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Hoya Leaves Soft and Wrinkled (Here’s What to Do)

Nobody wants their Hoya’s juicy leaves to become wrinkly and soft. On the contrary, it’s a sign that your plant needs urgent attention, like many other leaf problems.

Over 300 distinct species of Hoya exist, each with a unique leaf pattern and response to stress.

A wrinkly, soft leaf is a specific cry for help to a Hoya tree. While these issues could be caused by various factors, let’s take a look at what your Hoya is telling you.

Overwatering Causes Hoya Leaves To Become Soft

Overwatering Causes Hoya Leaves To Become Soft
Some leaves are hard and some leaves are very soft and flimsy to the touch

Hoya requires well-draining soils that are kept gently moist, with no more than that amount of water.

Some of Hoya’s thick, juicy leaves can store water in times of drought, making the plant more drought-resistant. They don’t need to be constantly hydrated.

Having too much water available to the Hoya can cause it to become unable to control the water levels in the leaf. As a result, there is a risk that they will become wet and spongy.

Even if you’re using the suitable growing medium for the Hoya variety you have, over-watering may be to blame for the soft leaves you’re seeing.

Edema Will Cause The Leaves To Soften

Due to edema, leaves can become soft in patches, almost like blisters. It’s another sign of the Hoya’s inability to keep its leaf moist due to overwatering. Inside the leaf, water builds up, bursting through the cell walls and forming unsightly blobs.

Soggy Leaves Are Sign of Root Rot

Signs of Hoya Root Rot
Signs of Hoya Root Rot

Root rot is a genuine threat to Hoyas that are over-watered.

Hoyas thrive in soils that are well-drained and rich in air pockets. However, it becomes impossible for the roots to breathe in a waterlogged growing medium. Eventually, they die out and begin to decompose.

Check the roots for damage if your Hoya plant is sitting in wet, heavy loam. Roots that are brown or black and emit foul odors are sure signs that the soft, soggy leaves result from rotting roots.

Fungal Infections

A fungal infection can enter the Hoya plant through cuts, abrasions, or damaged roots, common in overwatered plants. Then, having established a base of operations, the intruder begins to feed on the leaf from the inside.

Squishy leaves with brown or yellow spots are a sign of disease. Baby leaves are particularly susceptible to infection, so keep an eye out for new growth.

 Suppose your Hoya is spotted, blotchy, or has other issues in addition to soft leaves. In that case, it is most likely infected with a fungal disease. I’ve gone into greater detail on that here.

Hoya Leaves Soften After Re-Potting

It’s a stressful time for any plant, and Hoyas are no exception. Whatever care you take, the roots will be damaged somehow, and the Hoya may go into shock as a result.

Soft leaves can be caused by repotting, but this is not always the case. If your pot is too big or your new growing medium is too heavy, the Hoya will struggle to acclimate and will suffer as a result.

A large pot is easy to over-water, and a growing medium that holds too much water will also cause issues for the plant.

Causes of Wrinkled Leaves on Hoya

Humidity

Hoyas prefer a moist growing environment. This is because their biological functions necessitate a wet environment. A lack of water in the air will cause the leaf to dry out from the inside out.

While each variety has a preferred range of humidity, they generally require around 60% humidity. Of course, some require less, while others require more, but 60% is a good starting point for the group.

Underwatering Cause the Leaf Dry Out and Wrinkle

Underwatering Cause the Leaf Dry Out and Wrinkle
Underwatering Cause the Leaf Dry Out and Wrinkle

The Hoya leaves that are not adequately watered will become brown and brittle. As water is essential to all plant functions, the Hoya will begin to use the water stored in its leaves without a regular supply of water coming up from the roots. After all, it was for this very reason that succulent foliage evolved!

In addition to being brittle and dry, under-watered leaves are often crisped from the tip inwards. Some of the new growth is stunted or crisp because of their curling tendencies.

Inappropriate Potting Mix

Hoyas are a picky bunch. They must have the proper growing medium. The Hoya will not thrive in a mix that drains excessively or dry out for an extended period.

