Hoya Carnosa Tricolor Indoor Plant & Flower Care

Hoya Carnosa Tricolor

The Hoya Tricolor is also known as the Hoya Carnosa Tricolor. Thus, it is a subspecies of the most popular Hoya Carnosa plant.

The plant is an epiphyte which means that you’ll find it in the forest climbing up larger trees in order to get exposure to bright light.

To do so, it uses its long stems and aerial roots. These trailing vines are also why you’ll often see the plant grown in hanging baskets.

Although in the wide, it is a natural climber. Therefore, if you want it to grow faster and taller, giving it a trellis or support to climb is a ideal.

The most stunning part of the plant are its variegated crinkles succulent-like leaves. These are thick and waxy. More importantly, the feature beautiful colors, including pink, yellow and green.

This is what makes the plant look different. And it is its variegations that make it a favorite.

The Hoya Carnosa Tricolor also produces stunning flowers what grow in clusters. Each flower is small and has a star shape. Their centers are red in color.

Hoya Carnosa Tricolor Plant Care

Hoya Tricolor Light Requirements

The Hoya Carnosa Tricolor needs more light compared to its all-green leaved counterparts because of its variegations. Similarly, its beautiful colors also mean you don’t want to leave it in a dark location as it has less tolerance to low light than hoyas with solid green foliage.

The reason for this is that the green hue of the leaves are caused by a pigment called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll also happens to be the substance that absorbs light that will be used for photosynthesis.

So, while its light green, yellow and pinkish variegations are beautiful, they also have some drawbacks int hat the plant requires more light to thrive.

As such, the best spot for your Hoya Carnosa Tricolor is one with bright, indirect light.

In addition to helping the plant grow faster and produce more vibrant colors, it needs a lot of illumination to flower. If you leave it in low light, the chances of blooming will decrease significantly.

However, avoid  very harsh light or direct sun.

While the Hoya Tricolor can tolerate some direct sunlight, it will prefer early morning or later afternoon sun (which are much more gentle). Try to avoid mid-day sun or that during the peak of summer as this is when the rays are most intense.

Too much strong light or exposure for extended periods of time will burn its leaves.

 

Temperature

The Hoya Carnosa Tricolor is a tropical plant. This means that it prefers moderate to warm temperature. Its ideal levels are between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

As such, this makes it perfect for indoors care since most homes maintain this kind of environment.

But, you do want to keep it away from appliances or locations that can abruptly cause fluctuations. This includes heaters, radiators, fireplaces, air conditioners or even open windows and doors where cold drafts can blow by.

The plant does not appreciate sudden temperature changes of fluctuations, especially downward.

That’s because it is not cold hardy.

Being a tropical plant, it does not get to experience snow, frost or freezing conditions. Therefore, it is not used to it.

This means you want to avoid leaving it in locations that are under 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

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Humidity

The Hoya Carnosa Tricolor prefers humid environments. Fortunately, it does have thick, waxy leaves that store water. This allows it to tolerate dry periods and even be somewhat drought tolerant.

It also allows the plant to do well in humidity between 40% and 60% without any problems. And while it can withstand slightly lower that this range, you do want to be careful in drier conditions as it increases the risk of brown, crispy and dry leaves and tips.

Whenever you see these signs, it’s the plant telling you that it needs more humidity.

In most cases, the Hoya Tricolor won’t have this issue.

However, it if does, you have a few options to help it out.

  • Invest in a humidifier
  • Mist the plant regularly (how often will depend on how low humidity gets)
  • Leave the pot on top of rocks in a tray of water
  • Put it close together with your other houseplants (although this only works if you have many of them)
  • Keep the plant in the bathroom

 

How Often to Water Hoya Carnosa Tricolor

Thanks to its thick, succulent-like leaves, the Hoya Tricolor is low maintenance when it comes to watering. This makes it easy to care for especially if you’re very busy or find yourself forgetting to water your plants every now and then.

It does mind you being late a few days because it can tolerate dryness. In fact, the Hoya Tricolor will be okay even if you water it every few weeks or a month.

