Yes, the string of hearts, or Ceropegia woodii, is succulent. It is native to South Africa, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe, and is named for its heart-shaped leaves that grow from trailing stems. The leaves are fleshy and can hold a significant amount of water that the plant can use in the event of drought.
This plant is also called the rosary vine or the sweetheart vine. It is low-maintenance and very easy to grow, and makes a great indoor plant, especially when placed high in a hanging basket. The stems will spill over the edge of the basket and create a beautiful, cascading waterfall of leaves.
In this article, we will discuss more about this succulent and its proper cultural care. So, if you are planning to add one of these to your collection and wish to learn more, just keep reading.
What is the string of hearts?
The string of hearts is a trailing plant that has characteristically delicate, heart-shaped leaves growing along a succulent vine.
It can grow to 12 feet in length if its ideal living conditions are met. Its leaves are a dark green color with pink, cream, or silver variegation, and its stems are usually purple.
Is the string of hearts succulent?
Yes, a string of hearts is a trailing succulent native to South Africa, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), and Zimbabwe.
It has fleshy leaves that can store water for the plant to use during times of drought. Like many succulents, it is low-maintenance and requires very little attention to thrive.
It makes a great indoor plant and its beautiful, trailing vines look particularly attractive cascading from a hanging basket.
String of hearts care
The string of hearts likes bright light. It can be direct light, but only for a few hours a day. If the light is indirect, it is fine even for an entire day. If you want the colors of the leaves to stand out, direct light is always better, but the key is to make sure you are able to control it.
The best spot for the plant is where it can get direct light for half of the day, then shade during the afternoon.
You can actually tell when a string of hearts is not getting enough light because the spaces between the leaves on the vine will become wider. The smaller the space between the leaves, the happier your plant is with the light it is getting.
If you think the plant is not getting enough light, move it to a brighter spot such as next to a window.
If your plant gets too much light, on the other hand, this can lead to sun damage and the leaves may have dried tips. If you think your plant is getting too much light, move it to a shadier spot as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the burnt leaves cannot be salvaged, so you can just trim those off if you would rather not wait for them to fall off on their own.
If you live in a place where there is scarce natural light for a few months of the year, you can support the plant’s light requirements by placing it under a grow light.
Like most succulents, the string of hearts does not need to be watered as often as other, regular houseplants. This is because it can store water in its leaves, stems, and underground rhizomes for use when water is scarce.
The plant’s roots need to be able to dry out between waterings in order to absorb oxygen, so it is important not to overwater it. This can happen if you give the plant too much water each time you water it, water it more often than necessary, use a poorly-draining pot or soil, or do not adjust your watering habits to changes in the weather or season.
An overwatered string of hearts will have yellowing leaves that feel soft and mushy to the touch. This is because the plant has absorbed too much water from the soil, which eventually causes its cells to burst.
Another serious consequence of overwatering is root rot. Root rot occurs when the roots are not able to dry out between waterings, so they essentially drown and die. The dead roots become susceptible to opportunistic pathogens in the soil, such as fungi and bacteria, and these pathogens make the rot spread even more aggressively to the rest of the plant. If the leaves have turned brown and become mushy, this usually means that the rot has taken over the plant and there is little chance of saving it.
If you think your plant is overwatered, stop watering it immediately and allow the soil to dry out completely before watering it again. You can also move it to a sunnier spot to help the soil dry out faster.
If you suspect root rot, you will need to remove the plant from the pot to check the roots. Wash off as much soil from the roots as you can, and be gentle because they will be fragile in this state. Inspect the roots closely and look for sections that have turned brown or black. These are rotten and will have to be removed. Use a sterile knife or pair of scissors to cut off the rotten roots until only the healthy, white roots remain.
Place the plant on a dry surface to let the roots air-dry for a few hours, and prepare a new pot by filling it with succulent soil mix. Place the plant in the middle of the pot and cover the roots with more soil as needed.
Water the soil until it is sufficiently soaked and you can see excess water dripping from the bottom of the pot, and then return the plant to a spot where it can get bright, indirect light.
Conversely, if you underwater the plant, you can dry it out and compromise its ability to absorb nutrients and minerals from the soil. Just because it is succulent, this does not mean you can entirely neglect its watering needs whenever you want to.
If you think the plant is underwatered, water it immediately. Soak all of the soil in the pot until you see water flowing from the drainage holes. This will ensure that all of the roots have access to water.
For the string of hearts, the best soil to use is a succulent soil mix. Planting it in regular potting soil will not work because it is too dense and will retain too much water, which increases the chances of overwatering and root rot.
Succulent soil mix is usually just regular potting soil mixed with draining components such as pumice, perlite, or coir.
Aside from the soil, it is also important for the pot to have drainage holes at the bottom. Even if the soil is well-draining, if the water that drains to the bottom of the pot has nowhere to go, it will still end up sitting around the plant’s roots.
