Caring for Hindu Rope Plant: Hoya Carnosa Compacta


The Hindu rope plant, or Hoya carnosa compacta, is a draping compact succulent plant that is native to East Asia and Australia, and in particular, South India. A part of the Hoya genus and of the dogbane family, the hoya carnosa compacta is known with a variety of names, including Hindu rope plant, Krinkle Kurl, wax plant, porcelain flower, Indian rope, Angel rope and hoya compacta.

While the hoya carnosa is a popular house plant due to its thick, waxy evergreen leaves and tight clusters of waxy flowers, the Compacta variety of hoya carnosa is even more beautiful.

The Hindu rope plant retains its stunning wax-like features, but its perennial foliage is unique, adorning its vines with thick crinkly, cupped leaves, giving it a beautiful weaved aspect.  In fact, its most famous name, Hindu rope plant, derives from its resemblance to a rope, albeit a much more attractive plant version. In fact, the wax plant’s curly-leaved vines can grow more than a foot long.

Even without blossoming, the Hindu rope is an extremely attractive house plant that is tailor-made for pots and hanging baskets.

Keep in mind that you can grow your Krinkle Kurl outside as well, as long as you can provide it with its optimal growing conditions. In fact, this plant makes for an excellent accent when potted or it can also be grown vertically on a trellis.

To add to its unique beauty, making it a choice accent plant, are the Hindu rope plant’s incredible star-shaped pale pink waxy flowers. Each Compacta flower has 5 petals with a red ring in the middle that form a small star that is less than an inch wide. However, the rope plant’s flowers grow in profuse clusters of 30 to 50 flowers, in effect making it look like an incredibly crafted porcelain flower.

In addition to having showy flowers, the hoya carnosa compacta has extremely fragrant blooms, with a sweet chocolate-like scent.

Not only is the Hindu rope plant a gorgeous houseplant, but it is also very easy to grow and care for.

When Do Hindu Rope Plants Bloom?

The Hindu rope plant blooms from spring to summer.

This plant is a slow-grower and may take a couple of years before it produces its clusters of stunning star-shaped flowers.

However, when they do bloom, the plants in the hoya genus are not always consistent bloomers; if your hoya does not have ideal growing conditions it may struggle to bloom.

To increase the chance of your Hindu rope plant to bloom, it must receive abundant indirect light and receive sufficient but not excessive water. In fact, the more indirect sunlight your plant receives, the better chance it will bloom; and if it does bloom, more light will increase the time for which it will bear flowers.

After it does bloom, the Hindu rope plant’s flowers will die out, leaving empty flower stocks, or spurs, in their place. While it may be tempting to remove these spurs, do not do it because they are perennial. During the next blooming season, your hoya will grow flowers from these spurs. If you remove them, the plant will have to expend energy to grow new spurs, decreasing the chance of it blooming again or weaking its next bloom.

Furthermore, the older or more mature the spurs are, the larger the flowers it will produce in the following blooming season.

How Much Light Does Hoya Compacta Need?

Like with most plants, lighting conditions are extremely important.

For the Hindu rope plant, sufficient sunlight is fundamental, especially if you want it to bloom. Even if the plant will tolerate low lighting conditions, it is far from optimal. If your Hindu rope does not receive sufficient light, not only will it grow more slowly, but it may never bloom, depriving you of its striking flowers.

Whether you intend to grow your plant indoors or outdoors, hoya carnosa compacta thrives in very bright indirect sunlight. The best place to position your plant is close to a window where it will not receive direct sunlight but will receive strong indirect sun. To extend the amount of time your Hindu rope plant will spend in the sunlight, plant it in a South-facing position.

Do not expose your hoya compacta to direct sunlight, otherwise you risk burning its foliage.

Ideal Climate and Temperature for Hindu Rope Plant

Hoya carnosa compacta is a tropical plant, so it prefers a warmer climate. Due to the rope plant’s preference for warm climates, it is ideal to grow indoors, as a house plant. This doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be grown outdoors; but it prefers a temperature of 70 to 80°F during the day, with toleration for nighttime temperatures down to around 50°F, without damage.

If you plan to grow your plant outdoors, keep in mind that it is not cold-hardy. The Hindu rope plant is hardy to USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12. While the hoya carnosa Compacta may tolerate these temperatures, remember that it is a tropical plant, so it will a warmer temperature. Therefore, if you live in an area with nocturnal temperatures that are close to this range, it’s best to move your Indian rope plant indoors during nighttime.

Humidity Conditions for Hoya Carnosa Compacta

Because the hoya is a tropical plant, it will prefer higher humidity levels. In addition, plants in the hoya genus are often epiphytes, meaning that they derive part of the water they absorb from the air.

The optimal humidity level for the hoya carnosa compacta is from 50 to 60%.

Unless you live in a very humid area or have a greenhouse with high humidity, it can be hard to reach the optimal humidity levels for your Hindu rope, especially indoors.

There are a number of ways to artificially increase humidity for your Indian rope plant.

You could use a small humidifier close to the plant, but that could be an inconvenience if you don’t want a generally higher level of humidity in your home or limit energy expenses.

The best way to maintain high humidity around your plant is to place its container on a consistently wet pebble tray so that the water will evaporate, increasing humidity.

Additionally, you should spray your plant with a light mist of water a couple of times a day, or, if possible, even more, for your hoya to thrive.

Another trick to increase humidity is to group your plants together, which is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also mutually beneficial to your plants.

How Much Water Does the Rope Plant Need?

Given that the hoya carnosa compacta is a succulent, or more specifically, a semi-succulent, it does not need a lot of water. In order to optimize plant-health and subsequent blooming, you should adapt the amount of water depending on the season, with peak levels during blooming season, which is during spring and summer.

