Hoya amicabilis is endemic to Java. Interestingly enough Java is considered one of the least likely places to discover new species of Hoya, because it is a heavily populated Island, and remaining forests are mostly at high elevations. Most of the lowlands where Hoya are likely to be found have been converted to agriculture and housing. This plant was found at relatively high elevation in the Pine forest of Purworejo, central Java. Java has a low number of endemic plant species compared to other Indonesian Islands; so this discovery is surprising and gives hope that other endemic species could be discovered.
In 2017 photos of this Hoya species with the unusual shrubby growth pattern were published in the Facebook group Hoya Indonesia. After that it rapidly entered the commercial trade where it came to the notice of Botanists. Hoya amicabilis was published in 2019 by Sri Rahayu and Michele Rodda, and its name is derived from social media (Latin amicabiliter interventus), which is a growing aid to scientists around the world.
My good Hoya friend Jimmy said that he learned via Facebook that Surisa Somadee was now shipping Hoyas from Thailand to the US, and asked if I would be interested in splitting an order with him. He sent me her list along with a link to some photos of some of the newer plants to the trade. I saw a photo of a Hoya that had bright yellow, little, bell-shaped flowers, and knew that I had to have it. The plant was pricey at $81 plus shipping, but I took the chance and placed the order. My little plant, which was still called Hoya sp. small bell at the time, arrived at my house in pretty good shape with a peduncle full of buds. This illustrates what a trooper this plant is to have kept those buds in transit from Thailand to the US.
The plant arrived wrapped, or growing in sphagnum, I made the decision to grow the plant in bonsai mix, which in hindsight may have not been the right choice. The set of buds that came with the plant opened to my delight so I got to see those cute little flowers almost right off. Over the next few months my little plant grew a couple of leaves and flowered three times, but the majority of the leaves looked chlorotic and did not seem healthy. I decided to see if I could take this poor looking plant and propagate it. I took two cuttings to root in water, and repotted what little was left to the root ball. Surprisingly the top cutting that I placed in water grew a peduncle and began budding up. It grew a couple of water roots; I potted it up and low and behold those buds opened up! As of the date of this writing, It looks as if my little rare Hoya sp. Small Bell, now called Hoya amicabilis, has been transformed into three little plants. I am growing these in soil and am very hopeful that it will perform better than in the bonsai mix. There is something strange about the mix, I get amazingly beautiful roots with no signs of rot, but little to no vegetative growth, and many times the growth that I do get does not look particularly healthy.
I’ve had more fun with Hoya amicabilis than any Hoya in recent memory. The flowers on this one last at least 10 days and get better looking (brighter yellow and wider bells) with each passing day. When the flowers finally fall off, they still have their complete shape and look amazing. It roots readily in water and looks to be a plant that likes to grow in soil and will take cooler temperature. I look forward to revisiting this plant when I’ve had a little be more experience with it, but right now it gets my highest recommendation!