Caring For Your Hoya Shepherdii
If you are bored of the typical tropical plants with big leaves, Hoya Shepherdii is a breath of fresh air. Aptly nicknamed the String Bean Hoya due to its thin, long, and narrow leaves, this plant will add an interesting twist to any indoor houseplant collection.
Hoya Shepherdii was first discovered in the mountains of the Himalayas and Assam. Soon, its unique foliage coupled with the sweet-smelling, star-shaped creamy blooms had captured the hearts of many, and it started appearing as a houseplant in living rooms around the world. Today, this gorgeous plant is one of the most highly sought-after species of the Hoya family.
Not only does the Hoya Shepherdii look appealing to the eye, but this plant also has a very forgiving nature. So if you are just starting out with your houseplant collection and don’t have a natural green thumb, the String Bean Hoya is a great place to begin. Simple to care for and hardy in the face of neglect, this is a great plant to facilitate your learning about taking care of greens.
This guide below will talk about everything you need to know when starting off with a new Hoya Shepherdii plant in your collection.
How To Care For Your Hoya Shepherdii
If there is one thing that you need to be careful about when rearing a Hoya Shepherdii, it is the potting medium. If the soil is anything other than airy and well-draining, your String Bean Hoya is set up for a whole lot of struggle to survive. Water-retaining soil mixes tend to trap excess moisture between the soil particles instead of letting it run through them, and this creates the most favorable environment for root rot.
To avoid any such problems, make sure that your potting mix allows excellent drainage of excess water. For this, you can either pick up a well-draining mix meant for tropicals off the shelf of your local gardening store, or be a little creative and make a tailor-made concoction for your leafy baby.
For those taking the DIY route, some regular houseplant soil and a few handfuls of perlite, orchid bark, and charcoal are all you need. Mix these ingredients together until you achieve the desired drainage and porosity.
Hoya Shepherdii best thrives in plenty of indirect, filtered sunlight. If you are solely relying on the sun, the plant will need at least 6 hours of bright sunlight to show its best potential. But if you don’t get a lot of sun exposure where you live, you will need to supplement what you get with about 10 to 12 hours of artificial lighting.
Both, too much and too little sunlight does not bode well for Hoya Shepherdii. If the sunlight is harsher or much more direct than this plant requires, you risk getting the leaves scorched and yellowed. On the other hand, if the light is not enough, your Hoya plant will fail to grow and bloom as fast as you would want it to. Hence, an east-facing window is a perfect place to put your Hoya Shepherdii plant, where it gets the best of both worlds.
With its waxy foliage, the Hoya Shepherdii is almost semi-succulent. As a result, the leaves of this plant can hold a lot of water. In addition to this, the aerial roots of Hoya Shepherdii are also designed to draw in moisture from the surrounding air. All of these factors work together to make Hoya Shepherdii pretty drought resistant. So, the low-maintenance plant will continue to thrive even if you forget to water it every now and then.
What Hoya Shepherdii absolutely despises, however, is over-watering. Too much water that stays in the soil can cause its roots to rot and the plant to wilt. The easy way to avoid this from happening is to only water your Hoya Shepherdii when the top layers of the soil are completely dry to touch. For most plants, this will be once every week or so.
While the low-maintenance Hoya Shepherdii can survive even when the humidity levels are quite low, it needs about 50% to 70% humidity in order to truly thrive. Nevertheless, the String Bean Hoya can beautifully show its true potential and blossom in this ideal humidity level.
Sometimes, it is hard to achieve high humidity levels all year round, depending on where you live. If you reside in a drier region but want your Hoya Shepherdii to bloom as it does in its natural habitat, you can use artificial methods to maintain the humidity level. These include using a humidifier, misting your Hoya every now and then, putting it in a pebble tray, or simply crowding it with other houseplants to trap whatever humidity there is in the surrounding air.
As opposed to other Hoya species that come from the hot and humid South East Asia, the Hoya Shepherdii plant traces its origin back to the cold Himalayas. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that the Shepherdii species prefer a slightly cooler setting than the other members of the Hoya family.
The ideal temperature for Hoya Shepherdii ranges between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this is not to say that it cannot tolerate things getting a little warmer or colder than this. On the contrary, Hoya Shepherdii is a hardy plant that can withstand an extensive temperature range. But while survival is possible at somewhat higher or lower temperatures, the growth of the String Bean Hoya is significantly affected at these temperature extremes.
The vining structure of Hoya Shepherdii makes it the perfect houseplant to hang from overhead baskets and glass bottles. In addition to that, it also makes a pretty picture when allowed to climb up a trellis or a moss pole, or when simply grown in a pot. The vines can reach an impressive six feet in length, cascading down the entire length of a wall and producing beautiful clusters of pale, star-shaped flowers during the blooming period. These blooms emit a unique, sweet fragrance so that they are as much a treat for the nose as they are for the eyes.
The flowering period for Hoya Shepherdii lies between late spring and early summer. During this time, the plant produces and sheds a ton of these sweet-smelling fresh flowers that stay on the stalk for a couple of weeks at a time.
Because the mature Hoya Shepherdii has to work so much every year to produce blooms and grow new vines, it needs a good supply of essential nutrients. This is achieved by treating the plant with a good quality fertilizer every now and then.
You can use virtually any well-balanced, liquid fertilizer meant for houseplants on your Hoya Shepherdii. Just make sure that you are treating it the most in its blooming period, and remember to dilute the fertilizer to 50% of its strength to avoid chemical burns to the plant. Then, as the colder months approach, you can reduce the frequency of fertilizing your plant and completely halt it during the dead of winter.
