Follow these easy tips to learn how to care for your Hoya tricolor. Also known as the Hoya carnosa ‘Krimson Queen,’ this gorgeous houseplant has thick, waxy leaves rimmed with white and cream variegation. It’s known for its pink-ish stems and sweet smelling flowers (if you’re lucky enough to get it to bloom!).
A cultivar of the classic Hoya carnosa, tricolor is a non-toxic, easy to care for plant that thrives in bright sunlight. Like other hoyas, the tricolor would be happy climbing up a trellis or trailing over the edges of a pot in your home.
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Hoya Tricolor Care Cheat Sheet
|Hoya Tricolor, Krimson Queen, Crimson Queen, Hoya carnosa variegata, wax plant, porcelain flower
|6-8 feet indoors, up to 20 feet outdoors
|Bright, indirect light
|Chunky, well-draining soil
|Every 14 days, when the top half of soil is dry
|Stem propagation (with nodes) in water, soil, or moss
|No, hoyas are safe for humans and pets
Background and Natural Habitat
Hoya carnosa plants belong to the Apocynaceae family, like milkweed and dogbane. They’re evergreen, semi-succulents native to hot, humid environments in Australia and Eastern Asia. Carnosas (and other hoyas) are often called wax plants, a nod to their thick, waxy leaves. In the wild, they’re epiphytes that grow on the trunks or branches of trees.
Indoors, hoya carnosas are classic houseplants that have been in cultivation for over 200 years. If your grandma had a Hoya plant hanging in her kitchen, it was probably a carnosa. My OG green Hoya carnosa is pictured below.
Varieties of Hoya Carnosa
Horticulturalists can accomplish a lot in 200 years. All that research and experimentation has led to many different carnosa cultivars with variations in leaf shape, leaf color, and flower color. Popular varieties of the Hoya carnosa include the Compacta (rope plant), Krimson Princess, Krinkle-8, Chelsea, and the topic of today’s post – the Tri color (or Krimson Queen).
Hoya Tricolor vs Krimson Queen
The Hoya tricolor and Krimson Queen are the same plant! Feel free to use the names interchangeably, as I’ve done in this post. You may also see it spelled Crimson Queen, with a “C” instead of a “K.” Don’t you love plant names? 😂
Hoya Tricolor vs Krimson Princess
The Hoya carnosa tricolor (Krimson Queen) is commonly mistaken for the Krimson Princess. It makes sense, as both of the plants are Hoya carnosa cultivars. Both have thick, waxy leaves, pink-ish stems, and variegated coloring. You’ll often see Krimson Princess plants mislabeled as Hoya tricolor.
The Tricolor or Krimson Queen is known for its creamy white coloring, which typically wraps around the edges of the leaves. The inside of the leaves are deep green, similar to that of a traditional carnosa. If your tricolor plant is happy, you might see a few all white or light pink leaves too. Though new stems are pink, they turn to green as they age. The Hoya Tricolor or Krimson Queen is on the left in the photo below.
Unlike the Tricolor, the Hoya carnosa ‘Krimson Princess,’ has green around the edges of the leaves. The inner portion of the leaves features different shades of yellow, pink, and cream. Krimson Princess stems stay pink-ish, even when they’re older. You can see the Krimson Princess on the right in the photo above.
One way to remember the difference is, “a queen wears a white crown, and a princess wears a white gown.” Basically, the Krimson Queen has a crown of white about the leaf, and the Princess has white (and yellow) in the middle.
How to Care for Hoya Tricolor Plant
Hoya tricolor plant care is pretty easy. They can thrive in a variety of lighting conditions and love humidity. To grow Hoya tricolor Krimson Queen plants, you’ll need soil with good drainage, a bright window (or grow lights), water, and a positive attitude.
How much light does a Hoya tricolor need?
Hoyas prefer bright indirect light. Make sure the light is bright enough! Though the plant can grow in low light conditions, without bright light, the variegated coloring on your carnosa tricolor may fade. New leaves will look more green (like a classic carnosa). Better light can also bring out more pink variegation in your Krimson Queen.
Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, but if you gradually expose your plant to direct sunlight then it can tolerate a bit. If you notice that the leaves have developed brownish spots that look like burns, your plant is too close to the light. Move it further away from the window to prevent further scorching.
I keep my Hoya Krimson Queen next to an east-facing window above my shower. I have other happy hoyas next to north- and west-facing windows. If you have a sunny south-facing window, you may want to place your tricolor a couple feet away from the window. This will keep it out of direct sunlight that might burn the leaves.
