How to Care For a Hindu Rope Plant (Hoya Carnosa Compacta)

The Hoya Carnosa Compacta goes by many names. The most popular of which is the Hindu Rope. As weird as that sounds, it gets this name from its curling, twisting thick foliage.

This characteristic is also why it is called the Krinkle Kurl.

Yes, that’s even a weirder name.

Other names include the porcelain flower and wax plant. All of which refer to describing one or more of its features.

That said, the plant has another unique feature. It is epiphytic with succulent-like thick leaves.

This gives it the ability to store moisture making it drought tolerant. And, being an air plant, it doesn’t like sitting in water.

As such, avoiding too much water is one of the most important things I’ll be discussing below.

That said, this is a beautiful vining plant with solid green leaves. It’s very descriptive leaves are only outmatched by its stunning clusters of start-shaped flowers.

Because of its long stems. You can train it to climb or allow the vines to drape down from a hanging basket. Both of which look amazing on this houseplant.

Hoya Carnosa Compacta Plant Care

Hoya Carnosa Compacta Light

The hoya carnosa compacta needs bright, indirect light to grow at its best. While it can survive in low light, it won’t be able to bloom in these conditions.

Similarly, its growth can slow down if the light is dim enough. This condition can likewise produce fewer and smaller leaves.

As a general rule, the more solid green your hoya carnosa compacta’s foliage is, the more it will be able to tolerate lower light settings. The more variegated it is, the more light it will need to do well.

That said, you also want to be careful with direct sunlight. The plant can tolerate a little direct sun, especially if you live in a cooler region. But, long periods of direct sunlight on a regular basis or direct sun coupled with intense heat from its rays will damage its leaves.

As such, indoors the best spot for your hoya carnosa compacta is in a south facing window. Again, you do want to watch out for direct sunlight here, especially that in the afternoons.

East and west facing windows also work if they get enough bright light.

If you can’t find a good spot to put the plant to get enough light, an alternative would be fluorescent lighting. Here, you’ll need at least 12 hours a day to maintain healthy foliage. If you want it to bloom, you’ll need to supply it with grow lights for 16 hours daily.

 

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Hoya Carnosa Compacta Temperature

The hoya carnosa compacta is similar to many houseplant in that is a tropical in nature. As such, it doesn’t have much of a problem adapting to household temperature.

That’s because they are used to and like warm weather.

Ideally, this hoya variety does best when temperature is steady between 60 and 75 degrees. It is likewise important to note that it is not frost hardy.

So, unless you live in USDA hardiness zones 10 or 11, you’ll want to take it indoors once the temperature drops to between 55 and 60 degrees. Keeping it outside through the winter will initially cause stress. But, as the weather reaches freezing, it will deteriorate and die.

 

Hoya Carnosa Compacta Humidity

While temperature isn’t much of an issue, humidity can often be one.

If you live in tropical regions where humidity it high, this won’t be a problem. I remember when I visited Asia that all the plants inside the homes I stayed in had no problem with humidity. That’s because countries like Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines are all the near the equator and have very high humidity.

But, the same isn’t true here in the states as we’re higher up north. And, depending on the state and city you live in, it will also vary.

Since the hoya compacta needs at least 40% to 60% humidity, it will be able to feel comfortable in some homes across the country without any help.

But, if you live somewhere where the air is dry, you may need to use a humidifier to keep your hoya happy. Similarly, you can group it with other plants or keep its pot on top of stones in a water tray. Both help increase humidity.

 

Hoya Carnosa Compacta Watering

Your hoya carnosa compacta doesn’t need a lot of watering. That’s because it has succulent-like leaves that store water.

If you look closely, you’ll notice its thick leaves. These give it the ability to tolerate some drought. Although, you don’t want to let them dry out for long periods either.

This means that it is a good idea to let the potting mix almost dry between waterings. This will help prevent overwatering, to which the plant is susceptible to.

And, if allowed to sit in water on a regular basis, it will soon develop root rot, which can ultimately destroy your beautiful plant.

Thus, you always want to test the soil before you water. The easiest way to do this is to stick your finger into the soil down to about 2 inches. If the soil is still moist at that depth, wait a day or two then test again. If it feels dry, it is time to water.

