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Are you in search of a plant that will fulfill your need for a tropical adventure? Although I can’t actually promise you an adventure, I can guarantee that your home will get that tropical feel, thanks to Hoya Shepherdii. With its long, thin foliage and delicate, scented flowers, it is bound to attract attention. If you are looking to scan through this test, here’s the gist of what you will read here:
Like other plants from the Hoya species, Hoya Shepherdii likes bright indirect light but can withstand a few hours of mild direct sunlight a day. It shouldn’t be overwatered and actually enjoys when the soil is completely dry for a few days. The soil should be late, well-drained, and must provide good oxygen circulation. Fertilization is advised during active growth only. Hoya Shepherdii likes environments with high humidity (70%). You can easily propagate it using stem cuttings. The most common issues that can happen are aphids, mites, mealybugs, and root rot.
For more information and step-by-step care, read through this in-depth Hoya Shepherdii care guide.
It will provide you with all the information you need for your plant to grow happy, healthy, and beautiful.
What is Hoya Shepherdii?
Hoya Shepherdii is another one of the various Hoya plants that have been stealing the hearts of many gardeners.
It is fairly easy to care for once you provide it with some adequate conditions it needs to thrive.
Hoya Shepherdii is a great beginner plant since it can endure being neglected for a while.
It is characterized by vines filled with long, waxy leaves.
It produces clusters of creamy, star-shaped flowers with a mild, sweet scent during the blooming season.
They are perfect for keeping in hanging baskets or cascading down from a shelf or wall-mounted cupboard.
According to the general opinion, it is one of the prettiest Hoya plants there are.
Due to its looks, it is also called String Bean Hoya.
Its botanical name is Hoya Longifolia (long-leaved Hoya).
Types of Hoya plants
There are more and more different varieties that are being discovered and even created in their variegated forms all the time.
To this day, over 500 different variations have been categorized.
If you want to grow a Hoya other than Hoya Shepherdii, here is a list of the most popular varieties:
Once you get the hang of caring for one Hoya plant, it is relatively easy to care for another one you might like.
Their requirements are pretty similar, although they do differ slightly from variety to variety.
Growth and Inflorescence
Hoya Shepherdii is among the Hoya species that grow in vines, and although it is rarely trellised, it looks gorgeous, cascading from the hanging basket.
It has dark green, long, thick, and waxy leaves.
Its vines can grow up to 6 feet in length each.
It produces clusters of eight to fifteen, creamy, star-shaped flowers in the late spring and early summer.
Although the blooming period is relatively short (about two weeks), the plant can drop flowers and produce new ones on the same stalk several times.
And what a sight it is to behold!
Because of that, do not remove the pedicle (the small flower stalk) right away.
The flowers emit a soft, mild, and buttery scent, especially in the early evening and during the night.
In terms of light requirements, Hoya Shepherdii is no different from other Hoya plants or any other tropical plant.
What does this mean?
It means that Hoya Shepherdii prefers natural, bright, and indirect light.
You will achieve this lighting for your Wax plant by placing it 4 to 6 feet away from the light source.
If your home has an east-facing window, you can place your plant near it.
This is because Hoya Shepherdii can endure a few hours of direct sunlight if the sunlight is not so strong as to scorch it.
The morning sun is bright enough but still gentles enough for Hoya Shepherdii to be in.
If this position does not work for your home, try placing a curtain to filter the sunlight and prevent it from harming the plant.
Artificial fluorescent lighting also works if there is no other option.
You can keep Hoya Shepherdii in lower light conditions as well, and it will grow; however, it might have difficulty blooming when the time comes.
If you want, you can take your plants out on the terrace or garden, hang them on a large tree during the warm months, but make sure that they are shaded and out of reach of the scorching mid-day sun.
What makes Hoya Shepherdii (and any other Hoya plant) great for beginners is the fact that it is tolerant to a bit of negligence.
Hoya Shepherdy likes its soil to be dry for a while before it is watered again, so if you forget to water it, no problem, just resume your watering regimen when you remember.
And, you will not have to ask your neighbors to water your plants when you go on holiday.
A beginner mistake that you need to avoid is overwatering.
Overwatering leads to soggy, waterlogged soil that does not allow the plant to get enough oxygen.
