How to Take Good Care of String of Hearts Plant
The String of Hearts (Ceropegia woodii) is one of the most attractive and easily identifiable plants due to its unique qualities and beauty. Ceropegia Woodii is a very scientific and hard-to-pronounce name for what we can call the String of Hearts plant.
Its name, “String of Hearts,” is very descriptive of the plant’s appearance. While it may not be the most colorful succulent you can plant at home, it has some distinct features that make it an attractive companion to many other houseplants. Its leaves resemble hearts (no anatomically correct ones, for all you doctors out there), which are attached to these droopy string-like vines that dangle in a curtain-like fashion.
These plants can become quite mesmerizing when hung in a shady enough spot, such as under a porch roof or on a windowsill. The String of Hearts is a succulent native to South Africa, where it is often planted in hanging pots or in areas of the garden with enough shade.
Cultivation and History
Initially collected in the 19th century in South Africa, the String of Hearts could be found within that region, including in Zimbabwe. They were found there drooped on rocks in the wild. Upon collecting it officially for the first time in history, botanist John Medley Wood noticed how easily it could be planted in hanging pots and loop it around plant frames.
And since the plant did not require constant direct sunlight, it was great as an indoor plant to hang in the deeper reaches of rooms, where it could still get some indirect rays but also have enough shade.
Propagating the String of Hearts is an easy process. Generally, the water propagation method is popular for the String of Hearts, although other ways are also viable. Make sure that when you cut up a vine or a piece of the String of Hearts, you pull off a piece that’s by a node with mature enough leaves on it. Don’t cut off a new vine part; let that grow.
Now that you have a few vines and trimmings, you can put them in some water for a traditional water-based propagation. You will then put the water in an area that gets a good amount of sunlight but not to the point where it’s too hot. In general, during propagation and as the plant grows, remember to avoid putting the plant in hot conditions. Think of the plant as yourself: sure, you want some rays from time to time, but is getting sunburned a fun experience? Of course not.
Alternatively, you can place the trimmings on a bed of moss or soil, put it inside a container that allows for air circulation, spray it with water, and put it under some light to propagate. And if you can up the vines at both ends, you can end up with even more rootlets but with the same number of vines.
It will take several weeks for the roots to come out of the ends of the trimmings. Give it time to grow properly, and give it enough sun and water, but not too much of either, since you can burn or rot the leaves.
After three weeks, you’ll see the tiny rootlets poking out at the ends of each cut node. This means it’s time to plant and get your hands dirty (pun very much intended).
Once a rootlet has properly shown itself long enough, you must plant it in soil. Use the same kind of soil you’d use for any other succulent or cactus (it’s conveniently named succulent or cactus mix soil, so it’s really hard to mess up). When planting, leave the vessel in an area that gets sufficiently bright during the day, but again, don’t leave it under direct sunlight, as the heat could damage and burn the leaves.
If you are growing it indoors, ensure it gets enough bright indoor light. This usually means it needs to be near a window rather than directly under it. You can move it as close as you can handle. This means that it doesn’t have to be directly under the window, but you can tell that it’s getting enough rays just by how much light reaches its area.
Regarding growing it outside, much like our 19th-century predecessors did, put it under shade on your porch or near a window away from strong, direct sunlight. But something you have to keep in mind if you’re growing your String of Hearts outside is that the temperature has to be above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which is around 15 degrees Celsius; otherwise, it’s going to grow very little and may die out.
Also, if you have a pot that’s been growing inside and is used to the indirect light that it gets from having it reflect off a wall or curtain, it won’t handle sunlight as well if it’s taken outside. So if you plan on moving your indoor String of Hearts and taking it outside, you need to gradually let it get used to more direct heat and rays by slowly bringing it closer to the window daily.
Think of it as training wheels. Your parents probably didn’t force you to ride a Tour de France class bike when you were starting, as that would’ve been disastrous.
So, take it slowly, don’t rush the growth process, and make sure you’re constantly aware of how much sunlight is coming it’s way. Again, you want to avoid keeping it in complete darkness, nor should you overwater it.
Pruning, Maintenance, and Pest Control
First rule: do not overwater this plant. Ever. The easiest way to rot a String of Hearts is to give it too much water. It’s better to provide it with very sparse quantities of water and get it a little dry than to keep it constantly moist or submerged in water. Just add a little moisture to the soil and then give the plant a good amount of water before leaving it to dry for days, even weeks. These plants have been known to survive for weeks without watering and retain a healthy and stable appearance. So, the only way you can go wrong with String of Heart maintenance is to drown the thing in water. Simple: don’t do that.
As far as pruning goes, all you need to do is to cut off the dead leaves and stems, which are easily distinguishable from the healthy parts of the plant. There’s very little to mess up in this area unless you are not paying attention to your houseplants.
Also, the plant requires reporting very rarely, about once every two years if the pot’s big, or a year to 18 months if the pot’s a bit smaller. You typically want to repot it into a slightly bigger vessel, as the String of Hearts will have grown much more prominent at that point, and you want to avoid cramming it in there. However, you should give the plant a small amount of fertilizer every half a year to ensure proper growth.
Now, its vines, while looking very nice, can grow up to 12 inches, which can cause a certain number of complications. If you leave it outside, the wind can tangle up the long vines, causing a huge mess and many ugly knots, making the plant look unkempt.
Make sure to untangle them often or protect them from the wind entirely. The whole untangling process can be messy, considering that the plant’s vines are pretty sensitive, so you can easily rip it apart as you are untying the knots.
If you’re keeping the plant indoors, as with anything else that’s sensitive and easy to ruin, keep it far away from your pets, especially cats, who love to play with anything that dangles. I’ve had personal encounters with cats who love to ruin anything you put a lot of hard work and sweat into, and the String of Hearts is no exception.
They jump and try to catch the vines, rip off the leaves, and knock down the plant entirely. So, if you have a pet, especially a cat, keep it out of their reach. Other than big furry animals, the only other pests are mealybugs, but they’re effortless to spot and get rid of while dusting the plant.
And think you can only protect your plant by putting it up somewhere high. You’ve seen how high cats can jump, and they’ll happily accept the challenge of scaling a bookshelf or a cupboard to get there.
Cultivars and Varieties
You can get your hands on two different variants of the String of Hearts plant, which you will likely find: the standard and the variegated. While they look a little different from one another, they’re the same plant in terms of maintenance and care. So, their only difference is exclusively in their appearance.
Otherwise, the two cultivars act, propagate, and grow the same way, so you won’t have to worry about giving each plant extra special care since they’re all the same. This is an excellent plant for a gardener.
Regardless of the cultivar, a string of hearts is a very casual and low-key plant to take care of. They only require a little maintenance, fertilizer, or even water. You won’t have to get special tools, equipment, or pots for them, and best of all, even in harsh conditions, they’re a great addition to any room, garden, patio, or porch.
Their beautiful green leaves with white accents give off very naturally faded colors that don’t overpower the senses, making them great plants to keep in your study. And if you can find enough room for their long vines, you can decorate any room with a little more wilderness.
Thanks to the low-maintenance requirements and the plant’s versatile and durable nature, you can enjoy growing the String of Hearts without all the hassle and extra care.