Needless to say, you don’t want any soil sticking to any part of your finger when you pull it out of the mix. That’s a sign of wetness.

In the winter, cut back of watering as the cold weather takes longer for moisture to dry. And, the plant will be dormant during this time. So, it won’t need as much hydration.

The one thing to always remember is that your hoya carnosa compacta is epiphytic in its natural habitat. Thus, it is like an air plant, wherein it does not do well with wet feet.

But, it does need moisture as it gets its sustenance from it.

Therefore, the best way to water the plant is to soak the soil with water so the moisture reaches the roots. Then, allow the excess liquid to drain completely right after.

You don’t want to just place the pot back after watering as all the excess water in the container will sit there. Thus, keeping the plant’s roots wet.

 

Soil

From the section above, you can probably already gather that the plant needs, light, airy, well-draining soil. And, you would be right!

You also want to keep it in a small pot where its roots are kept in close quarters. Having the plant slightly rootbound actually helps it flower. So, if you want to enjoy its fantastic blooms, you want to keep it this way and give it lots of bright, indirect light.

Like most houseplants, always choose a container with drainage holes at the bottom. This ensures that excess moisture has a way to escape easily.

When it comes to potting mix, the key features you’re looking for are loose, light, airy and fast draining.

As such, you have a few options here.

If you prefer getting a commercial mix, you can go with:

  • African violet mix
  • Cactus and succulent mix
  • Orchid soil

You can likewise use regular potting mix. Although, you’ll need to amend it a bit. I like to add succulent mix along with orchid bark and coco coir to make the it more suitable for hoyas.

Alternatively, you can also make your own potting mix.

Here, a few ingredients that will help you achieve the consistency needed include: sphagnum moss, coconut coir chips, perlite, pine bark and loam based compost.

Adding compost and worm compost are a good idea if you don’t want to use fertilizer or prefer to use much less of it.

Finally, do consider the texture of your potting mix based on how humid it is in your area as this will affect how quickly the soil dries out.

  • In humid conditions, you’ll want a coarser mix which offers better draining and won’t dry out too quickly.
  • In dry conditions, finer soil retains more moisture while drying out slower.

 

Fertilizing

The Hindu rope plant is not a heavy feeder. As such, it only need to be fed once a month during its growing season which starts in spring and runs until the end of summer.

You can use a balances water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength. This will allow it grow healthy leaves.

If you give the plant enough compost and add an extra layer every spring, you won’t need to use fertilizer at all. This is something my friend does with her hoyas. And, they’re thriving.

That said, there are two instances when you don’t want to be feeding the plant.

  • During the fall and winter when it goes dormant
  • Once it begins to bloom

As with most plants, it is always worth remembering that too much fertilizer is worse than lack of it. That’s because you can always correct the latter by adding more.

But, it is harder to take the excess that you’ve already added away.

The bad part about too much plant food is that it can burn your plant’s roots. Additionally, it can cause smaller leaves, and parts of the plant of die off.

If you feel that the plant has gotten too much fertilizer, you have a couple of options.

  • Flush the soil. This will help remove excess fertilizer and salt residue that’s in the soil
  • This is a more drastic measure as you take out the soil it is currently in and replace it with fresh potting soil. This gives the plant new living conditions to start with.

 

Flowering

Hoyas are often grown for their foliage. But, because many of them produce such unique looking flowers that are very beautiful, growers often want to help them bloom.

The good and bad news here is that they don’t normally do. But, there are ways to encourage them to flower.

The most important thing to remember here is that the flowers can regrow from the same shoots. So, after they bloom then fall off, don’t cut the shoots back. This will remove the flower nodes which is where they’ll rebloom next season.

If you do, you’ll need to wait for the plant to grow the shoots again in order to start flowering. This delays blooming significantly.

Sunlight is the second factor to consider. It needs lots of bright sunlight. Again, be careful with too much direct sunlight or keeping it in the direct path of the sun’s rays when it is very hot. This will burn its leaves.

So, allowing it to get ample bright light that’s filtered or indirectly is ideal.

The plant will only begin to bloom in its second or third year. Thus, patience is key.

