Caring for Your Hoya kerrii

So you finally got your hands on a hoya kerrii! Congrats! It’s one of the most sought after plants in the plant community right now after the pilea peperomioides craze. You can probably find a single leaf hoya kerrii easily at your local plant stores but don’t be fooled by those! Single leaf cuttings are cute and what not, but it’ll take a whole world of patience and love before it decides to grow into a whole plant (*assuming it has a tiny bit of the main stem on it*). So I’d say, 90% of the time, your single leaf will only live a long and happy life alone.

UPDATE: I’ve recently made a video on how to care for my hoya kerrii! If you’re not a reader, be sure to click play! And give ya girl a subscribe if you like it!

Now this post is about how to care for a hoya kerrii with more than one leaf! If that’s what you’re here for, read on!

Disclaimer: I’m not a plant expert, so everything below is solely based on my own experience. I’ve had my hoya kerrii splash since last year (2017) so I’m still learning every single day! I also received a hoya kerrii albomarginata a couple months ago and was able to propagate it without problem.

Light

My hoya kerrii loves the sun. I treat them like succulents because they love light THAT much. As a house plant, your best bet is to place it at the brightest spot you have. Mine resides at my southwest facing window and it receives about 6 hours of direct, bright light, each day during the summer.

If it’s getting too much light, you’ll find that the leaves starts turning yellow but they’ll still feel firm and healthy. If that’s the case for you, just move it a little further away from the sun or put a sheer curtain over your crazy bright window (lucky you!).

If your hoya kerrii is variegated, I’d suggest giving it even more light than the regular, all-green or splash hoya kerrii. During winter times, I place my smaller hoya under my Sansi 30w LED grow light for at least 6 hours.

Watering

I only water my hoya kerrii about once a month, when the soil is 90% dried, or the pot feels super light. When it’s time, I take the plant to the shower and “rain” on it for 30 minutes on and off to ensure that the whole root ball is saturated. In other words, I’ll water it, wait a minute for the water to drain out, then water it again. I’ll repeat this process at least five times. The main reason I do this is because mine is in a 7 inch pot and the soil gets a little ‘water resistant’ when it dries out.

And don’t worry if you go on a vacation and can’t water it for over a month. This plant takes a long time for it even begins to look thirsty. I’ve never had this problem but you can tell its thirsty when the leaves are soft to touch.

Soil

Both of my kerrii are in a soil mix of 50% regular potting soil + 25% perlite + 25% orchid bark. I’m sure you can plant it completely in orchid bark though if you don’t mind watering it more often. Just make sure your soil is draining really well because this plant likes to dry out quick.

Since my hoya lives in a plastic pot, whenever I water it, I also squeeze the pot to loosen the soil a bit first. With my other plants, I’ll also use bamboo skewers to poke and loosen the soil. But for these kerrii, I did’t want to risk damaging ANY of their roots so I’ve never done that for them.

Just a side note, when I first brought this plant home, I actually washed off all the old soil and repotted it with completely new soil. This way, I could also check how healthy the roots were (because you never know!).

Pot

Both of my hoya kerrii are in plastic pots and I put them in a pretty, outer pot. With watering and outer pots, be careful to check that your plant is fully drained before returning it to its pot. I make sure to let mine sit in a saucer for at least one week to fully dry out before putting it back. Drainage is really important!

Alternatively, you could use terracotta pots. I have other hoya plants that are in these and I love that they dry out much quicker. In the end, it really is a matter of personal preference. The most important thing is that your pots MUST allow water to drain out quickly.

Fertilizer

After a whole year since the first repotting with fresh soil, I started fertilizing my kerrii with diluted Marphyl soil enhancer. I also spray the leaves with AgricultureRx GardenRx Spray. Since it’s a very slow growing plant, I really don’t know if the fertilizer helps — but no damage done!

Trellis

My favourite thing to do for my hoya is training it to grow up a trellis! This mimics what they do in nature as most wild hoya plants climb on trees and fences. Make sure your trellis is strong; because once I trellised my kerrii, the newer leaves got a lot bigger and heavier! (However, the leaves also grew bigger because it was now receiving less light than when it was in a green house previously.)

New vines also love to coil around the trellis so after a while, your plant may automatically attach itself. But meanwhile, I use soft rubber wires to hold them in place.

Propagation

I find hoyas are one of the easiest plants to propagate! I received a fresh hoya kerrii albomarginata cutting a few months ago and now it’s already grown two new leaves! So here’s what I did.

