The Hoya Compacta Variegata is also known as the Hoya Carnosa Compacta Variegata or the Variegated Hoya Compacta.
As you can already probably guess, it is the variegated version of the Hoya Carnosa Compacta.
Therefore, you get the same curly foliage that the regular Carnosa Compacta is known for. But, what sets the two apart is the Hoya Compacta Variegata has white and pink variegations.
This makes it more unique looking and likewise adds more color.
It also lets you choose whether you prefer the all-green foliage or the variegated ones to add in your collection. Of course, you can have both as well.
The plant itself is an epiphyte. It also features thick succulent-like leaves which store moisture to help it tolerate dry periods.
However, the plant is not a succulent. And you should not care for it like one. Otherwise, it could end up in some trouble.
The best part is that it is easy to care for.
Hoya Compacta Variegata Plant Care
The Hoya Compacta Variegata needs bright indirect light to grow its best. This is the ideal lighting condition for the plant because of two things:
- Its white variegations
- You want it to bloom
White variegations mean the absence or lack of chlorophyll. And while this makes the plant beautiful and unique looking, it also means that it does not absorb as much light as the solid all-green leafed version of the plant, the Hoya Carnosa Compacta.
The reason is that chlorophyll is also the component that is responsible for light absorption for use in photosynthesis.
This means that the Hoya Compacta Variegata needs more light to support itself. At the same time, while it can tolerate some low light, it is not able to withstand as much of it as the Carnosa Compacta either.
With insufficient light, you’ll quickly notice its growth slow down and its white variegations turn more green. That’s a sign to move it somewhere brighter.
The other reason why bright light is important is that the plant needs a lot of light to bloom. In dim or dark locations, it will not flower. The same is true when there is insufficient lighting.
Ideally, the Hoya Compacta Variegata needs 6 hours or more of bright light daily.
However, you want to make sure that the light it receives is indirect, diffused or dappled light. Avoid direct sun and very hot places as this can scorch its leaves. Or at the very least, with time will turn they yellow or dull the white variegations.
This makes the ideal location for the plant a well-lit room, preferably where it gets a lot of morning sun and some shade or protection from the afternoon sun.
So if you want to keep it near a south or west windows which receive the harsher noon to mid-afternoon sun, protect it by filtering the light with sheer curtains or using a shade cloth. You can also distance the plant about 4 or more feet from the window away from the sun’s rays.
In case, your home does not get enough access to natural light, you can likewise use artificial lights or fluorescent lights. But in this case, the plant needs at least 12 hours of exposure daily. If you want to increase its chances of blooming, it will need 16 hours of artificial lighting.
Outside, keep the plant under partial shade for best results.
The Hoya Compacta Variegata is a tropical plant that is used to warm, sunny outdoor environments. This makes USDA Hardiness Zones 10 through 12 the best regions to grow the plant outdoors.
The reason is that in these zones, the weather does not get very cold even in winter. And they also have sunshine (and no snow) between December and February.
As such, this is as close as you get to the tropical environment in the states.
Indoors, it is much easier to care for the plant because its ideal temperature is between 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Because it does not have experience with the cold weather in its native habitat, it does not have a high tolerance for it either.
Therefore, avoid temperatures below 50 degrees. And try to keep things at least 60-65 degrees to keep the plant happy.
This make regions with snow and freezing temperatures an issue. Thus, when winter comes make sure it stays moderately warm and cozy.
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The Hoya Compacta Variegata is used to moderate to high humidity. And it does best when humidity is kept between 40% and 60%.
For the most past, the plant is happier with higher levels. However, because it has thick, succulent-like foliage which store moisture, it is able to tolerate slightly drier air.
This makes it able to tolerate average room humidity in most cases. However, as always, take your cue from the plant’s leaves.
When the plant is healthy, the leaves are thick, supple, waxy, green and white. But, when humidity gets too low for its liking, you’ll notice foliage get dry, brown, crispy especially in the tips. They will likewise wither.
Thus, if you see any of these symptoms, it is the plant telling you to move it somewhere with more humidity. Another option is to increase the air moisture around it.
And you can do this by moving it to the bathroom, investing in a humidifier, misting it a few times a week, grouping it with other plants or placing in on top of rocks in a water tray.
Any of these methods work. But, their effects on humidity will vary except for the humidifier where you can control the precise levels.
