The string of hearts houseplant is a fantastic addition to your home and it’s beautiful when grown in a hanging basket. The best part about this houseplant is that it’s super easy to care for and doesn’t require too much attention.
If you’re eager to grow your very own string of hearts then you’ve come to the right place. In this care guide, we’ll be exploring everything about this plant such as its key characteristics, care requirements, optimal environmental conditions, how to grow it, as well as how to revive a dying one.
The string of hearts plant belongs to the Apocynaceae family and its botanical name is ceropegia woodii. It also goes by a few other names too such as rosary vine, sweetheart vine, collar of hearts, chain of hearts, and Chinese lantern. Please note that it isn’t related to the string of pearls houseplant.
This plant is native to South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland. So, you’ll need to be prepared to create a warm and humid environment. When cared for well, you can expect it to sprout long vines with pretty leaves that remain green throughout the year.
Its evergreen foliage cascades over the edge of the pot it’s grown in. This makes for one eye-catching houseplant and depending on the type of plant it may also be variegated. We’ll be discussing the multiple variations below.
Fun fact: It gets its common name from the shape of its leaves that resemble the shape of a heart.
There are many different types of ceropegia woodii, but we’ll be focusing on the three most common varieties below.
- Variegated string of hearts: It is also commonly known as ‘string of hearts pink’ due to its pretty, pink edges. The center of the leaves is also decorated with dark green variegation.
- Silver glory string of hearts: This plant’s leaves have a pumpkin shape. They are almost completely silver, and the edge of the leaves is dark green.
- String of spades: This type of houseplant produces diamond-shaped leaves with pointy tips. The foliage is light green with a darker shade of green variegation.
How Big Do They Get?
When grown in ideal conditions you can expect it to reach a mature height of 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5cm). It will also produce long vines that grow between 6.5 to 13 feet (2 – 4m) long.
How Fast Do They Grow?
It has a moderate growth rate, and when looked after well it will sprout an additional 10 to 15 inches (25 – 38cm) of new growth a year.
How Long Do They Live?
A healthy string of hearts plant can survive in your home for decades. The average lifespan is around 25 years.
Are They Toxic to Cats and Dogs?
Another amazing thing about this houseplant is that it’s non-toxic. This means that you’re free to place your plant anywhere in your home as it’s completely pet friendly.
String of Hearts Care
The string of hearts plant is regarded as fairly fuss-free but it still requires some old-fashioned TLC. In this section, we will explore how to water, maintain, and create the perfect environment for your houseplant.
How Often to Water It
The ceropegia woodii is slightly drought-tolerant, however, it needs to be watered more often than most other succulents. You should water it once the top 2 to 3 inches (5 – 7.6cm) of the soil has dried out. This is the best way to avoid overwatering the houseplant.
During the spring and summertime, you will need to water it once every two weeks. As temperatures begin to drop in winter and autumn then you’ll only need to water the plant once every three weeks.
Additionally, you should water it with tepid water. When the water is too cold this can shock the roots and negatively impact the houseplant’s health.
An effective drainage system is important to maintain a healthy houseplant. A well-draining soil is imperative for this plant to survive, which many other plants require too such as the dumb cane.
Furthermore, you will need to find a container with ample drainage holes. This will allow any extra water and moisture to seep out the soil instead of forming a puddle at the bottom of the pot.
When the water drips out the drainage holes you will need to empty the saucer. When the plant is left sitting in soggy conditions then it may develop root rot.
A great way to enhance the soil’s drainage is by throwing in some perlite or sharp sand. This will promote excess moisture to drain out and it’ll aerate the soil too.
The ceropegia woodii only needs to be pruned when the vines are too long, or when the foliage is leggy, unhealthy, and dying. The best time of year to trim it is during spring as the houseplant is actively growing.
Follow the steps below:
- Sterilize a pair of scissors before you begin snipping off any stems.
- Cut the vines off at the base of the mother plant.
- If you only want to remove damaged leaves then simply pick these off with your fingertips.
- Water the plant if needed and care for it as you previously did.
How to Make It Fuller
Trimming your plant will also encourage fuller and bushier growth. We’ll explain how you can do this below.
- Use a clean blade to snip off a stem right below the node.
- You can also pick off leaves right below the leaf node too.
This will then promote new growth to sprout from the node which creates that bushy appearance.