A lot depends on the variety, as it does with many other issues. For example, succulent Hoya is less affected by dry soil. Still, the waxy-leaved types really benefit from a little extra water retention.

Adding coco coir or sphagnum moss to the growing medium is an excellent way to keep things moist without making them soggy or soaked.

Temperature Stress

Hoya does not like to get cold. The group hails from warm regions ranging from the subtropics of Australia up to the hot and steamy jungles of the Philippines. 

It’s a broad range of habitats, but they have one thing in typical – constant, balmy temperatures. The coldest parts rarely drop below 50°F (10°C) and never for long.

A temperature-stressed Hoya will start to protect its leaves by drawing away moisture. Frozen leaves produce ice crystals that lacerate tissue.

So the leaf will do its best to protect itself by removing the water in the first place. However, it can result in wrinkles across the leaf surface.

It’s easily avoided by keeping your Hoya warm. Aim for 68-75°F (20-24°C). A little over or under is fine, but it’s best to keep them stable and cozy. 

What to Do if Hoya Leaves are Soft and Wrinkled

If your Hoya is both soft and wrinkled, you could be dealing with fungal infections or issues with the roots and how the plant is watered.

After you’ve ruled out the other causes listed above, it’s time to take some drastic measures.

Step1: Examine the Root System

Remove your Hoya from its pot and examine the roots closely. Infected roots are black, brown, or even orange in color.

Fungi that cause root rot also cause soft, blotchy leaves. You must repot the plant to save it from root rot. Here’s how:

Step 2: Cut off the Sick Roots

Remove your Hoya from its pot and carefully cut away any sick roots, as well as any old, infected growing medium.

I prefer to do this in a large, clean basin whenever possible. It’s a gentle way to free stressed roots without damaging the remaining healthy tissue.

Once the old soil and sick roots have been removed, it’s time for new soil and a clean pot.

Hoya requires a very chunky medium with lots of air and good flow.

Step 3: Use Fresh New Soil Mix

You should use one part good quality potting soil with two parts perlite and an orchid mix in your soil mixture.

My secret weapon for plants like Hoya that thrive in textured soils is an orchid mix. This specialized blend contains large pieces of bark and wood chips and charcoal, perlite, or slow-release fertilizer to aid in growth.

It’s an excellent addition to any high drainage blend. The bark and wood chips provide structure and excellent drainage.

At the same time, charcoal promotes good root health by preventing disease and mineral buildup in the soil. (Check out the Amazon prices here)

Depending on the variety, one part of sphagnum moss may also be added to the mix. This will aid in the retention of water. 

Thin leaf varieties require more moisture held in the soil, so a bit of moss will help keep your sad Hoya in good shape.

Make sure your pot is also a good size. Hoyas benefit from having a mildly bound root system. If you use a pot that is too large, you run the risk of over-watering and the associated problems.

Step 4: Treatment with a Fungicide

If your roots are in good shape despite your sickly leaves, your poor Hoya has most likely succumbed to fungal diseases.

Begin by keeping the Hoya separate from any other plants in your collection. Many fungal infections spread rapidly through groups, making it imperative that you safeguard your other green darlings.

After that, apply a fungicide. A copper-based fungicide will kill the majority of the likely suspects, but it must be used with extreme caution. 

Always read the instructions thoroughly and wear appropriate protective equipment.

For the treatment of fungal diseases. Here are the fungicides I recommend:

Name of The FungicideAmountAmount of Water
Bonide 811 Copper 4E Fungicide1-4 tablespoons (.05-2.0 fl oz)1 gallon of water
Garden Safe Brand Fungicide32 tablespoons (1 fl oz) 1 gallon of water
Southern Ag – Liquid Copper Fungicide3-4 tablespoons1 gallon of water

How To Prevent Soft and Wrinkled Hoya Leaves

  • Know what type of Hoya you have and how much water it requires.
  • Ensure your growing medium is well-draining and suitable for your specific Hoya variety.
  • Maintain a consistent humidity level and a warm growing environment.