Once you put large furniture pieces in place, decor elements like photos, books, and mementos adds personality to a space. But sometimes, you’ll find an empty little corner or top shelf that needs an extra pop. And while you’re deciding whether that should be a small sculpture or a framed print, it finally hits you: It’s probably the ideal location for a plant. The string of hearts plant can fit these out-of-reach spaces nicely.
The string of hearts — with its variegated, heart-shaped leaves — is a naturally trailing plant, making it a great pick for adding texture and dimension to an otherwise dull spot. However, if you’re considering adding a string of hearts (or Ceropegia woodii) to your home, you should know that it’s a little picky. Caring for it properly is vital for its health. Here’s all you need to know about owning a string of hearts plant, according to three experts.
What Is the String of Hearts Plant?
The string of hearts (scientific name Ceropegia woodii) is a species of plant that’s native to South Africa. You might also hear it called a rosary plant or a rosary vine. It’s a succulent plant whose thick, fleshy leaves have a heart shape.
The variegated leaves come in a variety of colors. Sometimes you’ll see tubular blooms in shades of pink or purple.
How Much Water Does a String of Hearts Need?
As with other succulent plants, the string of hearts prefers a moderate amount of hydration. Anastasia Borisevich, a plant expert at Plantum, suggests letting the top 2 to 3 inches of soil dry out between waterings.
However, hydration should also come from moist air to fully ensure the plant’s health. “Maintain an average humidity of 40 to 60 percent to keep your plant happy,” says Borisevich. She also advises avoiding extremes, such as dry air or excessive humidity, as it can negatively impact the plant’s health.
How Much Light Does a String of Hearts Need?
Borisevich states that, as with many houseplants, “your vine will thrive in bright, indirect sunlight.” The string of hearts can tolerate low light conditions, but it will make the colors less vibrant. So, if you’re considering putting your Ceropegia on a high shelf or in a corner, ensure it receives enough light to keep the leaves vibrant.
Joanna Turner, who runs the plant-care site Fiddle & Thorn, says that a string of hearts can also handle direct sunlight as long as it’s sparse. “They can deal with a few hours of direct sunlight each day, but prefer to be in a spot with indirect light so their leaves don’t burn,” she advises. Turner also suggests moving your plant closer to a non-drafty window in winter to get proper light.
Does a String of Hearts Need Fertilizer?
Fertilizing your plants gives them the extra boost they need to flourish. “To encourage new growth on your string of hearts, you may want to give it some fertilizer,” recommends Turner. Extra nutrients are helpful during the growing season in spring and summer, and avoid using fertilizer during the more dormant wintertime.
Do I Need to Repot My String of Hearts Plant?
One positive thing about the string of hearts’ easy care is that you don’t need to repot them frequently. “Their roots are delicate and won’t become root-bound very often,” says Turner. If you do feel the need to repot your plant, minimize shock by doing it during the spring and summer growing seasons.
Common String of Hearts Issues
There are a few issues that tend to pop up with string of hearts plants, although most are solvable. Here are the most common.
According to Borisevich, string of hearts do get pests. Aphids and mealybugs can invade Ceropegia, and you can detect these tiny critters on the stems and leaves of the plant. Applying neem oil or an insecticidal soap to the plant should help keep these pests away.
Too Much Light
Too much sunlight can cause the leaves of a string of hearts to scorch and turn brown. To remedy this issue quickly, relocate your plant. Adding a sheer curtain to the offending window can also help filter light to a level suitable for your plant.
Borisevich advises that too much moisture — either in the air or soil — can cause severe issues for your string of hearts plant. “If overwatered and kept in high humidity, the rosary vine may become subject to fungal diseases,” she says. Follow the correct watering instructions to help keep fatal fungi away from your string of hearts.
Are String of Hearts Plants Toxic to Pets?
Pet owners, rejoice! The good news is that the string of hearts is not toxic for pets. Borisevich says that because it is not toxic, it’s a safe and lovely plant for a pet-friendly environment. However, that doesn’t mean you should let Fido or Fluffy chow down on the plant — even pet-safe plants can cause stomach upset if ingested.
How to Propagate String of Hearts
If you want to share your string of hearts plant with others, they are relatively easy to propagate either via stem cuttings or tubers, according to Kayla Gajdascz, the co-founder of Mental Houseplants.
To use stem cuttings, Gajdascz recommends snipping a vine segment that has three or four pairs of leaves. Remove the bottom set of leaves, and place the section where the leaves were under water. In a few weeks, you should start to see roots forming.
“Once the roots are a couple of inches long, plant the cutting in a well-draining potting mix,” says Gajdascz. You can also place several rooted cuttings into the same container, depending on the size of your pot.
Another option for propagation is via tubers, which form along the stems or at the base of the plant. Gajdascz says they can generally be separated and planted in soil, where they’ll take root and grow into new plants.
No matter how you propagate a string of hearts, Gajdascz recommends keeping your new plants in a warm environment with bright, indirect light. Following the regular care instructions will help your plant establish and encourage new growth.