Overwatered Hoya: 5 Key Symptoms & What To Do

Overwatered hoyas can be tricky to deal with, especially if they have been overwatered for a substantial period of time; but what are the symptoms of overwatered hoyas and how can you prevent it?

The most common symptom is yellowing and wilting leaves, but there are several other symptoms that you need to look out for as well including pests and rot or stem rot.

After owning hoyas for several years I have dealt with overwatering quite a few times. Let me take you through some tips for watering your hoya properly, as well as the symptoms of overwatering and what to do if your hoya has been overwatered.

Is It Easy To Overwater A Hoya?

If you have experience with other houseplants then you should have no problems watering a hoya properly.

All you really need to do is water when the top few inches of soil become dry; if they are moist then simply leave the plant alone. Sounds simple, right?

Unfortunately for me when I first purchased a hoya I was intent on watering it frequently to help it grow. This quickly led to yellowing and wilting leaves, and a quick check of the soil confirmed that I had provided far too much water.

How To Diagnose An Overwatered Hoya

In terms of diagnosing an overwatered hoya there are a couple of key symptoms which I’ll list below to look out for.

The easiest way to tell is if the soil is saturated with water and the leaves are yellowing. If these two symptoms are happening together then it is highly likely that the hoya is overwatered.

5 Key Symptoms Of An Overwatered Hoya

If you’re ever worried that you might have overwatered your hoya keep an eye out for these 5 symptoms.

1. Yellow/Brown Leaves

Probably the most characteristic sign of an overwatered hoya – and most other houseplants (spider plant, anthurium, etc) for that matter – is yellow leaves that slowly die and turn brown as they do so.

Hoya bella leaves up close
What healthy hoya leaves should look like (my hoya bella)

This happens because the leaves are unable to get nutrients from the roots in an overwatered state. Excess water essentially suffocates the roots and stops the transport of key nutrients to the leaves, particularly nitrogen which is responsible mainly for leaf growth.

2. Wilting Leaves

Right before the leaves turn yellow, or at the same time, you’ll notice that the leaves will start to wilt and droop.

There is an easy way to tell the difference between underwatering and overwatering at this stage; if the leaves feel crispy then your hoya has been underwatered, whereas if they feel soft and are wilting then it has been overwatered.

3. Saturated Soil

Another telltale sign is if the soil is wet, not moist.

If water is visible on the top of the soil then you have overwatered by quite a large amount and need to dry out the soil asap.

In less severe cases the soil might be wet through with soil, which is still a sign of overwatering as you ideally want the soil to be moist but not wet.

4. Pests

Certain pests are attracted to moist soil, including fungus gnats and springtails

If you notice pests around your hoya make sure to check the soil as soon as possible. Large pest infestations can easily kill hoyas and spread to your other houseplants so it’s important to get rid of them as soon as possible.

5. Root/Stem Rot

If the soil has been overwatered for a long time then the roots may start to rot. Root rot, which eventually leads to stem rot, happens due to fungus in the soil whose growth is favored by overwatered conditions.

Root rot destroys the roots and will kill the plant if not dealt with quickly. I’ll take you through the steps to deal with this specifically later in the article.

How To Deal With Mild Overwatering (Yellowing And Wilting Leaves)

In cases of mild overwatering, it’s usually quite easy to get your hoya back to health.

I’ve dealt with this a few times and usually, all I need to do is stop watering for a while until the soil dries out on its own. At this point I would avoid moving your plant to a sunnier or shadier position as this can stress the plant and cause more harm than good.

I would recommend checking the soil every few days to make sure it is getting drier. If the soil is heavily overwatered there’s a good chance that root rot may start to affect the roots so you’ll have to move on to the next method.

How To Deal With Severe Overwatering (Root Rot)

If the water is not evaporating from the soil then it is only a matter of time until the roots start to rot, or it could have already begun.

In this case, you will need to repot your hoya and trim the roots. This is quite a hands-on method, and you will need a few items before you begin:

  • Plenty of soil mix suitable for hoyas (here is my recommended DIY mix).
  • Bleach solution.
  • Sterilized trimmer/pruning tool.
  • Fungicide (Optional)
  • Rubber Gloves

Step 1 – Remove From Pot & Wash

The first thing to do is to remove your hoya from its pot and wash the roots with water to remove soil, using your hands to gently aid this process while wearing gloves.

Rinsing with water will help to remove the soil and make the roots visible. From there you can see how many roots have been affected by root rot.

Roots that have changed color and gone mushy will need to be removed.

Step 2 – Trim Affected Roots & Treat With Fungicide (Optional)

Once you’ve got rid of the soil the roots will be visible and you can use trimmers or a pruning tool to cut them off.

If a small part of a root is affected then I would recommend trimming at least one inch above the area that is affected – the rest of the root should be able to continue growing like normal afterwards.

Once the roots are trimmed you can optionally use a fungicide to treat the remaining healthy roots to prevent root rot from continuing to grow once your hoya is repotted. Make sure you use a fungicide approved for treating root rot and follow the instructions on the label.

Step 3 – Repot And Water Gently

The last step is to repot your hoya with a fresh soil mix.

Either use a new pot or clean the old pot with bleach to sterilise it and then report your hoya giving an inch or two of extra soil at each side for root growth. Water the soil gently and monitor your hoya over the next couple of weeks to see the results.

Tips For Preventing Overwatering In The First Place

It’s much easier to prevent overwatering in the first place than deal with the potential issues it can cause, trust me.

Here are some easy things you can do to make the chances of overwatering your hoya significantly lower.

Soil Mix And Drainage Holes

Choosing the right soil mix is crucial not just for good growth but also to allow for drainage to prevent overwatering.

Drainage holes should also be used for the same reason; if you have well-draining soil as well as drainage holes then any excess water can quickly make its way out of the soil.

Make sure your pot has several holes in the bottom to allow for drainage and use my hoya soil mix recipe to make sure the soil is both suited for your hoya and allows for water to drain through it quickly while holding on to necessary moisture.

Check The Soil Before Watering

As I mentioned before, check the first inch or two of soil every time before watering.

If the soil is still moist then you don’t need to water at all. This is probably the best tip I can give for avoiding overwatering your hoya so keep it in mind the next time you decide to water your plant.

Consider The Season & Climate

During the winter I water my hoyas about once per month, whereas in the spring and summer it can be a case of watering every week.

If you live in a particularly warm climate then you will need to water your hoya more often, and vice versa for colder climates. Keep this in mind when figuring out the watering schedule for your hoya.

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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.

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