  1. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone powder
  2. Submerge it in water
  3. Place it under bright, but not direct sun
  4. Change the water once a week
  5. Watch small roots start to grow within two weeks!
  6. Repot in soil when roots are 1-2 inches long

Yes, that’s it! My cutting was in a horrible state too with damaged and soft leaves when I first got it. I honestly thought it was going to die. I checked on it daily, and the leaves stayed soft and wrinkled the entire time until the new roots came in. So the lesson here is, don’t ever give up on a hoya! It may look horrible but as long as there’s green in the stem, it’ll survive!

Growth Rate

(Big leaf photo) I got my hoya kerrii around September 2017, and it literally didn’t do anything for half a year. Perhaps it was growing roots because I repotted it right when I brought it home into a slightly deeper pot. However, I think it was just the typical dormancy that most plants go through during the dark and gloomy winter days. Around Valentine’s Day, it started growing new leaves, but both of them fell off. I immediately moved it to a much bigger window and within weeks, it started growing super fast! Maybe it was the increase of light, but also it was March so it’s was coming out of its dormancy.

Hoyas like to grow vines first. My theory is that it wants to latch onto something before the heavy leaves come in. So, when the long naked stems start growing, don’t cut them off! (Unless you don’t want a bigger plant…)

And here are the results from mine: 13 new leaves and 20 inches of vine between Sep 2017 and June 2018.

Blooms

My hoya started to produce blooms one year after I brought it home. The first time it bloomed, there was only ONE. SINGLE. LONELY. bloom (consisting of a handful of tiny flowers). The plant was about 3-4 years old and had about 30 leaves. The next summer, it bloomed again! This time, it produced 5 blooms throughout the summer months. I had to bag up the blooms in little clear bags because the nectar would drip all over the floor. During blooming, the plant will slow down or even stop producing new leaves.

Don’t cut the long naked vines! New leaves will grow on them soon! In the wild, this hoya likes to extend its arms to find good support to hold onto before producing leaves because these heart shaped leaves are HEAVY!

Don’t cut the long naked vines! Leaves will grow on them soon!

FAQ

Many of you have asked questions on my Instagram posts, so here’s my attempt to answer some of them. Feel free to leave a comment if you have more questions!

My variegated kerrii is getting a bunch of new leaves but the yellow keeps turning brown. Any idea why?

I’m suspecting that the soil is too moist for too long.

Where do new vines grow out of?

If you have a hoya plant with a chopped off end, chances are new vines will come in at the last node. However, when the plant is happy and healthy, new vines can grow out of any node alone the vine.

Do you think there’s a growing season for hoya kerrii?

Yes! Mine did absolutely NOTHING between September and January!

Where can we buy one in Canada?

I’ve seen hoya kerrii (as a plant, not as a single leaf) at Valleyview Gardens, Kim’s Nature, and Crystal Stars Orchids. Also on Facebook groups here, here, and here!

My hoya kerrii has 2 new leaves! But… one leaf turned yellow and fell off. The other one is still on the plant but way darker than the other leaves. 

This happened to me too! Honestly, I don’t know why for sure. But out of my 17 new leaves, only 4 of them fell off this way, so I’m not concerned at all. It could be a lack of light, over-watering, or the plant just deciding that it didn’t want to sustain these new leaves due to growth on another part.

How do you repot your hoya kerrii? What soil do you use?

I mentioned the soil mix I use above. When repotting, make sure you don’t go up in size too quickly. All my hoyas are in very tight pots just to ensure that the soil dries out quickly. When in doubt, don’t size it up until your plant to pot ratio is really, really, really out of balance. They don’t mind being root bound,

How can you make them grow faster?

Give them LOTS of SUN and humidity!

Do you know anything about black spots on hoya kerrii leaves? I got a green leaf that had lots of black spots behind and in front of a few leaves (but not all). The stem from which these leaves grow had turned blackish also. 

Yes! Some of my kerii leaves has tiny black dots (they literally look like black heads lol) on the underside and part of the connecting stem. I don’t know what they are, but it doesn’t spread or get worse so I don’t do anything about it. I’m suspecting it has to do with the kind of water you use (photo: dots).

Do you mist the plant?

I just started doing that but I’m not sure if it does anything haha! I didn’t mist it to begin with and it still put out beautiful growths so I don’t think it really cares. I do have a humidifier near it during the winter when its drier.

