Hoya Carnosa Variegata: Care, Propagation & Troubleshooting

The Hoya carnosa variegata is the dainty ballerina of the tropical plant world.

This trailing plant is related to the Apocynaceae family and is known for its juicy wax-like leaves and delicate white flowers.

You would be forgiven for thinking it was a high-maintenance diva.

However, this evergreen perennial originates from the sultry tropical rain forests of eastern Asia and has the unique ability to live on other plants. However, it does not have parasitic tendencies.

Instead, it is a non-parasitic epiphyte capable of drawing sufficient nutrients and moisture from the air and rainwater surrounding it.

Its beautifully scented flowers are used in beauty products and perfumes. In addition, this beauty queen is not afraid of hard work and can remove harmful air pollutants found indoors.

How do you care for Hoya carnosa variegata? To help Hoya carnosa variegata stay healthy and flourish, keep the plant in a warm environment of no less than 50℉ (10℃). Ensure the plant receives plenty of indirect light. Water regularly in the growing months. Fertilize every two weeks in the spring and summer with a water-based fertilizer. 

Caring for Hoya Carnosa Variegata: Basic Guidelines 

Below you will find some helpful tips on nurturing and caring for your Hoya carnosa variegata. 

The above table summarizes the individual points covered in this guide.

Below we’ll take an in-depth look at each one to ensure your Hoya carnosa variegata receives the ultimate care and attention required to stay happily trailing and flowering in its new home.

In addition, the helpful tips and frequently asked questions sections are full of suggestions and can answer all the questions you may have about the latest addition to your plant family. 

Complete Care Guide for Hoya Carnosa Variegata

The Hoya carnosa variegata has beautiful thick leaves with pink-and-white variegation.

It’s the perfect indoor plant and looks fantastic in a hanging basket or seated on a high shelf as its tendrils love to trail.

Use the below guide to ensure your Hoya carnosa variegata receives the proper care and attention required for a happy, healthy plant.

Hoya Carnosa Variegata at a Glance

  • Scientific Name: Hoya carnosa variegata
  • Plant Type: Subtropical
  • Average Height: 1-4 feet
  • Average Width: 1-3 feet
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Produces Flowers: Yes
  • Common Pests: Aphids, white flies, mealybugs
  • Level of Care: Low maintenance

What To Do When You First Get Your Hoya Carnosa Variegata 

Choose a warm spot in a brightly lit room. A good spot would be north-, west-, or east-facing windows. Make sure the soil is moist and the nursery pot is not too small. 

Ideal Soil for Hoya Carnosa Variegata 

The soil should be light, airy, and well draining. This plant is capable of drawing moisture from the air to supplement its needs.

Waterlogged soil is detrimental to this plant. Whip up your own soil mix using 1/3 peat, 1/3 perlite, and 1/3 orchid mix.

Hoya Carnosa Variegata Water Requirements 

The Hoya carnosa variegata is semi drought resistant; however, it will require additional water in the growing season – but only in minimal quantities.

Water when the top layer of soil is dry to the touch. This is approximately 2-3 centimeters (1 inch).

Tap water contains chlorine and fluoride which can be harmful to the Hoya carnosa variegata.

It’s best to use distilled water or allow tap water to stand for one hour before watering the plant.

Hoya Carnosa Variegata Lighting Needs 

Bright, indirect light is best for the Hoya carnosa variegata as direct sunlight can cause its sensitive leaves to burn.

In its natural habitat, this plant can be found trailing up among the tree branches where it receives bright light diffused by the tree foliage. 

Ideal Temperature Range for Hoya Carnosa Variegata

As the Hoya carnosa variegata is a tropical plant, it loves warmer temperatures.

Ideally, indoor temperatures need to be kept in the cozy range of 64-75℉ (18-24℃) and should not drop below 52℉ (11℃). This plant is not frost or cold resistant. 

Ideal Humidity Level for Hoya Carnosa Variegata 

The higher the humidity, the happier this plant tends to be. It thrives in humidity levels of 60% plus but also does well in more intermediate humidity levels found indoors.

Parched, hot conditions will cause the leaves to dry at the tips. 

Best Location for Hoya Carnosa Variegata

A potted Hoya carnosa variegata hanging from a tree outdoors.

Place the Hoya carnosa variegata in a north-, east-, or west-facing window.

This plant is happy in the morning sun but cannot tolerate the direct heat of the afternoon sun that south-facing windows provide. 

Some people,especially those who live in a humid environment, find that their plant does well in a shaded spot outdoors during the hottest months of the year.

