How to Plant, Grow, and Care For Hoya Krimson Queen
Are you thinking of adding a Hoya Krimson Queen to your houseplant collection? These popular succulents are a great addition to any indoor garden. In this article, gardening expert and houseplant enthusiast Madison Moulton takes you through all you need to know about the Hoya Krimson Queen and their care.
For a versatile plant with a bit of an edge, look no further than the Krimson Queen Hoya. This established cultivar of the H. carnosa species is one of the oldest and most beloved of the bunch, displaying splashes of cream and pink that make it so sought-after.
With such an interesting look, you may think these plants are tricky to grow. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. With a bit of knowledge on what makes them tick, Krimson Queen will likely become the most low-maintenance houseplant in your collection.
Follow on to find out the quirks of this fascinating cultivar, from care to propagation and more.
Hoya Krimson Queen Plant Overview
Plant Type Houseplant
Species Hoya carnosa ‘Krimson Queen’
Native Area Eastern Asia, Australia
Exposure Bright indirect light
Watering Requirements Low
Pests & Diseases Aphids, spider mites, mealybug
Soil Type Airy and well-draining
What is it?
Krimson Queen is a cultivar of the popular species Hoya carnosa, one of the most widely grown Hoyas in the houseplant community. This genus is part of the Apocynaceae family and features more than 500 species of fascinating semi-succulent plants.
The waxy leaves of these plants have given them the common name Wax Plant and Wax Flower. Thanks to the sweet nectar-producing blooms, they are also known as Honey Plants. However, this variety is generally referred to by its cultivar name alone and it is likely the most well-known cultivar of the species.
You may also find this plant labeled by its previous name ‘Tricolor’. Trademarked in the 1950s, this was the original name of the cultivar until the trademark expired in the 1970s. The long history of Krimson Queen explains why the cultivar is so widespread and also why it is often used to create new cultivars and often compared to others in the genus.
The leaves of this popular cultivar are most famous for their variegation. The waxy foliage is edged in patches of cream or white, occasionally displaying touches of pink. These leaves grow on long vines that look wonderful planted in hanging baskets or trained up nearby structures.
All plants of the Hoya genus make wonderful houseplants that don’t require much maintenance in the right environments. They flower in summer indoors if their light needs are met, producing scented blooms that fill a room at night.
If you’re repotting your plant, moving it to a more decorative pot after purchasing, or have propagated and need to plant your cuttings, the process is very simple.
Start by choosing the right pot. As Hoyas are sensitive to overwatering and root rot, it’s best to choose materials that draw moisture away from the soil, such as terra cotta. If you’re planting in a basket, coir works best, but regular plastic containers are also suitable and make watering indoors far simpler.
In terms of size, don’t choose a pot much larger than the one the plant originally came in. Krimson Queen roots don’t mind being confined for short periods. The lack of space also directs the energy of the plant toward producing flowers rather than new roots, increasing your chances of blooming indoors.
The next factor to consider is soil. Hoyas need incredibly well-draining soil to accommodate their slightly epiphytic roots. Standard potting soil holds onto far too much moisture to keep these plants satisfied. You can either amend a houseplant potting mix with bark and perlite to improve drainage or use an orchid mix with some added perlite and coconut coir for better moisture retention.
Once you’re prepared, all you have left to do is plant. Remove the plant from its current container and tease the roots gently to release them. Replant at the same level as the previous soil, pressing down around the base to anchor the plant in place. Water after planting and make sure all the excess water drains before moving the pot to its final home.
How to Grow
When it comes to growth, the Krimson Queen isn’t too different from other varieties. It has the same basic needs as many plants in the same genus, but it’s still important to make sure to address those that are most important. Let’s take a deeper look at their light requirements, water, soil, temperature and more.
Even though Hoyas are semi-succulent – seemingly indicating that they can handle higher light levels – these plants are not suitable for areas with direct sun. They grow under trees in their native habitats and are used to a full day of dappled light.
Indoors, these conditions are most similar to bright indirect light. This type of light is found close to bright windows (east, south and west-facing) but out of the path of the direct sun. If the light is too bright, especially in the warmer months, the leaves are susceptible to burning and may develop brown patches.
On the other hand, they are also not suitable for areas with low light. This can lead to several problems that affect not only the look of the plant but also how it grows. Low light means less photosynthesis to help the plant complete essential functions for growth. In low light areas there is also less evaporation, exposing your plant to potential problems with root rot.
Possibly the most important reason to leave this variety out of low light areas is leaf color. In lower light, this cultivar will develop dull colors and lose the classic variegation that makes it so sought after. It will also not produce any clusters of flowers, requiring plenty of energy from the sun to put out blooms.
