth

A few other conditions are not a direct result of any disease or infection.

Stunted growth and yellowing, wilting of leaves arise due to overwatering and underwatering of the plant. 

Stunted growth is not a result of any disease or infection.

Instead, it is a result of a wide variety of issues, primarily overwatering and underwatering of the plant.

Overwatering may slow down the growth due to excess accumulation of nutrients and water in the roots, leading to root rot.

It indicates that you need to cut down on the watering schedule to attain optimal growth.

If the plant’s leaves turn yellow and begin to wilt, it indicates underwatering.

It means that you need to water the plant more often.

4. Leaves Turning Yellow and Falling Off

Hoya Serpens leaves turning yellow and falling off is not rare but is relatively uncommon.

Leaves turning yellow is a direct indication of a lack of nitrogen level in the soil.

The leaf’s color change yellow or pale green before it starts falling off.

Insufficient sunlight, overwatering, and underwatering the plant are also a few other reasons the leaves might turn yellow.

Infected Leaves
Yellow and Infected Leaves

Frequently Asked Questions About Hoya Serpens

1. How can I Make my Hoya Serpens Grow Faster?

Faster growth is directly related to the plant’s environment, feeding habits, and optimal conditions.

For Hoya Serpens to grow after, it prefers to be root bound to some extent.

Fertilizing the plant every two weeks can help maintain rapid growth for the plant.

Placing the plant in its ideal environment (warm temperature, high humidity, and proper water moisture in the soil) also helps grow the plant faster.

2. Why is my Hoya Serpens Plant not Flowering?

Hoya serpens not flowering can be due to a mixture of reasons.

Frequent repotting can lead to transplant and repotting shock, leading to delayed growth and not flowering.

Insufficient sunlight is another primary reason the plant might not bear any flowers. Placing the plant in indirect sunlight can help remove this issue easily.

3.  Are Hoya Serpens Rare?

Hoya Serpens is a unique and rare slow-growing plant native to South East Asia and found only in a warm, humid, and moist environment in other parts of the world.

Hoya Serpens in a pot
Hoya Serpens in a pot (Source: Botanica BHM)

Conclusion

The exotic Himalayan plant, which is eye-pleasing, is a must-have for every indoor plant enthusiast. It adds color and vibrance to your household.

Being a Himalayan plant, factors like temperature, sunlight requirements, and fertilizing needs are pretty easy to maintain in-house.

But on the other hand, it requires a high humidity level which can be difficult to maintain.

The plant is also poisonous, so it is best to put it away from children and animals’ reach.

While on the topic of Hoya plants, you might also be interested to read about Hoya Sunrise (Complete Guide for Gardeners).

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