If you want to bring a little bit of jungle in your home wherever in the world you live, a striking Hoya Kentiana can be a perfect choice for you. It is relatively easy to care for once you provide it with certain necessary conditions. Here they are, in short.
Hoya Kentiana enjoys bright indirect light, but it can tolerate being exposed to direct sunlight during the morning. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, especially during the winter dormancy period. Make sure that the pot is not in a dry room or near a vent or AC. Drafts can harm the plant as well. Control the humidity levels, and keep them around 50%. The soil type you choose needs to be well-drained and aerated. Fertilize once a month during the period of active growth and not at all during dormancy. Let it become root-bound and only move if it is necessary. Beware of aphids, mealybugs, mites, and especially thrips and root rot.
Now, let’s dig in into Hoya Kentiana care step by step.
What is Hoya Kentiana?
Hoya Kentiana is another one of the greatly beloved Hoyas.
It is a tropical perennial plant that can produce beautiful flowers with a sweet scent; however, Hoya lovers usually grow it for its fascinating leaves.
The foliage is dark green, elongated, and pointy, and the flowers, when you get the chance to see the plant bloom, are wine red with a yellow corona.
The foliage is waxy and thick, and this is why they are often called Wax plants.
It is a Hoya variety that is perfect for keeping in a hanging basket since its foliage will spread out of the pot like fireworks – or is it just me who thinks so?
It is not a Hoya type that can grow supported by a trellis.
Before actually learning how to care for your Hoya Kentiana, you need to make sure that it is Kentiana and not Hoya Wayetii that you have.
There are over 500 species of Hoya plants when we consider all the varieties plus their variegations.
Some of them are pretty similar and differ in things that are difficult to differentiate if you are an amateur gardener – as the majority of us are.
Even if you end up with Hoya Wayetii, you will have a lovely Hoya plant adding tropical vibes to your home.
Different Types of Hoya
Here are some of the most common and most popular ones to grow.
Although most Hoyas are tropical perennials (evergreens), there are some differences in caring for each one.
Hoya Kentiana Light Requirements
We have already said that Hoya Kentiana is a tropical plant.
What does that mean in terms of lighting required for it to grow happily?
It means that Hoya Kentiana does not like too much direct sunlight; this is because in its natural environment, in this case – the Philipines, the plant grows in areas that are partially in the shade.
For a plant to thrive, we must aim to mimic its natural environment as much as possible, so you should keep your Hoya Kentiana away from the direct sunlight.
This is especially important if where you live, the summers are very hot and the sun can damage the foliage.
For example, you can actually keep it in direct sunlight in the early spring when the sunshine is not too strong.
Your best bet, however, is to place your Hoya Kentiana near an east-facing window.
There is enough sunlight to be happy, but it won’t get scorched since the morning sun is quite gentle.
The fact that it is near and not in the window also helps you be worry-free of sunburns (i.e., brown patches on the foliage caused by too much direct sunlight).
On the other hand, if you place the plant in a too dark room or too far away from the light source that it does not get enough sunlight, it can lose its pattern or have trouble blooming.
If you do not have an option to move it closer to a light source and provide it with that bright indirect sunlight that it needs, invest in artificial growing lights.
If you live in an area where the climate is constant during the year, you can even grow Ketiana outside, making sure that it is in the shade during the mid-day sun.
A porch, a balcony, or a hung on a larger tree are all places that can provide adequate light requirements.
Once you pick a place, stick to it.
A lot of moving around causes stress to Kentiana plants that can result in the shedding of the bloom.
Temperature and Humidity
Again, the ideal temperature for growing a happy Hoya Kentiana is the same as for almost all other tropical plants – 65 – 80°F (18 – 26°C).
In winter, the temperatures should not go lower than 50°F (10°C), and the ideal is about 55 – 60°F (13 – 15°C).
If the temperature drops below 50°F, the plant can die since they never get the chance to experience temperatures so low in their natural habitats.
The answer is also quite logical when it comes to humidity – Tropical areas are humid, so tropical plants like high humidity.
To ensure that your Hoya Kentiana has enough humidity to grow, fill your water tray with pebbles and keep the pot on them.
When the water evaporates, fill it back, and the act of vaporizing will humidify your plant constantly.
If you keep your Kentiana in a hanging pot, this will not be an option so either invest in a humidifier or mist the plant daily, especially during hotter months.
Adequate humidity levels will create excellent conditions for Hoya Kentiana to produce its evasive flowers.
Another thing that needs to be avoided is placing your plant in drafts or near ACs or vents. Why?
