Overwintering Hoyas

kathybennie(5 Colorado Springs)October 11, 2012


How do you control watering hoyas inside the house during the winter? With shorter day-length and cooler temps (my temp range is mid-70s during a sunny day down to 60 degrees at night), how do you prevent rot? Do you allow them to go dormant - stop watering completely? Or, do you water minimally, or just mist? I would love to know how to treat these plants, since it's hard for me to resist overwatering them when they dry out. I love them to death with water....

Thanks for any ideas to help me restrain myself,

Kathy E.

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Don't stop watering them. Some species do like a dryer winter, but Hoyas don't go dormant inside during the winter. In fact, many species really take off this time of year.

You really just have to slow down your pace to keep even with them. So, use the same rules of thumb you do during the summer, waiting for them to dry out between waterings. Sometimes, with the heating on, they will still dry out pretty fast, so you have to watch it.

The worst part is this fall period. I find that my plants are drying out really unevenly right now. So, I can't just assume they're all dry and do a quick "everybody gets some" watering. Since the cold makes them more vulnerable, you have to be careful to avoid watering them when they don't need it.

Really, I actually don't think winter is too tough. If you have the patience to be careful during the fall, you'll pretty much be in the clear. But if you are sloppy during the fall, then your plants develop problems and cause trouble all winter long.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 10:43AM
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Kathy do you have many Hoyas? Maybe we can give you some specific instructions.
Most of the species with big thick leaves will enjoy drying out before being watered again. I don't mean crispy dry but don't keep them wet all the time.
The species with thin leaves want to be watered the same all year around.
If you are in doubt then water when a plant approaches dryness.

In the winter it is important to keep the air moving if you live in a cold area. Cold pockets of air form at night and a small fan can help keep plants that are near windows etc from getting too cold. Keeping the air moving prevents all the hot air from staying up at he ceiling and it creates a much better atmosphere for plants.
The house can cool down at night and most plants appreciate a drop of about 10 degrees from day to night. Still it is important for the temperature to rise back up during the day or you can see some plant will struggle.
If it's consistently gloomy during the winter where you are from then adding some light is also a good idea. I use a floor lamp with three small compact fluorescent bulbs to add more light to the growing area.

Because you mentioned that you tend to overwater I have a suggestion. If you feel you are going to overwater your Hoyas that like a dry rest period opt for growing in unglazed clay pots. I grow several of my Hoyas this way and it helps them dry out quickly and prevents root rot.
Also remember to watch your plants. If one is supposed to have a drier winter but it's actively growing new leaves then water more. If all leaves etc are mature and there is not active growth then keep drier.


    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 11:26AM
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kathybennie(5 Colorado Springs)

GG: thank you for the words of encouragement and suggestions - my summer zeal for watering must stop;

Mike: I have a mix of a lot of new cuttings/sm plants, etc. gathered this season vs. larger 1 yr old plants. Seems like the older plants & bigger may be more at my watering mercy. I am having trouble with a cv. Pinkie, of all things. I think it got overwatered and is in decline from the bottom up, so I must take a large cutting and try again. The unglazed clay pot is a good idea; my mix was good with some pumice, dirt, perlite, etc. But I think I overlooked the changing conditions.
The smaller ones are thirstier, with finer leaves too.
I use an overhead ceiling fan by day, but will try a small room fan to direct a little more air circulation on the freshly-watered ones.

You are right about cold windows on three sides/temps.

Additional lighting may not be an option, or my husband may move out. Have to think about that one and how to design it into my sunroom...

Thank you both for the insight - I am inspired to change my ways.

Kathy - more reluctant waterer, but still a Hoya lover!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 9:17AM
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kathybennie(5 Colorado Springs)

I know this is off-topic, but had to share a photo of what was wondering through our yards yesterday, a girly moose!

We are just a couple miles out of the city on 5 acre plots and this is unheard of; we have mostly rabbits, foxes and voles;


    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 10:00AM
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Kathy that is quite the photo, what a surprise it must have been to see that cow moose. You mentioned foxes as well. I think that the Red Fox is my favourite woodland animal, so intelligent.

I would suggest pointing the fan so that it circulates the air but not have it pointed directly at the plants. The ceiling fan will be enough if you have all the plants in the same room.

