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Hoya Kentiana Care & Propagation

Hoya kentiana is a cool-looking hoya variety with long pointy leaves and a trailing habit. Learn all about hoya kentiana care, including where the plant came from, how to propagate it, and how it differs from hoya wayetii.

Learn about Hoya Kentiana care

If you’re looking to add a touch of the tropics to your home, then look no further. The Hoya Kentiana is a tropical perennial that yields the loveliest little flowers that give off an aroma of butterscotch. It has evergreen leaves that are spear-shaped and pointed—one variegated variety even sports bright red-tipped leaves. Hoyas are often difficult to classify, but luckily they aren’t too tricky to care for.

Is Hoya Kentiana rare?

Yes, the Hoya Kentiana is a rare succulent vine. Even more rare is its cultivar, the Hoya Kentiana Variegata. It’s easy to misidentify Hoyas, so keep in mind the rarity of a Hoya Kentiana when purchasing one.

bushy hoya kentiana outdoors on a patio

Where is the Hoya Kentiana from?

The Hoya Kentiana originated in Southeast Asia, like many other Hoyas. It can be found abundantly in the rainforests of the Philippines. Tropical rainforests provide the Hoya Kentiana with the optimal growing environment: humid, warm, and plenty of trees to climb.

What is so unique about the Hoya Kentiana is that they bloom at night, meaning insects aren’t typically what help pollinate them. However bats and moths do, which is where their sweet butterscotch aroma comes in handy. (For another plant that blooms at night, see my night-blooming cereus plant care guide.)

hoya kentiana leaves

Hoya Kentiana vs. Hoya Wayetii

Hoyas are very easy to mix up—even the pros get it wrong sometimes! At first glance, the Kentiana and Wayetii may seem nearly identical, especially after scrolling through countless pictures online. They both have spear-shaped leaves, produce similar flowers, and have the same green and maroon-ish markings.

You are more likely to see a Hoya Wayetii than a Kentiana, though. So what are the differences between Hoya Kentiana and Hoya Wayetii? The Hoya Kentiana has longer leaves than the Wayetii, though this is most useful when they are both fully mature plants.

The slight difference that will almost always distinguish the Kentiana and Wayetii is the color of their pedicel and peduncle. As a quick reminder, the pedicel and peduncle are the parts of the stem that bear the flowers. The Hoya Kentiana has a pink pedicel, while the Wayetii are green.

Additionally, the flowers of the Hoya Kentiana are a lighter fuschia, though this depends on the amount of sunlight it gets. Neither my Kentiana nor my Wayetii have bloomed—but looking at them next to one another, it’s pretty clear they are different plants. Read more about hoya wayetii care and propagation here.

Hoya Wayetii Plant on a shelf
Hoya Wayetii Plant
Hoya kentiana vs Hoya wayetii
Hoya Kentiana (left) vs. Hoya wayetii (right)

Hoya Kentiana vs. Hoya Shepherdii

The Hoya Kentiana and Hoya Shepherdii are closely related, so they share many of the same features, including their coloring, growth patterns, and leaf structure. But it’s much easier to tell the Kentiana and Shepherdii apart because of their leaves.

The Kentiana has thin, pointed leaves like a spear, with a medium length. Now I realize saying ‘medium’ doesn’t mean much on its own, but if Kentiana leaves are mediums, then Shepherdii’s are large. The Hoya Shepherdii is nicknamed the “String Bean Hoya” because its leaves are so thin and long.

The Shepherdii’s flowers also look entirely different from the Hoya Kentiana (and Wayetii). I wish I had some pictures to show you all, but I don’t even own a Shepherdii—it’s on the wish list, though! I have my eyes peeled for one.

Is there a variegated variety?

Yes, Hoya Kentiana has a cultivar that is very rare. Its leaves are what distinguishes it because they start out a light pink as opposed to green. As the plant matures, this pink fades to green, but many of its leaves form a red outline, or turn completely dark pink and red. You can control the amount of variegation (different coloring and patterns) by adjusting the light and water it receives.

How much light does a Hoya Kentiana need?

The Hoya Kentiana needs plenty of bright indirect light. More light does not necessarily mean more growth, though, especially with tropical plants. They aren’t used to the direct, harsh rays of the sun.

As a matter of fact, too much sunlight will scorch the leaves and cause brown patches on the leaves. The Hoya Kentiana will need a few hours of early morning or late evening sunlight.

An ideal location for the Hoya Kentiana is near a window that gets plenty of sunlight a few hours out of the day, like a south or east-facing window. Without enough light, the stems will become leggy and the leaves will lose their vibrant colors.

Sun-stressed back of a kentiana I had in a south-facing window
Sun-stressed back of a kentiana I had in a south-facing window

How to water a Hoya Kentiana

You’ll be happy to hear that Hoya Kentiana care does not require a demanding watering routine. Like other Hoyas, the Kentiana needs to dry out between watering and prefers its soil mainly dry. The last thing you want to do is over-water your plant or let it sit in water because they are susceptible to root rot.

Water the soil thoroughly, then allow the top several inches of soil to dry out completely before watering again. Check once or twice a week if your Hoya Kentiana needs more water. Depending on where you live and the season, you might have to increase or decrease the frequency.

