Hoya Polyneura (Fishtail Hoya): Ultimate Care Guide

Hoya polyneura, also known as the fishtail hoya, is a thin-leafed hoya that originates from Southeast Asia, where it grows at elevations between 1600-3300 feet. It is an epiphytic plant, meaning it wraps its roots around trees and rocks instead of under the soil. It produces narrow, thin leaves which resemble a fishtail, hence the name. Despite the elegant look of its leaves, it is actually its flowers that it is more commonly known for; these plants produce gorgeous, star-shaped flowers that appear to be covered in wax.

Hoya Polyneura Care

With proper care, Hoya polyneura can be a beautiful addition to an indoor or suitable outdoor garden. They can be grown in a pot, but most people choose to grow them in hanging pots so they can hang freely like they would when growing in a tree.

Light Requirements

Fishtail hoyas love bright, indirect light. The exception is the early morning sun, which isn’t nearly as intense on your plant as the mid-to-late day sun. If you plan on moving your plant every morning to be in the early morning sun, just keep in mind that hoyas can be sensitive to constantly being relocated.

Placing your plant in a north-facing window is preferred, ensuring that the plant never gets any direct afternoon sun, without having to worry about moving it around. An east-facing window will give it morning sun, but it would need to be monitored to ensure that it wasn’t getting too much sun, which can burn the leaves quite easily.

Hoya polyneura can also be grown using artificial light without issue. Just remember to keep the plant’s tender leaves at least a few inches away from the light source. This makes them a great choice for an indoor garden even if you have to grow using artificial lights instead of sunlight.

If fishtail hoyas don’t get enough light, they won’t grow nearly as lush as they should, will be pale and drawn out (etiolated), and likely won’t ever flower.

Hoya Polyneura (Fishtail Hoya)
Hoya Polyneura (Fishtail Hoya)

Soil & pH Requirements

Hoya polyneura needs well-draining soil, as it is used to growing in trees without soil. Anything that keeps moisture around its roots can cause it to get root rot. As long as the soil allows extra water to drain, even if you overwater it a bit, the water will flow out the bottom.

Lots of people who grow Hoya polyneura prefer to mix their own soil, as a lot of commercial soils hold onto too much moisture. You can use store-bought soil, just make sure to add perlite or sand to improve drainage. If you are going to mix your soil, 1 part worm castings to 2 parts perlite, orchard bark, and pumice (or horticultural pumice) is one common mixture. Another mixture is 1 part birch bark, 1 part peat-free compost, and 1 part perlite. The common denominator with all these options is that they all drain well, which is what is most important.

Make sure that whatever you put your plant in has drain holes in the bottom so excess water has somewhere to go.

Hoya polyneura requires a soil pH of 6.1-7.5, neutral to slightly acidic.

Water Requirements

Compared to other plants in its genus, Hoya polyneura prefers a bit more water than the others. That doesn’t mean it should be overwatered, but when it does get a drink it should get a full soaking of the soil, either from the top, or soaking up from the bottom.

Once your plant has had a good drink and all the excess water has drained away, remove it from the drip tray so the soil can’t try to soak up more water. This will cause root rot, which if not caught quickly enough can lead to the death of your plant.

Allow the soil to dry out before watering again. The soil should be dry an inch or two down if you stick your finger in. If it isn’t, your plant doesn’t need more water yet. Soggy, waterlogged soil needs to be avoided. Most hoyas will develop yellow leaves if they are overwatered.

Hoya polyneura should never be left dry for too long. They have very thin leaves, so they can’t store very much water in them. If the leaves on your plant are dry looking and wrinkly, your plant needs water. Some hoya guides call for this as a sign that your plant needs water but letting them get this dry is unhealthy for the plant and causes them unnecessary stress. 

Temperature & Humidity Requirements

Even though they are a tropical plant, fishtail hoyas can thrive in quite a wide temperature range, from 45-75º F. This is because they originate from the mountainous regions of southeast Asia, where the weather can get quite cool. Even a light frost can damage the plant though, as its leaves are so thin and delicate that frost can burn them.

