Growing Hoyas the Costa Farms Way

Growing Hoyas the Costa Farms Way

Hoyas require time and patience to grow. But they are worth it! See how we do it.
By Karen Weir-Jimerson

Hoyas are one of the most popular plants for collectors and new plant parents alike. Plant fans love them because of their diverse looks and easy-growing ways. Hoyas have thick glossy leaves and trailing stems. Some types are variegated and others offer crinkly leaves.

Discovering New Hoyas
The Costa Farms’ Exotic Angel® hoya collection includes 15 different varieties. According to Danny Lee, Hoya grower at Costa Farms in Apopka, Florida, seven of these Hoyas are unique because they are mutations that were discovered by the growers in our own greenhouses. In the plant world, mutations are exciting. Botanists call mutations “sports,” which means there’s a change in appearance in a plant’s flower, leaf color, or texture.

Hoya lacunosa ‘Royal Flush’ is an exciting sport discovered at one of our hanging basket locations. The Royal Flush sport was found in our Hoya lacunosa ‘Snow Caps’ stock which is also a sport that was discovered here. One single vine came out of the Snow Caps with burgundy in the leaves and stems. We were able to successfully maintain the sports genetics through many trials which is why we continue to grow it to this day. Any sports that do not give us consistent results do not make it into our mix,” says Danny.

What’s so cool about Hoya sports, is that our in-the-know growers are also Hoya fans, so when they see something unusual (and cool!), they pull out that plant to see if they can grow more of the unusual aspect of the plant. That’s one of the benefits of being a houseplant grower.

Growing Hoyas Collectors Love to Collect
Danny spends his days producing beautiful baskets of lush hoyas. He raises Mother plants for cuttings and nurtures new plants through weeks of careful propagation. And he knows that Hoya lovers are always searching for unique Hoyas. Some varieties are hard to find because they are not produced in big numbers. “I like to use the analogy of collecting basketball cards when talking about Hoyas,” says Danny. “When I was a kid I loved the thrill of buying a pack of cards to find out if I scored my favorite players. When you buy a pack of basketball cards you pay the same price for each card, but you buy them hoping to find a Michael Jordan card or whoever your favorite player is. Finding these exotic Hoyas in your local store is like finding that MJ card.”

Hoya are Grown from Our Own Mother Plants
All our Hoya cuttings come from our Hoya Mother plants. These plants are grown on site, which means we never have to purchase Hoya cuttings. According to Danny, this improves the quality of the cuttings and the plants that are grown from the cuttings. “Having our own Hoya mother plants ensures the quality of the genetics and the freshness of each cutting,” he says. “When you have your own Hoya mother plants, you are able to control every aspect of the growing process,” says Danny. “This includes the production, sprays, watering, fertilizing, light control, trimming and almost most importantly elimination of transportation.”

Control Ensures Quality
“There is no factor in these Hoya mother plants that we are not 100 percent in control of,” says Danny. “When any of our sport Hoyas have any reversions, we are able to select those out and produce only the most genetically strong vines.” Home-grown cuttings also guarantee high success rates in the rooting facility because they can be harvested and produced in the same day. “The stress the cuttings would normally have to go through if purchased from an outside vendor is eliminated this way,” he says.

Starting Plants Out Right
Our plants are grown in lower-light conditions which help them acclimate to the lower-light conditions of home environments. Greenhouse roofs are painted twice a year to limit the amount of light. Additionally, all plants are watered via individual drip irrigation to reduce the incidence of disease. Growing hoyas is an exercise in patience, though. “Grow times for Hoyas are longer than any other variety we grow,” says Danny. “The longest growing time is between 26-30 weeks for our variegated Rope varieties.” This is nearly twice as long as it takes to produce other species of hanging plants. “Our average hanging basket growing time is 16 weeks,” says Danny. But patience pays off. “We love bringing these rare and exotic varieties to our customers,” says Danny. “Although Hoyas are slower growing than most indoor plants, they just add something special to whatever space they are put in,” he says. "I love Hoyas in hanging baskets, so I like to say that growing Hoyas is easy once you get the ‘Hang’ of it.”

Ensuring Your Hoya is Happy at Home
“To be a good grower with any plant, you have to understand the environment in which it thrives in nature,” says Danny. But hoyas are not prima donnas. “Hoyas do not need to be fussed with,” he says. “They require less water than many other indoor plants. In nature, these varieties grow in shade and filtered light, so the light you get from windows makes them happy,” he says. And because of the thick outer layer on hoya leaves, they are impervious to most indoor houseplant pests.

Hoyas in the Exotic Angel® Collection

Hoya carnosa varieties
Golden Dream
Rubra [also called Krimson Princess]
Tricolor [also called Krimson Queen]

Hoya lacunosa varieties
Mini Wax
Royal Flush
Ruby Sue
Snow Caps

“Rope Hoya” varieties
Hoya compacta

Collecting Favorites
So what Hoyas are a Hoya grower smitten with? “I collect Hoyas, and have many different kinds in my personal collection, but my favorite is any of the variegated Rope of which we grow 3 different kinds,” says Danny. “The combination of the texture and contrasting colors just makes for a special look,” he says.

Discover more about how plants in our Costa Farms Exotic Angel® Plants collection are grown.