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Hoyas: Do Hoyas Really Prefer Being Root-Bound?

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atisch
Alameda, CA
(Zone 9b)

October 11, 2010
2:28 PM

Post #8150829

I just read a Sticky at the "Indoor Gardening and Houseplants" forum entitled "Myth: This Plant Likes/Prefers to be Root-bound -- [Sticky]" by tapla. He claims that no plant ever prefers to be root-bound (or pot-bound). I know of no other plant where growers seem to agree that plants actually prefer to be root- (or pot-) bound than hoyas, with the possible exception of palms and catii. Are hoyas another possible exception or are they part of the Myth?

This authors point of view is that when we so stress a plant, even to induce blooming we are doing what's best for us, not what's best for the plant...that a plant will always do better (i.e. grow faster and healthier) when given more root space.

I think this a valuable subject to revisit now and then. Please take the time to read this point of view and comment.

Allan
atisch
Alameda, CA
(Zone 9b)

October 14, 2010
11:16 AM

Post #8155766

Following is a link to the article:

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1050729/

I realized that this may be harder to find than I thought.

Allan
revclaus
(Judith) Denver, CO
(Zone 5b)

May 1, 2011
7:38 AM

Post #8531992

I don't know whether what Tapla is saying is true. I do know I've had a hoya carnosa for 36 years in the same pot that is thirving. I've added soil whenever the level indicates it needs it. I don't know what would happen if I put it in a fresh pot with fresh soil. Somebody I'll try repotting it to see what happens.
atisch
Alameda, CA
(Zone 9b)

May 1, 2011
7:00 PM

Post #8533316

Revclaus, The pertinent question for you would be how well has your Hoya carnosa grown and flowered over the years? Did it tend to grow as much each year? Has the rate of flowering increased, decreased or remained about the same over time? Your answers might shed some light on the larger question as to Hoyas preferring to be pot-bound or not. If they do like to remain pot-bound, then a Hoya in the same pot for 36 years would have at least remained growing and flowering at a constant or increasing rate. If it didn't prefer being pot-bound then I would think it's growing and flowering rate would have steadily declined. It's not quite a controlled experiement, but may say something useful.

BTW, congratulations for keeping the same plant alive and well for 36 years. That's quite an accomplishment!

Allan
revclaus
(Judith) Denver, CO
(Zone 5b)

May 2, 2011
1:43 PM

Post #8535050

It's thriving. In other words, it continues to put out shoots and flowers. Whenever I cut it back by cutting off old shoots it takes awhile for flowering and new shoots. But the only time I do that is when I have to move and disentangle it from my plant stand. Maybe a stimulating discussion will motivate me to transplant it! The idea of having to smash the terra cotta pot (small and shaped like a hen) has been daunting. But the thought of significant new growth and flowering is compelling.

Judith
atisch
Alameda, CA
(Zone 9b)

May 2, 2011
3:50 PM

Post #8535252

Judith,

From your description it sounds like you could at least say that confining the roots doesn't appear to have hurt the plant.

The more I try to picture a 36-year-old Hoya carnosa, the more questions come to mind. That would already be a fairly old for a Bonsai. Have you ever trimmed the roots? Has the plant taken-on any Bonsai traits, like smaller leaves, thick "trunk", etc.? What does the "trunk" look like? [Could you post a picture, or better yet a few?]

As much as I'd be curious to see what would happen if potted-up at this point, I think your plant has become too rare and sacred to recommend doing that. Perhaps it might be better to root a cutting or two and see how they do compared to your "mother" plant. Comparing the leaf size and other traits of the newly started plant(s) with the mother plant might tell you even more than just potting your plant up now; for one thing, you wouldn't have a "control" to compare it to.

Allan
revclaus
(Judith) Denver, CO
(Zone 5b)

May 4, 2011
3:12 PM

Post #8539877

Allan,

Never trimmed the roots, but it did have a thick stem. I can't recall why I cut that off, but the remnant is still there. It doesn't have many stems now, just put out one new one this week. Might help if I'd top it off with some fresh soil and add a bit of fertilizer. It's a plant that's easy to neglect.

It's hard to get a photo of it. It's been under lights for the last 15 years. But here's a closeup of the middle.

