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Hoya getting yellow leaves

Posted by laelae_mtl Montreal/Canada (My Page) on
Sat, May 3, 14 at 19:15

Hello everyone !
I'm new in the gardening at home adventure and it seems I've made some beginner mistakes !

I found 3 weeks ago my hoya under watered (he had a lot of wrinkled leaves). I decided then to watered it under the shower because the soil was like a rock.
3 days later, because the soil seemed almost dry and no changes in the leaves was noticed, I did it again. The day after I repotted it in a larger pot.

Since then I notice a few leaves begining to turn yellow, all on the same foot (I have 10 in my pot).

Maybe I overwatered it ? I thought doing it only once will be ok but it seems not... What can I do now ? Is it still possible to rescue him ?

Some pic to see :

By the way, forgive my misspelling, I'm a french Canadian !
Thank you for any help !

This post was edited by laelae_mtl on Sat, May 3, 14 at 19:23


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Overall, the plant does not look bad at all. Some yellowing/dying of the lowest oldest leaves is natural.

If only one vine is affected, it may not be that bad either.

When you repotted, did you get rid of all the old soil (that was "like a rock") and replaced it with new? Or did you put the old root ball into the center of the pot and added new soil around it? The latter is not a good idea for old collapsed soils - one of the reasons why is because the "rock" will still be sitting there in the middle and may be dry, even if you see the new soil on top being moist. The former is also controversial, by the way, because some plants do not like bare-root repots like that. I've done it in the past, and some of my hoyas went through a multi-month adjustment periods - although mine did survive and are thriving. I would do this again, but I'd also take cuttings to root as well just for insurance in case the plant dies after repotting.

To get rid of old soil without damaging too many roots, I like soaking the root ball in a bucket of room temperature water for an hour or so, depending how bad it is. Then I sort of massage the root ball under the water, and the soil just falls to the bottom. If you get to some very hard soil spots, just let it soak some more before massaging again.


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Hi & welcome,

Sorry you're having trouble, but I believe you've identified the problem:

" the soil was like a rock"

So it's likely the watering goes down the inside of the pot along its wall w/out penetrating the rootball. So while you maybe be watering, the plant isn't really getting to drink much of it.

You'd need to change the mix, perhaps soak the whole rootball to be able to remove that soil from the roots.

You can read around here abt mixes, but also could try Cactus & Succulent mix w/ added perlite or African Violet Mix w/ added perlite (50% is best).


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Sorry, I didn't quite finish posting (we we apparently posting at similar times GT).

I was going to ask for a pic of the whole plant, including pot & then suggest perhaps going back down a size as it's the mix that's the problem, not the pot size.


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Thank you all for your advice. You are right, I didn't change the soil during repotting.

I was thinking repot in a bigger pot (2 inch larger) was a good idea because when I pulled out the soil from his pot, it was cover of root all around (even in the bottom).
That's why I'm a little scared of doing what you suggest ! But if it getting worse I will tempt it.

By the way, all leaves recovered from their wrinkles since the second watering. Isn't be a good sign ?

Maybe I'm worried for nothing, but I've lost 2 adenium recently from root rot, so I am more carefull.

The plant overall :

On the other side, other lighter leaves :

You are right Pirate Girl, Montreal is 6 hour north from NYC, just after the canadian border. Is New-Yorkers has the same rainy and cloudy Spring than us ? People gets mad here.

This post was edited by laelae_mtl on Sun, May 4, 14 at 13:07


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

> By the way, all leaves recovered from their wrinkles since the second watering. Isn't be a good sign ?

Yes, it sure is. The plant looks great, I wouldn't worry about it. Forget about taking cuttings, no need, I think.

I also think not changing the soil was a mistake, but many people do not do that, and their plants are often fine. I personally think the roots cannot possibly object to finding nothing but fresh well-aerated and evenly-moistened mix touching them after repotting. Yeah, they might be shocked and surprised to find that after the hydrophobic rock they were growing in, but it's a good kind of surprise longer term, kind of like the shock a girlfriend might experience when she sees her lover on one knee, you know?


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

GT is right. Thanks, for the overall pic, I think the plant looks great.

I wouldn't be worried, also a plant of that size, I'd forget about having changed the pot size, it could handle that increase if it's this big (am assuming, as I don't grow plants that big).


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Overall, I agree that your Hoya looks good. Just keep an eye on it. Maybe in a couple weeks, give it some weak fertilizer - I'd use a bloom booster because it will also encourage the roots as opposed to the foliage.