Another thing to watch out for are appliances that affect the air. These include heaters, radiators, air conditioner and vents. These cause temperature to fluctuate which the plant does not like.
They also dry the air significantly. Thus, keep the plant away from them.
How Often to Water Hoya Compacta Variegata
The Hoya Compacta Variegata is drought tolerant to a degree thanks to its thick, semi-succulent leaves. This allows it to go without water for about 4 to 5 weeks.
It is also why some growers will water the plant once every 2-3 weeks since the plant needs minimal watering.
That said, is it very important to understand the plant’s watering requirements and sensitivities.
Basically, it can tolerate some dryness (as mentioned above). However, you don’t want to let it go bone dry for long periods of time as the dehydration will eventually harm the plant.
Just as importantly, it is sensitive to overwatering.
And between the two, it has a much harder time recovering from too much water. Therefore, this is what you want to guard considering that overwatering is the #1 cause of houseplant deaths.
So what is the best way to water your Hoya Compacta Variegata?
- Wait until the top 2 inches of soil is dry before adding more water. If you want to be more conservative, you can wait until the soil is dry 50% of the way down.
- Then, water deeply. This means soaking the root ball and only stopping when the water starts dripping from under the pot. This will give the roots a lot of drink. However, immediately let the soil drain. You never want to leave the roots drenched or swimming in water for more than 15 minutes. Make sure any excess moisture completely drains out.
The reason you want to let the soil dry out a bit between waterings is to prevent overwatering. And by basing your timing on the soil, the watering frequency automatically adjusts for both summer and winter.
This way, you don’t need to try and remember so many things.
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Potting Soil for Hoya Compacta Variegata
To make sure that the soil does not end up wet or soggy, it is important to use the right kind of potting mix in combination with knowing when to water.
Avoid heavy soils and those that will retain a lot of moisture. This will negate your efforts of waiting for the soil to dry out a bit because this kind of medium will hold more liquid.
Instead, go with fast-draining soil that is light and offers good aeriation.
This is important because the Hoya Compacta Variegata is an epiphyte. That means in the wild, it uses its roots to climb up trees. And up there, they get a lot of air circulation.
Even when it rains, the roots will dry quickly after they get wet because there’s a lot of airflow.
Thus, you want your soil to mimic this, which is why when watering, we use the soak and drain method above. However, the second part of that only works if the soil you use has good drainage.
A simple way to achieve the best soil for your Hoya Compacta Variegata is to combine:
- 2 parts peat moss
- 1 part perlite
You can also use:
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part orchid mix
The Hoya Compacta Variegata needs fertilizer. But it is a light feeder.
Therefore, it is important to feed the plant to make sure it gets all the nutrients it needs. However, avoid overfeeding it or giving it plant food when it is not growing.
This means apply a balanced liquid fertilizer during spring and summer. Once every 4 weeks works well. Make sure to dilute the dose with water to bring it to half strength.
It does not need to be fertilized during the cold months (fall and winter).
Also, watch out for when the plant is about to bloom.
When it begins to bloom or is flowering, use a high phosphorus fertilizer instead. Switch out your regular fertilizer during this time for a bloom booster (which will contain more phosphorus).
This component will encourage flower formation and help prolong the blooms as well.
Go back the balanced formulation after the flowers have passed.
Flowers / Blooms
A large part of the Hoya Compacta Variegata’s beauty is its flowers. These are gorgeous but will only happen after the plant matures.
Thus, you likely won’t see them occur until 1.5 to 2 years in (if you start from a young plant). So have some patience.
That said, its stunning, white and pink clusters of flowers are worth the way. They are stunning to look at and very unique.
The flowers are actually very small and they have a star-like shape. If you look closely, there are actually 2 layers of stars (a bigger one on the outside and a smaller star inside). The center of features a pinkish red color.
Each cluster can produce as many as 40 of these flowers. And they fall a lovely spherical ball that will last between 2 to 3 weeks.
However, note that the flowers are never a given. And you kind of have to work for them.
By that I mean you need to give it the right environment.
The main one is bright, indirect light and lots of it. Avoid very hot, intense light though.
The second part is to keep it root bound as the stress caused by this increases its ability to flower.
The Hoya Compacta Variegata is a climbing plant that will happily wrap itself around a trellis or a wire if you give it one.