Hoya Carnosa Variegata Growth Habits 

This fast-growing climber loves to creep and trail reaching heights of 1-4 feet with a spread of 1-3  feet.

Depending on the living conditions and pruning received, this plant may trail for up to 20 feet if allowed.

It’s easily grown on a trellis or wire hoop and is perfect for hanging baskets. 

Fertilization Type & Schedule for Hoya Carnosa Variegata

Feed the Hoya carnosa variegata twice a month in the growing season.

Use a liquid fertilizer high in phosphorus to encourage blooms. I’ve had great results with this one.

Increase feeding when the plant is flowering as it will require more nutrients.

During the winter, plants naturally stop growing and therefore do not require fertilizing

Signs of Nutrient Deficiency 

Nutrient deficiency is a condition known as chlorosis.

You will notice the leaves turning yellow and falling off while new leaves produced will be light green and wrinkled in appearance.

Water the plant once monthly with diluted liquid fertilizer, using one part fertilizer and five parts fresh water.

Pruning Hoya Carnosa Variegata 

The Hoya carnosa variegata does not require vigorous pruning sessions.

Trimming off dead leaves is all that’s needed, unless you wish to maintain a certain length to the trailing vines.

Cutting back old growth will stimulate blooming as flowers develop on the new growth.

Tip* Never deadhead the flowers of the Hoya carnosa variegata as new flowers grow from spurs (peduncles) at the base of the plant’s stems.

Does Hoya Carnosa Variegata Produce Flowers? 

Flowers are produced in the late spring and early summer. They are small, star-shaped blooms clustered on a single stalk. 

However, only a mature Hoya carnosa variegata will produce flowers. This is usually when the plant is three years old. 

Is Hoya Carnosa Variegata Toxic? 

There are no reports that show the Hoya carnosa variegata to be toxic to humans or animals.

However, if ingested, it can cause uncomfortable side effects such as vomiting.

Also, the sap does contain high levels of latex which can affect latex allergy sufferers should they handle a damaged plant. 

Hoya Carnosa Variegata Propagation

This easy-going plant is straightforward to propagate with the use of stem cuttings in either water or soil.

It’s best to reproduce the Hoya carnosa variegata during the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing.

Other propagation methods include using long-fiber sphagnum moss, but in this guide, we will be focusing on the main techniques. 

Stem Propagation of Hoya Carnosa Variegata in Water

This method is the most popular technique used to propagate the Hoya carnosa variegata.

You will need a clean, sterilized pair of scissors or a knife, gardening gloves, a clean jar, and some freshwater for this method.

You can sterilize the scissors with rubbing alcohol or pass the blades through a candle flame. 

1. Snip a Healthy Stem From the Main Plant Below the Node

Using your scissors, snip a healthy stem off the main plant just below the node (where the leaves appear on the stem). The stem should be approximately 4 inches (10 cm) long.

2. Place the Stem Into a Jar of Tepid Water

Gently place the cutting into a jar of fresh water. Ensure the water is not too cold as this will cause shock. The water should be tepid or room temperature.

3. Place the Cutting in a Warm Area 

Position the cutting in a warm area away from cold drafts and ensure it receives plenty of indirect sunlight.

Do not allow the water to drop below the node; top up with fresh water regularly. 

4. Transfer the Rooted Plant Into a New Container With Fresh Soil

Rooting can take four to eight weeks and can be affected by season and temperature conditions.

Once the plant has developed a proper root system, you can transplant it into a new container with fresh soil.

Follow the usual care guide required for mature Hoya Carnosa Variegata. 

Stem Propagation of Hoya Carnosa Variegata in Soil

The tools required for this propagation method are a pair of sterile scissors, gardening gloves, plant container, and potting soil. 

1. Snip a Stem 4 inches Long From the Parent Plant.

Use your sterilized scissors to cut a mature stem from the parent plant.

Ensure you have snipped the stem just below the node found where the leaves protrude from the stem. The stem should have two to three nodes on it

2. Dip the Cutting Into Rooting Powder 

Remove the lower leaves and carefully dip the bottom of the cutting into some rooting powder. Gently tap off any excess powder. 

3. Fill a Plant Container With Moist Potting Soil

Fill the plant container with potting soil. The soil should have good drainage as the Hoya carnosa variegata enjoys moist, airy soil.

Ensure the node is in contact with the soil – but not the leaves as this can lead to rot. 

4. Place the Cutting Into the Soil and Position in a Warm Area

Take the cutting and place it in the soil. Place the container in a warm spot with lots of access to indirect sunlight.

To provide constant warmth, place the plant pot in a plastic box. Water little and often. The cutting can take up to four weeks to root.