If you don’t have a great spot indoors, add a grow light or swap a standard lightbulb for a full spectrum lightbulb.
How often should I water my Hoya Krimson Queen?
The Tricolor Hoya is semi-succulent, so it prefers to be a bit dry. Water the plant when the top half of soil is dry. For me, this is about once every two weeks during the summertime. If your plant is outdoors in the heat, you may need to water more frequently.
Be careful not to overwater your tricolor, as this can cause root rot or yellowing leaves. When in doubt, use a moisture meter or err on the side of underwatering. Hoyas are drought tolerant plants, so you have a bit of wiggle room if you wait too long to water. I also recommend a pot with drainage holes (like a nursery pot), especially if you tend to get a bit heavy handed with the watering. This will allow excess water to flow out of the pot, away from the roots.
Note: your Krimson Queen won’t grow as quickly in the winter months, so make sure you’re watering less often than you would in the summertime.
Perfect Temperature for Hoya Tricolor Care
In the natural environment, hoyas love toasty temperatures. As indoor plants, your hoya tricolor will be happy with room temperatures between about 65 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have balmy summers or live somewhere tropical, your Krimson Queen will thrive on a covered porch.
When the nighttime lows stay above about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s safe to bring your hoya tricolor outside to your covered porch. Down here in North Carolina, people pull out their hoyas in late April and leave them outside until the fall. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people as my house has no shade. Maybe one day!
Hoyas like it hot and humid, and the Krimson Queen is no different. That’s part of why they thrive outdoors in North Carolina summers! It’s humid AF here.
Indoors, you may want to add a humidifier to your Hoya plant care routine. I don’t use one, but my Hoya carnosa tricolor lives in the bathroom next to my shower so it’s plenty humid already.
When you search for the perfect spot for your new indoor plant, be mindful of the HVAC vents. Place it a ways away from the vent as your Hoya tricolor won’t care for sudden temperature changes or blasts of cold air.
Best Soil for Hoya Tricolor
Hoya Tricolor soil should be a well-draining, chunky soil mix that’s rich in organic matter. Emphasis on chunky! Hoyas are semi-succulent plants, so they don’t like to be bogged down or soggy. If you’re using a commercially available potting soil, add some extra drainage with an extra scoop or two of perlite. I usually use a potting mix of standard houseplant soil with extra perlite, sphagnum moss, vermiculite, and either orchid bark or coco chips. All of my soil ingredients were purchased from the hardware store, or you can order online from somewhere like Amazon.
Fertilizer isn’t necessary if your soil is newer and rich in organic matter like worm castings or compost. Double check your potting soil before you fertilize. Some commercially available soils (like Miracle-Gro) contain a built-in slow-release fertilizer and adding too much fertilizer can burn the roots of your hoya tricolor.
If you have older soil or you want to accelerate growth, you can top dress with worm castings, add a few drops of SUPERthrive, or try a balanced houseplant fertilizer. I don’t often remember to fertilize my plants, but when I do I use a water soluble fertilizer so I can water them at the same time.
Feed your Hoya carnosa tricolor once a month during the growing season (spring and summer months). There’s no need to fertilize in the winter months as growth is much slower.
Growing the Hoya Tricolor Plant
With the proper care, your hoya tricolor plant will thrive indoors. It’ll do most of its growing when its warm, and you won’t see much action in the wintertime.
Hoya tricolor is a vining plant that can left to trail over a pot or trained to climb up a trellis. You’ll often see Krimson Queens sold as hanging plants.
Does the Hoya Krimson Queen grow fast?
These hoyas can grow pretty fast under the right conditions. However, growth will be slower if your plant doesn’t have access to bright light, or if it has a lot of white leaves (due to the lack of chlorophyll).
How big does the Hoya carnosa tricolor get?
In the natural environment, hoya carnosa vines can grow to 20 feet long. Indoors, established hoya carnosa variegata tricolor vines can be 6-8 feet long.
Pruning hoya tricolor
Give your hoya a trim with pruning shears when the vines get long or unruly. Regular trims can also help to stimulate growth and help fill out plants that have gotten leggy.
How do you propagate hoya tricolor Krimson Queen?
Take stem cuttings with at least one node and place them in water, soil, or moss until they grow roots. It’s technically possible for a leafless vine (with a node) to propagate and root, but it will take longer. I did it once with my Hoya pubicalyx, but three of four leafless vines died.
How often to repot Hoya tricolor?
