How to get your Hoya to flower
As much as I love seeing everyone else's photos of their gorgeous hoya blooms, when I first got into hoyas it was a little bitter sweet that everyone seemed to have flowers on their hoyas, except me.
Of course (I consoled myself), their foliage is gorgeous too. But wow. When you get those first blooms it really is something special. I smelt my first hoya flowers before I saw them. Over time (with a lot of trial and error and helpful tips and tricks from fellow hoya hobbyists along the way), I compiled my own checklist of Things to Fix and eventually got the majority of my hoyas to reliably flower every season. Here's how to do the same for yours...
How can I make my hoya flower?
The big question. The short answer is you can't force your hoya to flower. But nor is flowering a totally random occurrence you have no control over either. You absolutely can provide the right conditions for blooming and - as you can probably guess by the many bloom boosters and flower fertilisers on the market - nutrition matters too.
" In fact the care you give your hoya when it is NOT flowering, including what you feed, can be the key to unlock successful flowering next season "
How old is your hoya?
However, keep in mind most hoya will take their time maturing, and may not flower until they have a few years behind them. Yet some flower as cuttings! Like most things in life, and certainly in our hobby, there are always exceptions. However if the stars are aligned, and your hoya is old enough to get it's bloom on, there are a few things you can do to help it along.
More light is key
Often a reluctant bloomer is simply due to not enough light, so if nothing else, simply increasing the hours or brightness of light can be the key to get a reluctant hoya to bloom.
Stress is good (for flowers)
Some hoyas shift into reproductive mode (ie: flowering), in response to 'stress' which encourages blooms, such as a cold period or dry patch. If you research the habitat your particular hoya comes from it can give you clues to what the required stress might be that you can emulate.
Leaf type can also offer some clues. Thicker, more semi-succulent leaves - like the popular Hoya carnosa - often require a short dry period to trigger flowering, such as a month of drying out.
Right food, right time
Hoya also have times of year they typically bloom, and once you know what that is for your particular hoya, shifting from a grow fertiliser to a bloom fertiliser can help. Shift BEFORE peduncles or buds form, as well as creating a change in conditions (especially light).
Keep in mind if your hoya isn't growing leaves, it likely won't grow flowers either. Stay on a good foliage fertiliser when not in flower and get those leaves healthy and growing.
What's in the pot?
Improving the substrate is often recommended if your hoya isn't doing much of anything despite conditions being ideal. Plus make sure you're feeding a good fertiliser to rule out mineral deficiencies as another common cause of stunted growth. A proper soil-less hoya mix, or fern fibre, are two popular options (I use both, but currently love the Bio Leaf Hoya blend). As far as Fern Fibre, we're spoiled here in New Zealand as being the home of NZ Fernwood Fern Fibre the price is awesome here, but although it's pricier overseas, (this one's for my international plant friends), you can also get Fernwood Fern Fibre on Amazon.
Should you remove hoya flowers after blooming?
No! The blooms themselves will drop off when finished flowering, however it's important to leave the peduncle on (that's the stalk the flowers were attached to), because most hoyas will repeat bloom from that same spur year after year, sometimes multiple times in one season. The spur is the end of the peduncle, where the flowers will appear.
Why do my hoya's buds dry up or die without flowering?
Also called 'bud blast', this is relatively common and there are lots of possible causes so there are lots of possible solutions. Let's run through the most common fixes:
DON'T change conditions. In the same way a change in position or conditions can trigger flowering, once buds have formed, now's the time to avoid any changes until buds flower.
DO change fertiliser. The shift from a nitrogen-rich foliage fertiliser, to a bloom fertiliser is recommended at the first sign of a new peduncle, or new buds on a spur that has flowered before. Ideally you want to shift before flowering, that's around early Spring for many Hoyas.