They either cool the air or dry it up – all conditions a Hoya Kentiana does not prefer.
Hoyas and other tropical plants like their soil to dry out a little between two watering, and Hoya Kentiana is not an exception.
This is fantastic since it makes it easy to care for and great for beginner gardeners since they tend to forget to water the plant.
In Kentiana’s case, this is perfect – too much water can cause the roots to develop a condition caused by root rot that can be fatal to the plant.
And, although it likes the humid environment, it prefers its soil primarily dry.
How do you know when the time for watering is?
Just stick your finger into the soil; if it is still wet, check again in a day or two; if it is dry up to 2 inches, it is time to water it.
If you do not want to get your nails dirty, you can use a moisture meter that can be bought in stores.
When you decide it is time to water it, water until you see water collecting in the pot tray while ensuring that all the pot’s soil is wet.
Water the entire surface and not just in one spot; you want to make sure the soil is evenly watered.
How often you need to water?
It depends on the humidity levels and temperatures.
In warmer months, the soil will get dry quicker than in the winter, so you will have to water the plant, maybe even every other day during summer.
During the winter months, it can pass up to two months between two waterings.
The fact that Hoya Kentiana likes its soil dry does not mean that it will endure it forever.
When you notice that your plant is wilting, i.e., the thick, waxy foliage becoming soft, wrinkly, and drooping, it is definitely time to go and get some water for it.
Soil and Fertilization Requirements
As Hoya Kentiana does not like its soil to be waterlogged, you should use the type of well-draining type.
The best option is a potting mix made of one part peat moss and one part perlite.
A mix with bark could also do the trick.
This is because soil with larger chunks does not keep the water in and allows the air to circulate.
Why is this important?
Root rot develops in waterlogged soils that do not have good aeration.
Another option for a soil type that would suit Hoya Kentiana is the type of soil used for succulents.
When it comes to fertilizing your Hoya Kentiana, you could use a fertilizer rich in nitrogen to encourage foliage growth.
Be very careful to use the fertilizer according to the label or dilute it by half regardless of whether you are using an organic or synthetic fertilizer.
How often should you use fertilizer?
During the growing season, i.e., from spring to late summer or early fall, you can use the desired fertilizer once a month to help boost foliage growth.
Once the dormancy period stops, you should stop fertilizing and resume again in spring.
Note: When you are using the fertilizer, it is essential that the soil is wet but not soaking.
If you apply the fertilizer on soaking wet soil or just before the watering, the water will rinse the fertilizer off before it gets the chance to do its magic.
If, on the other hand, you fertilize the dry soil, the chemicals from the fertilizer can cause chemical burns or salt build-up, both of which can damage or even kill the plant.
The best option is to fertilize a day after watering while the soil is still moist enough to protect the roots and not that wet as to reduce the fertilizer’s effect.
Potting and Repotting
Since Hoya Kentiana does not like its soil soaking wet or even that moist, you should make sure that it is placed into a pot with suitable drainage holes.
If by any chance it does not, drill a few holes at the bottom of the pot to avoid water from remaining in the pot and damaging the plant.
If you think you need to report your plant every spring to help it grow as you would some other plants, you are mistaken.
If Hoya Kentiana is a little root-bound, it will grow perfectly OK; in fact, it likes it.
What it does not like is being tumbled around often.
Avoid adding the stress to it by unnecessarily repotting it.
So, when do you repot?
You should repot only if it is necessary – this means that you can repot when you think that the plant is not doing OK due to some underlying condition like root rot.
In that case, closely examine the roots, cut off any diseased section of the plant with sterile scissors and repot the plant into a new or sterilized pot.
Growth time and Inflorescence
Like all Wax plants, Hoya Kentiana has striking flowers made all the more special because it blooms only for about two weeks in the late spring and early summer.
Sometimes, though, if some of the conditions it requires are not met, it will not bloom at all.
But if you care for your Hoya Kentiana properly, it will reward you with several clusters of about ten star-shaped flowers.
Hoya Kentiana has wine-red flowers with yellow crowns. However, the shade of the color may depend on the mineral conditions in the soil.
Some Hoya species have hairs on their flowers, but Hoya Kentiana does not.
Its pedicle is pink – which will tell you if your Kentiana is actually Kentiana and not Hoya Wayetii.
Ensure you do not reposition the plant during its active blooming period since any kind of stress it experiences during that time may cause the plant to drop its beautiful flower clusters.
Also, do not remove the pedicles once the flowers have gone; sometimes, more flowers can form in the same spot.