During winter you should only water your plant occasionally and just enough to moisten the soil and prevent it from becoming excessively dry.

As fall ends and spring begins, you should increase watering to whenever you see the soil begin to dry out; do this consistently through spring and summer to increase the probability your Hindu rope plant will bloom.

When you water your plant, make sure you water the soil abundantly so that it comes through its drainage holes, but do not leave the pot standing in water. When you do this, make sure your soil is well-drained because hoya plants do not like excessively wet soil.


Ideal Soil for Hoya Carnosa Compacta

The hindu rope plant can tolerate most soils well, however, because it is a tropical plant that doesn’t require much water, the plant does not tolerate excessively moist and soggy soil, as it risks losing its buds otherwise.

When buying (or preparing) a potting soil for your hoya compacta, make sure it is lightweight, well-drained and maintains a high porosity, in order to permit soil aeration. This plant thrives in mildly acidic soil, with a pH of around 6 but can tolerate neutral soils to a pH of around 7.

Most commercially available potting soils will be fine to use for the hoya carnosa compacta as long as they are loose and draining. For example, you could use African violet potting soil or a succulent soil mix, as they are known for their good drainage properties.

The problem with these commercial soil solutions is that the particle size is slightly too small for Hindu rope plants, limiting soil aeration, which is important due to the epiphytic properties of its roots.

If you decide to buy ready-made soil, make sure it contains perlite and preferably Pine bark fines, which help increase soil aeration. Sand is often also recommended for drainage, however, it tends to compact and reduce air flow, so it is not the best choice for Hindu rope plants.

If you want to make your own potting mix you can use a mixture of pine bark, peat moss or coco coir, compost or leaf matter (because epiphytes receive a great deal of it in their natural environment), some perlite and bit of horticultural charcoal.

If your plant is set in a dryer climate, then you should adjust your medium to be slightly finer, so to retain moisture.

Does Your Krinkle Kurl Need Fertilizer?

Hoya carnosa compacta doesn’t necessarily need fertilizer and is a light feeder, but it will benefit from a small amount of fertilizer during spring and summer months.

If your hoya is blooming or even if your hoya isn’t mature enough to bloom yet, adding feeding it a limited amount of fertilizer during that period will aid its growth.

For optimal fertilization, choose a balanced fertilizer, such as an NPK 15-15-15.

Fertilize your Hindu rope plant only once every 2 to 3 months during spring and summer.

When applying fertilizer, dilute half the recommended dosage in water and then apply to the plant.

Stop fertilizing your hoya carnosa compacta during fall and winter, which is the plant’s resting phase.

Beware of signs of over-fertilization and under-fertilization.

If your hoya is under-fertilized you will see signs of pale leaves, so slightly increase the amount of fertilizer used.

However, over-fertilizing hoyas poses a much greater risk. Your plant may exhibit drying and crinkling foliage, burning roots, smaller than expected leaves that are also a darker green color and new growths that die off.

If you realize your Hindu rope plant is excessively fertilized, water repeatedly, letting the water exit from the drainage holes, thereby removing excess fertilizer, or re-pot the plant.

Propagation of Hoya Compacta

Hoya carnosa compacta is a simple plant to propagate with stem-tip cuttings or by layering.

If you are propagating through stem-tip cuttings, using sanitized pruning shears, cut off about 4 inches from the top part of a stem, just below the node and remove its lower leaves; leaving the top pairs on the stem-tip.

There are then two ways in which to proceed: you can plant the stem in a loose soil medium, or you can place the leafless part of the cutting in water.

If you decide to plant your cutting, after letting the stem dry, plant it in a light soil mixture and keep the plant shielded from wind, in a warm area but in shade until it roots. Once you see new growth, you will know the plant has begun to root. Once it begins to grow above the soil you may transplant your hoya to a new container.

If you live in a particularly dry area, it can be a good idea to cover your propagated cutting with a plastic bag, to increase humidity and moisture.

If you are propagating your hoya in water, you may apply rooting hormone for quicker growth.

An additional method of propagation that is particularly efficient is by layering, where you take a vine and pin it down, under the soil and new roots will begin to form. Once roots have formed you can cut the stem off of the original plant.

Layering is more efficient because roots tend to grow faster, as they receive nutrients from the original plant.

Does the Wax Plant Need Pruning?

The Hindu rope plant does not need regular pruning to maintain its health or its beauty. Nonetheless, if you want to clean up its appearance you may prune your plant, as long as you be very careful not to hinder its growth.

But remember, do not remove dead flower stalks from the plant; those spurs or peduncles are where the Hindu rope plant’s flowers will grow again, even larger, in its next blooming period.

Also, keep in mind that the Hindu rope plant produces sticky sap, which may damage furniture, so prune in a safe place.

Pests and Diseases That Affect Indian Rope

The Indian rope plant doesn’t suffer from many pests, diseases or problems.

The main issues this plant may encounter are mealy bug and aphid infestations. Be aware that these bugs may be difficult to see, as they will hide within leaf curls. Regularly inspect your hoya’s leaf curls to mainly check for mealy bugs, as they occur more commonly than aphids.

To get rid of mealy bugs on your hoya, use neem oil, while for aphids you should use insecticidal soap.

Another relatively common issue your plant may encounter is root and stem rot, which occur with overwatering.

While rare, the hoya carnosa compacta may be subject to the anamorphic fungus called botrytis, which causes a gray mold to develop on its leaves. If this is the case, remove the infected parts of the plant to prevent spreading.

Is the Hindu Rope Plant Poisonous?

The Hindu rope plant is not poisonous, even if ingested, making it a safe house plant for animals and children.

However, due to its latex sap, it may create a slight allergic reaction if you are allergic to latex and handle damaged leaves.

Published by Davide Zancan on 24 Novembre 2020