Comments (39)

  1. Hi!! One of the newer leaves on my Hoya kerii started to feel soft in the past week or so… the old leaves near the base of the plant still feels pretty firm. I watered it more than two weeks ago and haven’t watered it since. Any clue on what’s happening or tips please 🙂

    1. Hi Victoria! It depends on a lot of things! How big is the plant? the pot size? how much light its getting…etc and is it just turning soft or changing colour? If you send me a few pictures of your plant it would be much easier to tell what’s happening 🙂

  2. Hi there, I just purchased a 15 year old Hoya Kerrii. The leaves are in pretty bad condition and it has lots of vines without many leaves. Can you please suggest what I can do to encourage new healthy leaf growth? All of the leaves are a light green compared to others I’ve seen. I’ve repotted it into a well drained pot one size larger than its original that was way to small. It is in a pretty sunny environment outside. I live in Australia and it’s almost summer here. I don’t want to put it into shock so I’m keeping it in a similar position to where i purchased it. I just want to bring it back to life and promote lots of beautiful new healthy leaves 🙂 thank you in advance.

    1. 15 year old kerrii! That thing must be huge! Hoya kerrii are really strong plants and they’ll do well with very minimal. Are the vines without leaves thick old vines or newer/ greenish vines? Hoyas like to shoot out long naked vines first before growing leaves on them. About the light green leaves – kerrii leaves can turn light green, even yellow when its expose to full sun. It’s not a concern unless it gets TOO much sun without much watering. If you want darker green leaves, just give it less sun. Keep in mind thou, there are lots of different varieties of kerrii and mine is especially darker with splashes on them so yours might be different. If you used new soil when you repotted it, just give it time! It’ll bounce back and start shooting out new growth in no time! I fertilize mine during warmer months to help with its growth.

  3. Hi thank you for your post. I just acquired 2 small hoya kerriis and both of them look pretty sad. The leaves are fairly soft and curved. Does this typically mean they need a good drink? I watered them as the nursery pot they came in were super light. They’re in a really bright window now and will get some hours of direct sun. Hoping they will bounce back.

    1. Hi Colleen, I am interested to know how is your plant doing as my Hoya also has leaves that are fairly soft and curved and I’m not sure why. Can you share your experience?

  4. Question for you! What if the end of the vine looks like its turning yellow and woody? What do you do? Snip it off? Or is that how it just looks? Thanks!

  5. Hi Jackie, thanks for the awesome article! I stumbled upon this because I have unrooted kerrii cuttings and am trying to root them. A question is whether I should dip the stem end in water or should the water cover up to the bottom node. Thank you! Hoping to have a successful propagation like yours! 🙂

  6. Thank you for your comments, have enjoyed reading. I have had Hoya Carnosa in the same pot without drain for over 25 years, they are too large for me to re pot. One is in a 2 inch by 6 inch cut glass pot and the other is in a little larger round pot. They bloom quite often. I think I will try to add a small amount of soil. Once in a while I do fertilize with the following which really brings the blossoms on. 12 0z beer( not lite), 1 cup epson salts, 1/2 cup ammonia (household), 2 cups warm water, 1/2 molasses (I use black strap), 4 tbs. bloom booster. I cut the recipe down as I don’t want to keep it over. I copied this off the Internet several years ago. I have just started with Hoya Kerrii .

    1. My hoya kerri variegated is growing new leaves, but they are all green not variegated. I think that is caused by light, please advise. Thank you

  7. Hi. My Hoya Kerrii plant (which I just got a week ago) is starting to turn a darker color throughout the center is splotches. Any ideas what could be wrong if anything?

  8. Hi hoping you can help me.
    My Hosta Kerrii leaves turned yellow and dried up.
    I don’t know what happened.
    It definitely wasn’t overwatered
    When I was throwing the hosta out I noted the roots looked healthy moist and were spreading throughout the pot.
    I cut back the stem to just above the roots and repotted it.
    It has no leaves just a little bit of stem.
    What are my chances of this plant sprouting a leaf?
    Thanks.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      If by ‘Hosta” you mean Hoya, then a yellow leaf is probably just an old leaf and it’s lived its days. My Hoya has old leaves that turns yellow and dries out as well (1-3 a year). If its just a stem, I would help it grow better by giving it humidity (a bag over it, or next to humidifier), warmth, and light. With patience a naked stem will sprout leaves 🙂 Good luck!

  9. Just got my first Kerrii, and it’s variegated! I was wondering if you know how these plants react to grow lights? My other Hoyas seem to like them, and it’s so gloomy in winter that they only get a couple of hours of sun, if that, a day. I have two purple lamps on my shelves, that I leave on for a few hours a day. Should I be giving my Kerrii six hours of grow-light to keep it happy?
    Thanks for all the awesome tips!