That said, you don’t want to let it stay bone dry for prolonged periods of time as the plant and roots will get dehydrated. However, it is good to know that it is more resilient to this.

But it is less so with too much water.

In fact, the plant does not take overwatering well. And if left this way for extended periods or on a regular basis, it will develop root rot.

Root rot can eventually destroy your plant as its roots will cease to function after they’ve rotted. This will prevent the plant from absorbing enough moisture and nutrients from the soil.

And if too many of the roots have rooted, the remaining roots will not be able to get enough sustenance to support the plant. This will eventually lead to a decline in its health.

As such, you want to let the soil dry out a bit between waterings. Here, you have a few choices depending on what kind of watering personality you have:

  • If you like to water your plants often, try to wait until the top 2 inches of soil is dry before doing so. This is the minimum level.
  • If you’re more patient, you can wait until the soil is 50% dry before watering. This will be safer as it is the middle ground. Therefore, there’s lower risk of overwatering. But the roots are far from being out of water as well.
  • If you tend to forget, are often late in watering or very busy, you can wait until the soil is almost completely dry before watering. This poses no risk to the plant since it can tolerate some periods of drought.

 

Hoya Carnosa Tricolor Potting Soil

To help prevent overwatering, it is very important to use the right kind of soil for your Hoya Tricolor.

The best soil for the plant is well-draining, airy and light potting mix.

This will retain enough moisture to keep the plant’s roots well-hydrated. But make sure that they don’t end up standing in water.

You can use regular potting soil as this can work quite well. Although if you notice that the mix is not draining water as much as you’d like it to, you can add some handfuls of perlite.

The amount will depend on who well the soil drains after you’ve added. Just adjust the amount as you go.

If you don’t like having to do some trial and error, you can go with an African violet mix or a well-draining succulent soil. Both are available in stores and you can use them out of the package.

On the other hand, if you already have some ingredients at home, you can use these tried and tested potting mix recipes for Hoya Carnosa Tricolor. These work really well and have all the features that the plant needs.

  • 1 part potting mix with 1 part perlite and 1 part orchid mix
  • 2 parts peat moss with 1 part perlite
  • 1 part potting soil with 1 part succulent & cactus mix
  • 1 part potting soil and 1 part orchid bark

 

Fertilizer

The Hoya Tricolor is a light feeder. And like other hoyas, it needs fertilizer to get the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and grow optimally.

This means a few things:

  • You can use a weak fertilizer
  • Or, you can dilute your standard plant food
  • But above all, avoid overfeeding the plant

Feed your Hoya Tricolor once every 2 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer that’s diluted to half strength. It only needs plant food during spring and summer. Don’t fertilize during fall and winter as the plant takes a rest.

The plant is not overly picky about the kind of plant food it gets as long as it gets the nutrients it needs. Therefore, you can use a slow release fertilizer or fish emulsion.

If you prefer going with something organic, you can use compost or worm castings instead of chemical fertilizer as well.

 

Flowers / Blooms

In addition to its beautiful variegated foliage, the Hoya Carnosa Tricolor is also known for its stunning flowers. Its blooms grow in clusters that contain anywhere between 10 and 30 small star-shaped blooms with light purple and pink colors with a red and white center.

The blooms grow in the shape of a spherical ball which makes it amazing to look at. And the plant often blooms between spring and summer. The flowers also produce a sweet scent.

However, just because you have the plant does not mean you’ll ever see it flower.

Thus, there are a few things you need to know to improve the chances of letting your Hoya Tricolor bloom.

  • It needs to mature first – so don’t expect a young, small Tricolor hoya to immediately blossom. It usually takes 1.5 to 2 years before it will do so if you start from a juvenile plant.
  • Lots of bright, indirect light – this is a must as your hoya tricolor will not produce any flowers unless it receives a lot of light. However, be careful not to put it under direct sun for too long as this will scorch its leaves.
  • Root bound – the Hoya Carnosa Tricolor likes being snug in the pot. The stress it experiences in a slightly tight container actually helps it bloom. So, don’t be in a hurry to repot it.
  • Its spurs are perennial – don’t cut off or prune the flower stalks (or spurs) after the blossoms fade and fall off. That’s because new flowers will grow from old spurs. So, if you trim off the stalks, they’ll need to grow back before it can bloom again. This means you’ll skip at least one growing season without any flowers.