Keep in mind that Hoyas are epiphytic, for the most part grow in jungles and are semi-succulent. So they need a nice, loose mix that lets the roots "breath". It's better to have it dry out fast so you can water often instead of holding water a long time. Think of how it works in the jungle - it rains often, daily in a lot of places, and it's humid. The water washes through the roots, which are in mostly leaf, twigs and bark from the trees, and dries out fast as the sun comes out and it heats up. Of course, we don't have time to be watering our plants every day, so we put them in a heavier mix, but you should check it often - every few days - and water as soon as it feels dry.

Glad to see your Hoya recovered so nicely!

Denise in Omaha


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Thank you everybody,
it helps me understand what I need to do to keep my hoya in good health ! So the first key concept is to not let it dry too much !

I have bought it as big as it is 3 months ago. My first plant ever. The challenge is now to learn how to care of it... Oh my ! Have plant is a emotional challenge.


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

> So the first key concept is to not let it dry too much !

Well, there is a difference between not letting it dry out too much and letting it sit in water-logged soil all the time. An established healthy hoya carnosa (and many other hoyas but not all) actually does prefer to dry out a bit between waterings - but it also likes fast-draining soil/substrate like Denise was describing. If the soil is VERY fast draining, the plant can literally be watered twice a day, every day, and it'll be impossible to overwater - but those are not the soils potted plants grow in typically.

Many people dig their finger gently into the mix and water when it feels dry or almost dry an inch or deeper in. If that leads to watering less often than once a week though, then your soil is too water-retentive for this plant.


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Hi GT,

I don't think anyone said anything like this:

"Well, there is a difference between not letting it dry out too much and letting it sit in water-logged soil all the time"

Do we really need to do this?

"If the soil is VERY fast draining, the plant can literally be watered twice a day, every day, and it'll be impossible to overwater -"

I don't think comments like this are helpful & personally would be afraid Newbies would misread them to the disadvantage of their plants.


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Congratulations on unwrinkled leaves! :) I love the quote (paraphrased) "Having a plant is an emotional challenge." I couldn't agree more. :)

I don't think your concern was an overreaction. I don't think your plant was in any danger of dying, persay, but keeping it adequately hydrated with too-old-soil will soon become a real headache. Right now it is happy because you gave it 2 showers in one week, but this will probably happen again if you don't freshen up its soil.

You could probably go up one pot size, but don't overdo it. I understand your wariness about trying to remove the old soil, but just give it a soak and see what comes loose. It might save you work/stress in the long run.

When I read your statement "So the first key concept is to not let it dry too much," I had the same reaction as greentoe. :) Most people kill Hoyas by putting them in pots with dense soil and overwatering them, so of course our knee-jerk reaction is to fear that you will err too far in that direction. Of course, since you just lost a beloved plant to root rot, I'm sure that wouldn't have happened.

I think Denise painted a very beautiful picture of the conditions Hoyas are evolved to grow in. And I think GT was just trying to explain that, most wild Hoyas do, of course, experience very frequent rainfall (in addition to high humidity and blazing sun/heat). And that if you watered them that much at home, you'd need to also mimic the loose substrate of the wild Hoya. I don't think this is an unhelpful thought exercise. People should understand the logic of plant medium and watering schedule versus blindly replicating someone else's recipe. That too can end in ruin.

That said, it was probably wise of PG to make sure newbies didn't speed-read his long paragraphs and do something crazy. :)

This post was edited by greedyghost on Tue, May 6, 14 at 18:02


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Thank you greedyghost,

I understand everyone's concern about the soil. That was something I wasn't aware of and I plan to correct my mistake soon. Is it still a good time to repot a plant ?


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Yes it is. :)


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Hello Everyone !

I need your advices again... My hoya is still not going well. Several branches have all their leaves wrinkled and very thin. I first thought it was because of lack of water, so I decided to water a little more often. Since it's been 1 month with no result at all, I decided this morning to look at the roots.

I discovered that a lot of them has dried and died. Is it because of the new soil ? I used a cacti mix. I saw somewhere, it could also be because of my clay pot.

What can I do to rescue my plant ? Thank again for your kindly advices !

This post was edited by laelae_mtl on Sun, Oct 5, 14 at 14:19


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Is there any way you can take a picture of the roots?

Also, is it possible for you to get hold of some orchid bark? It is usually sold at big box stores (no clue if you have Home Depot or Lowes in Canada) or plant nurseries. For some reason, I had the same issue as you and actually had to change my potting medium several times before finding the right one to suit my (and my hoyas) needs. I finally settled on fine grade orchid bark (one part), pebble rock 1/8 inch (one part), and perlite 1/8 inch (one part). It is a nice, well-draining gritty mix that allows aeration of the roots and doesn't allow for sitting water. Because mine is so well draining, I often water twice a week for my moisture loving hoyas and once a week for my dry lovers.