When and How to Repot It
Typically, this houseplant should be repotted every 1 to 2 years during early springtime. Transplanting is necessary to ensure that the plant doesn’t become rootbound or that it isn’t too big for its current container.
When choosing a new container it should only be slightly larger. If the new pot is too wide or too deep then the plant can become waterlogged.
Check out the guide here:
- Loosen the potting mixture and slide the plant out of its current pot.
- Take out a new container and fill it one-third of the way with fresh soil.
- Plant it in the pot and make sure that you have covered the roots well.
- Water it well and position it under bright sunlight.
Much like the staghorn fern, the ceropegia woodii thrives when positioned under bright, indirect sunshine. It should receive at least 3 to 4 hours of morning sunlight, and during the afternoon it can be placed in partial shade.
The foliage is very sensitive to sunburn. So, you will need to make sure that it never receives direct sunlight. The harsh sun rays will cause the leaves to become a pale green color.
The best type of soil is a slightly acidic one, which is perfect for the cyclamen genus too. The potting mixture must also be fertile, well-draining, and airy.
You can make use of a cacti or succulent potting mix. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to add perlite, coco coir, and pumice to the soil. These will each enhance the potting mixture’s drainage.
It’s important to ensure that the soil is quick-draining in order to prevent the plant from becoming waterlogged or infected with a fungal disease.
The houseplant should be fed once a month during its active growing seasons. In winter it enters a period of dormancy which means that it doesn’t require any additional nutrients.
Ideally, you should use a water-soluble, liquid, and well-balanced fertilizer. The best type of fertilizer is one low in nitrogen with a ratio of 5-5-5.
You can also dilute the fertilizer to half its strength to avoid over-feeding the houseplant.
Pot Size and Type
The ceropegia woodii prefers being placed in a pot that is 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5cm) wider than its rootball. Ideally, you should opt for a terracotta container as it dries out the soil quickly and allows enough oxygen to reach the roots.
The best temperature range is between 80 to 85°F (26.6 – 29.4°C) during spring and summertime. In winter and autumn, it can cope with temperatures around 60°F (15.5°C).
Fun fact: This houseplant can even survive in temperatures as low as 20°F (-6.6°C) for a short period of time.
Does It Like Humidity?
The ceropegia woodii prospers in a humid environment. The optimal relative humidity level is between 50 to 60 percent. It cannot withstand being grown in humidity levels below 40 percent.
You can mist its leaves or place a humidifier near the plant to increase the humidity surrounding your plant.
Outdoors vs. Indoors
The string of hearts plant can be grown outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 12. It’ll look fantastic in your garden as the vines grow along rocks and trees. Spring and summertime are the best seasons to place it outside.
You will need to make sure that the plant is positioned under filtered sunshine as the harsh sun rays will scorch its leaves. Additionally, you will need to spritz its foliage 2 to 3 times a week, and as the plant grows bigger it will need to be fed regularly.
The houseplant must be grown in a consistent temperature range of around 60°F (15.5°C). So, during winter you will need to relocate it back indoors.
Unfortunately, the string of hearts plant doesn’t bloom when grown indoors. When planted outdoors it will bloom once a year during summer or autumn. These flowers will last for about 6 weeks before eventually dying.
The blooms may be white or purple and appear as trumpet-shaped flowers. They have a bulbous base and grow to be an inch (2.5cm) tall. Its flowers also give off a sweet, cinnamon aroma that attracts bees and butterflies.
To encourage your plant to bloom you will need to create the perfect environment for it. This will include positioning it under bright sunlight, feeding it once a month during its active growing seasons, and watering it once the top soil has dried out.
How to Grow It
You can expand your ceropegia woodii collection by either propagating it or planting its seeds. Each of these methods must be carried out during the springtime. This way the new plant or seedlings will receive plenty of sunlight.
How to Propagate String of Hearts
The houseplant can be propagated in either soil or water. To increase your chances of success, you should only propagate a healthy and mature plant.
Propagating in Soil
There are plenty of options when it comes to propagating it as you can plant a stem cutting, divide the rootball, or propagate its tubers. When propagating this plant you must always use fertile and airy soil.
How to Grow It from Stem Cuttings
This method requires you to cut off a healthy stem and plant it in its own container. We’ll explain the process in more detail below.
