Hindu Rope Plant (#1 Care & Propagation for UNIQUE Cultivar!)

twisted foliage of a hindu rope plant, Hoya carnosa 'Compacta', a cultivar of Hoya carnosa, a hoya with pink flowers

The Hindu Rope Plant (scientific name: Hoya carnosa ‘Compacta’, a cultivar of Hoya carnosa) is a vining Hoya with uniquely twisted leaves. It is also sought-after for its clusters of fragrant, pink-white flowers. 🙂

In terms of care, the Hindu Rope Plant has 2 main enemies that it is susceptible to:

  • overwatering, and
  • pests like spider mites and mealybugs that like to hide in your plant’s nooks and crannies.

For a thriving Hindu Rope plant, choose a well-draining soil and water only when the topsoil is dry. Apply a dilute neem oil solution to ward off pests. Bright, indirect light, high humidity (ideally 60%), and light fertilization are needed for this plant to bloom and thrive.

In this article, we’ll give you the low down on everything you need to know to grow a healthy Hindu Rope Plant.

What is the Hindu Rope Plant?

The Hindu Rope Plant is a cultivar of the Hoya Carnosa with unique foliage. It has succulent-like leaves that grow in opposing pairs, and appear bunched up in parts and twisted in others.

This interesting growth pattern gives your plant its nickname, Krinkle Kurl. It is also loved for its chocolatey-scented clusters of pink-white flowers. 🙂

Types of Variegated Hindu Rope Plant

A quick note on variegated versions of the Hindu Rope Plant – they are rarer than the “original” Hoya Carnosa, but require the same care.

Hoya Carnosa ‘Regalis’

The Hoya Carnosa ‘Regalis’ (or Hoya Carnosa ‘Crispa Variegata’) has the same contorted leaves as the Hindu Rope, except the leaf margins are cream and pink. It is apparently a spontaneous mutation from the Hoya Krimson Queen, which boasts the same pink, cream, and green color palette.

Top view of a small potted Hoya Carnosa 'Regalis', which also has twisty leaves like the Hindu Rope, but with cream and pink leaf margins.
The Hoya Carnosa ‘Regalis’ also has twisty leaves like the Hindu Rope, but with cream and pink leaf margins.

Hoya Carnosa ‘Mediopicta’

A much rarer variegated version of the Hindu Rope is the Hoya Carnosa ‘Compacta Medio-picta’ (what a mouthful!). Reportedly a mutation of the Hoya Krimson Princess, this stunning plant has cream-colored leaves and green edges.

Caring for a Hindu Rope Plant

Light

The Hindu Rope Plant does best in lots of indirect light. A couple of hours of direct light is also beneficial, but don’t overdo it. Too much light and they bleach out!

When kept indoors, place your plant near a South-facing window, the brightest spot indoors.

While they can tolerate lower light, you’ll notice them growing at a snail’s pace 🙂 Their leaves will also be less lush and healthy.

Another option is to use a grow light at 800 – 1,200 foot candles.

Look at those densely-packed leaves!

Water

You’ll find that your plant needs much less watering than the average Philodendron or Monstera. Our plant needs watering once every 2-3 weeks.

This is partly because your Hindu Rope Plant stores water in its leaves. They like to almost completely dry out between waterings, making them a perfect low-maintenance plant.

You’ll notice that they require much more water during the active growing seasons (spring and summer) and this drops off significantly in autumn and winter.

1. When to water

Water your Hindu Rope Plant only when you notice that its leaves are starting to wrinkle slightly. You can use your finger to check the moisture level at this time; the topsoil should be dry.

How often this is depends on your climate, evaporation rates, growth phase of the plant, etc. So it’s better to use visual cues to help you determine when to water.

On the other hand, stiff leaves indicate that the plant is well watered.

As your plant slows down its growth dramatically and may even go dormant in the colder months, its water requirements will also drop significantly.

Pay careful attention not to overwater your plant. Overwatered plants result in root rot and flower drop.

If you’re in doubt, err on the side of underwatering.

2. How to water

When watering, use the soak and dry method.

If you have a large plant, you can place it in the sink and water it slowly and deeply, until the soil is saturated and excess water is escaping from the drainage hole.

Then, allow it to sit there, with water in its saucer for about 5 minutes. This gives your plant a little more time to absorb water.

After 5 minutes is up, empty the saucer and return your plant to its original position.

Don’t let it sit in stagnant water for more than those 5 minutes!

The crinkly, thick leaves of a Hindu Rope Plant (Hoya Carnosa 'Compacta') and a ball of pink-white start-shaped flowers
The crinkly, thick leaves of a Hindu Rope Plant (Hoya Carnosa ‘Compacta’).
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Container

We like using a small-sized container that keeps your plant’s roots packed together. They enjoy being slightly root-bound.

Too large a pot not only increases the chance of overwatering but also slows down its growth rate.

Always choose a planter with drainage holes.

In terms of material, a terracotta pot is a good option as the material is porous, helping to aerate the roots and promote evaporation.