Because the string of hearts is native to hotter climates, it is used to temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately, this is the typical average temperature in most American households, so you should not have an issue growing the plant in your home.
If you grow the plant outdoors and you live in a place with frost or cold winters, make sure that you take the plant indoors the moment the temperature drops to 60 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
This plant does not do well in cold temperatures for extended periods of time, so you will need to protect it from the cold or risk losing it.
The ideal humidity for a string of hearts is between 40 and 50 percent. The humidity in most households should be around this range, so you should not need to do anything to help it out in this regard.
If you live in a particularly dry climate, however, you might need to help the plant by placing it in a humid part of the house, like the bathroom or the kitchen. You can also place it next to other plants that like humidity so they can create a microclimate around each other.
If you have the means, you can always buy a humidifier that will automatically regulate the humidity in the room where the plant is kept.
The only time to fertilize the string of hearts is during the spring and summer because this is when the plant is actively growing. Use a liquid fertilizer, and only at half-strength.
If you do not want to use a commercially available fertilizer, you can use worm castings as an alternative.
Refrain from fertilizing the plant in the winter because it will be dormant and will not be able to use all the extra nutrients that you put in the soil. The excess fertilizer will just cause soil toxicity that can damage the plant’s roots.
If you think you may have over-fertilized your plant, you will need to flush the soil with water to get rid of the salt buildup.
How to propagate the string of hearts
The easiest and most common method of propagation is by using cuttings from the plant. You can propagate these either in water or in soil.
Take some cuttings from the parent plant using sterile pruning shears.
Place the cuttings in a glass of water, making sure no leaves are touching the water. Contact with water can cause the leaves to rot.
Change the water in the glass once a week or when it starts to smell or become cloudy. This ensures that there is always fresh oxygen in the water.
After several weeks, you should see new roots growing from the cutting, and once the roots are a few inches long, you can transfer the cutting to a pot of succulent soil mix.
You can then care for the plant the same way you would a regular string of hearts.
Cut some stems from your parent plant using sterile pruning shears.
In a container, place some well-draining succulent soil mix. Poke holes in the soil using a chopstick and stick the cutting into the holes. Make sure that no leaves are buried, or even close to the soil. Contact with the soil can cause the leaves to rot, which will affect the progress of the cutting.
Keep the soil moist by watering it lightly when it starts to get dry, but take care not to overwater it.
After three to four weeks, the cutting will have grown roots. You can check this by pulling gently on the cutting, and if there is resistance it means the roots are well-established. You can then transfer the cuttings to individual pots and care for them the same way you would a regular string of hearts.
Aphids are one of the common pests that could attack your string of hearts. These insects damage the plant by feeding on the sap of the plant tissue.
Aphids are very small, so you will have a very hard time spotting just a few individuals. They reproduce rapidly, however, and infestations can grow exponentially large in no time.
Once you spot these pests on your plant, you need to address the problem as soon as possible.
You can remove aphids by knocking them off the plant with a strong stream of water from a garden hose, or try dusting the plant with flour if the infestation is severe. This technique works by constipating the aphids and killing them.
Make sure that your plant is taken to a different room far away from your other, healthy plants to keep the aphids from spreading.
Scale insects are pests that have hard shell coverings. These insects typically stay in one place and do not move.
While they live on your plant and feed on its sap, they will also secrete a sticky substance called honeydew. This not only attracts even more insects to the plant; it also causes a black mold to grow on it.
Mold is usually the telltale sign that your plant has scale insects, as well as the plant looking sick and wilted.
You can either use neem oil or simple soap and water to get rid of the scale insects. Apply them directly to the insects and the affected areas of the plant. If you can see black mold, apply water and baking soda mixture to it. Make sure you wash off anything you apply before placing the plant back under any light source because it might burn the plant.
Another pest that attacks the string of hearts is the mealybug. These insects also leave behind a sticky residue, and they usually look like fuzz or cotton on the plant.
These insects also feed on the plant’s foliage and the damage is more apparent the bigger their population becomes.
You can get rid of mealybugs by using diluted soap on the affected areas. You can also spray rubbing alcohol directly on the affected areas to kill the pests. Repeat the process every three days until you are sure that all of the mealybugs are dead, and keep the infested plant away from your other plants.
Yes, the string of hearts is a succulent native to South Africa, Eswatini and Zimbabwe. It is also called the rosary vine or the sweetheart vine.
This plant is popular for its beautiful, heart-shaped leaves that grow from a long vine that reaches up to 12 feet in length.
This plant is very low-maintenance and makes a great indoor plant, especially when its purple-stemmed vines and vibrant leaves cascade from a hanging pot.
The string of hearts likes bright, indirect light. Water it when the soil is dry to the touch, keep it at regular room temperature with moderate humidity, and fertilize it only when it is actively growing.
You can propagate this plant using stem cuttings, either in water or in soil.
Image: istockphoto.com / skymoon13