Pothos or Hoya: Ultimate Care Guide for Lush Indoor Vines

In the world of indoor gardening, “pothos or hoya” reign as popular choices for their aesthetic appeal and manageable care needs. However, as any seasoned plant parent will tell you, each plant species carries its own set of unique requirements. This is why understanding these needs is crucial to cultivating a thriving indoor garden with pothos or hoya.

Key Takeaways

  • Pothos and Hoya plants have distinct differences in growth nature, foliage, flowers, variegation, maintenance requirements, and light needs.

  • Proper care is needed to ensure optimal health of both Pothos and Hoya plants. This includes the right soil composition/watering balance for each plant as well as temperature/humidity levels that are suitable for their individual needs.

  • When choosing a plant it is important to consider its unique characteristics to place it in an environment that suits its specific needs.

Pothos vs. Hoya: Key Differences

Pothos and Hoya, both popular indoor plants with vine-like growth, present a captivating display of lush foliage and unique growth habits. However, despite their similarity, their differences are equally notable and should be recognized by plant enthusiasts.

Starting with the basics for beginner plant parents, Pothos, known for its climbing nature, is often used to train over frames or decor, creating a distinct visual appeal. On the other hand, Hoya plants, also known as wax plants, are recognized for their thick, waxy leaves and vibrant flowers. Certain species even display beautifully variegated foliage, adding a splash of color to any indoor setting. Another great option for beginners is the spider plant, which is known for its low-maintenance nature and air-purifying qualities.

Growth Habit

The growth habits of Pothos and Hoya vary significantly. Pothos is characterized by a climbing growth habit and possesses aerial roots along the leaf stem. This climbing nature sets it apart from other trailing plant species, as it can cover vertical garden walls and grow upward on moss poles, creating an enchanting green curtain.

Unlike Pothos, Hoya plants do not exhibit a climbing growth habit. Instead, they are more of a vining plant with thick, waxy leaves. This unique feature, combined with their fragrant flowers, earns them the nickname “wax plants”. The growth habit of Hoya gives them a distinctive aesthetic appeal, making them a popular choice amongst house plant enthusiasts.


The foliage of Pothos and Hoya also contributes to their distinct characteristics.

Pothos leaves, similar to heart leaf philodendron, are characterized by:

  • their heart-shaped form

  • variations in size, texture, and color

  • a sizable, waxy, and slightly raised/bumpy texture

  • certain cultivars showcasing variegated patterns with splashes of yellow or white

  • the emergence of a new pothos leaf from the vine, extending to 8 to 10 feet or even longer, offering a visual treat for plant lovers.

On the other hand, Hoya leaves showcase a diverse range of shapes and colors across different species, including the Hoya tricolor. Some possess heart-shaped or fuzzy foliage, and others may display colors like orange, pink, and yellow. Additionally, their glossy and evergreen nature, along with the potential for stems to twine and extend up to 65 feet, make Hoya foliage distinctive with its bright green or variegated patterns.


Illustration of blooming hoya plant with star-shaped flowers

Flowering also plays a significant role in differentiating Pothos from Hoya. Pothos plants, while being indoor favorites, rarely flower indoors due to their specific growing requirements. When they do flower, they produce cream-colored spathes with purple markings, which are quite different from the typical Pothos leaf.

Hoya flowers, on the other hand, are known for their:

  • Fragrant aroma

  • Delicate aesthetic Particularly notable are the flowers of the Hoya Carnosa variety, also known as Porcelain Flower. They commonly display hues of:

  • Light or dark pink

  • Occasionally white And form spherical clusters. The flowers also possess a distinctive waxy texture and appearance, adding to the plant’s overall charm.

Light Requirements: Direct Sunlight vs. Indirect Light

It is vital for the health of both Pothos and Hoya to understand and provide the appropriate amount of light. Both plants have specific light requirements, and meeting those is essential to ensure their healthy growth. Pothos exhibits optimal growth in moderate lighting conditions, showing a preference for bright yet indirect light. On the contrary, Hoya plants thrive in bright, indirect light and may require protection from direct sunlight to avoid leaf damage.

Improper or inadequate light exposure can lead to several issues. Pothos plants may exhibit leggy growth and faded colors in low light conditions, whereas excessive light can result in burned foliage. On the other hand, Hoya plants can exhibit faded, burned, or discolored leaves when exposed to excessive direct light, or pale leaves and stunted growth when light is insufficient. Therefore, achieving the correct balance of light is imperative for the health and growth of both plants.