Humidity

As with most tropical plants, the higher the humidity, the better. While your plant can tolerate (barely) average room humidity, you’ll notice that its growth rate plummets.

Dry winter air can be particularly challenging. Place close attention to your plant during this time.

Ideally, use a humidifier and aim for 60% for healthy growth. Low humidity causes your plant to lose the lush, waxy gloss on its leaves.

Temperature

Warm and stable temperatures are ideal for your Hindu Rope Plant.

Keep temperatures above 60 degrees F (16 degrees C) at all times, with above 70 degrees F (18 degrees C) being ideal. Protect your plant from air vents and drafty doors.

Hoyas are not cold-hardy, so don’t place your plant outdoors if you experience cold winters.

Flowering

So you’ll need to wait about 2-3 years for your plant to mature before it flowers, but it’s worth the wait!

You’ll find pink balls of star-shaped fuzzy flowers packed together tightly, seemingly appearing out of nowhere.

This is because the flower spurs (peduncles) are usually hidden amongst its densely packed, contorted leaves… so you probably won’t know what your plant has in store until it happens!

side view of The crinkly, thick leaves of a Hindu Rope Plant (Hoya Carnosa 'Compacta') and a ball of pink-white start-shaped flowers
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So why isn’t my Hindu Rope Plant blooming?

If you are hankering for blooms and it just hasn’t happened again even though you’ve waited a few years, make sure that:

  • Your plant is getting sufficient light. This is the #1 reason why your plant hasn’t bloomed yet. Use a grow light if you need to supplement low light conditions.
  • Don’t cut off the flower peduncles as they re-use the same peduncles to flower season after season!
  • Use a light phosphorous fertilizer, which encourages blooming. Read on to the Fertilizer Section for more details.

Growth

Your Hindu Rope Plant starts off with little upright growing stems. As their foliage grows, the sheer weight of its densely-packed leaves causes the stems to hang downwards.

We love this look though – cascading vines look the prettiest, in our humble opinion 🙂

But you can also choose to support its heavy leaves by letting it grow up a trellis!

While this plant is a slow grower in general, it’s funny because once they have some length they tend to grow a bit faster. So the early months are the most tedious.

In general, expect your plant to grow about 6 inches (15cm) a year.

Be patient, good things are coming your way.

Soil or Growing Medium

Being epiphytes, your plant grows in nature in between rocky crevices, lodging itself in bits of sand, leaf litter, and organic debris.

Unlike plants that grow on the rainforest floor, they aren’t surrounded by soil!

So what’s important when choosing a potting mix is to pick one that is lightweight and well-draining. Soggy, heavy soil will destroy a healthy plant.

We like using:

Also, do yourself a favor and choose a high-quality indoor potting mix. It makes a huge difference.

Fertilizer

Being a light feeder, your plant doesn’t like to be overfertilized. Remember, it doesn’t typically grow in organically-rich soil in nature, rather takes what it can get in terms of leaf litter and organic debris 🙂

At the same time, it does benefit from a little nutrition boost. We like using a liquid houseplant fertilizer, at half strength, once a month. Using a high-phosphorous fertilizer is a good idea to encourage blooms too.

(The one we recommended is 7-9-5, which is 7 parts Nitrogen to 9 parts Phosphorous to 5 parts Potassium). This is ideal for your Hindu Rope Plant, and nutritionally complete!

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What if my plant is overfertilized?

Your plant may be overfertilized if you notice dry and crispy leaf edges, small new leaves, and a white residue on the soil’s surface. Flowers will also fail to form when overfertilized.

To remedy this, you’ll need to thoroughly flush out the build-up of fertilizer salts in your plant’s soil the next time you water.

To do this, bring your plant to the sink, and allow the water to drain through your plant a few times.

In extreme cases, you may want to repot your plant in fresh soil altogether.

Repotting

We seldom repot our Hindu Rope Plant. It is a plant that likes being slightly root-bound, and one that grows quite slowly.

So overgrowing its pot is a rare occurrence!

However, when you do repot,

  • Do this in Spring.
  • Use fresh soil, as soil nutrients deplete over time.
  • Water your plant the day before repotting to reduce the risk of transplant shock.
  • Choose a new container wisely – upsize just 2 inches (5cm) bigger. Too big a pot leads to overwatering as there is too much unused soil that holds on to moisture, and also leads to slower growth.

Toxicity

Rejoice! Your Hindu Rope Plant is not toxic to animals and humans.

However, like all Hoyas, your plant produces a milky-white, sticky sap that can be irritating to sensitive skin. Do use gardening gloves when pruning and propagating this beauty.

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Propagation

Propagating your plant via stem cuttings is so easy, once you have a healthy and established plant.

It also has quite a high success rate when you do it in Spring.

Our only caution is that growing a plant through stem cuttings still takes a while, as your plant is slow-growing, especially when young.

Here’s how!