    1. Hi Becca,

      I don’t have any hoya plants under grow lights as I let them enjoy their sleep during winter times. I think they’ll be fine with grow light but make sure the light is not too close so that it doesn’t burnt the leaves. Also, it depends when your lights are on. If you turn it on for 6 hours after sundown, that will trick the plant into thinking the day is longer and it may start growing more (If the temperature and watering also mimics grow season). If you turn it on during day time just because its gloomy outisde, the plant will be happier but probably won’t grow. Hoyas are pretty sensitive to the length of light during the day so if you want the plant to actually grow under the light, you’ll need to have it on for 12+ hours, and give it humidity and warmth like summer.

      hope that helps!

  10. Hi there, I found when I was trying to root my thick leaved Hoyas like Kerri & Katsbergii when I put them inside a larger glass container with several others they started to rot & finally I had the leaves fall off. My success finally happened when I put them in Leca(clay pebbles) with water only up to the first node, not in the water though. Within 7-10 days I think had my first sign of roots. This is after about 3wks, I will send a picture. In the small glass container I have Kerri Splash, Pubicalyx (PHP), Shepherdii or Wayetti & another misc.

  11. Hi , me Cheryl again. It is the humidity that made them root. I forgot to mention I had them on a heat mat & under a T5 grow light. I’m sorry I can’t find a way to put a picture up with comment but it does work remarkably well. I must say it works this well for all Hoyas especially but other plants too. I had a Silver Sword that all the leaves started curling under on. In a matter of a week it was once again in prime condition.

  12. Your trellis is so cute, but it looks like the link to how you made it isn’t working. Could you please repost? Would love to recreate! Thank you!

  13. Hi I purchased 5 hoya cuttings from Crystal Star Nursery in June. They’re all thriving (my Lacunosa just flowered) and have more than doubled in size except my Kerrii albomarginata. Everytime it gets a new leaf it curls and falls off before it’s fully grown. Then it starts putting out a new leaf that does the same. What am I doing wrong with this one?

  14. I leave my grow lights on my Hoya Kerrii Variegata 24 hrs a day 7 days a week in winter. If the sun comes out then I move it to my window for 4-6 hrs of sun coming in and out of the overcast day. Otherwise it stays under grow lights in my bathroom with humidifier going 24 hrs a day on low so that my humidity is never below 35-45%. I have 4 new leaves since I got the plant a month ago. I took off at the ends 1 leaf on each end and that is where it is having 2 new leaf shoots coming in on each end.

  15. I have been wondering what kind of plant this was. Got it from my daughter for a Valentines present with a cute saying “if it loves you it will give you heart leaves of three” Mine snowmen 10 feet tall growing up thru another tree type plant. Still puts out groups of three hearts with blooms.

  16. My Hoya was doing amazing then all of a sudden something happened. It started developing black spots and the leaves went yellow and now they are soft. I’ve watered it once since getting it the end of February. I don’t think it’s an over watering issue. Do you have any recommendations?

    1. Hi Allison,

      I would check the roots to see if there’s any rotting. If the leaves went yellow then there’s nothing you can do to save that particular leaf. Make sure it’s not in a pot that’s too big for it. The soil should dry out within a week, top of the soil should be dry after 2-3 days. If the leaf is just soft / wrinkly, that means it needs watering + humidity. I love putting my hoya into plastic bag to give it some spa time. That’ll help the leaves absorb water quicker.

      Jackie

  17. Hey!
    Just got my own Hoya Kerrii, it’s taller than expected, 50cm, and the stem is very thick and greyish. I worry there won’t be new growth because of this, am I right to worry? Also mine has a lot of really dry air roots, is this normal because it just came from the seller? or should I worry with all the dry roots? Lastly how do you keep the color a more dark green but give it enough light to grow? don’t want to sacrifice growth for color. A lot of questions sorry!

    Greetings from the Netherlands!

    1. Hi Eef, Mature stems are always going to turn grey-ish colour, this is completely normal. New grows will come out of nodes, usually closer to the top, but it could happen at older nodes as well. (Nodes = where leafs connect) Dry roots are not a problem. These roots grow out when the environment is humid (like a greenhouse), but they die out when coming into our homes. If you keep it in FULL SUN all day for longer than 12 hours then it’ll start turning more light green-yellowish. But if it’s indoors, beside a window, you wont be seeing a change of leaf colour at all since that’s not extreme light.