Pothos Light Requirements

Pothos plants have a versatile range of light requirements. They thrive best in light to medium shade and are most successful in bright, indirect sunlight for approximately 4-6 hours daily. It is advisable to keep them away from direct sunlight to prevent any adverse impact on their growth.

While Pothos can tolerate low light conditions, it’s not the most ideal scenario. Low light conditions can result in weakened growth and the development of leggy vines with fewer leaves. On the other hand, symptoms of excessive light exposure in Pothos plants include yellow or brown sunburnt leaves, loss of variegation, yellowing near the veins, and wilting or drooping leaves especially during peak sunshine hours.

Hoya Light Requirements

In contrast, Hoya plants have a slightly different set of light requirements. They require bright, indirect light to facilitate blooming and can tolerate some exposure to direct sunlight. However, it is advisable to avoid direct sunlight when exposing Hoya Kerrii to light, as it can cause scorching of the leaves.

Insufficient light may result in stunted growth, leggy stems, and a lack of flowering for a Hoya plant. Hoya Carnosa, a popular variety, thrives in bright, indirect light and should be positioned near a window that allows filtered sunlight, such as a north-facing or east-facing window. Therefore, providing the right type and amount of light is crucial for the healthy growth of Hoya plants.

Watering and Soil Needs

The health of both Pothos and Hoya plants largely depends on appropriate watering and the right soil. Understanding their specific needs can help avoid overwatering or underwatering, which are common causes of plant issues. Pothos plants typically require watering every 1-2 weeks using non-chlorinated or filtered water, whereas Hoyas should be watered less frequently, only when the soil has become quite dry.

The type of soil used also plays a significant role in the health and growth of these plants. Pothos plants flourish in soil mixtures that have good drainage, are abundant in organic matter, and contain essential nutrients. On the other hand, Hoya plants thrive in well-drained soil with optimal air circulation, and they benefit from a blend that incorporates either succulent soil or standard potting soil with added perlite.

Pothos Watering and Soil

Understanding the watering and soil needs of Pothos is fundamental for its health and growth. Pothos plants thrive in a soil mix that possesses slight acidity, good aeration, and effective drainage. An ideal soil composition for fostering Pothos growth would encompass coconut coir, orchid bark, sphagnum peat moss, perlite, and coarse sand.

Watering a Pothos plant requires a bit of intuition. It is advisable to water a Pothos plant when the upper layer of the soil feels dry to the touch or when the leaves start to droop, signaling the plant’s need for moisture. However, overwatering can lead to problems like yellowing leaves, limp or drooping foliage, and potential fungal problems. Therefore, it’s important to strike a balance.

Hoya Watering and Soil

Conversely, Hoya plants have their own distinct needs for watering and soil. They thrive in a well-draining soil mix that is loose and aerated, ideally containing:

  • potting soil

  • perlite

  • orchid bark or a combination of:

  • cocoa fiber

  • orchid bark

  • charcoal

  • perlite

This ensures efficient water drainage and prevents the plant from retaining too much moisture, which is crucial as Hoyas do not thrive in overly wet conditions.

When it comes to watering, Hoya plants should be watered on a biweekly basis during the spring and summer. To assess soil dryness, it is advisable to examine the top inch of the soil; if it feels dry to the touch, it indicates the need for watering. Overwatering can lead to problems like limp and soft leaves, yellowing or browning tips, and potential stem or root damage. Therefore, it’s important to water these plants carefully and mindfully.

Temperature and Humidity Preferences

Pothos and Hoya differ in their temperature and humidity preferences. Understanding these preferences and creating the ideal environment for each plant are crucial for their growth and overall health. Pothos plants flourish in temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 32 degrees Celsius), whereas Hoya plants prefer a slightly cooler temperature range of 60-75°F (15-24°C).

Humidity requirements also vary between these two plants. Pothos plants thrive in environments with high humidity levels, ideally around 60-70%, although they are capable of tolerating lower humidity levels to some extent.

Conversely, while Hoya plants generally thrive in environments with approximately 50% humidity, certain varieties like the Hoya Carnosa Tricolor may exhibit better growth in elevated humidity levels, typically ranging between 60-70%.

Pothos Temperature and Humidity

Pothos plants prefer warmer temperatures, typically ranging between 65°F and 85°F. It is important to maintain a minimum temperature of 50°F to prevent any harm to the plant. Therefore, Pothos makes a great indoor plant for warmer climates or heated indoor environments.

