The Hoya Bella plant, or Hoya carnosa, goes by many names – the waxflower, pretty wax flower, or beautiful hoya. This plant is a favorite among houseplant enthusiasts for its star-shaped flowers and showy foliage. Perhaps more importantly, the Hoya Bella is a resilient houseplant that is very hard to kill.
Plant parents enjoy the resilience of the low-maintenance Hoya Bella, but there are a few care instructions that need to be followed. Keep reading for an in-depth look at the care instructions for the hoya plants.
An Overview of Hoya Bella Plants
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Hoya lanceolata ssp. bella is native to parts of Australia, Asia, and the Pacific islands. These busy perennials grow a cluster of white flowers with purplish centers. The word Bella itself is synonymous with beauty, a testament to the plant’s appearance. Many people associated the plant with wealth and status due to its colorful foliage.
The plant is relatively easy to grow in homes, gardens, greenhouses, and conservatories. It is often grown in hanging baskets with a trellis to climb.
How Much Light Does the Hoya Bella Plant Need?
The Hoya Bella prefers bright, indirect sunlight. The tropical plant does not grow well in low light conditions and will start looking very scraggly. Hoya Bella plants will produce small leaves in low light conditions and will be spaced out.
It is ideal to keep the Hoya Bella plant near a sunny window. Note that too much direct sunlight will burn the plant’s delicate foliage. It goes without saying that the Hoya Bella is slightly more resilient than some other hoya species.
If you move your Hoya Bella outdoors to take advantage of the spring and summer months, make sure to shield the delicate leaves from direct sunlight. For best results, place the Hoya Bella plant under a large tree. This will provide more filtered sunlight to the plant. Another ideal location is under a shielded patio.
So, if you want to grow Hoya Bella plants with big, visually rich leaves to make a statement, put them in a bright room a few feet away from the windows. You can also make do with low light conditions. The only caveat is that your Hoya Bellas won’t grow as quickly or reach their full growth potential compared to bright, indirect light.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Hoya Bellas can grow up to 8 feet tall indoors, and several times that in their natural habitat. If you’re not a fan of massive houseplants taking over your home, you may want to keep them in a darker room.
When Do You Water a Hoya Bella?
Hoya Bellas are tropical plants, which means they are very drought tolerant. The ideal time for watering Hoya Bellas is when the top half of the soil has dried out. Do not water the plant if the first two inches of the topsoil is wet. You can check the moisture level using a finger test or a moisture meter.
As a rule, if you stick your finger a few inches into the soil and it feels dry, it’s time to water your Hoya Bella. Try not to let the soil get too dry because the plant’s leaves will become droopy. If you notice droopy leaves, you need to water the Hoya Bella as soon as possible because your plant is at risk of drying out.
Another sign that your Hoya Bella is starting to dry is when the leaves turn an unsightly shade of brown with crispy edges.
If you overwater your Hoya Bella plants too much, the leaves will start to turn a shade of yellow.
Given the risks involved, overwatering is more severe on plants than underwatering. This is because overwatering drowns out the roots and starves the plant of oxygen. Given enough time, the plants will develop a nasty case of root rot and further increase the risk of the hoya plant’s death.
But before it ever gets to this stage, the plant will tell you that something is wrong by changing the color of the leaves. This makes the Hoya Bella ideal for anyone new to plant parents.
Always use warm water because it is easier to absorb. Pour the water into the soil around the plant’s base. This is because plants absorb water from their roots. Hoya Bellas need less water in the winter months because they become dormant. You should water the plants moderately throughout spring and summer.
Pro tip: If you see yellow, brown, or black tips on your Hoya Bella leaves, you are probably over-watering the plant. The best course of action right now is to space out the watering over greater intervals of time, drain any excess water from the soil, and let the soil dry out before watering again. Use the finger test to determine if you’re overwatering the plant!
Which Soil Should You Use?
Hoya Bella plants like moist soil, but don’t grow well in wet soil. It is recommended to use well-draining soil because it will provide plenty of breathing space to the plant’s roots. By comparison, a denser soil will retain excess water and suffocate the roots. It will prevent any oxygen from reaching the roots.
Plant your hoyas in a pot that contains high quality potting soil with plenty of drainage holes. You can supplement the soil quality by throwing in some extra coco coir, perlite, and coconut husks. You could use the potting soil on its own without adding anything extra, but perlite and coconut husks can improve aeration and allow more oxygen to reach the plant’s roots.
It is ideal for improving the flow of water throughout the soil and makes the drainage holes more functional.
Many guides on the internet also suggest the use of universal potting soil. However, the problem with this soil is that it retains water for longer periods of time and can damage the roots. If you can’t help but use universal potting soil, make sure to reduce the watering frequency.
Pro tip: Improve the soil’s drainage by mixing 1/2 potting soil with 1/2 cactus soil.
For those with a green thumb, you can easily make Hoya plant soil at home using organic material. Homemade organic potting soil facilitates the growth of soil microbes, and it is porous.
Let’s take a look at the ideal soil conditions for hoya plants.