When in bloom, the plant will emit a buttery, sweet scent, especially in the evenings and during the nights.
In this way, they attract the insects, so prepare yourself for some buzzing friends when Kentianas bloom.
Hoya Kentiana can reach the size of about 20 inches (about 50cm) in height.
It can grow quite fast if the conditions are met – the right temperature, humidity, pot size, etc.
Do not worry If your plant does not grow much during the winter months.
Winter belongs to its dormancy period, so all its functions are taken to a minimum, including growing.
Compared to other Wax plants, Hoya Kentiana is quite fussy when it comes to stress and moving it.
If you drastically change the watering time, light or humidity will get your plant into a state of shock, confuse it and reduce its functions to levels similar to those in the dormancy period.
This can last for weeks, months even.
To help it grow, constantly provide stable conditions, and you might even have a fast grower on your hands.
If the growth stagnation happens for longer periods, you might want to check if the pot is big enough or if the plant is healthy.
Pruning and Propagation
Plants are usually pruned to encourage plant growth.
In the case of Hoya Kentiana, this will not help a lot, so pruning should be kept to a minimum and limited to removing dead or damaged leaves.
Restrain yourself from removing the spurs after the flowers have died since they can bloom several times from the same spur.
When it comes to the propagation of Hoya Kentiana, here’s how you do it.
- Pick a healthy plant
- Choose a softwood stem with about 2 or 3 nodes and keep top leaves on it. Use a sterile knife or scissors.
- Use a homemade or store-bought rooting hormone to boost root formation and dip the stem in it. This is optional since Hoya develops shoots easily.
- Pot it in a soil mix or place it in a water-filled container (just over the lowest node)
- Keep the young plant in an environment with high humidity by placing a plastic bag over it
- Water or mist daily.
- Keep the plant at a warm temperature (around 70°F).
- Keep away from direct sunlight.
- In about 3 to 4 weeks, roots should start developing
- Let them grow a bit more before transplanting them into their permanent pot.
When you transplant the young plants into their new pots, try to keep them in the environment with the same conditions so that the stress would be as minimal as possible.
More on Propagation: Hoya Plant Propagation: 4 Popular Methods
Common Problems with Hoya Kentiana
In caring for Hoya Kentiana, you will occasionally encounter some issues.
Some of them can be pretty easy to catch and solve, while others are a bit more sneaky.
Mites can form on your plant forming small webs and sipping on its juices. This causes the plant to wilt or drop leaves. It can also cause the foliage to turn yellow.
Shower the plant to rinse off the webs and spiders to solve the issue, and you can also use neem oil.
Thrips are the most difficult of the pests that attack Hoya Kentiana. They are slim and black and cause the foliage to become pale or develop brown patches.
They also cause stunted growth in new foliage and/or flowers.
They are so aggressive that the plant can be so exhausted that it can die very quickly unless the pests are taken care of.
For this, use very strong insecticide according to the package recommendation.
Since the thrips lay eggs, you will probably need to repeat the process two or three times.
Mealybugs and Aphids can be noticed and removed easily, either with a vigorous hose-down or by wiping the plant with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball.
The most common and most fatal disease Hoya Kentiana can get is root rot.
Root rot is essentially fungus that forms around the roots (in more severe cases, even the stem gets infected), preventing them from taking enough oxygen to survive.
The soil of the plant infected by root rot smells moldy.
The roots become black, slimy, and eventually die.
Suppose you are taking care of your Hoya Kentiana the right way, and any yellowing or wilting problem could not be solved by adjusting the watering regimen or fertilizing and removing pests. In that case, it is time to check the roots.
Remove your plant from the pot and gently separate the soil from the roots.
Use a sterile utensil to remove a bit more than the diseased section of the root, and if there is enough healthy root surface left, place the plant back in new soil and a well-cleaned pot to avoid another infection.
Root rot should not be a problem if all adequate conditions are met.
Related: Hoya Plant Problems and Simple Fixes
Hoya Kentiana Care in a nutshell
Here is, in short, how you can care for your lovely Hoya Kentiana:
- Keep it in bright indirect sunlight
- Provide well-drained, aerated, and nitrogen-rich soil.
- Fertilize if necessary.
- Do not overwater, but do not let it stay dry for too long either.
- Keep the temperatures moderate and the humidity high.
- Keep the pots away from drafts or ACs
- Move the plant as little as possible to reduce stress.
- Tackle any pest issue in time.
If you do all that, you should have a happy and healthy Hoya Kentiana on your hands, making your house or your balcony prettier for years to come.