Why is My Hoya Not Growing?

by | Jul 17, 2019 | 40 comments

Hoya cuttings

Have you seen the small, single, heart-shaped hoya leaves in a pot for sale? Many buy those because of their heart shape. When it stays the same they wonder, “Why is my hoya not growing?”

Trade Show Hoyas

I recently attended a horticulture trade show in Columbus.

I love the plant booths that had plant cuttings instead of full-grown plants. It is amazing that all those tiny plants are living without being in soil.

They arrive at the growers in cutting form, they plant them, and when rooted, they ship them to garden centers.

I recently wrote about growing my hoya from a cutting to the flowering stage.

A single hoya leaf

In the last few years, the industry offers the sweetheart hoya (Hoya kerrii) as a single leaf in a small pot. Most often seen near Valentine’s Day, they are adorable.

Many people gravitate to the heart shape and buy them for their significant other.

Though it is cute, many people are disappointed because it never becomes the vine it is meant to be. Why is my hoya not growing?

Hoya kerrii
Hoya kerrii leaf

Simple answer to why your hoya isn’t growing

Hoya plants will put out roots from a single leaf as you can see in the picture below.

heart shaped hoya leaves
Two Hoya kerrii leaves with roots.

The problem is, there isn’t a piece of stem attached to the leaf.

It needs stem tissue attached or it most likely won’t vine. In the picture below, you will see a piece of the plant that has a stem attached. It will continue to grow and become a vining plant.

Hoya kerrii cutting
This is a cutting that includes the stem

It is your choice

If you like that heart shape and don’t care about it becoming a vine (maybe you don’t have room, anyway) then go ahead and propagate a single leaf.

If, on the other hand, you prefer a vining plant, make sure your cutting has a piece of stem attached when you propagate it. Now you know why your hoya plant isn’t growing.

Have you propagated a hoya? Did it vine? Let me know in the comments.

Have a great week!

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Heart leaf hoya

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40 Comments

  1. Ken

    My Hoya kerrii started from a single leaf. It too years, but it did start to vine…YEARS!

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      That’s good to know! I had never heard that. If you are patient, it pays off!

      Reply
    • Amanda

      I just got one in a subscription box. And I’m sad that it’s a leaf. I hope mine comes out like yours did.

      Reply
      • Lisa Steinkopf

        Hi Ken, I did hear from someone that after MANY years, their one leaf did begin to grow a vine. Maybe it had a few cells of stem attached still to the leaf. Let me know how it turns out! Thanks, Lisa

        Reply
    • Alison

      I too have one that I bought from Ikea about 10 years ago. It was a single leaf in a pot and stayed like this until about a year ago when a second leaf grew next to the original. It now has many leaves and seems to be growing really quickly.

      Reply
      • Lisa Steinkopf

        That is so interesting. So many people say it won’t grow without a piece of vine attached when propagating. Did it vine or just grow a “bouquet” of leaves?

        Reply
      • Elli

        Omg I’ve had mine for about three years and I was starting to think it’s a fake! I even started scratching the back of the leaf and digging up the soils to look for roots LMAO
        I was convinced it was real and left it alone. I water it and love it and hope that one day I will have as much luck!!! Lol thanks for keeping me HOPEFUL! Lol

        Reply
        • Lisa Steinkopf

          Hi Elli,
          I hope yours is one that has a bit of stem and eventually grows. Fingers crossed! But until then, enjoy your one little heart! Lisa

          Reply
        • Annette Heldman

          In two months I would’ve had mine for a year. No new growth yet. I was starting to wonder, and glad came across this article. Based on the comments, I will remain hopeful. Thank you.

          Reply
          • Lisa Steinkopf

            Annette,
            There is always hope and meanwhile, you still have a green living plant, right? Hope it starts growing. Lisa

      • Irene

        How did you care for it? Water routine and sunlight?

        Reply
        • Lisa Steinkopf

          Most hoyas would prefer bright light to full sun. I don’t water them until they are almost completely dry. If the leaves pucker like your fingers in the bathtub too long, it is too dry.
          Hope that helps,
          Lisa

          Reply
      • Katia

        Cool, so the trick id to be patient…and give some loving cares. Love can make miracles ! 😉

        Reply
  2. ANNMARIE MARIN

    I didn’t know the leaf stays only a leaf! Oh well, I will love him nonetheless.

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Someone left a comment that after MANY years (didn’t say how many) that it eventually became a vine, so all hope isn’t lost.

      Reply
  3. Aurora

    I got mine as a single leaf hoya, and i didn’t even know they could grow into plants. It was a present from about two years ago and earlier into quarantine it grew a new leaf, very very quickly. But it’s gotten stuck at two leafs u_u now I see growing tht single new leaf must have been so hard for it

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Aurora,
      That is so cool! Let me know if it ever turns into a vine.
      Lisa

      Reply
  4. LeeAnn

    Hello, can you propagate a stem/vine with nodes but no leaf?

