Hoya Lifespan: How Long Do Hoya Plants Actually Live?

Want to know how long Hoyas live? This popular genus doesn’t have a lifespan that’s easy to define, dependent on a number of characteristics in their care and conditions. Gardening expert Madison Moulton discusses Hoya lifespan, including 9 ways to make your Hoya live longer.

hoya lifespan

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Hoyas are fast becoming one of the most popular houseplants. With juicy leaves in interesting shapes and colors, as well as their bright, fragrant flowers, it’s not hard to see why. Along with being easy to care for, these plants are also incredibly long-lived when given the right conditions.

But just how long will they live, and what’s their average lifespan? And how can you extend their life once you’ve decided to welcome one of these beautiful plants into your home? Hoya plant care is fairly straightforward, but the lifespan of a Hoya plant is a bit subjective. It’s typically dependent on their owners and if the plant receives proper care.

So, let’s take a deeper look into this popular semi-succulent, along with some tips to ensure they can live to their fullest potential. Ready to learn more? Let’s dig in!

The Short Answer

With proper care, it’s not uncommon for a hoya to live upwards of 30 years, depending on the variety of plant. Hoyas are tropical semi-succulents, and as long as they are provided proper care, there’s no reason they can’t enjoy a very long life indoors.

About Hoyas

Hoya Carnosa in white pot
Hoya is a part of the Apocynaceae family, which unites more than 500 species.

The term Hoya does not describe one particular plant, but an entire genus of plants with over 500 interesting and unique species. The genus was named after Thomas Hoy by botanist Robert Brown in the 19th century, with new species continually being discovered and added to this grouping.

This genus is part of the Apocynaceae family, commonly known as the Dogbane family. They share this family with many popular flowering garden plants, including Bluestars and Jasmine.

While they are commonly referred to simply by their genus name, Hoya, they also have a number of other common names. You may see them called Wax Plant, Wax Flower or Porcelain Flower. Each species also has its own common name, such as Hoya carnosa ‘Compacta’ which is commonly known as Hindu Rope Plant.

Origins & Cultivation

Potted Plant Indoors
Hoya lives in the warm tropics, most species are found in parts of Asia, with some in Australia.

With many species come many regions of origin. Most are found around parts of Asia, but some others were originally discovered in Australia. These plants stick to the warmer tropical regions around India, Thailand and Indonesia.

Though originally found in these regions, most species have now spread around the world due to their immense popularity. They can be planted in the garden, particularly in shady spots, but are most beloved for their use as a houseplant.

Hoyas are one of the few houseplants that flower reliably in lower light conditions. They produce adorable clusters of pink and white flowers that change in scent, depending on the species and age of the blooms.

They are also quite easy to care for when given the right environment to start. Their semi-succulent leaves mean they don’t require watering often and they can still look wonderful with a bit of neglect. There are also many stunning cultivars with colored, variegated leaves to choose from, making the entire genus ideal for collectors.

Hoya Lifespan: The Long Answer

Close up of red flowering houseplant
Hoya’s lifespan can exceed 30 years with proper and healthy care.

The lifespan of a Hoya is not easy to define. Unlike humans and animals, these vines don’t have a general expiration date. As long as they are healthy and in the right conditions, they can theoretically continue to grow indefinitely until incorrect care, environment, or pests and diseases kills them off.

Some varieties have been around for more than 30 years, growing old with their owners or being passed down to new family members through the generations. Others have a much shorter lifespan due to neglect, lack of repotting or disease, only lasting a couple of years before they are thrown out.

Essentially, if you want your Hoya to live for a long time, you have to give them optimal care. This is not ‘barely surviving’ levels of care (meaning the plant is just holding on, slowly deteriorating over time), but the ideal conditions they prefer for healthy growth.

9 Tips For Longer Living Hoyas

Now that you know how long they live, are you ready for some tips that will help your hoyas live a long, happy life? Let’s take a look at some of the best practices you can put in place to ensure you maximize the lifespan of your plant.

Never Overwater

Pink flowering houseplant
Wait until the top layer of soil is dry before watering.

The first mistake most make when caring for a Hoya is giving them too much water. Most houseplants with tropical foliage need watering as soon as the top layer of soil dries out. Waiting any longer will cause the leaves to wilt. That is not the case for Hoyas.

Most varieties are semi-succulent. They hold far more water in their leaves than other houseplants, meaning they can go longer without additional watering. The container can be left to dry out almost completely before these plants need water again, especially in low-light areas.

If you add too much water, or leave the container sitting in water (either due to lack of drainage or from not emptying your drip tray), the roots will quickly begin to rot. If not caught early, root rot is difficult to fix and may result in the early demise of your plant.

Rather than attempting to fix it by repotting and trimming roots, avoid it altogether by checking the soil before watering and never watering if the soil is still moist.

Give Them An Hour Of Direct Morning Sun

Flowering vine in direct sun
These plants prefer an hour of direct sun in the morning, shaded the rest of the day.

Like many tropical houseplants, Hoyas are accustomed to being shaded by tree canopies in their natural habitats. They grow best when given bright indirect light, protected from the harsh sun’s rays that can cause burning and stunted growth.

However, all direct light is not equal. Early morning sun is generally not as intense as midday and afternoon sun. Especially if you live in a cooler region, an hour of this gentle morning sun can actually be beneficial, maintaining energy and growth and promoting flowering.

