Hoya Aerial Roots: What Are They And What Do They Do?

If your hoya has started to grow aerial roots don’t panic, they might look strange but they’re nothing to worry about and are actually a sign of a thriving plant.

Hoya aerial roots are not very useful if you keep your hoya inside. Hoyas develop aerial roots because they are epiphytes, which means that they grow on other plants in the wild and use aerial roots to provide the structure for this.

What Are Aerial Roots?

Aerial roots are a system of roots that grow in the air (hence the name).

These roots are grown by epiphytes, which are plants that naturally grow on other plants (usually trees) in the wild. The roots help to establish support for the plant to grow and absorb moisture and other nutrients.

Aerial roots are often referred to as ‘air roots’, and plenty of other houseplants grow them such as the pothos and anthurium.

Do Hoya Need Aerial Roots?

The real question is, however, are aerial roots beneficial for hoya?

In a houseplant setting aerial roots are not particularly useful. This is for a couple of reasons:

  • There should not be a lack of nutrients or moisture in the potting mix used, assuming you water regularly and apply fertilizer during the warmer months.
  • There isn’t an abundance of other surfaces that contain nutrients or moisture for the aerial roots to grow on inside a house.

The only argument for aerial roots in an indoor setting is if you want your hoya to climb. I personally let my hoya bella trail off a bookshelf, but a lot of people prefer to let their hoya climb using a moss pole or something similar.

Hoya leaves trailing off a bookshelf
My hoya bella trailing off a bookshelf

How To Encourage Aerial Root Growth On Hoya – 3 Easy Tips

If you want to encourage aerial root growth on your hoya there are a few things you can do.

1. Increase Humidity

The majority of hoyas prefer high humidity, and it’s essential if you want aerial roots to grow and thrive. Aerial roots have the primary function of seeking out moisture and other nutrients, so if the humidity is high it will encourage them to grow to seek out moisture.

60-70% should be fine in most cases, but if you find that aerial roots are still not growing you can try to increase it further.

2. Provide A Climbing Surface

Aerial roots need something to grow on – ideally, a surface that can hold moisture and other nutrients. Moss poles are great for this as they can be kept moist, but you can also just use a trellis or something similar and the roots will still grow happily.

3. Ensure Other Growing Conditions Are Met

Once you’ve increased humidity and provided a structure for the aerial roots to grow on you just need to make sure that the other conditions for optimal growth are met.

What Else Can You Do With Hoya Aerial Roots?

If you don’t like the look of aerial roots on your hoya you can remove them without causing damage to your plant.

The simple fact of the matter is that aerial roots are not particularly useful in a houseplant setting. They won’t be absorbing much moisture from the air compared to the amount of moisture available in the soil from watering, so they can actually be removed quite easily.

To do this use a sterilised pruning tool and remove the roots as close to the stem as possible.

Can Hoya Aerial Roots Be Used For Propagation?

The aerial roots on hoyas are not used for propagation, as it is much easier to get cuttings from the stem to root in water or soil/substrate.

Here’s a quick rundown of how to propagate hoya if you’re unsure:

  • Take a cutting roughly 4 to 6 inches long with two or three nodes. Nodes are spots along the stem where leaves grow.
  • Place the cutting into a well-draining soil mix or water. Provide plenty of bright, indirect sunlight and leave it for a few weeks to propagate.
  • If using water, refresh the water once every couple of days and then transfer to soil once the root system has developed a few inches.

That’s pretty much it – it’s much easier to propagate hoya by taking a stem cutting instead of an aerial root.

In Summary

Hoya aerial roots are not particularly useful in a houseplant setting, but they can be used for helping your hoya grow if you like that aesthetic. If you provide support like a moss pole you can help the aerial roots serve their function of absorbing moisture and nutrients, but they aren’t necessary for a thriving hoya.

Otherwise, the best idea is to simply trim them away using a sterilized pruning tool. They can be removed without causing any damage to the plant.

(Credit header image – Andy king50, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Photo of author

About Me

Hi, I'm Joe! I'm the head of SEO and content management at Bloom and Bumble. I'm a huge plant lover and over the years my home has become more like an indoor rainforest. It has taken a lot of trial and error to keep my plants healthy and so I'm here to share my knowledge to the rest of the world.

Leave a Comment