Indian Rope Plant Identification


The Indian rope plant is a member of a group of succulents called wax plants. It grows in "ropes" of undulating, twisting leaves and bears little clusters of pink and white blossoms in spring or early summer. Its vining habit makes it a good plant for hanging baskets. It thrives indoors, even in the dry heat of centrally heated winter homes.


Hoya carnosa, or wax flowers, are members of a family of plants that includes stephanotis, milkweed and the crown flower, used in Hawaiian leis. Hoya carnosa are native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. They hang from understory and canopy trees, gathering water and food from the air around them. Hoya carnosa "Compacta" and Hoya carnosa "Argentea Picta" are two varieties of wax plants known as Hindu rope. Their contorted waxy leaves may be entirely green or variegated with pinks or creamy white. Flowers form on the leafless spurs that increase the length of the semi-woody vine each winter.


Indian rope plants reproduce easily by seed or stem cuttings. Cuttings need high humidity, 1500 to 2000 foot candles of light and temperatures from 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Seed pods ripen slowly and cuttings may take a month or more to root and begin to grow. Plants thrive in daytime temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.


Hoya carnosa prefer to be a bit root-bound, according to the International Hoya Association (IHA). Sterile soil and pots keep fungus-prone hoyas healthy. Liquid houseplant fertilizer applied during summer will keep them growing. Their soil should dry almost completely between watering in winter. The Mid-Florida Research & Education Center (MREC) suggests planting wax plants in soil with a high percentage of organic material (like a fibrous peat) to retain moisture and coarse particles (like pine bark or perlite) to provide good drainage. The IHA suggests a commercial potting mix labeled for succulents.


Aphids, mealy bugs and scale, all common indoor pests, find Indian rope plants attractive. These can all be controlled with insecticidal soap or other controls labeled for indoor use. The MREC lists botrytis blight of leaves as a problem where conditions are cool and moist, and when the plants do not get enough light. Stem and root rots arise from too much moisture or pathogens in soil, on cuttings or unclean potting and pruning tools. MREC recommends soil drenches for Pythium, Phytophthora spp. and Rhizoctonia rots with fungicides labeled for each pathogen.


In a study published in 2009 in HortScience, the journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, Hoya carnosa was identified as one of the most efficient of 28 plants studied in the removal of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including benzene, TCE, toluene, octane and terpine. The study was completed at the University of Georgia.

Keywords: tropical houseplant identification, Indian rope plant, Hindu rope plant, indoor pollution

About this Author

Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.