It’s important to be careful with direct sun though. If it becomes too intense, especially in the warmer months, the leaves can quickly burn. Test the light with your hands to feel how strong it is and decide whether it is suitable for your specific Hoya.

Remember To Fertilize

Plant recently fertilized in pot
In nature, different varieties will grow in different places, in different soils, and therefore need different types of fertilizers.

Hoyas are not dependent on fertilizer for strong growth or flowering. They will generally be happy in the soil they came in for a while before they need a top-up. However, if you want to keep your Hoya alive long-term, a regular fertilizing routine is key.

In the growing season of spring and summer, regularly apply a balanced fertilizer with equal NPK values. If you want to encourage your plant to flower, look for a specialized orchid fertilizer as, like orchids, most species are considered epiphytes.

Stop fertilizing in fall and winter to give the plant a rest period, starting up again the following spring. Only apply as much fertilizer as is recommended on the packaging and never more to avoid burning the roots and potentially killing the plant. 

Avoid Cold Temperatures

Hoya wayetii with purple flowers
They can tolerate cold temperatures, but for optimal growth, keep temperatures consistently warm at 70F.

While most species are able to handle cold temperatures better than other houseplants, that doesn’t mean it’s good for them. They may not struggle or take too much damage, but they will likely stop growing for that period and may take a while to recover from this stunted growth.

Don’t leave the plants in temperatures below 50F for too long. In other words, don’t leave them outdoors overnight in winter, close to windows where the concentrated cold can damage the leaves, or even in front of air conditioners.

Aim to keep the temperature a consistently warm 70F throughout the year for the best results. The less fluctuation there is between seasons, the longer the plant will last.

Use The Right Soil Mix

Gardener planting in pot
Most varieties prefer well drained soil.

As many Hoya species are epiphytes, they are very particular about the soil mix they grow in. It needs to be incredibly light and well-draining to prevent the dreaded root rot we discussed earlier. The soil needs to be highly textured with large spaces between soil particles to drain all excess water away and deliver plenty of oxygen to the roots.

If you’re buying premixed potting soil, look for any orchid or epiphyte mix for epiphytic Hoyas. Soil pH is not much of a concern, but slightly acidic soil is best for growth and flowering. If you can’t find an orchid mix, succulent and cacti mix is also suitable. Amend with bark or perlite to improve aeration in the soil.

Don’t Repot Too Often

Repotting in Container
Young plants are transplanted annually in the spring, and adults – once every three years, if necessary.

Quick growing houseplants generally require repotting every 1-2 years. That is not the case for Hoyas. These slow-growing beauties prefer to be root bound and usually only need repotting to top up the soil. Repotting sooner than required will only stress the plant, potentially causing its untimely death.

Every 3-4 years, prepare to repot into refresh degraded soil to provide a boost of nutrients. Only repot sooner if you notice roots growing through the drainage holes or overall stunted growth. Repot in spring for the quickest recovery to limit any chances of transplant shock.

Don’t Move Them Around

Hoya plant in small white ceramic pot
Hoyas do not like change and moving the plant leads to stress which affects overall growth.

Hoyas do not respond particularly well to change. Once given a home, they prefer to stay there and take a long time to adjust when moved. You’ll notice this when you bring your plant home as many develop yellowing leaves or a general lack of growth while the plant gets used to the new environmental conditions.

Moving your plant will result in stress that impacts overall growth. If you want to keep your plant living as long as possible, choose a spot and don’t move them (unless it is to water, of course).

Obviously, if you notice problems with growth related to the position – if there is too much sun, for example – moving it early on is far better than keeping the plant there. But overall, avoid moving it unnecessarily.

Prune

Pruning plant in pot
Regular pruning will keep the plant compact and healthy to avoid possible stress on the roots.

Although they tend to grow slowly, you may notice your vining Hoya becoming long and out of hand. Leaving long vines trailing from hanging baskets puts weight on the roots and can eventually stunt growth if not controlled. A regular pruning routine will keep your plant compact, healthy, and alive in the long term.

Before the vines get too long, simply trim a couple of inches off the stems. This can be done once or twice during the growing season, or sooner if you need to balance the shape or stops stems from becoming leggy.

At the same time, remove any damaged or diseased stems and leaves as soon as you spot them. Disease is one factor largely out of your control that can cut your Hoyas life short. Preventing it by keeping a close eye on the plant and pruning regularly will go a long way to keep your plant alive for longer.

Know Your Species

Set of Hoya Plants in Containers
It is important to understand that each type of Hoya has special requirements that are different from others.

All these tips are general across the Hoya genus. However, your chosen species may have particular requirements that differ slightly from the others. These conditions will change based on their native habitats. For example, some species benefit from less watering in spring as they come from regions with low rainfall during this time.

Some common species include:

  • Hoya carnosa
  • Hoya australis
  • Hoya kerrii
  • Hoya bella

While keeping these basics in mind, it’s important to research your specific variety to give it the specialized care it prefers.

Final Thoughts

With the right care and attention, your Hoya will likely live as long as you – or as long as you are willing to care for it. These blooming semi-succulents are popular for a reason, and remain relatively low maintenance when compared to other houseplants. Their care is not wholly dependent on their variety, and most will make wonderful indoor plants!

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