Hoya carnosa care is easy, and it’s one of the reasons why this plant has been a houseplant staple for so long! Between the gorgeous, thick leaves and the ease of propagation, the hoya carnosa will make an excellent addition to your plant collection.
The complete hoya carnosa care guide you need for this classic plant
Today I’m talking all about the hoya carnosa plant, which is one of few plants that I probably hear and see referred to by its scientific name rather than a colloquial name. There are many different types of hoya plants—hoya is the genus, apocynaceae is the family—but today I’m focusing specifically on hoya carnosa.
Some of the colloquial names you’ll hear the hoya carnosa referred to are wax plant, waxy leaf plant, and porcelain flower plant. This species of hoya plant is native to Eastern Asia and Australia, though it has been a popular houseplant around the world for decades.
What does a hoya carnosa plant look like?
There are many different cultivars of hoya carnosa. The most classic version of this plant is the one most commonly associated with the name “wax plant.” And it’s the hoya carnosa I have! The long, somewhat curly, and thin vines on the plant produce succulent-like green leaves with faint white speckles.
There are also some lovely variegated versions of this plant that look very similar to the classic hoya carnosa. On the variegated versions, the leaves aren’t solid green. Instead, they have mixed patterns of white, pink, yellow, and green.
You might see these versions referred to as hoya carnosa variegata tricolor, hoya carnosa rubra, and crimson prince, princess, queen, etc. I’ve seen these varieties in local nurseries, so they shouldn’t be too hard to come by.
There is another version of the hoya carnosa plant called the hoya carnosa compacta—aka the rope plant. This is a gorgeous and unique-looking plant that I don’t want to talk too much about in this post because it really deserves its own post! I have one of these and am planning to write a post on it in the future.
No matter the variety of hoya carnosa, these plants generally look lovely in hanging baskets or high on shelves. They will trail and vine with their stems that can grow up to 10 feet long! I love the way the hoya carnosa I got my mom is vining up the planter, as well as trailing. It creates a very full look that I’d love to train mine to achieve!
How much light does a hoya carnosa plant need?
Hoya plants in general like bright light, but the Hoya carnosa plants are more tolerant of a wider range of lighting conditions. It will grow in low, medium, and high light environments. But like most plants, it won’t thrive in low light, and it definitely won’t flower. (Though I’m never terribly concerned about getting my indoor plants to flower.)
I have my hoya carnosa hanging in a planter in a bright corner of my home that gets late morning, afternoon, and early evening sun. If your plant is outside, be careful that it doesn’t get too much direct light. This can burn the leaves. I’ve decided to keep mine indoors year-round. (The planter it’s in below is a DIY too, see my stainless steel hanging planter DIY post!)
How to produce flowers on a hoya carnosa
Usually I’d segue right into watering needs, but since flowering on a hoya carnosa is so closely related to light, I figured it is best to talk about that now. These plants produce gorgeous star-shaped pink and white flowers when they have ideal lighting conditions. These flowers are why one of the common names for the hoya carnosa is the “porcelain flower plant.”
Typically only mature plants bloom—those that are a couple of years old or more. Mine hasn’t bloomed yet, but when it does bloom, it will be in the spring, summer, or early fall. The flowers form from the long curly bare vines that the hoya carnosa produces. (Don’t cut these—it’s also where the new leaf growth forms!)
When you notice flower buds beginning to form, make sure you don’t move the plant. Even minor changes in lighting conditions can lead the flower buds to die. Misting the plant to increase humidity can help the buds bloom.
Water and soil needs for the carnosa
This plant really shows its patience when it comes to watering. You should water your plant when the top few inches of the soil dries out. Its succulent-like tendency to store water in its leaves and stems help keep it happy when you might forget to water.
When thinking about watering needs to keep your hoya carnosa care on track, just remember that less is more. Overwatering is a sure way to kill the plant. This means that a well-draining soil is the best option. Mine is planted in an indoor potting soil mix that came amended with perlite—and I added coco coir to the mix as well.
This plant prefers a drainage hole, but I have mine in a hanging planter without a drainage hole. Therefore, I’ll take extra care not to overwater. And I put a layer of perlite in the bottom of the planter before planting it. See my post about how to plant in pots without drainage holes for a step-by-step! Water less in the winter.
Temperature, humidity, and fertilizer needs
Hoya carnosa plants tolerate a wide variety of normal household temperatures, but they like to be on the warmer side. Try to keep them above 65 degrees to ensure they remain the happiest. This plant also loves humidity, so you can mist the leaves, add a tray with pebbles, or add a room humidifier.
Another great and easy way to increase humidity for your houseplants is to group them together. Especially plants that all enjoy high humidity—this will make it easier to isolate your spraying and misting, and the group of plants will help keep humidity levels indoors just a tad higher.
You can choose to fertilize your hoya carnosa plant with a regular house plant fertilizer. I use a diluted liquid fertilizer that I just add to my watering can every month or so. You don’t need to fertilize in the winter.
Repotting and pruning care tips
All houseplants need a bit of care on the repotting and pruning front, but some plants are far easier to maintain than others. The hoya carnosa is one of those easy plants! They can stay in the same pot for years because they like being root bound (also called “pot bound”).
Being snug in its spot can also encourage a hoya carnosa to flower. But when it’s time to repot your plant, make sure you only size a few inches up. If your pot is too big, your plant’s root ball could drown in soil that is retaining too much water.
Problems, issues, and pests to look out for
Look for the typical houseplant pests: mealybugs, fungus gnats, aphids, and fungus mites, for example. You can control fungus gnats by avoiding overwatering and using sticky stakes. I love and use sticky stakes all the time to help keep gnat issues at bay. (Read more about these nifty things in my post on the best cheap gifts for plant lovers.)
As far as spider mites go, these nasty things can really do a number on plants. I have a whole post on how to get rid of spider mites on plants, but the problematic thing is that they can do damage quickly. So once you notice the webbing of spider mites, you need to spring into action!
To prevent spider mite infestations to begin with, mist your plant regularly with water. Spider mites hate cool, wet conditions and thrive in hot, dry conditions. That’s why they love houseplants, especially over the winter!
Hoya carnosa propagation steps
Since hoya carnosa care is so easy and the plant is so gorgeous, you’re going to want to make a few more plants by propagating it. Either to keep for yourself or to give to friends! Propagating a hoya carnosa is easy.
To propagate a hoya carnosa, take a clipping from a stem. Make sure the cutting has a few leaves. Plant these in potting soil and keep them moist to encourage rooting. You can also root a stem cutting in water, watch the roots develop, and then plant it. The best time to propagate a hoya carnosa cutting is in the spring or summer.