One of the most popular hoya varieties, Hoya carnosa compacta, is known for its curled, fleshy leaves that grow in long rope-like vines. This growth pattern, waxy leaves, and perfect flowers that look like porcelain have earned this plant several nicknames, such as the porcelain flower, Hindu rope plant, wax plant, and even Krinkle Kurl!
Native to India, these plants grow on other trees as an epiphyte. As a houseplant, it’s pretty easy to take care of, and with proper care will reward you with clusters of beautiful, fragrant flowers!
This stunning plant is great for small spaces and can be grown as a tabletop plant or in a hanging basket. Its beauty, versatility, and easygoing nature make it a great plant for those who are fairly new to houseplants as well as those with more experience as houseplant parents.
Here’s everything you need to know about caring for Hoya carnosa compacta.
How to Care for Hoya Carnosa Compacta
This plant is pretty easy to care for and prefers a light touch in most aspects of its care. It doesn’t need a lot of water, rarely needs to be pruned or repotted, grows in low light (thought it will be healthiest in bright light), and thrives in typical room temperatures.
If you want a unique, low-maintenance plant, Hoya carnosa compacta may be the plant for you!
This plant stores water in its thick, waxy leaves, so it doesn’t need a lot of water and doesn’t like to sit in soggy soil for long.
Make sure to pot your hoya in a fast-draining potting mixture that contains a lot of air. As an epiphyte, this plant likes to have a lot of airflow around its roots!
If you live in a more humid climate, a coarse potting mix is a good idea because it will dry out faster.
If you’re in a very arid climate, a finer potting medium that will hold moisture for just a little longer is helpful. This will also provide a little more local humidity for an added bonus!
We highly recommend our Premium Potting Soil for Indoor Plants because it drains quickly and stays well-aerated thanks to ingredients like orchid bark, coco coir, and perlite.
If you like to make your own DIY potting mixes, many hoya owners like a mix of 1 part peat moss, 1 part orchid mix, and 1 part perlite. Most succulent soils will also work well for this plant.
It’s crucial that your pot has drainage holes. Also, Hoya carnosa compacta likes to be pretty snug in its pot, so make sure your pot is no larger than 2 inches deeper and wider than your plant’s root ball.
Use a regular planter to grow this as a tabletop or shelf plant, or place it in a hanging planter that allows the “ropes” to trail downward!
Bright, indirect sunlight is important for keeping Hoya carnosa compacta healthy, and especially for encouraging it to bloom! (We’ll get deeper into flowering later.)
An east-facing window is a great spot, and a south- or west-facing window is also good as long as the light isn’t too direct.
If you aren’t able to provide enough natural sunlight, these plants do very well with grow lights. If you go the grow light route, make sure to keep it on for at least 12 hours per day, and up to 14 hours if you’re trying to encourage flowering.
We love these grow bulbs that you can screw into regular light fixtures!
Do Hoya plants like direct sunlight?
Hoya carnosa compacta does appreciate a little direct morning light, but will easily scorch in direct midday or afternoon sun, especially when combined with high temperatures.
Place your plant in a spot where it will get bright sunlight for most of the day, but where the sun’s rays won’t shine directly on the leaves. A sheer curtain is also handy for filtering the direct sunlight.
As tropical plants, Hoya carnosa compacta enjoys consistently warm, mild temperatures (aka normal room temperatures) from about 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit, with higher temps during the day and lower ones at night.
Hoya carnosa compacta likes the humid conditions you’d find in the rainforest, between about 40-60% humidity. These conditions can be tricky to create indoors, especially if you use a lot of indoor climate control and/or live in an arid environment.
Without the proper humidity, your hoya’s leaves will look dried out and shriveled instead of shiny and healthy. If you notice your leaves getting dull or dry, it’s time to increase the local humidity.
Your plant will also need more humidity during the winter (or, rather, you may need to put in more effort since humidity levels will decrease in the winter).
You have a few options for raising the humidity around your hoya:
- Place the plant in a bright kitchen or bathrooms, because these rooms tend to be the most humid rooms in the home.
- Group your hoya near other plants. They’ll raise the local humidity with their respiration, so they’ll all benefit!
- Set up a humidifier near your hoya.
- Place your hoya on a humidity tray. You can buy these online or at garden centers, or you can make your own by putting pebbles and water in a shallow tray and placing the plant’s pot on top. Just make sure the roots and leaves don’t actually touch the water.
- Mist daily. Here’s how to mist plants properly.
During the winter and if you live in a dry climate, you may want to try more than one of these!
Does Hoya carnosa compacta like to be misted?
Yes! Misting is a great way to increase the local humidity around your hoya. Just make sure that you aren’t soaking the leaves.
