Hoya dropping leaves is quite a normal process that can happen from time to time, but it can also sometimes be due to a problem with your plant.
These problems include overwatering and underwatering, as well as plant shock or issues with fertilizer and soil.
I’ve kept hoyas for a few years now so I’ve decided to create this guide to explore every single reason why hoyas can drop leaves and how to prevent it. Let’s get straight into it.
Do Hoyas Normally Drop Their Leaves?
Hoyas can drop their leaves from time to time due to age, but there are also times when it is an indication of a problem.
In my experience, you can expect maybe one or two leaves a month to fall off due to age at most. Anything more than that – or if there is a pattern – would be a sign that something else is at play.
8 Reasons For Hoya Dropping Leaves
Let’s take a look at 8 reasons for hoya dropping leaves and what you can do about it.
Shock is known amongst plant keepers as the number one reason for hoyas dropping their leaves.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it simply means when your hoya (or any plant for that matter) becomes shocked due to a change in environment. For example, after repotting or if you move your hoya to a new location where the conditions are drastically different (i.e more sunlight, higher humidity, etc).
Shock is also very common when you first bring a hoya home. In fact, when I recently added a hoya bella to my collection it lost a few leaves in the first few days; likely due to the different environment in my apartment compared to the plant shop.
If your hoya starts to drop a couple of leaves when you move its location or repot then I wouldn’t worry too much, it’s perfectly normal.
Both overwatering and underwatering can lead to leaf loss.
In the case of overwatering the leaves will turn yellow and wilt, followed by browning and eventually falling off. Underwatered leaves, on the other hand, turn crispy rather than wilt and tend to turn brown more quickly and fall off.
When watering my hoya I like to do the soil-finger test. If the top few inches of soil are dry then I will water it, but if the soil is still moist then I’ll just leave it.
3. Fertilizer Issues
Hoyas are mainly foliage plants which means they require a good amount of nitrogen to help support new leaf growth (aside from the flowering season where phosphorus is handier). This can be found in the soil mix and supplemented with a fertilizer high in nitrogen; 2-1-2 or 3-1-2 mixes work well here.
If you fertilize using a fertilizer product low in nitrogen you may notice that new leaf growth slows down and your hoya may also start dropping leaves more often as it won’t be able to sustain lots of growth.
This can also happen if you don’t use fertilizer at all, or if your soil mix is lacking in nutrients.
4. Low Humidity
Most hoyas prefer high humidity (60-70%), but there are some that prefer lower humidity in the 50-60% range.
If the humidity becomes too low it can cause some issues though, particularly with leaf drop. This is a natural response for the hoya to conserve moisture that is lost due to transpiration in low-humidity environments.
In other words, the leaves lose more moisture when humidity is low due to increased transpiration. To conserve moisture, the hoya will drop leaves to reduce overall moisture loss (fewer leaves = less moisture loss in dry environments).
5. Human Contact
If your hoya is positioned somewhere where there is a lot of traffic it can be brushed frequently which can damage the leaves and cause some of them to fall off.
This is actually one of the reasons why I keep my hoyas higher up so they are out of the way of physical contact. Consider places like bookshelves for your hoyas to keep them out of harm’s way.
Hoyas are susceptible to a variety of pests, particularly sap-sucking insects such as spider mites, aphids and mealybugs.
These types of insects feed on the sap found in the leaves of hoyas which eventually kills the leaves, causing them to turn yellow and brown in blotches before eventually falling off.
Infestations can be hard to spot and it’s why you should always isolate any new additions to your collection before placing them near your other plants.
7. Sunlight Issues
Sunlight issues can be responsible for hoya dropping leaves. This can be separated into providing too much sunlight, and also providing not enough sunlight:
- Too much sunlight – Too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, causing them to form brown patches and eventually die and fall off.
- Not enough sunlight – If you don’t provide enough sunlight then your hoya will start to drop leaves to prioritise those that it sustains. Less sunlight means less photosynthesis and less overall growth, so some leaves will be sacrificed.
You may easily mistake natural leaf drop for an issue when there isn’t one in the first place.
Sometimes leaves will just drop off your hoya due to old age. As I said before, mine probably drops one or two leaves per month at most naturally.
It’s only when your hoya starts to lose multiple leaves at a time that you should become worried.
How To Prevent Your Hoya From Dropping Leaves
You won’t be able to stop your hoya from dropping leaves completely, as it is normal for them to drop leaves every now and then due to age.
You can definitely keep it to a minimum using the tips below though, and it’s actually pretty easy to do.
Optimise And Maintain Growth Conditions
The first thing to get right is the growing conditions, and to maintain them at a constant level to prevent shock.
- Sunlight – The best type of sunlight for hoyas is bright and indirect. You can introduce more direct sunlight for certain varieties, or if you are trying to sun-stress your hoya, but start with bright and indirect and go from there.
- Fertilizer – Use a 2-1-2 fertilizer aside from during the flowering season where 5-10-5 can be used at a diluted concentration. I personally don’t fertilize during the winter time but this will depend on the climate and growth conditions where you live during this time of year.
- Humidity – Humidity is actually quite important for hoyas. I try to aim for the 60-70% range but it can of course be lower for some varieties. Anything less than 50% will make leaf dro more likely so I would use a hygrometer to check the levels first and then take steps to increase the humidity if you need to.
- Watering – Water when the top few inches of soil become dry and no more than that. If you overwater your hoya then it can be very difficult to get it back to full health.
Once you’ve got the right conditions for optimal growth it’s just a case of keeping things the way they are. Don’t try to move your hoya too much or you’ll risk shocking it and causing it to drop leaves.
Keep It Out Of Reach
If you meet the care requirements for your hoya and maintain them then leaf drop should only occur due to natural causes.
The last thing to do is to make sure your hoya isn’t in a high-traffic area where it will be brushed against regularly. This may seem trivial but it’s worth doing just to keep the leaves safe.