In this environment, it can grow to between 6 to 10 feet if you let it be. In the wild the plant can reach 20 feet in length. It will likewise live for many years with proper care.
So, as with any vining plant, you will need to prune the stems when they get too long or wayward.
How often will depend on where you grow the plant.
If you allow it to climb, the most of the trimming will be minor as you just want to shape it and keep it tight and neat.
The same is true with hanging pots or baskets as you can allow the stems to get longer and drape.
For the most part, pruning is more for length control and shaping the plant.
However, the one thing you want to avoid is cutting off the spurs or peduncles after the flowers have gone. This is a no-no since hoyas tend to bloom on old growth.
That means new flowers will bloom from these same spurs. So if you cut them, you’ll miss out on one growing season of flowers as the spurs need to grow back before they can produce flowers.
How to Propagate Hoya Compacta Variegata
Stem propagation is the best way to grow more Hoya Compacta Variegata at home. You can likewise propagate the plant via air layering or from seed. However, I have not found any reason to do anything more complicated when stem cuttings are easy and provide excellent success rates.
The only exception here is if you want to grow lots of new plants at the same time. Then seed is the way to go. This is why stores and garden centers grow most of their plants from seed.
The downside here is that variegated plants are not a guarantee. In fact, the odds of getting some kind of variegation from green seeds is very small.
That’s because more often than not they are genetic mutations. As such, using stem cuttings is the most effective way you retain the white variegations.
Here’s how to propagate Hoya Compacta Variegata using stem cuttings.
- Cut a 3-5 inch stem cutting from your Hoya Compacta Variegata. You’re looking for healthy stems segments that have at least 1-2 nodes and a few leaves on it. You can take a stem tip cutting or a longer stem and cut it up to smaller segments if you want to grow more than one new plant.
- Remove the lower leaves of each stem cutting to expose the nodes.
- Then dip the cutting into rooting hormone.
- Plant the cutting into well-draining potting mix. You can use a 1:1 mix of peat and perlite. Keep the soil moist but not wet.
- Leave the plant in a warm, humid locations with bright, indirect sun.
- It takes about 4 to 6 weeks for the roots to grow and get established.
Similarly, you can propagate the stem cutting in water.
- After taking the cutting, place the stem into water. You can use any kind of container that will hold the cutting. The goal is to keep the nodes underwater and the leaves away from the water.
- Replace the water once a week to keep it fresh.
- Place the cutting in the same warm, humid environment with no direct sunlight.
- A glass container will let you watch as the roots develop.
- And when they grow to at least 1-2 inches you can pot them up into soil
How to Repot or Transplant Hoya Compacta Variegata
The Hoya Compacta Variegata seldomly needs repotting.
That’s because of a few things:
- It is an epiphyte which has a small root system
- It enjoys being pot bound (which improves its chances to flower at well)
As such, most growers will only repot after 2 or 3 years, not before that. And you’ll also see some who will allow the plant to stay in the same container for 5 years (at times even longer).
The important thing is to watch when it starts to struggle.
If roots are coming out form the drainage holes, it needs to be watering much more frequently than normal, growth is slowing for no other reason or the plant’s health is declining (with no other obvious cause).
Then it is time to repot.
When doing so, move it to a pot that is 1-2 inches larger and replace the potting mix.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
No, the Hoya Compacta Variegata is not toxic to pets nor people. This makes it safe for kids and pets to play around or near the plant since its leaves and stem do not pose any risk of poison even when ingested.
Problems & Troubleshooting
The Hoya Compacta Variegata is prone to mealybugs, aphids and spider mites.
Pests are something that will bother the plant. So, it is a good idea to be on the lookout and inspect the plant regularly,
Because it attracts sap suckers, these pests can damage the plant once they grow large in number, which can happen very quickly as they lay a lot of eggs and have a short reproductive cycle.
Therefore, once you notice any bugs in the leaves, isolate the plant and start treatment.
The curly leaves make it a bit tricky because the insects can hide better there.
Diseases are less of a problem because they’re often man-made. The important thing here is moisture.
Any excess moisture will not only attract fungus gnats it will also increase the risk of root rot, bacterial and fungal infections.
Thus, proper watering, the right potting soil, good sunlight and air circulation are very important.