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi LeeAnn,
      I haven’t tried, but it is worth a try. Why not? Let me know how it turns out.
      Lisa

      Reply
  5. Carol

    I have a single leaf and it has a lot of good size roots. Is there any way to know if there is a node / stem without disrupting the root system? TIA

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Depending on how long you’ve had the plant, if it had a piece of stem attached it would have started growing after a few weeks. You would have to take it out and see if a stem is attached. Probably could do it without damaging it. It would be attached right at the bottom of the heart.
      Hope you find a stem!
      Lisa

      Reply
  6. Beverly Schiff

    this has come to me as such a shock because we buy these Hoya ‘live” kerris thinking that bec they say live that they will grow. I now have 7! Silly me I guess. And like when I got the first it had roots and it has rooted itself in the pot but I’ll give it the ten year time wait lol if it lasts that long. Which fertilizer/food do you think is best for them? I am purchasing 2 today that will actually grow!!!! I love Hoyas! Just got into plants but I overdid it and I am overflowing lol! But these Hoya’s are so cute. I wonder how long they will live anyways. This is a great post by the way. First one that really just laid it out for me! Going to search for my hoya kerri vines now! Thanks Lisa!

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Beverly,
      They will live a very long time and I think the single heart will last a long time too. They just need a little piece of the stem with a leaf or two to grow and become a vine.
      Good luck! There are so many hoyas out there and in fact, I just bought 4 new varieties on my vacation in San Diego! Carry on bag is full of plants! Thanks! Lisa

      Reply
  7. Gillian Beath

    Hi thanks so much for you information.
    I have had heard that Hoyas love crushed egg shell put through the soil. Is this a calcium need, or just a good fertiliser?

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Gillian,
      I am not familiar with using the egg shells so I don’t want to give you the wrong information. I know that many people do use egg shells, but I never have. Sorry I am not more help.
      Lisa

      Reply
  8. Wallette Shidler

    This is the second site I’m commenting on today – encouraged by others who had “good luck” with their single leaf plants. I had my single for 5 months before a stout sprout popped out just in front of my leaf. I thought it was a weed at first but it grew to about 1″ and then 2 leaves appeared. It’s now a little over 2″ tall and the 2 heart shaped leaves are huge. And if that isn’t enough, the 2 new leaves really look like they have splash markings on them. Don’t know if that’s even possible as the first leaf is still solid green. So I guess I’m one of the few lucky ones as I was content to keep the single leaf as long as it survived.

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Wallette,
      That’s awesome. I was just talking to someone the other day at a garden center about this. Your best hope is that when the leaf was cut off, they got a small amount of stem tissue with it and then it will grow a vine. You lucked out! Lisa

      Reply
  9. Sue

    I have a very small variegated Hoya that has a 4” stem and 6 leaves. It was given to my mom 15 years ago and it has never grown beyond this. I have no idea what to do. It has the right medium, good light and appropriate pot size. All my other (non-variegated) hoya’s are blooming and growing like crazy. What’s up with this little jewel? And how do i encourage it to grown. Leaves are plump and healthy

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Sue,
      That is so weird. If you are giving it good light and the right water, I don’t know what else to tell you to do…Maybe put under electric lights to see if needs more light?
      Lisa

      Reply
      • Sue

        I will give that a try . You’re right, very strange indeed

        Reply
    • Bethany Haywood

      My Hoyas love orchid spray. I simply mist them once a week.

      Reply
      • Lisa Steinkopf

        Hi Bethany,
        I have seen that on Instagram and may start doing that. Thanks!
        Lisa

        Reply
    • Lisa

      I got a single leaf as a Valentine’s gift 3 1/2 years ago and it just started growing a nice 3-leaf stem. It’s always lived on a sunny windowsill and only watered when completely dry. I only started giving it plant food about 1 year ago. I read about how rarely they grow into more than that so I just appreciated its lone beauty. Now I can look forward to it flowering!!!

      Reply
      • Lisa Steinkopf

        Hi Lisa,
        Your heart must have had a small piece of stem left on it so was able to send out new growth. You were lucky! I hope it blooms soon for you.
        Lisa

        Reply
  10. Brady

    Hello! How much stem is necessary to start the vine from? I’ve propagated one with 2″ of stem. Will that be enough?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Brady,
      Yes, 2″ is fine. I hope your plant is doing well.
      Lisa

      Reply
  11. Kari

    I’ve had trouble with my Hoya for a while now! I successfully propagated it from cuttings. I now have two vines with healthy root systems but no new growth. Where will the vines/new leaves grow from? The cuttings that rooted were from the middle of an existing plant so I’m unsure where new growth will come from.

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Kari,
      Often hoyas can be slow to get going. If they are growing roots, they should be on their way to taking off. Let me know how it goes!
      Lisa

      Reply
  12. Meredith

    Help!! This is my first Hoya Heart Plant (the single leaf in the cute little container) and I’m already killing it 🥺 it’s possible I over watered it, but I’m thinking maybe I cooked it?!? I put it outside because I read it liked high light, but my house doesn’t have much bright light. Now it’s turning white and shriveled looking at it’s base😢 … Can I fix this?

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Meredith,
      The white part is most likely sun burn on the leaf. It is necessary to acclimate any plant, including succulents before placing them outside. They sunburn just like us. Place them in the shade for a couple of weeks to get them used to more light. Also make sure that the container has a drainage hole or they will drown and rot outside. Hope this helps,
      Lisa

      Reply

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