Propagation through stem cutting

  1. First, prepare your tools:
    • gardening gloves
    • clean garden shears (use 70% isopropyl to sterilize)
    • a small pot filled with potting mix (we use indoor potting soil and orchid bark).
    • a humidifier if you have one, otherwise a clear plastic bag and chopsticks.
  2. Look for a healthy part of the stem, around 4 inches long (10cm) with 3-4 leaves.
  3. Using your garden shears, make a clean cut.
  4. Take the bottom-most leaf off, and place the stem cutting into a pot of potting mix. Ensure no leaves are below the soil’s surface.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 so that you have a couple of stem cuttings in the same pot.
  6. Keep the pot in a warm spot with plenty of indirect light.
  7. If you have a humidifier, place this next to the pot and set at 70%. If not, place a clear plastic bag on top of the pot. You can use chopsticks to hold the plastic bag in place.
  8. Make sure to remove the plastic bag an hour a day for fresh air.
  9. Keep the potting soil lightly moist but not waterlogged.
  10. In about 2-3 weeks, your stem cuttings should start growing roots.
  11. Now, treat your new plant like any other Hindu Rope Plant.

Propagation through Seeds

This plant is extremely challenging to grow from seeds, and will also take a very long time. Leave this to the experts.

Pruning

Every Spring, use clean garden shears to trim off leggy stems, and dead or damaged leaves.

The most important part?

Don’t trim off peduncles, as your plant will re-use the same spurs to re-flower every season. Let old flowers fall off naturally.

Common Pests and Diseases

Mealybugs and spider mites are the most common pests. On the other hand, fungal diseases arising from an overwatered Hoya are the most common disease.

Overcoming pests is difficult for your Hoya Carnosa Compacta, but is possible with some patience. Repeated applications of neem oil with some dish soap is a good way to get rid of these pests.

Persistence is key, but wash your plant between applications to that high concentrations of neem oil don’t build up on the leaves.

Check out our step-by-step guide on using neem oil as a pesticide.

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02/17/2024 04:00 pm GMT

Spider mites

Spider mites are very small, so it’s not easy to observe them directly without a microscope. Instead, look out for pale, grey stipplings on leaves or fine webbing on leaf undersides and near the stems as signs of a spider mite infestation.

These sap-sucking aphids (not technically insects) use sharp mouthparts to pierce plant tissue and feed on sugary sap. This deprives your plant of nutrients.

They also like to feed on chlorophyll, which accounts for the discoloration of leaves when they are present.

Mealybugs

Overwatered plants attract mealybugs, so if you need any incentive to up your watering game, this is your sign! (Watering tips here).

Mealybugs suck on your plant’s sap, depriving them of nutrients. What’s more, they secrete sticky honeydew as they feed, which in turn attracts sooty mold, a fungal disease. All the more reason to avoid these pests.

You’ll know you have mealybugs on your hands when you see oval white bugs that are 1/10 – 1/4 inch (0.25 – 0.6 cm) long with segmented bodies. From afar, they appear like bits of cotton wool.

They like to cluster together in hard-to-reach areas. This one is going to be hard to find, as those Hindu Plant leaves leave so many finding places for these bugs. 🙁

Here are 3 ways to kill mealybugs.

Our recommendation? Use a dilute neem oil solution as a preventative measure to ward off pests. Also, be careful not to overwater your plant so as to not attract these bugs.

mealybugs on a plant
Mealybugs on a different plant

Troubleshooting

Yellow leaves

Yellow leaves are usually a sign of an overwatered plant. Root rot may also be a consequence of overwatering. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to save your overwatered plant.

Wrinkled leaves

Wrinkled leaves are a sign that your plant needs a drink. Water your plant at the first sign of a slight wrinkling.

Frequently Asked Questions

A small Hindu Rope Hoya plant in a grey pot.

Are Hoya Carnosa ‘Compacta’ rare?

No, the Hindu Rope Plant is a fairly common plant that may occasionally be available at your local nursery.

However, the variegated versions are less common, especially the cream-colored Compacta Medio-pictaone!

Etsy is a good place to buy a pot.

Why is it called Hindu Rope Plant?

This plant is called the Hindu Rope Plant for two reasons. First, they have tightly-packed, crinkled leaves that come together on vines that look like a rope.

Second, the Hoya Carnosa Compacta is from Southern India, so Hindu refers to the majority religion in its native country.

Do Hoyas like coffee grounds?

There’s been some discussion that adding coffee grounds to potting soil is beneficial for Hoyas. This claim is because some Hoyas enjoy a slightly acidic to neutral potting mix.

However, most peat-based potting mixes are already slightly acidic, so we do not see the need for this, especially when using the potting mixes that we have recommended.

Also, note that coffee grounds can attract fungi growth due to their being high in organic compounds.

Altogether, we caution against adding coffee grounds to your Hoya’s potting mix. There’s no added benefit!

Wrapping Up

The Hindu Rope Plant is a beautifully unique plant, with contorted and twisty foliage. While easy to care for, use a dilute neem oil solution to ward off pests, and be careful not to overwater.

If you loved the Hoya Carnosa ‘Compacta’, check out more Hoya varieties below!

Similar Plants and Varieties

Deborah

Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.