String of Hearts plant or Ceropegia woodii is easy to grow and propagate. This fast growing vine type plant has small heart shaped leaves that are so stinkin cute. The vines will grow and grow until they hit the floor or you give them a trim. This plant can also grow white ball shaped tubers along the vine which is why it is sometimes called rosary vine plant. The String of Hearts likes bright light and water only after it has dried out completely, like a succulent. It has had a bit of trouble with Canadian winter but overall, it does well in low humidity situations. Supplemental light during the winter goes a long way for it’s care if you can provide it.
This plant has easily grown six feet in length over the summer growing season. String of hearts grows so easily and is such fun to care for and share with friends. If you want a plant that you don’t need to worry about, that you can trim and regrow and that looks fantastic hanging on a shelf then String of Hearts is for you!
General String of Hearts Care Tips
Light: String of Hearts likes quite a lot of light and even handles a bit of direct sun. Mine is about 4 or 5 ft across from my South West window and gets some direct sun in the afternoon. In the winter, I try to boost it’s light with a grow bulb to extend the hours of light it receives.
Water: What I LOVE most about caring for String of Hearts is that it’s pretty easy to tell when it should be watered. Look at the leaves near the crown of the plant. Are they plump? Like little juicy berries? Then your plant does not need water. If they are flattened, or squishy and the soil is dry, it’s time to give it a good soak. Hearts nearer the ends of the strings will be flatter as they are new so look to the older ones for clues. When it’s ready, give it a good soak until water runs out the bottom of the pot. Make sure to discard of any water that collects in the cache pot or saucer. In the winter, if the plant is getting less light you may need to pull back on the watering.
Soil: I treat this plant much like a succulent or peperomia in that it really needs a well draining soil mix. Mine seems quite happy in a mix of potting soil and cactus soil with a bit of extra perlite thrown in for good measure.
Humidity: The string of hearts is great in standard household humidity. No extra fussing required. Where you might want to increase humidity levels is during propagation. Otherwise, treat this plant like a succulent. Dry air is just fine.
Fertilizer: I’m using a general houseplant fertilizer on my string of hearts every few weeks through the summer. A cactus or succulent fertilizer would also do well. In winter, as it is not actively growing for me in my home, I do not fertilize this plant. If you live somewhere that your string of hearts plant will continue to grow all winter you may wish to fertilize.
Toxicity: Ceropegia woodii is non-toxic however it’s best to keep curious mouths from munching on plants, especially newer ones to your home as you don’t know if they were sprayed previously.
Troubleshooting String of Hearts
Generally there are few issues with this plant. It’s strong, vigorous and hearty but I have overcome several issues.
Dropping leaves: There are many reasons plants drop their leaves. Typically it’s because they can’t get water to them due to either persistently dry soil, root, or stem problems. If your plant sits dry for too long, it may drop leaves as it can’t hydrate them. If your plant is overwatered and the roots become damaged or rotten, it can also drop leaves.
Small leaves or sparse stems: If your plant grows more vines than leaves and you have sparse strings it likely needs more hours of light. It won’t put energy into growing foliage it can’t keep alive. I find that here in Canada, in the winter this plant can struggle with the short days. I supplement lighting with a grow light and it has made all the difference.
Balding on top: Many people dislike how this plant looks when it only grows leaves on the vines, but not on the top of the pot. This will happen over time if the top of the pot is not receiving sunlight. Make sure the plant isn’t too deep in the pot. the leaves should be above the rim so they get sun. Also make sure the plant is not hanging too high. If the light from the window is not reaching the top of the pot, you could be at risk of balding. Not to worry though, it can easily be fixed through propagation! See below.
How to Propagate String of Hearts
Snip the strings and remove the leaves closest to the cut end from the stem. Place in water for about 3-4 weeks. Be sure to change the water once a week so it stays fresh and oxygenated. Once you see roots that are 2 to 3 inches in length you can plant into soil. As the roots were used to water, keep the soil from drying out completely for about 2 weeks so the roots can transition. Water propagating is a fun way to share rooted cuttings with a friend!
The Butterfly Propagation Method for String of Hearts
Water propagation is simple and fun but if the goal is to take a few strands and make a nice, brand new and full plant then the butterfly method is the best way to propagate. You can see this done with my variegated string of hearts plant below but I’ve also propagated my standard plant this way with success too.
It’s simple to do, just cut the strand between pairs of leaves so you have many small, single node cuttings. Place the cuttings down on pre-moistened soil and put the whole pot into a bag. Seal it up to create humidity and place it in bright light. Under a grow light is ideal but if it is summer and you can put it on a bright window ledge you’ll do well. Just make sure it doesn’t get too hot. The leaves will sprout roots very quickly in warm, bright and humid conditions.
Open the bag every few days to allow fresh air in and avoid the whole works getting moldy or rotting. If needed, spritz with water to re-moisten the soil but you don’t want it too soggy. When you are confident that it has rooted AND you start to see new leaves and vines forming, it’s time to take it out of the bag. Now the tricky part begins. The roots are still very shallow in the pot so while you want it to dry between waterings you don’t want those new delicate roots to shrivel up. Shallow, frequent drinks to keep the first inch or so of soil watered after it dries is ideal. After it is well rooted into the pot you can switch to more standard watering.
The tiny leaves at the tips of my cuttings were pretty small to try to butterfly propagate so I put them into water. Once they have established longer roots I’ll add them into the pot.
Keeping the String of Hearts plant full
If you hang your hearts, be sure the top of the plant gets light and not just the strings. It will thin out otherwise. If you find your plant is thin on top fear not! It’s easy to make it full again, just propagate a few strings to add back into the pot OR spiral a string around the top. It will eventually grow roots there and sprout new strings. This is a very easy care plant – I left mine for 2 weeks once while I was away and it was just fine upon my return. I highly recommend this beauty.
String of hearts plant does well in terra cotta pottery and I have been supplementing light during winter months with a grow light – not to increase the intensity but instead to increase the number of hours per day it receives.