This can cause the plant to starve or create great conditions for root rot development that can also kill the plant.
You will know that it is time for watering when the top two inches of the soil are dry.
You can check that by sticking your finger into the soil.
If it is still moist, postpone the watering a day or two depending on other conditions – i.e., temperature.
Talking from personal experience, you can water once a month or once every two months during winter, and even one week apart during the warm months (provided that the humidity level is adequate).
Hoya Shepherdii is a bit more demanding than other Hoya plants when it comes to the preferred humidity levels.
Like any other tropical, it likes humid environments, and it is usually enough to keep the humidity levels around 50% for Hoya plants.
For Hoya Shepherdii, the humidity level you should strive for is around 70%.
This may not be that easy to come across naturally, especially if you live in colder climates or climates with dry air.
Thankfully there are a few things that you can do to ensure adequate humidity for your Hoya Shepherdii.
Here they are:
1. Place the pot on a tray filled with pebbles
This one is maybe the easiest one to achieve, and you will only need water and a few pebbles that can be as decorative as they are helpful.
When you place your pot on the pebbles, the roots are not soaked in water, yet the water can slowly evaporate and humidify your wax plant from the bottom up, which is how it happens in its natural environment.
Depending on how hot it is and how deep your tray is, check to see if all the water has dried out and add some more water
2. Place the tropicals together
This will not work if you own only one pot with a tropical plant.
If, on the other hand, you have more of them, and they prefer higher humidity levels, you can put them closer together.
The plants will essentially humidify each other as the moisture level will increase around them.
Even with this placement, you can use pebbles to enhance the humidity.
Hoya plants that are close together can make a fabulous home decoration – your mini jungle if you will.
An easy solution to achieving adequate humidity levels for Hoya Shepherdii is misting.
Mist its foliage daily (even 2 or 3 times a day) or every other day, depending on the temperature.
You can make longer misting breaks during the winter when the plant is in its dormancy period.
4. Use a humidifier
You can purchase any type of room humidifier and adjust the desired level of humidity in an area around your Hoya Shepherdii.
5. Avoid drafts
Drafts, Air conditions, and vents are natural enemies of humidity, so if it is possible, make sure that you position your Hoya Shepherdii as far as possible from these.
Besides lowering humidity, ACs usually cool down the environment, which Hoyas do not like.
Hoya Shepherdii can grow in temperatures that go as low as 10°C (about 50°F), and up to 25°C (about 77°F).
This is especially important during the blooming season, which is late spring and early summer.
If you decide to grow your Hoya Shepherdii outside, make sure to bring it in when the temperatures start going lower than desired during nights.
Try to keep the constant temperature around the pant during the blooming season since any kind of stress can cause it not to bloom or drop the flowers.
Soil and Fertilization
Drainage is a crucial factor to consider when picking out the right type of soil for Hoya Shepherdii.
Since it does not like the soil to remain soggy for long, and needs a lot of oxygen, opt for a light, aerated, and well-drained potting mix.
You can use the one commonly used for succulents.
To ensure proper aeration add some sand or orchid bark to the potting mix.
You can use one part compost one part perlite mix.
Whatever you choose, make sure that the soil is not compact so as to enable the air to circulate and bring oxygen to the roots.
Fertilization and nutrients are other things to think about.
Hoya Shepherdi likes nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus-rich fertilizers.
Dilute the fertilizer in half-strength and use it according to the package.
Never go overboard with fertilizer, as it can do more damage than good.
When should you fertilize?
The best option is to fertilize your plants once a month during the active growth stage, spring through summer.
You do not need to fertilize during the dormant periods.
You should pay attention to one more thing since Hoya can thrive in dry soil – never fertilize it before you make sure that the soil is moist.
Best option? Fertilize one day after you water the plant.
This will allow the fertilizer to remain in the soil, but it will not cause chemical burns or salt build-up that can harm the plant or even kill it.
Potting and Repotting
Keeping in mind that Hoya Shepherdii does not like soggy soil, and it likes to become a little bit root-bound, here is what you need to know about choosing the right pot and when the right time for repotting is.
Chose a proper pot
The right pot for Hoya Shepherdii needs to have suitable drainage holes.
