Congestion in the control plane of a network may be handled by an individual node. The individual node may, upon determining that congestion has been detected on a link to another node, commence implementing a compression scheme on control packets outgoing on the link. The individual node may also transmit a notification of congestion on the link to further nodes farther away from a controller. The further nodes, responsive to receiving such notifications, may commence implementing a compression scheme on control packets outgoing on a control channel that includes the link. The various nodes may also transmit notifications of congestion to a controller. The controller may, upon determining that a count of cases of congestion in the network exceeds a threshold, transmit control packets to the nodes, where the control packet contains instructions to the nodes to implement compression on outgoing control packets.