This post has all of the hoya shepherdii care info you need to help your plant thrive, including how to propagate this cool variety!
Your hoya shepherdii care guide (aka the string bean hoya)
This is a hoya I’ve been wanting to add to my collection for a while. So when I saw one pop up on a local Facebook buy/sell/trade plant group for $25, I snapped it up! And she already had it on a little copper trellis, too.
What is it? It’s a hoya shepherdii! Just one of the many species of plants in the large hoya genus. It’s also referred to as the “string bean hoya” because its leaves resemble a string bean plant.
What does a hoya shepherdii look like?
Hoya shepherdii is a gorgeous vining plant that either trails or can be trained to climb. Mine is on a small trellis. It grows thin, winding stems that sprout long, skinny, dark green leaves that kind of resemble beans.
The leaves themselves might be skinny, but they are quit succulent and thick like many other hoyas. They remind me a lot of hoya wayetii or hoya kentiana leaves—except longer and skinnier! Here are the hoya kentiana and wayetii plants for comparison:
What lighting conditions are best?
As with other similar hoya plants, hoya shepherdii will thrive in bright indirect light. It can also withstand medium light levels, but lower light levels will lead to slow, scraggly-looking growth.
I rarely have problems with too much light on my hoyas indoors, even at my sunniest windows. But if you do, you might consider moving it a bit farther from the window or adding a curtain. A sign of too much light is foliage that looks scorched (blotchy brown or white).
Hoya shepherdii plants will sun stress, too. This is different from burning or scorching. If a hoya shepherdii is getting a ton of light, the borders on the leaves may darken a bit. This is fine and is mostly cosmetic—but once leaves sun stress, they won’t go back.
If you take your plant outside for the spring and summer, make sure it gets only dappled sunlight. A shady spot is best. It can withstand some direct morning sun since that light is not as strong, but make sure to monitor things.
Water & soil needs
Any chunky, well-draining soil will keep the hoya shepherdii happy. I generally plant my hoyas in a store-bought houseplant mix, but I throw in some extra perlite, coconut husks or small pieces of bark, and coco coir (great peat moss alternative).
Using a chunky, well-draining mix helps to ensure that the roots get water but that all of the excess water flows through the soil and out of the pot’s drainage holes. It also helps oxygen get to the plant’s roots by creating tiny air pockets.
Shepherdii is very drought tolerant, too. I would let the soil dry out almost completely before watering it again. It can withstand a bit of neglect, but if you notice the leaves beginning to wilt or wrinkle, you’ve gone too far!
Give it a good drink, and it will rebound. If the soil has started caking and shrinking away from the sides of the pot, break it up with a fork to ensure that water gets to the roots.
Hoya shepherdii care: Temperature & humidity
While hoya shepherdii enjoys a warm, humid climate, it does not like super hot temperatures. Normal household temperatures are best for this plant, and it is even happy with temperatures down into the 50s Fahrenheit at night.
This is not a cold or frost hardy plant, though. So if you have it outside for the summer, make sure you bring it inside once the temperature begins dipping down into the 40s Fahrenheit at night.
Hoya shepherdii is also flexible with humidity levels. In general, it is fine with normal household humidity. However, it grows best and is happiest in higher humidity. Adding a humidifier is a great option.
Potting, growth, & pruning
When potting your plant, choose a pot that is only slightly larger than the plant’s root ball. If the pot is too big, the roots stand a greater chance of drowning in wet soil. I chose a terracotta pot for mine because it will help absorb excess soil moisture.
I do not recommend repotting your hoya shepherdii frequently. I recommend this for all hoyas because, in general, they don’t mind being a bit snug in their pots.
I would recommend sizing the plant’s pot up an inch or two only when you notice roots growing out of the pot’s drainage holes. Or, if the roots are circling the perimeter of the pot so much that you can pick the entire root ball up out of the pot—soil and all—it’s time!
Feel free to prune off any errant stems to control the plant’s size—though I do recommend adding a small trellis for the plant to climb and wind its stems around.
You can also choose to grow hoya shepherdii in a hanging planter. This way, the stems can hang down over the sides of the pot or climb up the pot’s hangers. I love how hoyas do both!
How to propagate hoya shepherdii cuttings
While I have not yet propagated hoya shepherdii specifically, I have propagated many, many other different types of hoya plants. Including the really similar wayetii and kentiana hoyas.
Like other plants, the best time to propagate a hoya shepherdii cutting is anytime from early spring to late summer. Take a cutting that is a few inches long and has several sets of leaves.
Remove the bottom 2–3 leaves to expose growth points on the stem. You can pop it in a cup of water and refresh the water every few weeks until roots emerge, but I like using sphagnum moss and perlite for hoyas.
To propagate plants using sphagnum moss and perlite (that’s a full guide), dampen sphagnum moss and mix with some chunky perlite. Then add the cutting. You can add a little rooting hormone powder or gel if you’d like.
Keep the moss moist but not wet while the cutting is rooting. And keep humidity high by either putting a plastic bag over the cutting or using a DIY plastic propagation box method. The box is great if you are rooting lots of cuttings at once.
Once the cutting’s roots are a few inches long, you can transition it to soil. Make sure it is a small container with fresh well-draining soil. Water the plant as normal and monitor it over the next few weeks while the roots are transitioning to their new home.
There are three main pests I want to highlight. Houseplants can be vulnerable to a variety of pests, but these are the ones I’ve personally dealt with on hoyas.
1. Spider mites
The first is spider mites. If you notice a very fine webbing on your plant, especially in the spots where the leaves meet the stems and the undersides of the leaves…it’s spider mites!
They will quickly take over a plant and suck the life out of it. I have a post all about what causes spider mites and how to get rid of them. But in a nutshell, spider mites thrive in warm, dry air.
To get rid of them, I rinse down the plant, including the tops and bottoms of the leaves, with cold water. Then I spray the entire plant with a storebought insecticide spray for houseplants.
My mom’s big hoya pubicalyx had mealybugs that she battled for a while. If you notice cotton-looking masses on the stems or leaves, it’s mealybugs!
You can remove them by using a Q-tip and alcohol. However, I also recommend spraying down the plant with a store-bought insecticide spray for houseplants. Read more about getting rid of mealybugs.
3. Fungus gnats
Fungus gnats won’t hurt your plant, but the underlying cause of them might. Fungus gnats thrive in wet soil, and they lay their eggs in the top few inches of soil.
So a bad fungus gnat infestation probably means you’re overwatering your plant and not letting it dry out enough before watering it again. Fungus gnats can spread quickly, too—but they are pretty easy to kill off. Read my post on fungus gnats for more.