If the pot you like does not have them, drill a few of them to ensure the excess water will not remain in the pot after watering.
You can also choose the pot that comes with a tray so that it could collect the excess water, which will help humidify the plant (check the humidity section of this guide).
The best option for the material is terracotta.
Since terracotta is a natural material, it absorbs some of the water from the soil, which helps keep the soil aerated.
When to repot?
Hoya Shepherdii likes to be a bit root-bound which means that you will not have to repot it every growing season to encourage growth.
Instead, watch when the roots start protruding through the drainage holes.
When that happens, go for a slightly larger pot and remove the plant.
Pruning and Propagation
Adequate Hoya Shepherdii care entails pruning that is reserved only to removing the yellow, diseased, or damaged leaves and vines from the plant to keep it looking great and healthy.
Pruning to encourage growth might not have that much effect, and the plant can actually see it as stress.
Propagating Hoya Shepherdii is relatively easy.
You will need to find a softwood stem that is about five to eight inches long and contains two or three nodes.
Remove the foliage except for the top ones.
Use sterile scissors or knives, and be sure that the mother plant is healthy before you remove the cutting.
You can use a rooting hormone and dip the stem in it before you place it in the soil.
Propagate in soil or in water.
To keep the moisture at the desired level, mist the cuttings and place a plastic bag over it.
You can also fashion a propagation box out of Tupperware.
If you choose to propagate in water, make sure that the lowest node is underwater and watch the roots form over the next four to eight weeks.
When the roots are developed, transplant the plant in its pot and resume caring for it as if it is an adult plant.
There are a few other ways of propagating that work for Hoya plants (leaf-cutting, layering, or propagating from seed), but this has proven the quickest and most successful.
Hoya Shepherdii Problems
Hoya Shepherdii can develop a few issues: yellow or brown patches in its foliage, foliage turning pale or yellow, wilting, or stunted growth.
Some of them are easily fixed by going back to the preferred caring regimen – i.e., watering, lighting, etc.
Others, however, are outside your power to control, and you can only do damage control – in case of pests, for example.
The most serious thing that can happen to your Hoya Shepherdii is that it develops root rot.
It happens when the soil is too soggy, and the humidity levels are high.
The roots will become slimy, black, and moldy.
To fix this issue, gently remove the plant from the soil and cut off the diseased root sections using sterile scissors.
Once you are done, repot the plant in new soil and a fresh pot.
The most common pests that can trouble your Hoya Shepherdii are spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids.
You will easily notice them on the plant, and fortunately, it is not too difficult to get rid of them; you only need to be persistent.
How do you tackle these pests?
First, give the plant a proper rinse with a strong stream of water that will physically remove the pests from the plants.
You can also use a cotton ball that you have previously soaked in alcohol and wipe off the more persistent insects.
Neem oil is a very good natural way of removing pests from your plant – put some of it on a cloth and wipes each leaf and stem carefully.
If this does not work, resort to a strong systemic insecticide and use it according to the instructions.
If insects return, repeat the process as many times as it is necessary but never increase the dosage.
Hoya Shepherdii Care In a Nutshell
If you follow these fairly simple guidelines, you will prevent the majority of the problems from the get-go and enjoy your Hoya for years to come.
- Place the pot in bright, indirect sunlight.
- Water once the soil is completely dry to avoid waterlogging.
- Maintain the temperatures between 10°C – 25°C (50°F-77°F).
- Make sure that the humidity level is about 70%.
- Choose a well-draining, coarse, aerated soil.
- Fertilize with nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus-rich fertilizer once a month during active growth
- Prune and repot only when it is absolutely necessary.
- Remove pests as soon as you notice them
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions regarding Hoya Shepherdii:
Can Hoya Shepherdii grow and bloom under fluorescent lighting?
Yes. Hoya Shepherdii can grow easily under fluorescent light if you can’t provide it with a natural light source. The light that produces between 4000 and 6500K will be your best option in this case.
Does Hoya Shepherdii go into dormancy?
We say that Hoya plants, including Hoya Shepherdii, go into dormancy during winter. However, this is not a complete dormancy state – i.e., it will still have all its functions but on basic levels with the aim of surviving. During that time, water less frequently and do not fertilize, prune, or propagate it.