 

Pruning

The Hoya Tricolor can grow to as long as 9 feet or so. Although it is slightly smaller indoors, often maxing out at around 6 feet if you leave it alone and not prune it.

So, for the most part, the plant requires very little maintenance by means of pruning.

However, in most cases, you will nee to make minor trims here and there because the stems can grow every which way at times. Cutting a bit off here and there will help maintain its shape and looks.

How often you will trim it will vary depending on whether you grow it in a hanging basket, place it in a pot or let it climb a trellis.

The other part of pruning has to do with its spurs.

From the section above, you know that you want to leave those alone and not cut them off. So, after the flowers have faded, make sure not to mistakenly or inadvertently prune off the peduncles (or spurs).

 

How to Propagate Hoya Carnosa Tricolor

Propagating the Hoya Tricolor is easy and you can do it at home.

Depending on how many new plants you want, you can use the stems you prune off. That’s because the best way to grow more tricolor hoyas is via stem propagation.

Here, all you need to do is:

  • Use a sterile cutting tool and snip off a healthy stem that’s about 3 to 5 inches long.
  • You want to cut the stem just below a set of leaves since you want to get at least 1-2 leaf nodes per cutting. These nodes are where the new roots will grow from. So, they are necessary.
  • Remove the lower leaves to expose the nodes.
  • You can propagate the stem cutting in water or in moist, lightweight, well-draining soil.
  • When propagating in water, place the cutting in a container filled with water. I like to use a glass jar (a mason jar or smaller works well). This way you can see the roots as they grow. Make sure the nodes are submerged and take off any leaves that end up in the water as they will rot over time. Also, change the water once a week.
  • When propagating in soil, place the cutting in rooting hormone then plant it into well-draining soil that has been moistened. Keep the soil moist during the first 1-2 months to help the roots develop.
  • It generally takes a few days for roots to start showing. But it will take about 4 or so weeks before the roots get some volume and long enough.
  • If you propagated the cutting in water, once the roots reach 1-2 inches long, you can move it to soil.

 

How to Repot or Transplant Hoya Carnosa Tricolor

Repotting is another low maintenance task you’ll only need to do on occasion.

On average, it takes 2-3 years before you need to repot. Although, because the plant enjoys being root bound (which also boosts its chances of flowering), you’ll see some growers keep the plant in the same pot for up to 5 years or even more.

Of course, only do so if it does not show signs of stress.

If the pot gets overly tight, the plant will eventually struggle, slow down in growth and not do well. Therefore, take advantage of its preference of being pot bound. But once it gets a bit tight, repot to a larger container.

When choosing a new pot, go with one that is only 1 size larger (or 2 inches wider). Also, replenish the soil when you repot. Ideally, you want to change the soil once a year to keep it fresh.

 

Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs

The Hoya Tricolor is pet-safe and human-safe as well. it does not contain any toxic substances that will result in poisoning or serious side effects even when ingested.

That said, it is still not a good idea to let kids, cats and dogs eat the plant as it can still result in choking, gagging, vomiting and digestive discomfort since the plant is not meant to be eaten.

 

Hoya Tricolor Problems & Troubleshooting

Pests

Aphids and mealybugs are the most common pests that will bother your Hoya Carnosa Tricolor. However, other sap suckers like spider mites can also appear.

If the plant gets a lot of moisture, it can attract fungus gnats as well.

Keeping the plant clean and dusting it leaves regularly will help deter pests. But, with houseplants, you can’t ever guarantee against these bugs.

So, it is important to regularly check for insects and treat them with neem oil or insecticidal soap immediately when you spot any pests.

 

Diseases

The Hoya Tricolor does not experience a lot of diseases. But bacterial and fungal infection can happen especially with high humidity and excess moisture.

Among the most common diseases that will give this plant problems are root rot, Botrytis blight, leaf spot and powdery mildew.