For the best growth possible, place your Krimson Queen in front of the brightest window of your home out of the path of the direct sun’s rays. If you have a light meter, this translates to 10 000–20 000 lux or 1 000 – 2 000 foot candles. Slightly lower light will not damage the plant much, but it is unlikely to flower prolifically when light is lower than what they are used to in their native habitats.
Thanks to their semi-succulent leaves, Krimson Queen plants store plenty of water in their leaves. In their native habitats, these moisture reserves make up for periods where there is lack of rain or where the roots cannot reach pockets of water around trees.
That means these plants are not heavy water users, requiring only occasional watering. On top of that, this particular species needs even less water in early spring, when they experience drought in their native habitats.
Make sure you leave the porous soil to dry out almost completely before watering again. You can test the soil with your finger or simply lift up the pot to determine moisture content by weight. If you’ve planted in hanging baskets, this can be slightly tricker, so you may want to invest in an easy-access moisture meter to stop you from having to pull the plant down to test the soil every few days.
Unfortunately, the low-maintenance water needs of this plant are often where new gardeners go wrong. Because these plants store water in their leaves and have epiphytic roots, they are incredibly susceptible to root rot and cannot be overwatered. Watering when the soil is still moist will quickly lead to this plant’s demise.
There are also other mistakes that can lead to waterlogged soil, like using a pot without drainage holes or planting in soil that holds too much moisture. Ensure all components of drainage are considered to prevent untimely death.
Soil is where these plants differ slightly from other houseplants you may be used to.
Firstly, let’s start with the similarities. All houseplants need a well-draining soil mix to stop water from collecting in the container. As there is less evaporation indoors, regular potting mix or garden soil is not suitable for these plants. They also need some nutrients in the mixture to maintain growth, without overdoing it and burning the roots.
Where this variety differs is in the level of drainage required to keep these plants happy. On the same level as succulents with their juicy and waxy leaves, they require far more drainage than most houseplants to prevent rotting in the roots.
For those who prefer to pre-purchase their soil mixes, look out for either a succulent and cacti soil mix, or an orchid mix. Although they aren’t designed for Hoyas, these mixes have the drainage levels required to keep these plants happy.
If you want your plant to truly thrive, it’s best to make your own soil mix perfectly suited to the needs of the plant. Start with one part orchid mix and combine with one part perlite and one part coconut coir. The perlite will increase aeration around the roots while the coconut coir retains enough moisture to stop them from drying out too quickly.
Temperature and Humidity
Krimson Queen is not majorly fussy about temperature and humidity, especially when compared to some other tropical houseplants. They can handle slightly colder weather than most, but generally prefer high temperatures and moderate to high humidity to grow their best.
Temperatures of around 75F throughout the year are suitable for this cultivar. Make sure temperatures don’t dip below 50F for long periods, or above 90F. They can tolerate short periods of temperature change well, but may also experience stress in sudden changes in conditions. The more consistent you can keep temperatures indoors, the better.
What these plants don’t appreciate is drafts, whether cold or hot. Drafts alter the conditions around the plant frequently and they are not fans of change. They take a long time to adjust to their environments and appreciate when temperature and humidity remain as stable as possible.
When it comes to humidity, your plant should be happy in anything above 50%. For stronger growth, you should aim for 60% and above, but your plant won’t struggle excessively if humidity is slightly lower.
Where you may find issues is if your humidity is very low – well below 40%. In these cases, you will need to adjust the humidity around the plant for it to grow successfully. Use a humidifier in a small room to increase the humidity when necessary.
Nutrients are a key part of any plant’s growth. The letters you see on fertilizer packaging (NPK) refer to the three main macronutrients needed by plants – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. They also require secondary nutrients like calcium and micronutrients like iron to perform all essential functions.
Krimson Queen Hoyas don’t require much additional nutrients throughout the growing season. These slow growers don’t use up nutrients quickly and can survive for several months without added nutrients, as long as they are planted in the right soil.
However, if you want this variety to flower frequently, fertilizer can be key to your success. Producing blooms takes a lot of energy and nutrients, so upping the light levels and adding some flower-specific nutrients can make all the difference.
If you already have some on hand, a balanced houseplant fertilizer is great for a quick top-up and all-around health of the plants. You can also try an orchid-specific fertilizer if you’re looking for improved blooms.
Look for a liquid fertilizer. These are quickly absorbed when watering the plants, providing instant access to the nutrients. Check the instructions on the packaging before applying to avoid burning the roots and leading to many problems above the soil.
If you want faster growth, you may want to consider providing support for the vines to grow along. They look wonderful in hanging baskets, but perform their best when conditions are closest to their native habitats, including in growth.
