How to Care for a Hoya Heart Plant

This plant makes a great gift for loved ones.

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Hoya Kerrii, the heart-shaped thick leaves plant in a pink mug planter.
Photo: Stramyk/Getty Images

With their succulent heart-shaped leaf, hoya heart plants (Hoya kerrii) make wonderful gifts for loved ones. If you’ve received one of these adorable plants (or bought one for yourself like I did) you may be wondering how to care for a hoya heart plant. Fortunately, these plants are as easy to take care of as they are to love. 

Hoya Heart Plant Growth

You might be surprised to learn that hoya heart plants grow as a long vine in nature, rather than the single leaf we are accustomed to seeing. Even more interesting is the fact that the single leaf will remain a single leaf even after years of growth, which is quite unusual. This is because the plants are rooted as leaf cuttings with no node or growing point to develop the vine. The result is a tiny, easy to grow plant perfect for your desk or windowsill. You can purchase a heart-leafed hoya plant as a vine if you prefer a plant that will grow multiple leaves.

Hoya Heart Plant Care

Hoya heart plants are extremely easy to care for, making the perfect plant for beginners or people who travel frequently. Pet lovers can also feel confident about hoya heart plants, as they are not toxic to dogs or cats. Hoya heart plants thrive in bright light and require infrequent watering. The most important consideration is drainage: grow them in a well-draining soil and let them dry out between waterings.


Hoya is a succulent plant, which stores water in the fleshy leaf. Avoid watering too often, as plants perform best when the soil is allowed to dry between waterings. As such, hoya hearts only need to be watered once every two weeks or so. Water until the soil is saturated and allow any excess water to drain out of the container. Make sure to empty the catch tray beneath your pot so the hoya does not sit in water.


Hoya hearts need a well-draining soil to promote healthy roots. Regular potting mixes can be too heavy for hoya heart plants. A mixture of potting soil with orchid bark and perlite to enhance drainage and increase pores works well.


Hoya come from the tropics and love sun. Place plants in a location that receives several hours of bright light each day, either direct sun or bright indirect light. Hoya hearts do not tolerate dark rooms. If you lack natural light, try supplementing with a full spectrum LED grow light.

Temperature and Humidity

Hoya plants thrive in the hot, humid conditions of the tropics and do not tolerate cold temperatures. Typical indoor conditions are just right for hoya plants, which perform best between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are growing your hoya on a windowsill, you will want to move it away from the window in winter. While typically low indoor humidity levels do not bother hoya, they thrive with a little extra humidity. Place them near your humidifier in winter or in a naturally humid room, such as the bathroom.


Hoya does not require much fertilizer because they are very slow growing. For a single leaf plant, fertilize just twice a year in spring and summer using a balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength.

Common Problems

While hoya heart plants are easy to grow, it is important to keep an eye out for any potential problems. The most common cause of problems is improper watering, but other environmental factors or even pests can cause trouble. Here are some of the most common problems associated with growing heart hoya plants and remedies to take.

  • Overwatering: If your hoya heart plant is turning yellow, the most likely cause is overwatering. Adjust your watering schedule, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. If this does not improve the problem, the roots may have started to rot, as described below.
  • Root Rot: Poor soil drainage and/or overwatering can prevent roots from getting enough oxygen and lead to root rot. Damaged roots cannot take up water, causing plants to lose vigor and become discolored. Roots displaying rot will appear brown or black instead of white and fleshy. If your plant has root rot, repot it in fresh soil and trim off visibly rotted roots. Allow soil to dry between waterings.
  • Shriveled or Wrinkled Leaves: This can be an indication of underwatering. While we want the soil to dry out between waterings, allowing plants to go too long without water can lead to water stress. Wrinkling leaves is a sign that you likely need to water more often. 
  • Sun Burn: Although hoya heart plants love sun, sometimes too much direct light can cause leaves to burn, displaying dry brown streaks. If you suspect your plant is experiencing sun burn, move it a little further from the window so that it receives less direct sunlight.
  • Insect Problems: The fleshy leaves of hoya are susceptible to the same insects as other houseplants, including aphids, mealybugs, scales, and spider mites. Inspect the plant for signs of insect damage or the insects themselves. These insects feed by sucking plant juices, rather than chewing on leaves. The resulting damage includes wilting, drooping, and yellowing or browning of the leaves. To treat, try washing the hoya leaf with a mild dish soap to remove any visible insects or treat with an insecticidal soap.

Following the tips on how to care for a hoya heart plant outlined here will help you avoid most common problems. To avoid insect problems, take care when introducing new plants to the household. Most insect pests come indoors on newly purchased plants or houseplants brought inside from the porch or patio. To limit pest problems, inspect all plants before bringing them indoors (including the soil) and isolate these plants in a location away from other houseplants for a couple of weeks to monitor for any pest problems. 

READ NEXT: How to Care for Succulents

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