It’s also important to keep the leaves clean and dusted. Otherwise, misting can mix with dirt and debris on the leaves and make the plant even dirtier, or even clog the pores in the leaves. This can disrupt both photosynthesis and respiration, effectively smothering and starving your plant. Keep those leaves clean!
One of the most important parts of growing a healthy Hoya carnosa compacta is watering properly. This plant is quite drought-resistant but does not tolerate overwatering. If your pot and soil drain very well, you should be pretty safe from overwatering as long as you don’t water too often.
During the spring and summer when your hoya is actively growing, you should water when the soil is dry. Stick your finger in the pot—if the soil feels completely dry, it’s time to water! If you use a moisture meter, it’s time to water when you get a reading of 2 or lower. If your drainage is good, this will probably only be every 10 days or so.
In the winter when your hoya is most likely experiencing a dormant period, you can water sparingly, like every 2-3 weeks.
When you do water, give the soil a good soak and let it drain completely in the sink, shower, or tub, or empty the drainage trays right away.
Your hoya does need nutrients to grow, but these plants tend to be light feeders, so it’s important to err on the light side when fertilizing.
During the spring and summer, fertilize monthly or so with a gentle liquid fertilizer like Indoor Plant Food. In the fall and winter, avoid fertilizing to let your plant rest.
If you notice white crust on the surface of the soil, dry or crinkly leaf edges, or new growth dying off, your plant may be overfertilized and you should scale back.
One of the best parts of growing Hoya carnosa compacta is the beautiful flowers!
This plant grows round, tight flower clusters called umbels, which consist of around 20 small flowers on short stalks that sprout from the end of a longer stalk. These main stalks are called spurs, and it’s important to recognize these, because this is where your flowers will grow year after year. Your hoya will grow new spurs as it matures, but it will keep flowering from the old ones year after year as long as you don’t remove them.
Most Hoya carnosa compacta plants take around three years to bloom, but some will bloom in the first year.
With the right environmental conditions, your hoya will produce flowers in the spring and summer. These flowers will last up to 3 weeks at a time.
These flowers smell amazing and can be white, red, pink, or purple.
Try these tips to encourage your hoya to bloom:
- Provide lots of bright, indirect sunlight. If you can’t provide enough natural light, use a grow light for up to 16 hours per day.
- Try a fertilizer that’s slightly higher in potassium to promote flower production.
- Avoid moving, rotating, or repotting your hoya while it’s flowering, because this may shock the flowers and halt blooming.
- Do NOT cut back the spurs, because your plant will have to grow brand-new ones in order to flower. If you do have to prune your hoya, do your best to avoid removing these.
- Make sure to provide sufficient humidity and the right amount of water.
One nice thing about Hoya carnosa compacta is that it won’t need to be repotted often. It grows pretty slowly and likes to be nice and snug in its pot.
As a general rule, you should only repot your hoya when the soil becomes compacted and starts to affect your watering efforts, or if it’s an emergency and you need to treat root rot or overfertilization.
When you do repot, don’t untangle the roots if you don’t have to. Trim away anything that’s rotting, but try to leave the root ball as intact as possible. Only go up one pot size (about 2 inches) when you repot.
The best time to repot is in the early spring and summer when your plant is growing. This enables it to recover more quickly and adjust to its new environment.
Since this plant is a slow grower, you probably won’t need to prune often to control its size or shape. You’ll probably do this only occasionally.
You can prune away any dead or diseased material to preserve the health of the plant.
When you must prune, make sure to use sterilized shears. You can wash them with soap and water or use some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. As we mentioned before, do your best to avoid cutting off the spurs, because this will inhibit your hoya’s flowering.
The best time to prune is in the early spring and summer when your hoya is probably actively growing and most likely to recover quickly.
Propagating Hoya Carnosa Compacta
Hoya carnosa compacta is fairly easy to propagate from stem cuttings. You can propagate in either water or soil.
First, you’ll need to take a healthy cutting. The process is similar to propagating succulents from cuttings.
The best time to do this is during the spring when the hoya is growing.
Locate a newer, healthy section of vine that’s a few inches long and includes at least a few pairs of leaves, and use sterilized shears to snip it off. It’s helpful to cut at an angle here. Remove leaves off the bottom inch or two and let dry overnight.
Tip: Use your healthy cuttings to propagate your hoya plant! This is an inexpensive way to expand your collection or to grow gifts for your plant-loving friends!
Propagating in Soil
If you’re propagating in soil, place some potting mix in a small container that has drainage and insert the stripped end of the stem into the soil. Water thoroughly. You can use a little Propagation Promoter to encourage rooting and prevent infection.
