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Hoya Obovata Care and Propagation

Learn about the gorgeous hoya obovata, a perfect addition to your collection.

All about caring for one of my favorites, hoya obovata!

Hey all! Today we’re talking about a hoya. I have written a lot about plants in the hoya genus, including hoya carnosa, hoya pubicalyx, hoya carnosa compacta, hoya australis, and hoya linearis—to name a few.

Today I am adding another hoya to my hoya care guide arsenal—the hoya obovata. I would call the hoya obovata a more intermediate hoya. Not because it’s difficult to grow, but because it’s somewhat difficult to find. I don’t see it locally here in Maryland much, so I had to order online (affiliate link). So let’s jump in!

gorgeous Hoya Obovata splash plant on a bamboo trellis with other plants

Hoya obovata care overview

  • Hoya obovata has thick, round leaves with splashy variegation.
  • Thrives under bright, indirect sunlight or grow lights.
  • Water only when the soil has almost dried out.
  • Plant in a well-draining, lightweight soil mix.
  • Tolerates normal household temperature and humidity well.
  • Add an arch trellis or other support as your plant matures.
  • Propagate through division or stem cuttings.
  • Not known to be toxic.

Hoya obovata background

The obovata’s leaves are what makes it stand out from other hoyas, though. They are thick, flat, round, succulent-like leaves. Each leaf is a deep green color with a gray/whitish “splash” variegation pattern on them. It climbs and vines, making it the perfect plant for a small trellis or pole.

I have mine on a bamboo arch trellis. And it grows the familiar star-shaped cluster of waxy flower that hoya plants are known for. Like other hoyas, it seems to be a bit of a slow poke when it comes to growth rate. Care is fairly straightforward, though—and this plant truly is one of my favorites.

Hoya Obovata splash leaf

How much light is best?

Lets dig into hoya obovata light needs first. I like to cover light first since I feel like it’s usually the most challenging aspect of houseplant care for many people.

The obovata specifically enjoys bright indirect light. I recommend placing it near an east- or north-facing window—or a few feet away from a south- or west-facing window. I have had mine in a few different spots in two homes now, but it has almost always been 2-3 feet away from a west-facing window.

That means it gets a steady stream of light from late morning into early evening. but—and this is important—none of it is direct light. While hoya obovata can tolerate some direct light, its leaves may begin turning red (often referred to as “sun stressing”) in too much direct light.

It will also not do well in a low-light scenario. If you don’t have a spot with decent lighting and you’d like to grow an obovata, you can also place it under a grow light. I had mine under a grow light in my Ikea greenhouse cabinet for a while, and it did very well.

Hoya Obovata splash plant on a table in a black pot

How often should I water it?

We all love a plant that isn’t too demanding with water. Obovata falls into that category—in fact, obovata plants will not be happy if you overwater them. I use regular water to water my hoyas and have never had any issues, but keep in mind that water can vary from town to town.

I water my hoya obovata when the soil dries out completely. Yes—completely. This big juicy leaves really help the plant get through periods of drought. I’ve watered my obovata more often than this in the past, and some of its leaves began turning yellow and getting veiny looking (see photo below).

Coupled with wet soil, this is a tell-tale sign of overwatering. That’s because the water stays consistently wet, filling air pockets in the soil that would otherwise be filled with oxygen. And oxygen is a critical part of your plant’s growth.

When I do water my plant, I set it in the sink and thorough soak the soil until water is running out of the drainage holes (I have it in a plastic nursery pot). I also rinse off the leaves—an easy way to keep them clean and a good pest management best practice. Once all of the excess water drains, I put the plant back in its decorative pot.

hoya obovata with yellowing leaves
Yellowing top leaves on an obovata

What is the best soil?

Soil is also a big part of the equation. If you use a dense soil like you’d find in a garden bed, your obovata will likely rot from retaining too much water—even if you water sparingly. You want to use something lightweight and airy that retains an appropriate amount of moisture.

Most soils labeled “houseplant” or “for indoor plants” will work just fine. My obovata came in a very peat-based soil. When I repotted it, I used a chunky houseplant soil and threw in a bit of extra perlite and bark. Things like coco coir, fine moss, perlite, and orchid bark help to make the soil less dense, facilitate air and water flow, and give the roots room to breathe. 

gorgeous Hoya Obovata splash plant

Temperature & humidity needs

Like many other hoyas, obovata is native to tropical regions and generally prefers warm and humid conditions. It thrives in the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit during the day. Avoid temperatures that drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night; this plant is not cold or frost hardy.