Thumbnail by revclaus
Click the image for an enlarged view.

atisch
Alameda, CA
(Zone 9b)

May 5, 2011
10:57 PM

Post #8543073

Judith,

Nice picture. Now I can understand what you were saying about getting it out of the pot. I can see the very old piece of stem and what looks like bark. As the main growths seems to be relatively young and comes out from near the base, I get the impression that as the main stem got older, the "path of least resistance" to growth was to start sending out new stems.

Doe the plant bloom with any regularity?

Allan
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 29, 2011
8:10 PM

Post #8724382

Meaning to come back here and post for a while. I finally decided it was time...

I would say yes and no to Hoyas liking to be rootbound.

I had two large Hoyas that had grown till they were unmanageable. I could not even want to repot although both needed it sorely.

They bloomed extensively with like excess care although I did find they needed far more water because they were rootbound. They tended to shed a few leaves that would turn yellow and drop if I let them get too dry.

I can't find a quick photo of both together but they were the same size and type. This is just one of them. They were over 20 years old.

A little fuzzy but you can see the size and profile...

Thumbnail by podster
Click the image for an enlarged view.

podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 29, 2011
8:17 PM

Post #8724397

I'm embarassed to admit, I am not overly consistent about fertilizing.

One summer, I'll have to look at the date in my journal but both of these plants went crazy with blooms.
There were so many, I could not count them all.

They were badly rootbound and unwieldly to move. As a result, I lost them both to a freeze as I just tried to cover them.

I find I have better 'bloom' luck when I use small pots and let the Hoyas become rootbound. My assessment is yes, they bloom better.

Thumbnail by podster
Click the image for an enlarged view.

tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

July 29, 2011
11:32 PM

Post #8724671

Because in nature most Hoyas are ramblers/twiners/crawlers they tend to put roots out along the vines wherever they touch. This gives them a large amount of root room, amongst leaf debris, along tree trunks, in rock crevices, etc. But in nature they don't usually bloom as well as in cultivation. A lot of plants will bloom prolifically when they are stressed.
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 30, 2011
4:28 AM

Post #8724736

So then rootbound would induce stress which would induce blooming. Which I am assuming, the natural inclination to reproduce should it be dying?

The roots in these pots were solid fiber. I should have removed and repotted. How much foliage damage does it do to root prune the Hoyas?

Wish I could grow them as you do Tropicbreeze. But when temps dip they would not survive here...
imadigger
Palm Bay, FL
(Zone 9b)

July 30, 2011
5:19 AM

Post #8724773

podster, like you I lost most of my hoya last winter. I was away when we had those freezing temps. My hoya are all outside and all of my larger leaved ones are gone. I usually cover them with matress covers and quilts if the temps get to going below 40 degrees. They grow outside under patio roof all year. And yes, lI find that they will not bloom until roots fill their pots. Therefore, mine are in 4" pots. Th
is picture was taken two years ago.

Thumbnail by imadigger
Click the image for an enlarged view.

podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 30, 2011
5:19 PM

Post #8726073


How lovely! Now that is the kind of plant assortment that I'd love to rummage through!

I'm sure you felt bad when you lost yours. I must admit, I was almost relieved that I didn't have to deal with those large plants when they died. The only time I truly enjoyed them was when they bloomed.

Lily_love

Lily_love
Central, AL
(Zone 7b)

July 31, 2011
7:44 AM

Post #8727106

It's certaintly a challenge to care for exotic flowers in our region where they have to be protected from unexpected frost! Not to mention when they become so big and unmanageable. I agreed with tropicbreeze on the statement that in nature lots of plants blooms prolifically when stressed.

In caring/enjoying Hoyas, when they become too "long" I propagate those long, long legged vines and make new ones. Christi I remembering seeing some of your most impressive hoyas blooms in years past. I'm sorry you've lost them. That pix you've posted above is one gorgeous specimen even without blooms.

I can't really say yae or nae to the root-bound theory in Hoyas, but I can say this; they're forgiven plants which give us so much joy in return.
Kim

Thumbnail by Lily_love
Click the image for an enlarged view.

podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 31, 2011
8:18 AM

Post #8727154

Hi ~ Kim! they are forgiving plants and I love them for the foliage as well as the blooms. Most of mine were shared as cuttings so I have no ids on them but that is all right. Most Hoyaphiles wouldn't want them but us beginners don't mind. lol

I truly feel that the more rootbound the Hoya, the better blooming. I intend to find out in the next month or so as I hope to pull them from their pots and perhaps root prune before moving in for the winter. I'll try to remember to post what I find on rootbound vs blooms.
EileenAZ
Tucson, AZ
(Zone 9a)