Once rooting has occurred, you can transfer the new plant to a bigger pot. 

Repotting Hoya Carnosa Variegata 

Although this plant enjoys a snug container fit, there will be occasions when repotting is required.

When To Repot Hoya Carnosa Variegata 

The soil should be changed every two years to ensure the Hoya carnosa variegata is receiving sufficient nutrients. 

Signs That It’s Time To Repot 

  • Yellowing leaves
  • Soil not retaining moisture
  • Roots peeping through the container’s drainage holes
  • Watering required more frequently

How To Repot Hoya Carnosa Variegata 

You will need the following tools to repot your Hoya carnosa variegata successfully: gardening gloves, new container, fresh potting mix, and water. 

1. Select a Pot One Size Larger Than the Current Container

The Hoya carnosa variegata prefers a snug-fitting container for its roots. 

2. Gently Tip the Plant Out of Its Pot Into Your Hand

Use your fingers to loosen the roots and potting mix surrounding the roots. Avoid breaking roots by tugging too hard.

3. Half Fill the New Pot With Fresh Moist Potting Soil 

Make an indentation in the soil about the size of your fist and place the root ball into it.

Add potting soil to the container until the roots are covered and the container is full. Press the soil down firmly around the base of the plant.

4. Water Thoroughly and Ensure the Soil Is Kept Moist

Water thoroughly making sure that excess water is draining well.

5. Keep Repotting to a Minimum

The Hoya carnosa variegata does not appreciate being repotted. This plant is used to growing in small spaces and enjoys being a little rootbound.

Repotting unnecessarily can cause this plant to die from the stress of repotting.

If your Hoya carnosa variegata requires fresh soil, replace the soil and put the plant back into the same pot. 

Hoya Carnosa Variegata Common Problems & Solutions That Work

Hoya Carnosa Variegata Common Pests

Although the Hoya carnosa variegata is considered a hardy plant, it can struggle with the usual pests seen in most household plants.

After all, bugs are not quite so picky when it comes to their next vegetarian lunch. 

Aphids 

Signs of Trouble 

New growth is damaged or stunted.

Solution 

Use neem oil to make a nontoxic pesticide suitable for use indoors. Mix 1 quart of lukewarm water, 2 teaspoons of neem oil, and 1 teaspoon of dish soap.

Pour into a spray bottle, and apply generously to the plant’s leaves. 

Prevention 

Apply the neem oil solution to the plants’ foliage weekly to keep aphids and pests at bay.

Regularly check the leaves and flowers for signs of pests as this can reduce the possibility of an infestation. 

Mealybugs 

Signs of Trouble 

Sooty secretions from the mealybugs can be seen on the plants’ leaves. Untreated, this leads to stunted growth and weakened stems.

Solution 

Use a garlic spray to rid your Hoya carnosa variegata of mealybugs.

Take two bulbs of garlic, and puree in a blender. Add 1 teaspoon of dish washing soap, and pour the mixture into a spray bottle.

Fill the bottle with warm water, and shake well. Spray the solution generously onto the plant’s leaves and stems.

Prevention 

Apply the garlic solution weekly to prevent further infestation, and avoid excessive misting as this can attract these moisture-loving bugs.

Regularly check the underside of new leaves and stems for mealybugs.

Hoya Carnosa Variegata Common Diseases 

This is not a plant that is often plagued with disease, but even hardy plants have their weaknesses.

Botrytis Blight 

Signs of Trouble 

Leaves develop gray patches, crumple, and turn spongy.

Solution 

Using sterilized scissors, remove and dispose of the damaged leaves and flowers.

Repot the Hoya carnosa variegata in fresh soil, and apply a fungicide (this one controls insects, mites, and a variety of diseases) to the entire plant. 

If the fungal infection has affected the entire plant, dispose of the whole plant to prevent the fungus from spreading to neighboring plants. 

Prevention 

Regular inspection and removal of leaves at the first sign of infection will help tremendously. Avoid excessive misting as this creates the perfect environment for fungi.

Root Rot 

Signs of Trouble 

Leaves start to turn yellow and brown and eventually fall off.

Solution 

Review your watering schedule as too much water is the leading cause of root rot.

Replant the Hoya carnosa variegata in fresh soil and check for root rot by inspecting the roots.

If they have gone black and mushy, it’s time to dispose of the plant as there is no cure.

Prevention 

The Hoya carnosa variegata should only be watered when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Less water is best as this plant can draw moisture from the air as well.  

Other Common Problems 

Yellowing Leaves

Signs of Trouble 

Leaves start to turn yellow and appear sickly.  