Obovata is also a big fan of humidity, so adding a room humidifier is not a bad idea. However, I do not have my obovata in a spot with a humidifier, and it has been thriving. I’d say it’s very tolerant of drier indoor air based on my experience.

gorgeous Hoya Obovata splash plant
Hoya Obovata splash plant

What fertilizer should I use?

You can use any run of the mill houseplant fertilizer. I am horrible at remembering to fertilize my plants and went a few years without using any fertilizer. Instead, I would simply add a handful of worm castings to the soil or using Liqui-Dirt concentrated plant food.

However, more recently I’ve started using Fox Farm Grow Big (affiliate link) fertilizer on my houseplants. I got it for my garden, but a little goes a long way. It contains earthworm castings, Norwegian kelp, and essential micronutrients designed to help enhance foliage. I think my houseplants have really enjoyed the boost!

gorgeous Hoya Obovata splash plant on a bamboo trellis

How often should I repot it?

Hoyas in general are pretty slow growers, so I’d say the obovata needs to be repotted every few years depending on how quickly it is growing. I recommend waiting until the roots are growing out of the bottom of the pot’s drainage holes first.

My obovata is currently in its third year in the same pot—even after growing like crazy. In the spring, I think I’ll size it up only an inch and replenish the soil. This one just doesn’t seem to need that much room for root growth.

When repotting your plant, it’s also a good time to add a trellis. Obovata loves having something to climb all over, and I’ve found that a small bamboo arch trellis works wonders. It’s really complements the plant’s growth style, too.

How do I get my obovata to bloom?

I have a whole article on How to Get a Hoya to Bloom! I have many, many hoyas, and almost all of them have bloomed for me. It’s one of the best parts about hoyas! Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Light: It needs plenty of bright, indirect light to flower.
  • Soil: Use a chunky, well-draining soil and a pot that is only slightly larger than the plant’s root system.
  • Water: Err on the side of underwatering to help blooming, especially in late winter/early spring.
  • Fertilizer: Give the plant a nutrient boost with fertilizer or concentrated plant food; consider trying an orchid fertilizer spray.
  • Pruning: Be mindful when pruning; sometimes a plant can sprout a peduncle (where the flower grows from) but not flower. It will eventually bloom from that spot over and over again, and if you cut it off, you’re out of luck.
  • Age: Sometimes plants just need to mature before flowering. If you have a young plant, give it some time (and love). Have patience—it’s worth the wait 🙂
Hoya mathilde bloom
Hoya mathilde bloom, similar to an obovata bloom

Propagating a hoya obovata

You can propagate hoyas through division and through stem cuttings. Propagating a hoya obovata through division is as easy as separating a piece from a mature plant. Try to keep as much of the root structure in place as you can.

Propagating a hoya obovata through a stem cutting takes a bit longer, but it’s not hard. Simply take a snip of the plant. Make sure you have a few leaves. Remove the bottom leaf or two, exposing nodes. (The area where the leaf grows from the stem.)

I like rooting my hoya cuttings in sphagnum moss and perlite. They seem to respond very well to it and experience less transplant shock when moving to soil. However, I’ve also rooted plenty of hoya cuttings in water before transferring to soil, and it works fine. They are pretty resilient plants.

LECA, or clay pebbles, are also a really cool way to root plants. I don’t use LECA as a permanent potting medium, but I do like to root plant cuttings in LECA before transferring to soil. I also like to put them in cups or trays and fill them with water to keep humidity levels higher!

closeup of a stem on a hoya obovata splash plant
baby hoya obovata

Toxicity issues

Hoya plants are not considered toxic and are safe to have around cats, dogs, other pets, and kids. However, they are not meant to be ingested, so it’s best to keep all plants away from curious munchers. For more on pet-safe plants, check out my article 16 non-toxic houseplants you can have around pets.

In conclusion…

Caring for hoya obovata is straightforward: provide enough light, don’t overwater, and use well-draining soil. This approach keeps the plant healthy and thriving. It’s important to adjust care based on the plant’s feedback, such as altering watering schedules as needed and ensuring the soil mixture supports proper root health. 

If you’ve found a particular strategy or tip useful for your hoya obovata, feel free to share it in the comments below. In the meantime, happy planting!

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potted plant that says how to grow hoya obovata

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