Cover the top of a cutting with a plastic bag to keep humidity high and leave in a bright, warm place (but not near a heater; warming mats meant for keeping cuttings toasty can help with this).
Keep the potting medium moist but not soaked.
In a few weeks, you should see some new growth! You can now transfer the baby hoya to a new container or let it grow some more where it is. Care for it like a mature hoya plant.
Propagating in Water
If you’re propagating in water, place the bottom of your hoya cutting into a clear glass container of purified water (distilled water, rainwater, or tap water that’s been left out overnight can also work). Add some Propagation Promoter to the water to speed things along.
Leave in a bright place and keep the water topped off. Change the water completely every week.
Within a few weeks, you should see roots forming. When the roots are at least an inch long, you can plant the hoya in soil and care for it like a mature plant.
Common Problems With Hoya Carnosa Compacta
This easygoing plant isn’t immune to problems, so it’s best that you know what to do when issues arise.
You can avoid most of these issues with proper care, but think of these problems as signs that your plant isn’t happy and it’s trying to let you know.
These plants are light feeders, so it’s easy to accidentally overfertilize them.
If you notice shriveling, smaller new leaves, new growth that dies off, or a white crust forming on the surface of the soil, your plant might be getting too much fertilizer.
Use a spoon to scoop as much of the buildup out of the soil as you can, and then leach the soil a few times to flush out the excess minerals. To do this, put the plant in a tub or shower and slowly add water, letting it drain completely. Do this a couple of times.
If the problems continue, you may need to repot into fresh soil.
Hoya carnosa compacta can fall prey to household pests like mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites, which all like to suck the juices out of the leaves. It can be tricky to notice and remove these insects, since they like to hide in the folds of your hoya’s leaves!
If you notice withering, spotting, sticky clear residue, webbing, or actual insects, act fast.
Rinse your hoya’s leaves with a kitchen sprayer to remove as many of the insects as possible. Try to avoid washing the insects into the soil, and tip the plant on its side when you do this. Then spray down the plant with diluted neem oil, Lear Armor Spray, or diluted dish soap. You may need to do this a few times over a few weeks to kill off new generations of insects as they hatch.
Tip: Neem oil has a strong, garlicky smell, so you might want to use this outside.
If that doesn’t work, you may need to try an insecticidal soap.
Yellowing can indicate that your plant is getting too much sunlight. If you notice yellowing and your plant is in very bright light, try scooting it back a few feet or using a sheer curtain to filter the light a little bit.
FAQ Hoya Carnosa Compacta
Here are answers to questions you might have about Hoya carnosa compacta!
Is Hoya compacta a succulent?
While Hoya carnosa compacta doesn’t grow in the desert like many succulents, it does store a lot of water in its leaves and is therefore quite drought-resistant. You could call it a semi-succulent. It also likes a lot of the same care as most succulents out there, except for the fact that it prefers high levels of humidity.
If you’re a fan of succulents, you’re well-equipped to care for Hoya carnosa compacta. Give it a shot!
Is Hoya carnosa compacta evergreen?
Yes! This plant will stay green and beautiful year-round, though it will only flower in the spring and summer.
Is Hoya carnosa compacta toxic?
Nope! Pet owners rejoice!
Hoya plants are not toxic to people or pets, so this is a great choice for a houseplant if you have curious children or pets around who might want to snack on your plant’s foliage. And since this plant does so well in hanging baskets, it should be easy to keep out of reach so your babies and fur babies won’t take bites out of it anyway.
Where can I buy Hoya carnosa compacta?
This beautiful plant isn’t super common in the gardening centers of big home improvement chains like Lowe’s or Home Depot, but your local boutique garden store may carry it. (And if they don’t, you can always ask!)
You might have the best luck finding one of these plants online; Etsy is a great resource for buying plants.
Here are some of our favorite Etsy shops for buying houseplants, seedlings, and cuttings:
Other vendors like The Sill, Bloomscape, Costa Farms, or even Amazon may have hoya plants. Wherever you decide to buy, make sure to read seller ratings and reviews to ensure you’re getting a good product. There’s nothing worse than getting excited about a plant you bought online, only to receive a dead or damaged plant!
It’s also a good idea to purchase plants that don’t have to ship very far, because long journeys in a box can have an understandably negative effect on plants, despite careful packaging.
Hoya Carnosa Compacta Care: Final Thoughts
This laid-back plant is absolutely stunning, and a great choice for succulent fans, newer houseplant parents, experienced indoor gardeners, and houseplant lovers with pets!
This unique-looking plant is sure to add some beautiful life and color to any space, especially if you can get it to flower. Add this one to your houseplant wish list!
Have more questions about your hoya houseplants? For additional help and support, join our online community and more!