Fishtail hoyas love high humidity. Anything over 60% will ensure that your plant grows lush, healthy leaves, and ensures that its flowers will bloom. They can tolerate lower humidity levels as well, but they likely won’t grow to their full potential, and possibly won’t bloom either.

If you feel the humidity is a little low, there are ways to fix it without buying an expensive humidifier. One option is to build a pebble tray. This is exactly what it sounds like, a tray full of pebbles. You place your plant on top of the pebbles and keep the tray filled with water (never over the top of the pebbles.) As long as you ensure the tray always has water in it, your plant will always get a little boost of humidity from the water evaporating.

The other method is to spritz the leaves with water a few times a week. Just remember not to spray it to the point that it starts to saturate the soil, or your plant will end up overwatered.

Hoya Polyneura

Hardiness Zone

As Hoya polyneura needs a minimum hardiness zone of 11 to grow outdoors, there are very few places in the continental US where it can be grown outside all year.

To be grown indoors, a hardiness zone of 4 and above is recommended.

Fertilization Requirements

While some houseplants can do without fertilizer, Hoya polyneura simply can not. Without fertilizer, not only will they not bloom, but they’ll also have problems growing.

They are heavy feeders, and most people recommend giving them a balanced liquid fertilizer every two weeks, from spring right through until the fall. Give your plant the winter off, as they take a rest from growing during the cold months.

If you notice the leaves on your plant are a little paler than usual, it is likely not getting enough fertilizer.

Hoya Polyneura Propagation

With a little bit of experience, anyone should be able to propagate Hoya polyneura from stems in either water or soil. They are very easy to work with and tend to root and grow fairly quickly.

Stem Cuttings in Soil

  1. Getting a perfect stem to propagate with is the first step. Try to find a stem that is between 3 and 4 inches in length, with at least two leaves attached to it. Cut it off right below a node using sharp, sterilized scissors or a knife.
  2. Once the stem is cut, allow it to sit. This allows the end of the stem to callous over, which helps promote strong rooting. It can be left out for up to a week.
  3. Once the stem is calloused, make a small, finger-sized hole in the soil in your planter. Don’t place the stem too far down in the soil. Pack the soil around it to help it stand up. If it won’t stand by itself, you can place a straw beside the cutting and tie it to the stem.
  4. Place the plant in bright but indirect sunlight, and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. In a few weeks, your plant should be growing healthy roots.

Stem Cuttings in Water

  1. Getting a perfect stem to propagate with is the first step. Try to find a stem that is between 3 and 4 inches in length, with at least two leaves attached to it. Cut it off right below a node using sharp, sterilized scissors or a knife.
  2. Once the stem is cut, allow it to sit. This allows the end of the stem to callous over, which helps promote strong rooting. It can be left out for up to a week.
  3. After the stem has sat, place it in a clean jar. Pour water into the jar, avoiding soaking the leaves of the plant.
  4. It can take a while for your plant to start growing roots in water. Make sure that you change the water every few days so that it does start to grow bacteria and infect your plant.
  5. In 3 to 4 weeks you should start to see roots growing. Once the roots are at least 3 inches long, the plant can be transferred over to its new pot. Don’t place the roots too far in the soil, or pack the soil too tightly around the roots as it is an epiphytic plant.
  6. Place the plant in bright but indirect sunlight and before you know it, it will be growing and blooming like your mother plant.

Size & Growth Rate

When grown indoors in a hanging pot, Hoya polyneura grows thin delicate vines that will reach 6 to 12 feet in length. They have rather hard stems, so they will grow up a bit first before the weight of the stems pulls them over and they start to hang down. When grown outside and left alone, Hoya polyneura can grow to up to 20 feet in length!

When supplied with proper water and nutrients, fishtail hoyas will grow at a rate that you should be able to see new stems every couple of months. If your hoya doesn’t seem to be growing as quickly as you think it should, double-check your water and fertilizing schedule.

