Hoya with a long vine and no leaves?
Got a Hoya putting out a looong vine with no leaves, or just teeny tiny leaves? Put down your snips. This is usually a sign they want up! Once that vine finds a better location with the conditions they’re searching for, they’ll usually shift their focus back to growing leaves again. But how you trellis them makes all the difference. If done wrong, that growth tip can dry up and die, goodbye vine and leaves :( Here's what to do (and not to do)...
Some Hoya start off with lovely bushy growth. My Hoya australis Lisa was the perfect poster-child, at first. All compact and bushy with lush variegated leaves. Then suddenly it shot out a long, leafless vine. This is a a sign your hoya's matured to the point they want to climb. Yep, the number one reason for a long leafless vine is it’s trellis time!
What about more light?
Yes, more light can also help your Hoya shift its energy back to foliage, but you'll normally need to get it on a trellis first either way. I'm a little obsessed with the Arka trellises for my hoya (those colours!), but one of the things I love about hoyas compared to a lot of my other indoor plants, is hoyas can be grown around and around a trellis. No need to endlessly extend moss poles up and up like you do with the likes of Philodendrons and Monstera.
But when it's trellis time, treat the vine with extra care. They’re more delicate than the older, hardened stems. Those tiny nodes (the bumps you’ll see along with length of the vine), are where leaves - and hopefully peduncles - will later grow and flower from.
Hoya on the move
Take note of your hoya vine’s position in the morning, then check again later in the day. You’ll be surprised how much they move! Sometimes really fast too. It’s slightly creepy the first time you see it. No, your Hoya isn’t possessed. You’re seeing phototropism and thigmotropism at play.
Phototropism is when plants change position in response to light. Not always towards it like you might think. Vines often head away from the light, looking for a shadier spot. In the wild, shadier areas are more likely to be home to a tree trunk to climb.
Thigmotropism is my favourite. Other than the word being fun to try and say, that’s the name for how a plant responds to touch (aww). When a vine touches something solid, like a tree or trellis, it winds and climbs its way up. That’s thigmo at play.
WARNING: Be careful though, thigmo means those vines also try the same thing around blinds, light cords, other plants… you name it, your Hoya will probably try to climb it.
TOP TIP: When shifting a Hoya, especially if you haven’t moved it for a while, take it slowly! Otherwise, you may just find another plant comes along for the ride. Yes, I speak from first-hand experience (and the other plant got pulled off the shelf, what a mess).
Wind in the right direction
Another unusual thing about hoyas is that they prefer to vine anticlockwise, (for my international friends you might know that as counter-clockwise). The direction you go around the trellis doesn't matter, but if you take a close look at how the vine twines itself naturally when it grows, it will corkscrew anti-clockwise.
When I first learned about that weird trait, I wondered if it was the same the world over, and yes, it is. It isn't to do with the equator or the sun. Other plants are the same. Jasmine for example also twines anti-clockwise, and Honeysuckle vines grow clockwise. Training them wrapped in the wrong direction can slow down growth.
Avoid the growth tip dying
Now you've got a gorgeous new trellis for your Hoya, take care what you do with the growth tip. You want to make sure you attach it loosely, and pointing up. Wait until the vine is long enough to do a full loop around your trellis, so the growth tip ends up pointing up and sits roughly above half of the height of the plant.
Not given something to climb, or trellised pointing down, your hoya may kill off that growth tip. All is not lost though. As long as the plant is happy and healthy, another growth tip higher up the plant will activate soon enough.
There are lots more hoya tips tricks and trouble-shooting here > (including how to get your hoya to flower)...