      Hope that helps!
      Jackie

  18. Hi!
    What a Wonderful Article! So, I LOVE Hoya, #obsessed, and this little Kerri in particular has been through a lot with us over the last year. New leaves, then dropping said new leaves, dying stem and regrowth of said stem :). We moved December and I placed her in bright light and repotted her – because her roots weren’t fully being saturated due to nursery potting soil – and then two new beautiful leaves came in right away! But look at them!? What’s going on here? The new leaves are brown-ish, reddish spotty from edges moving inward and the stem at these leaves are spotted with little purple brown spots. Leaves are not flimsy, are a bit thinner than the healthy green older leaves, and both seem really unhappy. She’s in well-draining soil, a terra cotta pot and a lovely amount of light. The stem looks like it is trying to continue to grow in between the leaves and there’s even the start of a new leaf at the node below! I’ve done so much trouble shooting. The only thing I can think is that she’s outgrown her 4” pot? There are 2 roots starting to peek through at the drainage hole. And/or needs some fertilizer? Any tips welcome! Thank you in advance :).
    (I have pictures, but I’m not able to post them here in the comment section. Happy to email them to you).

    1. Hi Dawn,

      Sounds like your hoya is happy even with the new weirdo leaf! I find that my kerrii is very sensitive to changes, which includes repotting, strength/length of day light, watering, temperature, and humidity. Every year when the season changes it affects the new growths. Either they come in smaller, with wonky shapes, or fall off eventually. I don’t really worry about it because I know once it’s settled with the new environment, it’ll start growing strong leaves again. When I first bought mine home, it took nearly half a year before it grew a new leaf that looked good! It’s a very slow growing plant, but once its established in its spot, it’ll start growing nicely again. All you need is patience 🙂 Also, I don’t fertilize mine much, just about once a year in the summer. Hope this helps!
      Jackie

  19. Hi!
    Love this blog post, it’s super helpful. I just got a hoya kerii with three leaves. I’m hesitant to repot it because every time I repot a plant, they seem to die or lose a lot of leaves. I saw that you washed off the old soil when you got yours but do you think this is necessary?

    I love your trellis! Since mine only has three leaves, do you suggest putting a single stick for it to grow up or wait until it has enough leaves to add a trellis?

    Thanks for all your help!

    1. Hi Lani,

      Thank you! I’m glad you found it helpful 🙂
      I would report it so it can have some fresh soil, but keep the same pot size, or even something smaller! The point is to rid of new plants of any pests in the soil, and new soil have more nutrients so you dont need to fertilize it any time soon. Many times plants decline after a repotting is because the pot is too big (soil holding onto too much water). Where the plant used to be, probably a green house, has WAY more light than our house so it uses a lot more water. So when you repot, make sure your soil is more airy (i always mix in A LOT of perlite), so the plant will use up all the water quickly. Always better to under water than over water.

      Wow I went on a tangent there haha.

      In terms of the trellis, I made it FINALLY when the vines were so heavy that the pot doesn’t really sit flat but tilt haha. You can put one into the pot as you repot, so in the future you don’t have to stab one in and risk breaking the roots! But hoyas can grow slow when they’re little, so I don’t know when It will shoot up a vine since you said it’s a new little one 🙂

      Good luck!
      Jackie

      1. Hey Jackie!

        First, thanks for the quick and detailed response. Love it! I wanted to check in to let you know I successfully repotted without killing it!! Thanks so much for your help 💚

  20. I just got a Kerri about 3 weeks ago. The top smaller leaves seem a bit yellow Transparent and one of the leaves has some black on the edge. What could it be? I’ve watered it once because it seemed pretty dry. Will it be okay?

  21. Hi Jackie,

    This post is very helpful! I got my Hoya Kerrii, the green version about 5 days ago. I am noticing that some of the leaves are starting to develop purplish spots, the size of a q-tip. Have you ever seen this before and know what may be causing it? Thank you!

  22. Hello! Love all of your hoya kerri plant tips. I recently got one and it’s starting to look a little sad and the leaves have started to curl. Help! Have any idea on how to fix that?

  23. Thank you so much for this it is so interesting. I had a hoya kerri as a single heart shaped leaf given to me by my friend and it stayed like that, no bigger, no smaller no colour change, no change at all, for fifteen years.. I just kept it cos I liked it, watered it hardly at all… and then one day I noticed another shoot coming from underneath… and now it just keeps growing. I think I’ve been overwatering it, so am really glad i read your article. Now it has 20 leaves and has thrown up a super long vine with white soft spikes on it… some of those seem to be turning into new branches, but they seem to stop after one inch and do nothing more…. My question is what to do with this vine, do I let it keep growing upwards, or train it to come back down? .. it doesn’t seem to be growing any more leaves so its now about 3 1/2 to 4 feet high… Also I’m a bit worried because I finally re-potted it but into a much bigger pot, which you said not to do… it was really root bound in in a very small pot… it seems ok though, I just guessed that part normal soil and part orchid soil would be good and it seems to be ok. Will these white thorns develop into anything? Many thanks, Jo

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