August 14, 2011
10:02 AM

Post #8755810

I just got several small hoyas that are doing well, but they're all in 2" pots. If I sink those pots into a larger soil-filled hanging pot, it should buffer the heat and drying-out and retain the slight potbound quality that might encourage them to bloom, right?
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

August 14, 2011
1:49 PM

Post #8756170

Two inch sounds pretty small to keep them in. I think I would move them up as needed when the roots fill those pots. I use small hanging pots. I'll have to see what size mine are in.
EileenAZ
Tucson, AZ
(Zone 9a)

August 20, 2011
10:40 AM

Post #8766363

They really are in too-small pots, but I'm a little reluctant to transplant them until they show some root growth. I have several 4" hanging planters I got from Charley's Greenhouse that i've earmarked for them. It's occurred to me, though, that since they're too probably young to bloom anyway, should I go ahead and repot to the larger pots? It would make for much easier watering (as in not accidentally letting them dry out).
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

August 20, 2011
6:58 PM

Post #8767536

I think I would pot them up but where do you overwinter them?
If they don't have much for roots, you will have to be careful with overwatering in winter.
EileenAZ
Tucson, AZ
(Zone 9a)

August 27, 2011
5:06 PM

Post #8780156

I learned my lesson last year- I'm overwinterig them indoors this year, near various windows.
Mairzee_dotes
Long Beach, CA

August 28, 2011
8:44 PM

Post #8782219

Eileen~
If you pot them up to a 4 in, just be sure to put an Inch or 2 of hydroton, perilite, or some such material (that roots can grow in & it will wick water up) in the bottom of the new pot. Whenever I pot up a size, I always do this & it has saved a lot of babies. I didn't do this in the beginning, and lost a lot due to potting up too fast. The roots of tiny plants need very good drainage and yet don't like to be dry for very long either which creates the dilima you are taking about. None of us want to be watering all the time. You can use aquariums for the small plants that are just too little to move up, but if it has a good root system and you feel it can handle the move OK...then go ahead. Just make sure to put that stuff in the bottom.
EileenAZ
Tucson, AZ
(Zone 9a)

September 3, 2011
6:11 PM

Post #8791990

Thank you- I do actually have some hydroton AND perlite, so i'll use them. It's been so farkin' hot here for so long that I can't imagine ever having it get too cold again, but that's what lulled me into a false sense of security last year. If Young Son will leave the house for the day soon I'll get back to my naked gardener roots- that's why my last yard was so awesome, naked gardening in the 105 degree heat..

Debijaynes

Debijaynes
Marco Island, FL
(Zone 10b)

October 19, 2011
7:05 AM

Post #8855274

Great Idea! Except that here in South Florida you'd be one GIANT mosquito bite!
biddy52
BROOKFIELD
Australia

August 5, 2012
2:05 PM

Post #9230562

[quote="revclaus"]Allan,

Never trimmed the roots, but it did have a thick stem. I can't recall why I cut that off, but the remnant is still there. It doesn't have many stems now, just put out one new one this week. Might help if I'd top it off with some fresh soil and add a bit of fertilizer. It's a plant that's easy to neglect.

It's hard to get a photo of it. It's been under lights for the last 15 years. But here's a closeup of the middle.[/quote]

I am inclined to think "if it aint broken, don't try to fix it!" - meaning, take cuttings and make more plants, but just feed and add more soil to plant and water and leave well enough alone.

I know in Country Victoria, Hoya's grow wild in the bush - they have to compete with bad soil, other plants etc. So I think they would be adept at surviving in bad conditions. I found this on Wikipedia - but it refers to a pale yellow flowering Hoya - "Hoya australis is an evergreen climbing vine which may reach 410 m (1335 ft). It has simple opposite glabrous (shiny) leaves 36 cm long and 25 cm wide. They are succulent (thick and fleshy) and elliptical or ovate in shape; leaves growing in sunnier positions are a more yellowish-green while those in shadier locales are dark green in colour. Flowering may occur at any time of year. The flowers appear in axillary umbellate clusters at the apex of 0.52.5 cm long peduncles. Each flower is 1.52.5 cm in diameter, with five thick, waxy, triangular petals, and white with each lobe marked red. They have a strong sweet scent and produce abundant nectar." - Regards,

Di

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