A lot of fertilisers provide plants with what they need to grow foliage, but the mineral requirements for flowering is very different. Staying on a foliage fertiliser when a plant is trying to flower can interrupt or inhibit flowering. My favourite is GT Flower Focus as it's complete and balanced, lower in nitrogen, higher in calcium, and low in salt to help avoid fertiliser burn. Another excellent option is Dyna-Gro Bloom.
FOLIAR FEEDING. Speaking of fertiliser, some collectors report good results using their bloom fertiliser as a foliar spray to encourage blooming, however check first that your choice of fertiliser is formulated for foliar feeding (both GT and Dyna-Gro are). Also make sure to check the dilution rate for foliar feeding as it is often less (ie: more diluted), than for root feeding. You also always want to avoid fertiliser getting on the blooms themselves as they tend to be more sensitive to fertiliser salts.
CALCIUM. Another fertiliser-related cause of bud blast is a calcium deficiency. Check your fertiliser label! Most do NOT include calcium, even though it's an essential nutrient for hoyas. I look for around 50 to 130ppm calcium for flowering (that's the rate once diluted). The fertiliser label sometimes tells you calcium in ppm, otherwise you can work it out using a ppm calculator online or ask your retailer before you buy to check it includes calcium, and what the ppm level is. And yes, another reason I like GT and Dyna-Gro for Hoyas is because both include calcium.
WATER. Increase watering (slightly). Getting too dry, or staying dry too long, can spell the death of buds. Thinner-leafed hoya retain less water than thicker leaf varieties also, so tend to be more sensitive to drying out. Keep a closer eye than usual on watering when due to flower as bud blast can also be caused by over-watering.
HUMIDITY. If your particular hoya prefers higher humidity, when buds are forming is not the time for low humidity! Research more about your hoya's natural habitat and do your best to emulate those conditions. Grab yourself a hygrometer as well to check temperature and humidity. For those in NZ I use the H2O cordless humidifiers but for those overseas you can get the Levoit brand from Amazon.
TIME. Give it time. Some hoya can take months to go from blooms to flowering. I've heard of one that took over a year! Some find younger hoya are more likely to experience bud blast and maturity sorts it out. Think of it like a practice run ;)
TEMPERATURE. Watch temperature highs and lows. A big temperature change can cause buds to abort their mission. Look up what your hoyas ideal temperature range is and grab a thermometer to keep an eye on conditions. Some prefer it on the cooler side so getting too toasty can zap those buds. Hoya Bella and Serpens are two that prefer cooler conditions.
Can hoyas bloom indoors?
You'll often see the advice given to simply shift your hoyas outside to make them flower (if you're in the right zone!). Fair enough then to assume hoyas struggle to flower when kept indoors. The good news is despite the more consistent conditions indoors, which don't provide as obvious changes in light and temperature as outdoors to trigger flowering, hoya absolutely can flower indoors. However some hoya do have a reputation of being more difficult to flower inside than others (Eriostemmas are one example).
Thank you :)
That's my list of tips and tricks to trigger flowering for your hoya. But before you go, I wanted to say a big thank you to Carol Noel in particular. I'm a bit of a sponge when it comes to learning, but as I (unsuccessfully) try to resist the hoya addiction and my own hoya collection expands, I've learned so much from Carol in particular, who is very generous in sharing her experience freely and publicly to benefit all hoya hobbyists.
I wouldn't call myself an expert. I love that about our hobby. You never stop learning. It is experts like Carol that allow me to keep learning, and to share that learning with you in free care articles like this, shared in the same spirit as Carol inspires. Possibly a weird thing to say, but I also want to give a shout out to the many hobbyists who ask for help. We all learn together when you share photos and ask for help trouble-shooting Hoya problems, thank you :)
PS: This is just the flowering FAQ's from a previous, much longer Hoya Tips, Tricks and Trouble-Shooting Guide I wrote a while ago (and also keep adding to). If you're a hoya fan and keen to keep learning, head over here next...
Or if your hoya's given up on foliage and is just sending out long bare vines, then Hoya with a long vine and no leaves? is for you...