Hoya Bella prefers a slightly acidic soil condition with a pH value ranging from 6.1 to 7.3. This can be monitored with the aid of a pH kit. Careful not to increase the acidity too much because it will make it impossible for the plant to absorb the minerals they need for survival. The soil pH affects the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients.
It is easy to confuse the symptoms of a pH imbalance with nutrient deficiency. The recourse for most people is to add more fertilizer because they think their Hoya Bella is starved of nutrients. However, fertilizers will not help with the pH value, and the plants will not be able to absorb the nutrients.
You might be wasting away precious nutrients that your plants are not able to enjoy. So, if your Hoya Bella is suffering and you’ve ruled out water, temperature, and fertilizer as the cause, then the pH value may be the culprit.
The leaves will turn yellow because they lack access to the necessary nutrients. Before adding more fertilizer, check the soil with a pH meter. Simply insert the needle of the device directly into the potting soil. The device will show you the pH level instantly. Although this method is quick and relatively accurate, it does require going to a store to buy a pH meter.
A cheaper, but less accurate method is to prepare a pH test kit at home. The method involves taking a small sample of the soil, placing it in a tube, inserting a capsule, and observing color changes that correspond to specific pH values.
The problem with this method is that it is more likely to give you a range of pH values as opposed to an accurate answer.
If the soil’s pH value is too high, you can reduce its value by adding aluminum sulfate, sulfuric acid, or sulfur. In case the pH value is too low, you can increase its value by adding lime or dolomite. Ground eggshells and bone meal may also work since they contain calcium carbonate (that reacts with the soil to make it more alkaline).
If possible, we recommend repotting your Hoya Bellas in new soil with a better pH value. This is because you may accidentally add too much material and harm your plants instead. For the most part, it is not difficult to keep the soil within the recommended range.
Hoya Bellas will grow in most household temperatures, but the ideal range is between 65 to 75°F. As a tropical plant, the Hoya Bella does not respond well to cold drafts and sub-zero temperatures. In fact, 60°F may be too low for the plant. Exposure to temperatures under 50°F may be lethal for the plants.
In most cases, cold damage is irreversible. This is why prevention is better than cure, especially in the case of temperature changes. Try to protect your Hoya Bellas from the cold by keeping them indoors during the winter months and far away from windows and doors (to prevent cold drafts).
In the winter months, move your Hoya Bellas to a warmer section of the house or install a heater to keep the temperature within the ideal range at all times. Remember to keep the plant several feet away from the heat source to prevent heat damage.
Hoya Bellas are tropical plants and therefore prefer humidity. The ideal humidity range for Hoya Bellas is between 40 to 60%. If your Hoya Bellas aren’t doing well, try increasing the humidity around to see if that does the trick. You can do this by misting the plant every day or installing a humidifier nearby.
The hoya plant collection is native to humid forests and takes advantage of humidity that is trapped in the environment. This is part of the reason why your Hoya Bella needs filtered, non-direct sunlight.
These conditions are ideal for the plant to thrive and flourish. The leaves of Hoya Bellas are porous to help absorb water from the air. This helps them create beautiful and luscious leaves. When the humidity is low, the pores on the leaves close up and the plant has a harder time absorbing water.
This can lead to your Hoya Bella dropping, and may even die. Before all this happens, your Hoya Bella leaves will warn you by changing in color when they are deprived of moisture.
If the humidity falls below 40%, you may notice that the leaves will turn a shade of yellow or brown and drop off. The plant will also look a little wilted. Prolonged exposure to low humidity will result in crispy leaves that may start to crumble when you touch them.
The opposite end of the spectrum is excessively high humidity. Too much humidity will lead to mold growth on the leaves. The risk is even higher if the leaves are constantly wet.
You can measure the humidity levels with the help of a hygrometer. You can find an affordable hygrometer from most online stores, including Amazon and eBay. Some hygrometers also track the temperature, helping you kill two birds with one stone.
Here are a few tips to increase the humidity for Hoya Bellas:
● Group the plants together
● Use a tray with pebbles
● Mist the plant with water
● Use a humidifier (highly recommended because it keeps the humidity level within the desired range)
The best way to grow Hoya Bella plants is by optimizing the humidity levels and providing it with nitrogen-rich potting soil.
Fertilize Your Hoya Bellas Periodically
A major reason why Hoya Bellas are so popular among houseplant enthusiasts is that, in addition to looking gorgeous, they are easy to look after. However, the plant requires a lot of nutrients to produce its show-stopping foliage; this is why it’s important that they are provided with plenty of nutrients (and the ability to absorb the nutrients).
This brings us back to the conversation about soil conditions. Keep the soil at:
● A temperature range of 65 to 75°F.
● A pH range of 6.1 to 7.3
● A humidity range between 40 to 60%
● A well-draining, loose succulent soil mix
Once you have optimized all of the above, you can go about supplementing your Hoya Bella with fertilizer. Feeding the hoya species during the growing season is the best way to keep it healthy, luscious, and resilient. A balanced fertilizer with a 3:1:2 or 2:1:2 is ideal for keeping the plant in optimal health.
