Learn how to care for the hoya callistophylla, a gorgeous hoya variety with large, thick leaves and striking, high-contrast veining.
How to care for the gorgeous hoya callistophylla
I will be honest. The plant I am writing about today wasn’t even on my radar until I was browsing plant shops one night trying to spend money I shouldn’t be spending. It’s a Hoya Callistophylla.
I am usually not bowled over by the big-leaf, veiny hoyas. But oh man, this one is a stunner. When I saw it, I looked for some more pics to make sure it wasn’t just a good picture. And it is definitely as cool in person as it is in pics!
What does a Hoya Callistophylla look like?
Hoya Callistophylla has the same thick, waxy leaves you’re likely familiar with if you’re ever owned a Hoya. Even in the plant’s juvenile form, the leaves are quite sizeable.
They are a medium bright green with dark veining that is a lovely contrast. When I purchased my plant, it only had a few leaves—but it had already put out a long stem runner tied up to a bamboo stick with a little sticky strip.
Is Hoya Callistophylla easy to grow?
Yes, in my opinion, all of the Hoyas with thicker leaves I’ve owned are relatively easy to grow. They are pretty drought tolerant and don’t need a lot of water.
Is Hoya Callistophylla a slow grower?
Yes, it is a slow grower. It takes a lot of work to grow those thick, showy leaves! Space is at a premium for me, so I don’t mind that this one is a slow grower at all.
Given the rarity of this one and higher costs, I opted for a smaller plant. It hasn’t grown much, but that just means it will continue living happily in my sunny kitchen window for a while.
How much light does this plant need?
Much like other Hoyas, Hoya Callistophylla is from Southeast Asia where it grows in tropical climates. As an epiphyte, it climbs up other trees and plants for support. That means it is generally also growing under a dense canopy of foliage.
This dense canopy prevents too much direct light from getting to the plant’s leaves. In fact, too much direct sunlight will burn the plant’s leaves.
Bright, indirect light is best for the Hoya Callistophylla. Generally in my house, that means any of my sunny windows—I find that indoor light, even if it’s my sunniest window, still doesn’t provide the conditions necessary to burn my plants.
But keep an eye on your plant for sure. You may need to move it away from your sunniest windows. If you move it outdoors, make sure it stays in dappled sunlight, weaker morning sunlight, or in the shade.
Water & soil needs
Water and soil go hand in hand, so I usually write about them either one after the other or together. Hoyas are especially prone to rootrot and overwatering—and soil is an essential part of the watering routine.
Plant your Hoya Callistophylla in a chunky, well-draining soil. I have most of my hoyas in a mix I whip up myself, and it’s not rocket science. I start with a high-quality indoor potting soil base.
Then I throw in a handful of coconut husks. You can also use orchid bark, but I am not using coconut husks because I bought a big bag and they do the job just fine! I also throw in some additional perlite to help with drainage.
And finally, if I have it on hand, I add in coconut coir, which is shredded, dry coconut. This is a great and much more sustainable alternative to peat moss that helps with lightweight moisture retention.
When you water the plant, soak the soil thoroughly. Rinse off the leaves while you’re at it! Let all of the excess water drain from the plant’s drainage holes.
And then ignore the plant and do not water again until the soil dries out completely. I generally check my Hoyas weekly in the spring and summer. Every 10-14 days in the fall and winter when temperatures are much lower in my house.
Yellowing leaves on a Hoya
If your Hoya Callistophylla is developing yellowing leaves, the most likely reason is overwatering. It’s possible that underwatering can also lead to the leaves yellowing and dying off, but overwatering is probably the most common for most people.
Check the soil…if it’s wet or if you’ve had a heavy hand, it’s probably too much water, soil that is too dense, or a combination of both.
Temperature & humidity
As a tropical plant, Hoya Callistophylla is not cold or frost hardy. However, it can tolerate a variety of normal household temperatures very well. Anywhere from the 60s to even the low 90s Fahrenheit can be totally fine.
I find that my Hoyas are also happy to solider through evenings that get down into the 50s Fahrenheit. That’s usually the ones I take outside for the summer.
Lows in our area can dip down into the 50s in early spring when I’m being impatient about waiting to put them out 🙂 And then again in the fall when I’m procrastinating on taking the plants in.
If you can give your Callistophylla more humidity, it will be happier. I have mine grouped with a lot of other plants to help keep ambient humidity levels high. A glass greenhouse cabinet is also a great option—as is adding a humidifier.
Repotting a Hoya Callistophylla
As a slow grower, you can help your plant along by giving it an organic fertilizier every month or so during its growing season. I have nothing against chemical fertilizers—I just don’t use them because I struggle with not diluting enough and burning my plants.
Even with a great care routine and fertilizer, Hoya Callistophylla’s slow growth rate means that it likely won’t need to be repotted often. Every few years is a good rule of thumb.
I don’t recommend repotting your plant until its roots grow out of its pot’s drainage holes. This is generally not an issue for the plant since it isn’t too fussy about being a bit potbound.
When you do repot the plant, make sure to use fresh well-draining soil. Also make sure to size the plant pot up only about an inch or two. Any bigger can lead to too much water retention in the soil, which sucks for the plant’s roots.
If you aren’t repotting your plant in the spring, fertilizer becomes more important. That’s because your soil may be depleted of its nutrients, and fertilizer will help give it the boost it needs.
This plant can be propagated just as you’d propagate a Hoya Carnosa—and I have a whole post with detailed pictures and steps outlining how to propagate a Hoya Carnosa. Here is an overview.
First take a cutting with at least two sets of leaves. Remove the bottom-most set of leaves to expose the growth points. Then put the cutting in damp sphagnum moss and perlite.
I like using sphagnum moss and perlite for hoya cutting propagation because I’ve personally found that it grows the strongest roots and has the highest success rate. LECA is also a nice option.
You can certainly try your hand at rooting this one in water, too. But don’t be shocked if struggles a bit when you transplant it to soil. The roots need to convert to soil roots, and you don’t have as much shock when you root cuttings in moss or LECA.
Whatever propagation method you choose, remember that this plant is a very slow grower. Watch for rot on your cutting, and make sure the moss remains damp but not too wet. Don’t be surprised if the cutting takes several months to root.
Hoya plants in general are not known to be toxic if ingested. That includes people and animals. However, these are ornamental plants that are not grown to be consumed.
I always recommend to keep your plants away from nibbling kids and pets. There are some plants that, even though they are not known to be toxic to pets, my cat will eat them and throw them up. So—out the door they go!