Finally, keep it in a small pot. The hoya carnosa compacta has a better chance of blooming when its roots are packed together. So, allowing it to get slightly rootbound helps it flower.

Together, this will help improve your plant’s chances of producing blossoms year in and year out.

 

Hoya Carnosa Compacta Pruning

Your hoya carnosa compacta is a slow growing plant. This means you don’t need to prune it often.

But, you may want to trim it to shape it the way you want and limit its size if needed.

Similarly, removing dead or unhealthy vines is a good idea. And, pinching also helps if you want to encourage new growth to help your Hindu rope plant look fuller.

 

Hoya Carnosa Compacta Propagation

The best way to propagate your hoya carnosa compacta is via stem cuttings.

Here, you can take a stem cutting from the plant’s vines. Choose one that is healthy. Ideally it should be long enough to stand up from the soil and water. And, you want at least a couple of leaves on it.

You can then root the cutting in water or moist potting mix. Water is often a better choice as it roots faster there with better success rates.

In about 3 or so weeks you should see some roots form. You can then move the plant to a pot with soil from there.

 

Transplanting & Repotting Hoya Carnosa Compacta

As mentioned, hoya carnosa compacta is a slow grower. This means you won’t need to repot it often. Even if it is in a small pot (which is what it prefers), it will still take quite a while. So, you don’t have to worry about having to move it for a long time.

That said, once you see a few things happen, it means you need to take action. These include.

  • Roots coming out of the container and clogging the drainage holes.
  • Soil getting compacted because the roots are taking over. This will close up all the small air pockets which will prevent air and water to penetrate easily.
  • The soil dries up very quickly. This happens as the roots are too big for the relatively smaller volume of soil. So, it will dry quickly. If it dries too quickly, watering can become a chore and dehydration becomes a bigger risk.
  • A plant sitting in too small a pot will start to feel stressed. This will cause the plant to become unhealthy. Any signs of this means the pot is already way too small for it.

The best time to repot is either spring or early summer. You want to do it when the plant is actively growing.

You also don’t want to repot when the plant is blooming. Or, during its resting phase in the winter. The only exception is if there’s something really wrong with it and you need to repot to save it.

When choosing a container, pick one that is one size bigger. Ideally, go up only 1 to 2 inches. This is more than enough as it will take a while before the plant will outgrow the container.

You also don’t want to use a much larger container for 2 reasons.

  • It increases the risk of overwatering because there’s a lot of soil. When wet, the plant’s roots will be sitting in water for a long time.
  • Hoys like their roots packed together. This helps it bloom. If it gets a lot of space, it likely won’t be able to flower.

As always make sure to get a container with drainage holes. This reduces the risk of root rot from overwatering.

 

Toxicity

The plant is not toxic to humans or animals. This means you can keep them around kids, dogs and cats around the house without fear them being harmful to your family.

 

Pests

Your hoya carnosa compacta is susceptible to pests. The most common of which include mealybugs, aphids and spider mites.

These critters are problematic because they don’t only destroy the leaves but also suck on its sap. As a result, if you don’t spot them early, they can inflict considerable damage over time.

In some cases, you can treat them using cotton and rubbing alcohol. Although, this is very time consuming because you need to go through the leaves one by one and if you spot any wipe them off.

If there are just a few, this may work. But, as the number grows, it is very inefficient.

As such, using a spray solution of insecticidal soap or dishwashing liquid with water is a faster way do go. You can likewise use neem oil which works very well.

 

Diseases

When it comes to disease, root rot is something to watch out for as the plant’s sensitive roots can easily be overwatered. The good news is, this is completely preventable if you’re mindful of your watering routine.

Using well-draining potting mix also prevents this from happening as long as you allow the excess moisture to drain after you water it. And, of course, make sure to have drainage holes at the bottom of the container to make it easy for liquid to escape.

Another disease your hoya carnosa compacta can get inflicted with is Botrytis or gray mold. This is a kind of fungus that causes brownish spots on leaves and fruits. If you look at them, its like part of the foliage or plant that’s affected is dying or dead because of the brown, crispy nature.

This is another moisture related issue. And, it can happen to hoyas because of their love of high humidity.

If this happens, trip away the affected parts or damaged part of the plant and treat with fungicide spray.

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