If you want your Hoya Bella to start flowering, you might want to switch to a fertilizer with a 5:10:3 ratio in favor of high phosphorus to increase the likelihood of blooming.
The high phosphate fertilizer should be used a few months before the Hoya Bella’s blooming time (usually about 8 weeks earlier).
Time-release granules are also ideal for feeding Hoya Bellas. The granules will slowly release nutrients to the soil, so you won’t have to fertilize the plant for months.
Although the type of fertilizer and timing are important, you need to be aware of how to fertilize a wax plant. Most fertilizers will come with instructions on how to mix them. Both granular and liquid foods will have a method of measuring before you introduce them to the soil.
When to Prune Hoya Bella?
An important part of growing Hoya Bella outdoors is pruning. They are very resilient and don’t require a meticulous pruning process. However, you will need a sharp, cleaning tool that is sterilized.
Pruning is recommended if you want the plant to grow those thick, bushy leaves. You can start by snipping leggy growth off the plant to encourage new growth. Just make sure not to prune the stems containing flower peduncles.
Here are a few tips to remember when pruning your Hoya Bella:
● Always wear gloves when pruning or propagating Hoya Bellas.
● Use a clean, sharp tool that is sterilized. Sterilization is extremely important because it will protect the plant from bacterial infections. Bacteria is hard to treat and can even spread to other houseplants! So always sterilize your shears!
● Prune in the growing period, if possible, especially in the spring months. Most plants, including Hoya Bellas, see growth spurts in the spring and summer. You will get better results by pruning in the spring and your plant will be more likely to make a quick recovery.
● Finally, make sure to plan out the pruning process. Don’t just make the cuts at random. Start by cutting old or diseased leaves first.
Pruning is a great way to propagate Hoya Bella plants. Besides encouraging blooming, they also deter pest infestation and allow the plant to reach its natural shape.
Getting Hoya Bellas to Bloom
To increase the likelihood of blooming, provide your Hoya Bellas with plenty of light. Make sure they are receiving bright, indirect light. You will also need a fertilizer with a high phosphorus number to increase the plant’s chances of blooming.
As long as you can keep the soil in optimal conditions, your Hoya Bella should be on its way to blooming. Pruning is also recommended because it encourages the plant to bloom.
Common Hoya Bella Pests You Should Know About
Although the Hoya Bella is a very tough plant, it does fall prey to a pest infestation every now and then. The plant becomes more vulnerable to pests when it is under stress, weakened, or shocked. You can discourage pests from attacking your Hoya Bellas by taking good care of the plant.
If you do notice some pests are showing up, like scale, spider mites, and thrifts, it’s not too late. The first step is to make sure your plant is getting proper care in terms of nutrition, light, humidity, and temperature. The goal is to make sure your Hoya Bella is strong enough to recover from these pests.
The second step is to clean the plant with soapy water or essential oil. Doing so drowns the pests and also kills their eggs. The most important thing when dealing with pests is to make your plant stronger so that it has a fighting chance against pests.
Below are a few signs that your hoya plant collection has a pest infestation:
● Leaves turning yellow
● Brown or white spots appearing on the leaves and stems
● Sticky honeydew forming on the leaves
● Webbing (a sign of spider mites)
● Holes in the leaves
● Black powdery substance
If you notice any of these substances, it’s a good idea to inspect the leaves and stems to see if you can identify any pests.
Spider Mites and Hoya Bella
Spider mites can gather on the underside of Hoya Bella leaves and near their veins. The pests use their piercing mouth to penetrate the leaf and suck out its sap. They also spin fine webs, usually near the joints. Spider mites are hard to spot and very easy to spread.
Neem oil is highly effective against a spider mite infestation. You can also try to use predatory mites and ladybugs that feed on spider mites.
Thrips and Hoya Bellas
Thrips are incredibly small and will require a close inspection of your Hoya Bella leaves. They are known for sucking the moisture from the plants, leaving them with a brown and dry appearance. Worse still is the fact that they transport viruses to the plants, severely damaging or killing them in the process.
Their larvae are usually easier to locate since they feed in large swarms. They resemble small specks and live on the underside of the leaves. Adult thrips are capable of flight and have a darker appearance.
You can use neem oil solution to get rid of thrips. It is also possible to knock them off the plant using an intense burst of water from a garden hose.
Scale and Hoya Bella
If you find scale pests feeding on your plant, it’s time to quarantine them from nearby plants. In case of an advanced scale infestation, you may have to prune the affected area because it could be too late to save the foliage.
The best way to kill scales is by drowning them in rubbing alcohol. The only problem is that alcohol can also kill your Hoya Bella. A better method is to dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and apply it to the scales.
You can also use insecticidal soap to kill the scale. Just make sure your Hoya Bella has reached a specific size to be able to resist the toxicity of insecticide.
A simple yet consistent care routine will allow your Hoya Bella plants to achieve their maximum growth potential. Your Hoya Bella will reward you with plenty of unique leaves with a high chance of blooming.
Just Make sure to provide bright, indirect light, well-draining soil, and optimal soil conditions to help the Hoya Bella flourish.