Some signs that you are underwatering your Hoya Kentiana is when the leaves closest to the roots become soft and droopy. If the leaves are stiff and crisp, then you can ease up on the watering.

hoya kentiana plant on a shelf

Hoya Kentiana care and the best soil mix

The best soil mix for the Hoya Kentiana is something that is very well-draining. A well-draining, well-aerated soil is rich in nutrients and fantastic for water retention without drowning the plant. It has the ability to release nutrients while absorbing water.

If you don’t want to use peat moss because of sustainability concerns, a great alternative is coco coir. I like to add coco coir to well-draining soil and throw in some organic worm castings for additional nutrients.

That being said, the Hoya Kentiana shouldn’t sit in water either, so you will need to mix it with perlite to improve draining and prevent root rot.

plants on a patio table

Temperature & humidity Needs

The Hoya Kentiana’s tropical origins means it prefers warmer temperatures. The ideal range being 65 – 80°F for most of the year, but especially during the growing season. It will allow the plant to thrive, grow vibrant leaves, and even promote flower growth.

This plant is not frost tolerant and will not survive cold temperatures for long periods of time, so don’t keep it outdoors or near a drafty window during winter. Don’t be surprised if growth slows down during the winter, either. Lower temps = slower growth.

Humidity is something you need to pay special attention to when it comes to Hoya Kentiana care. Tropical plants rely on humidity for their growth and vibrant flowers, so you’ll need to artificially increase the humidity levels in your home.

The most cost-effective way of doing this is to keep the pot on a pebble tray with water. As the water evaporates, it will humidify the Hoya. You can also add a humidifier or put the plant in a glass greenhouse cabinet.

closeup shot of hoya kentiana leaves
hoyas on white shelving

How to fertilize this plant

Fertilizer should only be used during the growing season, so during spring and summer. The purpose of fertilizer is to nourish the Hoya Kentiana and promote foliage growth. Synthetic fertilizers should be diluted and used only once a month.

You can switch to bloom-boosting fertilizer when you anticipate your plant is ready to bloom. Reminder: fertilize your plant a day after watering, otherwise it could actually do harm. Or be lazy like me and don’t fertilize. These are resilient plants. 🙂

How fast does the Kentiana grow?

The Hoya Kentiana is not known for being a fast grower—actually, quite the opposite. They can reach up to two feet in height (when climbing) with enough light, water, and humidity, but that might take a few years. Do not prune the Hoya Kentiana, it will not promote more growth.

Since it’s a slow grower, repotting isn’t something you have to worry about often, which is very convenient. If the pot is too small, it could stunt its growth. However, this Hoya is finicky about being repotted, so proceed cautiously. Repotting will cause the plant to enter a period of dormancy that can last several weeks.

bushy hoya kentiana plant

How to make a Hoya Kentiana bloom

Arguably the best part of a Hoya Kentiana are its flowers. I am SO excited for mine to bloom one day. The flowers give off a sweet, light aroma like butterscotch. The best way to help your plant bloom is by staying consistent with its care requirements.

Deviations in its watering schedule and not receiving bright indirect light will lead to slower growth and will take longer to bloom. Another tip is to use bloom-boosting fertilizer on your mature Hoya Kentiana. Last but not least, it will take patience! It can take years before your Hoya Kentiana blooms.

tall tower of hoya plants on white shelving

How to propagate a Hoya Kentiana

Admittedly, propagating the Hoya Kentiana can be a little tricky. You should always propagate during the growing season at the beginning of summer since it will increase your likelihood of success. Pick a healthy stem cutting that has a few leaves (and nodes) and no flowers.

The rooting begins at the nodes, so cut and plant accordingly. If you’d like to take it a step further and help the roots along, you can dip the nodes in rooting hormone. The stem cuttings will need plenty of warmth and moisture, and a soil mixture abundant with organic matter.

To keep the moisture and heat high, cover the top of the pot with plastic wrap and keep misting! You should expect rooting in a month or so, at which time you can repot the brand new Hoya Kentiana. You can also root the cutting in sphagnum moss and perlite, which is one of my favorite ways to propagate Hoya cuttings.

hoya curtisii and kentiana rooting in moss

Common problems

The great part about growing plants is that they will communicate their needs to you. Keep an eye out for these common problems to give your Hoya Kentiana a long, fruitful life.

Slow growth or no growth at all is more common than you think. The Hoya Kentiana is a finicky grower and could go into dormancy abruptly. Changing its environment or watering schedule usually causes this. Changing its care could also cause leaves to drop or grow misshapen. The key to this plant is consistency.

Another common problem with the Hoya Kentiana is root rot. This happens when the roots sit in wet or soggy soil, and have no room to breathe. Several things can cause root rot, but usually it’s caused by over watering or dense, poor-draining soil. Root rot can easily lead to other issues like fungus.

The Hoya Kentiana flowers are a blessing and a curse. They look and smell delightful but attract insects, especially if grown outdoors. Aphids are an example of one such insect that will feed on the flowers and destroy them and any future possibility of blooming. You can easily kill them using insecticide or a combination of dish soap and water.

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