Solution 

Reduce watering and check the plant has not become waterlogged.

Also, ensure the Hoya carnosa variegata is not in full sunlight. Direct light can cause the leaves to scorch and turn yellow. 

Prevention 

Stick to a watering routine that follows the rule “less is more.” Allow the top layer of soil to dry between watering sessions. Place the plant out of direct sunlight. 

Brown Leaf Tips

Signs of Trouble 

Leaf tips turn brown and papery.  

Solution 

Check the plant has not become severely dehydrated caused by underwatering.

Water thoroughly and maintain a good watering schedule, once a week in spring and summer and once every two weeks in winter.

The humidity could also be too low, preventing the plant from drawing moisture from the air. Place the plant on a pebble tray filled with water to increase humidity.

Prevention 

Water the plant regularly when the top layers, 2cm -3 cm (1 inch), are dry.

Increase humidity levels with misting, group the plant with other plants, or use a pebble tray.

Hoya Carnosa Variegata Common Questions 

A potted Hoya carnosa variegata against a black background.

Is Hoya Carnosa Variegata a Wax Plant? 

Along with other Hoya varieties, this plant is known as a “wax plant” due to its striking wax-like look of the leaves.  

Is Hoya Carnosa Variegata the Same as Tricolor Hoya? 

The Hoya carnosa variegata and Tricolor Hoya are the same plant. Their leaves are green in the middle and have white edges.

New leaves are pink and green when they are young. The pink fades to white as the leaf matures. 

What’s the Difference Between Hoya Carnosa Krimson Queen and Krimson Princess? 

The chief difference is leaf design. The Krimson Princess has creamy leaves with a green outline, and the Hoya carnosa ‘Krimson Queen’ has green leaves with a white outline.

New growth is pink and green fading to white and green with maturity. 

Is Hoya Rubra the Same as Hoya Krimson Princess? 

The Hoya ‘Rubra’ is also known as the Hoya ‘Krimson Princess’. It produces variegated leaves in green, pink, and yellow.

What Is Hoya Carnosa Compacta Regalis Variegata? 

This is a variation of the Hoya plant and of the plant family Apocynaceae. This plant has pink flowers with a darker center. The flowers produce a chocolate-smelling scent at night. 

What Is Hoya Carnosa Crispa Variegata? 

This Hoya plant variation has light green, pink, and white leaves which curl tightly. It produces light pink flowers that give off a coffee-flavored scent.

What Is Hoya Carnosa Variegata Purple Pride?

This Hoya has interesting leaves. The new leaf growth is a pink and deep purple which slowly turns green with white edges once the leaves have reached maturity.

Flowers are white with purple centers that give a light sweet scent.

How Many Types of Hoya Carnosa Are There? 

Over 250 species of Hoya plant consist of vines, bushes, shrubs, and root climbers. Each Hoya plant has a unique leaf pattern and flower color.

Do Hoyas Like Small Pots? 

Hoyas grow in small spaces in their natural habitat and prefer their roots to have the security of a snug-fitting pot. 

Do Hoyas Like To Be Misted? 

These plants derive much of their moisture from the air and through their leaves.

This plant appreciates misting, but you should be careful as too much misting can lead to Botrytis blight. Also, avoid misting when the plant is budding or flowering. 

How Do I Get My Hoyas To Bloom? 

Once your Hoya has reached maturity, it may be encouraged to bloom by providing the correct lighting, warmth, and fertilizer. They bloom better in slightly rootbound conditions.

Does Hoya Carnosa Variegata Smell Good? 

Deliciously scented, the tiny clusters of flowers are described as smelling of honey or custard and sometimes even chocolate.  

5 Key Tips for Success With Hoya Carnosa Variegata

  1. Avoid over-watering. Check the top layer of soil is dry to the touch before getting out the watering can.
  2. Place the plant in a brightly lit area but out of the reach of direct sunlight to avoid scorched leaves.
  3. Keep the plant in a slightly smaller container. It likes to be semi rootbound and will flower better when it has reached maturity.
  4. This plant is not cold resistant and should not be kept in temperatures below 50℉ (10℃).
  5. Place a pebble tray filled with water under the Hoya carnosa variegata to increase humidity levels. This plant is subtropical and enjoys a warm, humid environment. 

Conclusion 

This deliciously scented tropical plant is ideally suited for plant lovers of every capacity. Beginner and expert gardeners alike all agree it’s the number one plant for ease and beauty.

Follow the instructions in this care guide to ensure your Hoya carnosa variegata is happily trailing around your heart and home for many years to come.

Graphic outlining care of Hoya carnosa variegata