When it comes to humidity, Pothos plants thrive best in humidity levels ranging from 50% to 70%. While they can tolerate lower humidity, maintaining adequate moisture in the air promotes healthier growth and prevents stunted development. To raise the humidity for Pothos plants during warm periods, you may want to consider utilizing a pebble tray or positioning them in proximity to other tropical plants that necessitate comparable humidity levels.

Hoya Temperature and Humidity

Hoya plants perform best in a temperature range of 60-80°F (15-27°C). Maintaining this range is crucial for promoting healthy growth, as fluctuations in temperature can lead to issues such as aborted buds or reduced summer rooting and growth. They are also unable to withstand temperatures below 50°F (10°C) and it is recommended to shield them from cold drafts and sudden temperature decreases.

The recommended conditions for Hoya plants are:

  • Humidity level: approximately 60%-70%

  • Use a humidifier or regularly mist the plants to achieve the desired humidity level

  • Maintain the right temperature and humidity conditions for the health and growth of Hoya plants.

Troubleshooting Common Plant Problems

Like all living organisms, Pothos and Hoya plants are not immune to problems. However, with a keen eye and the right knowledge, you can troubleshoot these issues and ensure the health of your plants. Common problems with these plants include leaf drop, browning leaves, and pests, all of which can be addressed with the right care and attention.

Identifying these problems and comprehending their causes is the initial step towards remediation. For instance, leaf loss in a Hoya plant can be due to overwatering, underwatering, pest infestations, and environmental factors. Similarly, leaf drop in Pothos can be attributed to a range of factors including insufficient watering, overwatering, fertilizer shock, exposure to cold temperatures, inadequate light, lack of pruning, nutrient deficiencies, and pest infestations.

Pothos Problems

Pothos plants commonly encounter problems such as:

  • Overwatering, which can lead to yellowing leaves, limp or drooping foliage, and potential fungal problems

  • Low humidity, which can manifest in symptoms such as drooping and wilting leaves, brown-edged leaves, crispy brown leaf tips, and drying and browning around leaf edges or tips

  • Exposure to cold air currents, which can lead to chilling injury in Pothos plants, causing wilted, droopy, or discolored leaves

Addressing these problems involves adjusting the plant’s care routine. Here are some tips:

  1. Do not overwater plants as it can lead to root rot. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings to prevent this issue.

  2. To address low humidity, consider misting the plant or using a humidifier.

  3. To prevent chilling injury, keep the plant away from cold drafts and heat vents.

Hoya Problems

Leaf drop, wrinkling, and lack of color are common problems encountered by Hoya plants. Leaf drop and blackening of leaves are often attributed to inadequate water drainage or excessively cool temperatures. Wrinkling in the leaves of your Hoya plant is usually a sign of underwatering. The lack of color in Hoya plant leaves is commonly attributed to inadequate light exposure.

Addressing these problems involves adjusting the plant’s care routine. Here are some tips:

  • For leaf drop and blackening, ensure that the plant has proper water drainage and is kept in a warm environment.

  • For wrinkling, water the plant more frequently.

  • To enhance the color of the leaves, give the plant sufficient, bright, indirect light.

Choosing the Right Plant for Your Space

The choice between Pothos and Hoya largely depends on individual preferences and the characteristics of your space. Both plants have unique characteristics and care needs that make them suitable for different environments. Pothos is ideal for spaces with moderate to bright light, well-draining soil, and protection from direct sunlight. On the other hand, Hoya flourishes in warm, humid climates with shaded, moist surroundings, and diffused light.

When considering space for a Pothos plant, it’s important to take into account its need for moderate to bright light, the necessity of placing it in a container 1-2 inches wider than its root ball with proper drainage, and the potential for it to grow up to 10 feet long indoors. On the other hand, to accommodate a Hoya plant, it’s important to ensure that it receives bright, indirect sunlight for up to six hours daily, use a pot that is only slightly larger than its current one for its roots, and prepare for its potential indoor length of 10-20 feet.


In summary, Pothos and Hoya are both excellent choices for indoor plants, each with their unique characteristics and care needs. Pothos, with its heart-shaped leaves and climbing habit, is a versatile plant that can adapt to a range of lighting conditions. On the other hand, Hoya, with its waxy leaves and fragrant flowers, prefers bright, indirect light and higher humidity levels. By understanding these plants’ specific needs and adjusting their care routine accordingly, you can ensure their health and longevity, adding a touch of greenery and charm to your indoor space.


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