Basically, for a very small batch, you would use one cup of 1/8 inch pebble stone, one cup of 1/8 inch perlite, and one cup of fine grade (meaning the pieces are 1/8-1/4 inch) orchid bark. Soak the orchid bark and perlite overnight. Rinse the pebble stone well with warm water, until the water runs clear, being sure to mix the stones around every once in awhile, to be sure you are rinsing them all off.

Before re-potting in the new mix, soak the rootball in warm water for about 10 minutes and using your fingers, gently comb through the roots to get as much of the old soil off of them.

If you can't find some of the ingredients, there are many appropriate substitutes that I am sure others on this forum will share.

Many will recommend turface, which is fine, but I cannot personally use it due to sensitivity to it.

Since your plant is in distress right now, you may want to set up a humidity chamber for it. If there is any way you can get your hands on a clear plastic bag large enough to fit around your hoya with ample room so that the leaves don't touch the bag, or if you can get your hands on a clear plastic bin that your plant will fit completely in, please do so. Even if the plant only fits in the bin laying on its side, remember you can just turn the bin on its end, too. Just place it in an area where it won't get knocked over. Water the hoya and then put it in the bin whichever way it will fit and stand the bin up so that the plant is oriented the right way. Mist the plant lightly and then using plastic wrap or a clear plastic bag, tape up the opening of the bin. Every couple of days, take off the wrap and let the plant "breathe". Replace the wrap.
For the plastic bag method, you water the plant first, then make a tent around the plant with the plastic bag, making sure that leaves are not touching the bag. Blow some air into the tent, and then seal it with tape. Air out every couple of days. These are both temporary fixes that should help with dehydration.

Hope I have helped in some way.

This post was edited by AuroraWA on Sun, Oct 5, 14 at 14:46


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Thank you Aurora,

yes, it helps a lot. We have a Home Depot here in Montreal and I will go buy some new soil this afternoon.

Here is a pic to see how bad are the roots.

As you already have the same issue, do you think it is possible to save some wrinkled branches ? It is better to let them make new roots in the pot or cut them to replant them as cutting ?

Thanks again !


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

The plant itself looks fine, just a bit dehydrated. The roots don't look rotted, which is GREAT. You could take a couple of cuttings, but the plant needn't be sent to the trash bin. It looks quite salvageable. That soil though! I would go ahead and take a couple of cuttings if you would like. Soak that rootball and remove as much of the soil as possible, then repot it. You can place the cuttings in the same pot or a new one, makes no difference. They can be rooted directly into the medium you use.
I forgot to address the terra cotta pot issue. Yes, using a terra cotta pot will dry your medium out more. Terra cotta pots are GREAT for some species of hoya but may not be the best for carnosas, as they don't need to be completely dry between waterings. A plastic pot would do just fine, as long as there are plenty of drainage holes.

With the drainage holes, you may run into a slight issue, using fine grade medium like I do, and that is loss of the medium through the holes. I remedy this with a bit of fiberglass screening cut out to fit in the bottom of the pot. I then add in a bit of the mix, then my plant, then the rest of the mix.


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

I've made my trip to my dear favorite hardware store.
I found orchid mix and perlite.

The orchid Mix was made of big chunk, so, after cutting them, I mixed 1/3 orchid bark with 1/3 perlite and 1/3 of my original mix for cacti.

My mix looks great ! Before filling my clay pot, I covered the inside with a plastic bag. I hope it will help to keep the moisture better.

My hoya is now in a big plastic bag.

Finger cross !

This post was edited by laelae_mtl on Sun, Oct 5, 14 at 22:49


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Oh no! Take the bag out of the pot! The roots need to aerate! I am so sorry I didn't clarify! You put the plant in the pot along with the soil. Then you put the potted plant in the bag! I am sooo sorry!


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Don't worry, you were very clear ! I just thought a plastic bag was a good way to keep my pot to avoid a switch to a plastic one.

Do you think the plastic bag will be worst than a plastic pot ?


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RE: Hoya getting yellow leaves

Yes, plastic bags are bad INSIDE the pot. The roots can't aerate properly in a plastic bag and the plastic bag will not allow drainage of water from the pot, which will lead to root rot. And plastic pots are not bad. I use plastic pots for all of my hoya. Plastic cups for rooting them (I cut holes in the bottom of the cups). If you don't want to switch pots, be prepared to water more often. Water when the top one to two inches of soil is dry. Water until water comes out the bottom of the pot.


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