The Hoya Shepherdii vines can grow to a humongous length, and so, you will need to repot the plant once it grows out of its previous container. It is essential to know that Hoya Shepherdii actually prefers to be slightly root bound, though, so you shouldn’t attempt to move it to a bigger home at the first sign of the roots spreading.
It is only when the roots start to push through the drainage holes and fight for space that you should consider repotting your Hoya Shepherdii. In most cases, this will be no more frequent than once every two years.
The best time to repot your overgrown Hoya Shepherdii plant is during the active growing and blooming period. In terms of season, this translates to late spring and early summer.
The repotting process itself is easy enough. All you need to do is gently probe the plant out along with its roots intact and move it to a slightly bigger pot that has already been prepared with the ideal potting mix. Avoid choosing a pot that is more than a couple of inches larger in diameter than the older one. This will help the plant adapt to the new home quickly and easily.
If you are concerned about your beloved Hoya Shepherdii plant being toxic to your kids or pets, don’t fret! This harmless tropical beauty is not poisonous in the least! This is yet another reason why the String Bean Hoya makes for such a fantastic indoor plant for every home and office space.
Hoya Shepherdii is an epiphyte and spontaneously sprouts aerial roots. This makes propagating the String Bean Hoya ridiculously simple. If you have a Hoya Shepherdii plant and would like to see more of it spread around your house, you can easily grow it via stem cuttings.
Simply identify a healthy stem with at least one node and a few healthy leaves growing out of it and make a diagonal cut just below the node. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and place it in a previously prepared pot with the appropriate soil mix. Keep the soil moist at all times and cover the stem with a plastic bag to retain optimum moisture and humidity. Within a few weeks, the roots will start to take, and a new plant will begin to grow on its own.
Alternatively, you can propagate stem cutting in sphagnum moss or even just water. When doing so, allow the roots to sprout and grow at least a couple of inches long before attempting to move the new plant into a pot of its own.
As we have already mentioned, the Hoya Shepherdii vines tend to get quite long – even when kept indoors. This is great if you want long trails of your String Bean Hoya to cascade down a wall or hang from an overhead basket. But if you are growing this luscious beauty in a pot, things can get a little messy. In this situation, you can prune and trim the ends that get a little too long to keep things neat and maintain the aesthetics.
Growing Tips and Guide
Want to ensure that your Hoya Shepherdii stays healthy and happy all year round? Here are a few tips that you can use to keep your Hoya Shepherdii problem-free.
- Be careful about your choice of potting mix. Above all, it should have excellent drainage properties to prevent root rot and other such issues.
- Hold off on watering the plant if the top layers of the soil are still somewhat damp. The Hoya Shepherdii does not respond well to overwatering.
- Try to keep a consistent humidity level and surrounding temperature. While Hoya Shepherdii is quite tolerant of different conditions, big changes will put your plant through unnecessary stress, showing its adverse effects in the long run.
- Try a good quality liquid fertilizer if you want to give your Hoya Shepherdii plant a little boost. It’s incredible what a simple treat can do for Hoya Shepherdii.
Common Problems and How to Treat them
Like every other plant, Hoya Shepherdii, too, can fall victim to a variety of problems. These issues can be broadly categorized into two classes, pests, and diseases.
The most common pests that attack the Hoya Shepherdii plant are mealy bugs. In addition to these, spider mite infestations and aphids are also a concern with this tropical plant.
All these pests feed on the sap of the Hoya Shepherdii plant to survive. Unfortunately, this takes away essential nutrition from the plant itself, and results in its ill-health. The simplest way to tackle this issue is to use a good insecticide or pesticide.
There are several insecticides and pesticides available for purchase in local gardening stores. But if you would like a more DIY approach, you can also use some diluted Castille soap as a makeshift insecticide. Neem oil also makes for an excellent pest deterrent that is organic to boot.
The most common diseases you will see in relation to Hoya Shepherdii are bacterial and fungal infections. Of these, root rot is the biggest problem faced by Hoya Shepherdii owners around the world. Fortunately, these diseases have a simple causative factor that can be tackled quite easily.
These diseases mainly arise when too much water is swamped up in the soil. This can either be from using a poorly draining potting mix or overwatering your Hoya Shepherdii. Addressing these two issues will help you fight off the bacterial and fungal infections from your Hoya Shepherdii.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can Hoya Shepherdii flower under fluorescent or artificial lighting?
While natural bright, indirect sunlight is best for the Hoya Shepherdii plant, it is not essential for its growth. If you don’t have access to natural sunlight, you can use artificial means to help your String Bean Hoya grow and bloom. When all the other conditions are met, there is not much difference between a Hoya Shepherdii that is grown in natural sunlight and one that has been cultivated under fluorescent lighting.
Does Hoya Shepherdii become dormant?
During the winter months, the plant does not grow as rapidly. However, there is never a state of complete rest or dormancy for the Hoya Shepherdii.
What is the best fertilizer for Hoya Shepherdii?
Any regular houseplant fertilizer works for Hoya Shepherdii. However, for the best results, we suggest a well-balanced NPK liquid fertilizer that has been diluted to 50% of its strength.
Wrapping It Up
And there’s that! By following the directions in this guide, you, too, can have a magnificent Hoya Shepherdii plant decor in your living room.