Ask a Question forum: What is this plant?

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Aug 11, 2016 11:47 AM CST
Hi all,
I received this plant from a friend and have had it in my office for almost two years. For the longest time it had three leaves and changed not at all. Then it grew one new leaf! Then it did nothing for over a year. I went away on holidays for two weeks and forgot to ask someone to water it and when I came back it had grown an enormous stick and that stick is now sprouting new leaves. I guess I was overwatering? Can you help me figure out what this plant is and how I should be caring for it so the growth continues?

Thumb of 2016-08-11/visitor/5e522e

Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Aug 11, 2016 12:17 PM CST
Welcome! to NGA

Its a Hoya

They need lots of bright light (no direct sun). Water your plant when you can't feel any dampness in the top inch of soil.

It looks like it could use a re-potting. Regular potting soil with a hand full of perlite will do the job (or find something formulated for cactus and palms). You want something that drains fast. Hoya do best when they are root bound so replace the soil but not necessarily the pot.


Aug 11, 2016 12:29 PM CST
Thank you so much, Daisy!! I'm excited to see if I can coax it along!
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Bulbs Foliage Fan Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents
Aug 11, 2016 12:39 PM CST
HI & welcome! It does look like a Hoya, and about the soil, and about the pot.

I don't agree that any plant likes to be rootbound though, as a choice of words, semantics. What is necessary for plants to stay alive and healthy is for their roots to not rot, which can happen so easily in a pot with dense soils, like ground dirt, or bagged mixes of predominantly tiny particles of peat, (or to simply shrivel from simply never getting any water.) Having very little soil around the roots would make the soil dry more quickly, and for even the most dedicated plant-overwaterers to not rot the roots of their plants. This is not ideal, since most non-cactus plants are stressed by dry conditions, it's just a way of coping with soil that has little air in it when moist. A more porous, chunky soil (like cactus/palm, if one is buying bagged,) can have more air in it even when it is moist because there is space between the particles. Roots need oxygen and moisture at the same time to function. When there are tiny particles of any kind in a pot, such as peat, sand, silt, clay, they filter into all of the tiny spaces in a pot, eliminating the air. "Overwatering" is the label and manifestation when roots have suffocated and/or rotted, combo of both. Over time, organic bits decompose into smaller bits, so even the "best" soil, if it has organic components, will need to be replaced when this happens. The speed at which this happens depends on many variables, but on average, about 1-3 years.

If the soil/pot/care isn't going to cause the roots to rot, the pot size is irrelevant unless it's too small. An unglazed pot like your plant is in now will also help reduce the risk of suffocating roots since it breathes and can allow access to oxygen all around the root ball, not just at the drain hole and soil surface. This allows plants to be kept much more evenly moist, or at least not dry-stressed to the point where older leaves are discarded prematurely &/or growth is unnecessarily slowed in attempt to just avoid 'overwtering/root rot.'

You can put some kind of trellis to guide your vine around, use a stake, let it dangle, whatever sounds the most fun to you.

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