Add supports to the pot when repotting. If you stick any supports into the soil when the plant is established, you will likely damage the roots. Alternatively, attached supports to the outside of your pot and clip the vines to the edges to grow upwards.
Pruning is another task to consider to maintain the health of your plant. When vines become leggy, trim back the growth on all sides to maintain balance. Also trim any damaged or diseased vines as soon as they appear to improve overall growth.
Thanks to the long vines, this variety is quite easy to propagate. Stem cuttings are the most common option, but you can also try layering.
As long as your Krimson Queen Hoya has enough healthy vines to keep it going, you can trim off a section to grow into a brand new plant. You can either take cuttings for this purpose or simply use your cuttings after pruning (unless they are damaged or diseased).
Before you start, make sure any tools you use – such as pruning shears – are cleaned and disinfected. This prevents the spread of any problems to the parent plant and the cutting itself. Also clean the container you’re rotting in if you are recycling it.
Grab the parent plant and identify the perfect stem to cut. It should be completely disease free with plenty of healthy leaf growth.
Your removal will depend on the size and shape of the plant. For example, if one vine is growing longer than another, trim the section off that to propagate and bring balance to the parent plant. If one area has become too dense, remove an entire vine and trim it into several cuttings for propagation. The more you cut, the better your chances of success.
The section should be around 4 inches long. Cut just below the area where a leaf meets the stem and remove any leaves on the bottom half of the cutting, leaving two or three at the top.
Hoya cuttings root easily in water or soil, but water allows you to keep an eye on their progress. Simply place the cuttings in a glass of filtered water, ensuring the leaves remain above the water line to prevent rotting. Change the water every few days to limit bacterial build-up and transplant when the roots are one or two inches long.
Layering is another simple method that closely matches how these plants spread naturally. If you have a smaller plant and don’t want to risk shock from trimming too much of a stem off, this is the perfect option for you.
Start by filling a container with a mixture of coconut coir and perlite. This propagating mix can be used for a range of plants as it retains some moisture while draining the excess effectively and providing little resistance to root growth. Add water to the soil before testing the drainage levels and pre-moisten.
Place this pot right next to the existing container. Lay a longer vine along the soil in this new pot, making sure the heights are the same to limit potential disturbances. Use hair pins or bent paper clips to pin the vines to the soil. The stops it from moving around, encouraging the roots to settle.
Water with a spray bottle to moisten the soil lightly and maintain root growth. Avoid watering the leaves or allowing them to sit directly on the soil and this can cause them to rot, spreading to the rest of the vine.
Once the vine shows resistance to being moved or pulled, you’ve successfully rooted the vine. Trim it off after a couple of leaf nodes to continue growing on its own without any help from the parent plant.
As Hoyas don’t mind being confined to their pots for a while and don’t grow quickly, your Krimson Queen should be happy in the pot it came in for a while. They only require repotting when you see signs of struggle, such as:
- Roots growing through the drainage holes.
- Stunted growth.
- Disintegrated soil.
- Yellowing leaves.
This will usually occur every 2 years or so for young plants, and every 3-4 years for more established plants.
Start repotting in spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing. This provides the quickest recovery. Avoid repotting when the plant is flowering as this can damage the blooms and impact any more clusters that were on track to emerge soon.
Remove the plant from its pot and tease the roots gently to release them. Fill a new container with the right soil mix and place the plant inside, holding it at the same soil level it was previously. Add soil in any gaps and press down to secure the plant in place.
Water after repotting and return the plant to its previous spot to lower your chances of transplant shock.
Although they are considered low-maintenance plants, you may come across a few problems with your Krimson Queen. Look out for these issues and fix them as soon as you can to bring your plant back to good health:
- Yellow leaves: Typically caused by overwatering or lack of drainage in the pot or soil.
- Brown leaves: Brown patches close to the light source indicate problems with sunburn.
- Dull color/loss of variegation: Caused by lack of sunlight.
- Wilting: Overwatering or underwatering are likely causes.
- Leggy growth: Large gaps between the leaves are the result of a lack of sunlight.
- Pests: Watch out for aphids, mealybugs and spider mites.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can they grow in low light?
To maintain their color and variegation, this houseplant shouldn’t be left in low light. They can grow in moderate light, but if you’re looking for flowers, bright indirect light is best.
What do they smell like?
The smell of their flowers has been described as having chocolate or vanilla notes. The scent changes slightly as the flowers mature.
When do they flower?
In the right conditions, this variety will flower from spring to summer, with times depending on environment and performance.
If you’ve fallen in love with Hoyas, Krimson Queen is definitely one to consider adding to your collection. They can brighten any houseplant collection, and their variegated leaves will add interest to any indoor space. With these tips, you’ll have no trouble keeping them happy and healthy year-round.