Repotting is an important part of caring for a hoya plant. Plan to repot your Hoya tricolor every one to three years, ideally during the spring or summer, when the plant is growing. If you notice your Hoya tricolor is struggling despite having everything it needs, check to see if it needs an early repot.
Look at the roots before repotting. If they still have space to grow, you can just add some fresh soil and be on your merry way. Hoyas like to be comfy-cozy in their pots, almost root-bound. If the roots are growing out of the drainage holes or breaking out of the pot, it’s definitely time to upgrade to a larger size.
How do you repot a hoya carnosa variegata tricolor?
If you’re sure your hoya needs to be repotted, choose a new pot that’s 1-2 inches larger than the current pot. I usually use nursery pots and a decorative outer pot. This makes it easy to drain extra water or swap planters for home decor purposes. If you’re potting straight into the planter, be sure to choose one with drainage holes. Drainage is a must with hoyas!
Next, remove the plant and gently knock off some of the old soil. You don’t need to shake it or unwind the roots — they’ll navigate their new pot all on their own.
Fill the bottom of the new pot with fresh, chunky potting soil with excellent drainage. Then, add the plant and fill the top and sides with more soil. Gently press the soil down around the edges to stabilize the plant. Water it, then don’t touch it for about two weeks while your hoya tricolor adapts to the new environment.
Is the hoya tricolor toxic?
Unlike aroids (like philodendrons or pothos), Hoya Krimson Queen plants don’t have calcium oxalate crystals or other toxins in their stems or leaves. They’re not poisonous, so breathe easy if you’ve been searching for a pet-friendly indoor plant.
Is the Hoya Carnosa Krimson Queen safe for cats and dogs?
Yes! Thankfully, hoyas are non-toxic to both humans and pets. However, that doesn’t mean your cat or dog should be eating your hoya plants. If you have a nosy or nibbly fur baby, try to keep your indoor plants out of reach.
Common Problems with Hoya Carnosa Tricolor
The most common issues you might experience when growing and caring for your hoya tricolor are slow, leggy growth and a lack of variegation (both due to a lack of bright light), brown or yellow leaves (typically due to over or under-watering), root rot (due to overwatering), and houseplant pests.
I got the hoya tricolor below as part of a rehab bundle. It’s got a bit of sunburn, and the yellowing leaves are most likely due to being underwatered. It’s definitely salvageable, but the brown and yellow leaf spots will never go away.
Ugh, it seems like mealy bugs love to munch on hoyas. My tricolor is currently safe, but I had to quarantine my hoya australis and carnosa due to a minor mealy bug infestation. Thankfully regular spraying with diluted alcohol and wiping off the white fuzzies has been working. In addition to mealies, be on the lookout for the usual suspects: scale, spider mites, and thrips.
Why does my hoya tricolor have yellow leaves?
If the leaves are slowly turning yellow, your wax plant is probably underwatered. They may also be fading from too much direct sunlight.
Why are my hoya tricolor Krimson Queen leaf stems turning brown?
If you’re starting to see the petioles and base of the leaves on your carnosa tricolor turn brown and fall off, your plant is most likely overwatered.
How do you get pink leaves on a Hoya tricolor krimson queen?
More light, baby! Bright, filtered light will bring out all the yummy white and pink variegation in your hoya carnosa Krimson Queen.
Why isn’t my hoya carnosa Krimson Queen flowering?
There could be any number of reasons why your Krimson Queen isn’t flowering during the growing season. If your hoya tricolor is happy and healthy, you might be wondering why its not flowering.
First, how old is your plant? Only established hoya plants that are several years old will flower. Next, look at the pot. If it’s too big, your hoya will focus more on growing roots than on flowering. It’s hard, but sometimes waiting is all we can do.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Where do you buy a hoya tricolor online?
If I’m ordering houseplants online, I typically shop on Etsy. There are lots of reviews, pictures from buyers showing packaging and plant condition, and sellers are usually small businesses. Plus, there are tons of options.
Some growers also list their plants on Amazon. I spotted some krimson queens and hoya bundles when I was researching for this post.
Is the Hoya Krimson Queen rare?
The Hoya carnosa tricolor or krimson queen is one of the more common hoya plants, but you won’t see it everyday. If you’re lucky, you can pick one up at your local garden center or hardware store.
Are Hoya Tricolor Krimson Queen plants expensive?
Krimson Queens are becoming more readily available, so prices are very reasonable. Locally, you can expect to pay $10-15 for smaller pots (3-4 inches) and $20-$40 for larger hanging baskets of this Hoya plant.