- Snip off a 2 to 3 inch (5 – 7.6cm) long stem, and make sure to cut it just below the node.
- Take out a small pot and fill it with moistened soil.
- Plant the cutting in the potting mix, mist it, and position it under bright light.
- After 4 to 6 weeks the cutting will produce new growth and its roots should have established themselves.
- When it becomes big enough you can transplant it.
Propagation by Division
You can separate the rootball into multiple sections if you want to grow more houseplants. It’s also a great alternative to repotting it in a larger container.
Follow the steps listed here:
- Slide the plant out of its current container and brush away the extra soil stuck to the roots.
- Use a sharp knife and slice the rootball in half.
- Prepare a new pot with soil and plant the division so that its roots are fully covered.
- Water it deeply and find a sunny home for it.
- The division will root itself in 2 to 4 weeks, and then you can care for it as you would a mature houseplant.
The string of hearts plant grows small tubers that sprout near the base of the mother plant. These tubers can then be planted in their own container to grow a new houseplant.
Look through the steps listed below:
- Simply pluck off the tubers near the base of the houseplant.
- Find a new container and put moist soil inside.
- Now you must place the tuber on the surface of the soil and lightly press the bottom half into the potting mixture. You want the top half to receive sunshine.
- Mist the tuber several times a week until it produces new growth.
- After about a month or so you can treat it as you did its mother plant.
Propagation in Water
You can also propagate this houseplant by simply snipping off a healthy stem and placing it in a glass of water. Once it has developed new roots then you can transplant it into some soil.
Check out this step-by-step guide below:
- Fill a glass jar with room temperature water.
- Use a sterilized blade and cut off a 2 to 3 inch (5 – 7.6cm) long stem, and pluck off the leaves attached to the bottom half of the stem.
- Place the cutting in the jar of water and position it in a sunny area. You may need to replace the water once a week or when it’s murky.
- When the roots have become about 2 inches (5cm) long then you can transplant it into soil.
How to Plant the Seeds
The ceropegia woodii seeds can be planted in early spring, however, this method isn’t very reliable. To successfully grow your very own houseplant, follow the guide we’ve put together below.
- Fill a shallow tray with moistened peat moss.
- Sprinkle the seeds across the surface and cover them with a thin layer of soil.
- Put them in an area where they’ll soak in bright yet indirect light.
- You will need to mist the seedlings frequently so that soil never dries out.
- After 6 to 8 weeks the seedlings should produce new growth. When it grows 2 to 3 leaves then you can repot the seedlings in their own container.
How to Revive It
The ceropegia woodii can run into numerous health issues if it’s not cared for correctly. We’ll explain what may be causing certain problems and how you can revive the plant back to health.
The leaves begin to lose their lush appearance and turn yellow when it is overwatered or infected with a fungal disease.
The only way to remedy an overwatered houseplant is by allowing the plant some time to recover. You must allow the soil to dry out before watering it again.
You may also need to repot the houseplant. When repotting the plant, you should cut off any damaged roots.
Wrinkled and withered foliage is caused by underwatering it or placing it under direct sunlight.
You will need to feel the soil and if it’s dry then you must water it deeply. In the future, you should water it more often to avoid this problem occurring again.
During the summertime, the sun’s rays are very harsh which can scorch the foliage. You’ll need to find a new home for the houseplant where it will receive filtered sunlight.
When a large number of leaves begin to fall off suddenly then your plant is placed in a shady location or is being overwatered.
Always make sure to position it under bright, indirect sunshine. This houseplant requires plenty of bright light to support healthy growth.
When the soil becomes waterlogged you must refrain from watering it. It’s best to allow the soil to dry out slightly before you water it again.
The leaves will brown if your houseplant is positioned under full sunshine or is being underwatered.
All you have to do is relocate the plant to another area. Try to find a place where it will receive filtered sunshine.
When the soil becomes too dry, you will need to give the houseplant a good drink. Water it thoroughly and adjust your watering schedule to avoid this issue recurring.
It is clear to see why the string of hearts plant is popular amongst newbies and expert gardeners. Its long vines and heart-shaped leaves make for the perfect decorative piece.
The most important care requirements to keep in mind is that it must receive plenty of bright sunshine and should be watered every few weeks to avoid root rot.
Once you’ve nailed down its basic care needs then you’ll be gifted with its stunning, green leaves throughout the year.