Hoya Polyneura Flowers

The Hoya polynuera is renowned for its beautiful, wax-like flowers. They produce multiple creamy yellow star-shaped flowers with a reddish center. The flowers are star-shaped, and look like they are covered in wax. Each umbel can have anywhere between 5 to 15 flowers on it, and they’ll take roughly 2 to 3 weeks to fully mature. While most hoyas have tiny hairs on their flowers, that is not the case with the fishtail hoya, which has smooth flowers.

Fishtail hoyas are notorious for being hard to get to flower. However, with proper watering and fertilizing, most people should be able to get their plants to bloom with no problem. Your plant will need to be exposed to slightly cooler temperatures to bloom, but never below 45º F.

The flowers of a fishtail hoya are heavily scented, especially in the early evening. If you are sensitive to smell, they can actually be a little overpowering to some people.

The peduncle on your hoya plant is the stalk that the flower grows on. These should be left on your plant even after it is finished flowering, as they grow the next flowers from the same stalks.

Common Problems, Diseases, and Pests when Growing Hoya Polyneura

When growing Hoya Polyneura, you may encounter various problems. This includes yellowing or wilting leaves, diseases, and pests.

Common Problems

Leaves turning yellow – This is usually caused by incorrect watering, inadequate sunlight, or a nutritional deficiency.

Wilting Leaves – Most often caused by either over or underwatering, or pests.


The diseases that affect Hoya polyneura plants are usually fungal and are most often brought on by overwatering.

Botrytis Blight – A grey patch will emerge on the center and borders of the leaves. As the leaves in the center of the plant receive the most moisture, they are often the first ones to be impacted.

Reducing the humidity around the plant can help to control it, as can fungicides containing copper.

Stem and Root Rot – Caused by overwatering, or soil that doesn’t drain well enough. If overwatering isn’t the issue, re-pot the plant in looser, better draining soil. Also, make sure the roots aren’t placed too deeply in the soil.


Hoya polyneura is susceptible to several different pests;

Scales and Mealybugs –  Small, soft insects that hide underneath domed scales. They extrude wax as a form of protection. There are several symptoms, including yellowing leaves, premature leaf shed, stunting of growth, and eventually death.

Mites – Small, light-colored bugs that thrive in dry, hot conditions. Symptoms will include yellowing and drooping leaves, and thin webs on the foliage.

Aphids – Small sap-sucking insects that vary widely in color. Usually, they will form a colony, so the sooner they are spotted the better. Symptoms include twisted and curled leaves, stunted or dead shoots, and poor plant growth.

Is Hoya Polyneura Safe for Pets?

Hoya polyneura is non-toxic, both for cats and dogs and for children.

Where to find Hoya Polyneura for sale?

While not as uncommon as some of the hoyas related to it, Hoya Polyneura is a bit more expensive than other house plants its size. They can be found, but they generally start around $20-25 or more for a plant that is only 4-6 inches in size. While they may be out of stock from time to time, they generally aren’t too hard to find with a little looking.

Hoya Polyneura Varieties

There are several different variations of Hoya polyneura that are available. While some of them can be very hard to find, they are worth the search.

Hoya Polyneura Variegated

Hoya polyneura variegated is the variegated variety of fishtail hoya. The plant and leaves grow to the same size, but the edges of the leaves are a creamy white color.

Hoya Polyneura Albomarginata

Hoya Polyneura Albomarginata is another variegated variety of fishtail hoya. The edges of the leaves are cream and pink, and the flowers are a light pink color. These plants are originally from Eastern Asia and Australia.

Hoya Polyneura Splash

Hoya Polyneura Splash is often referred to as a fishbone hoya. Its leaves feature a venation pattern that looks very similar to fish bones. Fishbone hoya can be difficult to find for purchase.

Hoya Polyneura Silver

Hoya Polyneura Silver is one of, if not the most expensive fishtail hoyas for sale. The leaves are a silver color, with a sheen that almost looks like they have been spray-painted on. If you can find one of these plants, expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars for a very small specimen.

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