Hoya kerrii plants are also called sweetheart hoya, Valentine hoya, heart-shaped hoya, lucky hearts, wax hearts, love hearts and hoya hearts. These succulent tropical vines, of the family Apocynaceae, are native to South China, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia. They are drought-tolerant and are easy to cultivate when given the right care and attention. This article provides some tips for the basic care of these plants, as well as how to propagate them.
Hoya Kerrii Plant Care
Hoya kerrii is flexible when it comes to light, but prefers to be placed near windows. These plants thrive in bright, indirect light, and may also survive with medium-light, although it could affect their growth. Do not expose them to direct light, as this could burn their leaves, and do not place them in a room with very low light, either. Surprisingly, the variegated varieties require bright light to maintain the variegation of their foliage.
Hoya kerrii plants are hardy and low-maintenance, with the ability to store water for some time between waterings. It is best to wait until the soil has dried out before you water them. Do not overdo the watering because their soil should never be waterlogged or boggy; this could lead to root rot. The pots should also have drainage holes at the bottom, so that any excess water does not stay stagnant in the soil.
If anything, it is better to underwater than overwater these plants. See to it that you use fast-draining soil that includes plenty of perlite and sand. As they do not like wet soil, water them only once a week during summer and every two to three weeks during winter.
Hoya kerrii plants like humidity, but they are also okay with just average levels. You can opt to have a humidifier at home, or you can place the plants in your bathroom. Mist them regularly, and you could also place them in a humidity tray filled with pebbles and water.
Hoya Kerrii Propagation
There are three ways to propagate Hoya kerrii:
The Ziploc or plastic bag method
This is the common method of propagating hoyas. First, fill a Ziploc bag to at least a third with indoor potting soil. Sterilize the soil first with hot water and allow it to cool down. Make sure the soil is moist but not saturated before placing it inside the bag.
Next, stick the plant’s cuttings into the soil and see to it that the stem and bottom third of the leaf are covered in soil. Once they are secured, spray the inside of the bag with water and seal it. This enhances humidity and creates a greenhouse effect to encourage growth.
Add water if the soil looks dry, but it is unlikely that you will need to, since the bag is sealed. Place the Ziploc bag near a bright light source or under a grow light.
First, soak the sphagnum moss for a few minutes in hot water to make sure there are no insects or pathogens. Allow it to cool and squeeze off the excess water. Next, wrap the moist but not saturated sphagnum moss around the nodes of the cutting and pot it in a clear container. Bury up to the bottom third of the cutting to provide the plant with a proper anchor as the roots grow.
Spray the sphagnum moss with water if the top gets dry. Use a container with drainage holes, or you can also use clear glass containers.
This method yields good results as the roots tend to develop faster and it is easier to transition the propagation to regular potting soil. Since the moss is an inert material, there are fewer chances that it is harboring microbial pathogens.
Passive hydroponics with perlite
First, fill the potting container or a clear container with perlite. Pot the propagation just like with regular plants, burying the bottom third of the leaf to provide a proper anchor. Next, fill the container with water up to a third of the way up. Perlite is light and will float, so pour the water gradually to avoid overwatering.
Spray water on the perlite when it feels dry to the touch and add more water if the water level drops. Put the propagation near a bright source of light, just as you would with the earlier two methods. Substantial roots should grow within the first two weeks and you will need to add some nutrients if you intend to continue growing it using passive hydroponics.
Perlite is lighter and finer than vermiculite, and it mimics the texture of regular potting soil. It is also inert and there is less chance that it contains pathogens and fertilizers which could harm the new roots. It also does not hold moisture, so there is less chance that the roots will drown in too much water.
Hoya kerrii plants are popular indoor plants and are particularly sought-after on Valentine’s Day because of their heart-shaped foliage. These drought-tolerant plants are native to several Asian countries. They can be propagated using one of three methods, namely the Ziploc bag method, the use of sphagnum moss, or through passive hydroponics using perlite.
Image: istockphoto.com / Amphawan Chanunpha