Now the unglazed clay pots are only for certain Hoyas, ones that like to dry out during part of the year. If you have species like macrophylla, loyceandrewsiana, rigida, pachyclada, polystachya, or others with large thick succulent leaves then clay can be a big help. Other species will do best left in their plastic pots so that the potting media dries a little slower. I find the dry air of winter means that those thirsty plants are always needing attention.
It's great that you have a sun room and this probably means that you will not need to add more light. I am used to growing in windows where the light drops off fairly quickly as the sun moves across the sky. You might also get quite a bit of light reflected from the snow.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 11:48AM
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kathybennie(5 Colorado Springs)

Thanks, Mike, for all the information.

We also changed the blades on our ceiling fan to re-direct air flow down (for the winter).

My humidity in the 15'x15 sunroom last yr was 30% max and today it is 40% (due to a lot more plants) also has 6 skylights. We don't have a heat source other than expensive, electric radiant in the floor, so warmth comes from the family room by convection. So, will continue to check the plants closely and keep the air circulating.

How many more months till summer?? Kathy

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 2:37PM
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Thanks a lot Kathy for this post!
Yesterday I had a discussion with my DH about the amount of water Hoya's would like
in the winter, he thought they had to be dry and I thought that they still needed
some water,
so thanks a lot GG and Mike for the information! GG- Just what I thought, keep putting my finger in the soil to feel if they are dry or not- got the same as you at the moment, also unevenly drying out plants, and I want to be very careful not to overwater.
Mike, thanks for the idea with the ceiling fan, my DH also suggested that before, but I wasn't sure if the Hoya's are gonna like the wind- gonna try now.
& Kathy, what a great picture! Never saw a moose in real, we don't have them here.
I bought my first growing lights a couple of months ago, led lights, they give a great rock& roll feeling when they burn, haha! A Hoya friend here in Holland thought it looked more like the kind of light you see in the houses of payed love, but we really like it:-)

Nevertheless, I'm also looking out for the spring to come!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 10:48AM
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& the cats like it also:-)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 10:50AM
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Hi Just my 2 bob about overwintering my hoyas. I have mine in the laundry which has a window in it so gets natural light and ventilation but i dont supplement heat or light and i only water once a month if that but they do get some moisture from the dryer. I have only lost 2 that way as they were already poorly

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 7:11PM
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Great picture of the moose, Kathy! I have a couple of them living in a small forest behind my house. In the winter they come into my garden and feed on the spruce trees and on the apples left on the ground. Large majestic animals!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:15AM
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@ Kathy

Yay moose picture! Too cute. :) I've seen moose in the wild a few times, but never in my backyard.

Mike, if you're interested in foxes, have you seen the research on domestication genes and silver foxes?

The researchers selected for friendliness toward humans over several generations and the foxes actually ended up looking and acting a lot like domesticated dogs.

@ Ingrid

Congratulations on the new lights. :) I love the pictures - your plant library looks like it's in the midst of a carnival.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 10:11AM
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GG you'd better believe I have the original National Geographic issue that article ran in! The photos are amazing and the foxes very much like domesticated dogs. It is quite amazing that a single coat colour morphed into so many in so few generations after the selections (breeding) made for temperament.
I linked to me favorite photo from the article.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 12:42PM
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That's a gorgeous picture, Mike! Love it.

I think I've brought those darn foxes up a hundred times since I heard about the research and you're the first person who found it as interesting as I do. Yay!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 10:20AM
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kathybennie(5 Colorado Springs)

Thanks to all for the ideas;

As I was readling all the posts I was so impressed by the international flavor of the replies, i.e., locations of all our contributors; countries I will probably never be able to visit!

Ingrid: I love your lights - I feel like the hoyas are Disco dancing (showing my age);

Cyclonenat: I have been thinking about your idea; many of the larger, heavier-leaved plants should be only monthly watering, especially without supplemental lighting. Sunroom has a good southerly exposure; Colorado temps in the winter January/Feb months can get below zero, but at least snow gives great light reflectivity.

Klea: maybe Moose-spotting (once in a lifetime around here) means a wild winter ahead; it is a thrill to see one.

Mike and GG: thanks for sharing foxy ideas too!


    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 8:58AM
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