The Hoya macrophylla is a rare variety of Hoya, but it offers the reaching vines, waxy foliage, and lovely flowers that are the staples of this genus. What sets the macrophylla apart from other Hoya varieties is the large leaves that can grow six to eight inches long. The macrophylla is a rare plant, and it is much easier to care for than it is to find. The Hoya macrophylla is a typical Hoya in terms of care, meaning it can be somewhat fussy. Macrophylla care is easy when you understand what the plant needs.
This epiphyte is native to the Asian island of Borneo, where it grows in hot and humid tropical rainforests. Like all Hoyas, the macrophylla is a slow-growing semi-succulent. The thick, waxy foliage is mostly dark green with raised light green veining and creamy yellow margins or borders. Ovate leaves are spaced along the reaching vines. Plants grown in their native tropical habitat can reach 15 feet long, but houseplants typically max out around four to six feet.
There are several Hoya macrophylla cultivars, including Hoya macrophylla Pot of Gold, which feature chartreuse leaves with dark green margins. The Hoya macrophylla albo marginata or variegata boasts pink margins, although the pink often fades into a creamy white with age.
What’s in a Name?
The plant we call the Hoya macrophylla has a weird history, resulting in an alias. The entire story is confusing, but here’s a summary.
In the early 19th century, a botanist documented a Hoya he named macrophylla. Years later, a different botanist named a different Hoya species macrophylla, resulting in two different species of Hoya with the same name.
Yet another botanist later identified this error and renamed the second plant the Hoya latifolia. The new name was official, but it didn’t take, and everyone continued to use the macrophylla name for the second species. To complicate matters further, another botanist tried to rename the latifolia using yet another name, but no one took that seriously.
Where things stand today is the plant most people call the Hoya macrophylla is really Hoya latifolia, but few people use the actual name. If you purchase a plant labeled as macrophylla, it’s really a Hoya latifolia. The original macrophylla is lost to history. There are records of this plant, but it’s practically impossible to find. I use the name macrophylla for this article because that is what most people know this plant as, but it is not technically correct.
Macrophylla Light Needs
Give the Hoya macrophylla bright indirect light. This Hoya is an understory plant, so keep it away from direct sunlight, which can burn the foliage. Close to an east-facing window is a good spot so that the leaves can soak up early light. Routinely rotate the pot so each side receives sunlight. Increase the light the plant gets if you notice the vines becoming leggy.
How Often to Water Macrophylla
Watering is where things typically go sideways for Hoyas. Let the soil dry out before watering the macrophylla. You can feel the soil, use a moisture meter, or pick up the container and gauge the heaviness. You’ll also have to pick up the container when the soil is wet to establish a comparison, but damp soil is heavier. When the potted Hoya feels light, you’ll know the soil is dry.
Hoyas are semi-succulents, so they like to dry out, and overwatering is trouble. However, they like to be saturated when it is time to water. Drench the soil until water drains through the soil and container.
Soil should be well-drained, and a slightly alkaline pH is a plus. You can use a ready-made potting soil mix, but select one with excellent drainage, like a mix intended for cacti.
Temperature for Macrophylla
The average temperature in Borneo, where the macrophylla grows naturally, is 90° F. The plant doesn’t need to be hot, but it thrives in warm temperatures. Most homes are warm enough for this plant; anything above 65° F will suffice. Keep the plant away from vents and drafty windows and doors. The macrophylla is not cold hardy, so avoid cold weather, especially if you plan to move the plant to an outdoor area in the summer.
Macrophylla Humidity Needs
All Hoyas like high humidity, and the macrophylla is no exception. Bathrooms and kitchens are good spaces for this plant, but you can always make any spot a good fit with a pebble tray or humidifier. Aim for humidity over 60% if possible. High humidity is essential for the macrophylla to bloom, so make sure to give this plant what it needs if you want to enjoy the lovely flowers.
Feed the Hoya macrophylla once per month using a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Feeding supports new growth, which is important since these plants are naturally slow growers. Giving the macrophylla a boost of nutrition will help it grow as quickly as possible. Water the plant before fertilizing to prevent fertilizer burn.
Does Hoya Macrophylla Bloom?
The Hoya macrophylla does bloom. To bloom, the plant must be two to three years old, so give it time. Clusters of small, star-shaped flowers bloom in the late spring or summer. The blooms can be pink or greenish-yellow hue. Some people report that the flowers have no scent, others say the flowers have a mild but sweet smell, and others indicate the flowers have a bad odor. Interestingly enough, the flowers only emit a scent at night.
The macrophylla seldom needs to be pruned, aside from removing the occasional dead or damaged leaf. Spent flowers can be removed, but leave the peduncle, the stem the flowers grow from, because the plant will set flowers from the same peduncle in the future.
When to Repot Hoya Macrophylla
Hoyas may be perfect for you if you like plants but dislike repotting plants. The macrophylla likes to fit tightly in its container, and this beauty is content to go years between repotting. You can often wait three to five years before giving the plant a new container.
Upgrade the Hoya to a slightly bigger container when repotting. This slow-grower only needs a new pot that is one or, at most, two inches bigger. Going too big may stunt growth. The new plant pot should have drainage and be made from materials like terra cotta or unglazed ceramic to promote soil drying and avoid the risk of root rot.
Hoya Macrophylla Propagation
The Hoya macrophylla can be hard to find, so propagating is a great way to expand your plant collection and share the wealth. Propagate the macrophylla via cuttings. A cutting should be several inches long and have four to six leaves to start. Remove the bottom two to three leaves, exposing the growth nodes where the new roots will grow. Keep the top two to three leaves. Place the cut end in water covering the exposed growth nodes, or cover the nodes with sphagnum moss. Keep the moss damp to encourage root growth.
Place the cutting in a warm spot that receives bright, indirect sunlight. Roots should grow in a few weeks, and the cutting can move to potting mix when the roots at a couple of inches long.
Is Hoya Macrophylla Pet Safe?
The Hoya macrophylla is pet friendly, making this a safe houseplant to have around cats and dogs. The macrophylla is not toxic or poisonous, and while it will be disappointing if the plant is damaged, your furry friend will be safe, and their health will not be impacted.
Macrophylla Styling Tips
The macrophylla is all about vines, so let those vines do what they do best. This plant is a natural climber, and macrophylla plants grown on a trellis tend to grow more vigorously. Place the plant up high, so the vines can cascade down, but understand that the vines will likely latch onto anything nearby, and while you intend for the plant to trail, it may end up climbing.
Hoya Macrophylla Care Tips
The Hoya macrophylla, or Hoya latifolia or whatever you call it, is a charming vining plant. The large, waxy leaves stand out and make a big visual impact. Like all Hoyas, the macrophylla knows what it likes, but it is easy to maintain once you understand what the plant needs.