The variegated string of hearts is a stunning houseplant that is very popular among collectors. Its long, trailing stems and heart-shaped leaves make it a fun option for almost any size of a home. It is not a plant that requires too much attention, which makes it an easy houseplant to maintain.
One of its primary characteristics is its need for warmth. In its native environment, the string of hearts is comfortable with consistently warm temperatures in the day and night.
If you have the right home to keep it sufficiently warm, you should be able to easily grow and maintain a beautiful string of hearts for many years. And the variegated cultivar is an extremely captivating sight with its purple color.
String of Hearts Origin & Varieties
The string of hearts is a semi-succulent native to South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. It has become a popular hanging houseplant thanks to its iconic, heart-shaped leaves.
The scientific name of this plant is Ceropegia woodii. The variegated string of hearts is sometimes referred to by other names. Another common name for it is the Rosary Vine, because of the little tubers that grow on the base of the leaves. These tubers resemble the beads of a rosary. Other names for it are Chain of Hearts and Hearts Entangled.
There are two varieties of the string of hearts – the standard and the variegated. The big difference between these two cultivars is only a slight color variation. The variegated cultivar has light purple at the edges of its leaves that goes onto the back. This purple is the only identifier for the two different cultivars.
String of Hearts Plant Care Summary
- Temperature: The string of hearts prefers warm temperatures. It should not be allowed to get cold, as this can damage the plant.
- Light: The plant does best in bright, indirect light but can also tolerate some direct sun.
- Water: The plant should be watered when the soil is dry to the touch. Over-watering can lead to root rot.
- Soil: The string of hearts prefers a well-draining potting mix.
- Fertilizer: The plant should be fertilized every two weeks during the growing season.
- Pruning: The plant can be pruned to control its growth. Pruning also encourages fuller growth.
- Propagation: The plant can be propagated from stem cuttings.
- Toxicity: The string of hearts is not considered to be a poisonous plant and is pet friendly.
The variegated string of hearts can be identified by its heart-shaped leaves of pink, cream, and green. They drape down along the purple and wiry stem as they grow.
This houseplant is a trailing vine succulent, which means you can easily find a place to hang it neatly in your home. And it’s status as an evergreen succulent means you can treat it similarly to one.
Both the standard and variegated cultivars have a combination of mottled green and silvery grey leaves. However, the variegated cultivar is distinguished by a light purple hue on the edges of the surface and onto the back of the leaf.
This trailing plant can grow up to 10 feet long in the right conditions. However, when kept as a houseplant it is unlikely to grow past 2-3 feet. You may also need to cut back the stems to promote new, fuller growth.
Variegated String of Hearts Care Overview
The Ceropegia woodii thrives in filtered sunlight and warm temperatures. If you keep it moderately watered and fed a few times each year, you should expect to see decent growth and perhaps a tiny flower or two.
The string of hearts can be grown in an environment with a mixture of partial sun and partial shade. These plants prefer a bright, warm space, but prefer filtered sunlight over intense, direct light. An optimum location is a spot near any south, southwest, or west-facing window. This will give the plant plenty of strong, indirect sunlight that will not fry the delicate leaves.
Too little light will result in less variegation in the leaves. But too much light, especially direct sunlight, can burn your plant. And just the right amount of light will help the heart-shaped leaves grow closer together on the vines.
This plant is an evergreen type of succulent, which means it acts similar to other succulents. It has the regular requirements of a succulent. Some people recommend the soak and dry method, which means watering well and then letting the soil dry out again.
You should generally let the top 2 inches dry out between each watering. And after watering, you should not let it sit in water. Over-watering can cause the roots to rot.
This plant does not go fully dormant in the winter, but it does need much less water. In general, the leaves will look and feel plump when they are well-watered. When they need water, leaves will be spongy to the touch.
Due to the delicate nature of the roots, the string of hearts needs a light soil mixture to thrive. Their roots need space to grow and should never be packed in tight, closed soils.
A specialty soil is optimal, such as a combination of succulent and cacti mixtures. However, regular potting soil is also fine as long as you add some sand to keep the soil loose. Sand will also provide great drainage, which is vital to the success of your string of hearts.
Location and Temperature Needs
When planted outside, the variegated string of hearts is a Zone 11a plant. It is native to a warm climate and is therefore not a cold-hardy plant. If you live in a zone that gets colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it is recommended that you plant the string of hearts in a container that can be brought inside for the fall and winter.
An optimal temperature for this plant during the day is between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime temperatures should never dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you do live in a warmer climate, you can plant this comfortably in a garden. You should ensure that wherever you place it that it can receive 3 to 4 hours of sunlight each day. When kept as a houseplant, the string of hearts receives the best indirect light in a location near a southern-facing window.
Special Requirements for the Variegated String of Hearts
A string of hearts is a somewhat dainty plant. You should be certain to remember to monitor other aspects of its environment and conditions beyond water, light, and soil to ensure optimal care. These requirements include humidity, air circulation, water quality, and feeding.
The string of hearts is not a plant that needs high humidity. In fact, it will be fine in most house environments as long as you follow the other care requirements.
Ventilation is a vital component of a happy string of hearts. It has thin and wiry stems, which can be easily damaged, which means the right ventilation should be a priority when placed inside.
There are no extensive issues with water quality for this plant. You can use tap water successfully in most cases. However, you should avoid using very cold water. Instead, water a string of hearts with tepid or room temperature water to avoid shocking the delicate roots.
Plant Feeding Requirements
If you want to keep your plant thriving and healthy year after year, you can use almost any houseplant fertilizer during its regular growing season.
From spring to midsummer, a fertilizer will provide extra nutrition and support. Stop feeding your string of hearts, however, in midsummer to allow it time to prepare for its semi-dormancy in the fall and winter.
Additional Tips For Success with Plant
If you are trying to decide if the string of hearts is the right plant for you, look no further than the handy tips below. You can learn more about the planting and pruning requirements, as well as details about its susceptibility to pests and disease. Additionally, you can follow steps below to grow your string of hearts in no time at all.
The string of hearts prefer shallow pots thanks to their fine root structure. Make sure to plant them in a pot that will let them breathe and has decent drainage.
There is not a lot of effort required to prune a string of hearts. The main task should be regularly removing any dead stems or flowers.
You can control the length of your plant through pruning. The string of hearts is hardy when it comes to pruning, and hard pruning usually creates no harm. And you can cultivate any cuttings you take into new plants.
There are three main ways to propagate your string of hearts. A popular option if you have a large plant already is to take stem cuttings.
Taking a stem cutting is a simple process and only requires a little bit of time before you can plant a new string of hearts. You need to snip a small portion of the stem, allow it to form a callous at the end, and then plant in well-draining soil.
The string of hearts also has a unique feature that is useful in propagation. The small tubers that form on the stems can be removed from a parent plant and pressed directly into the soil. A detached tuber will quickly take root.
And if you are looking to start from scratch, you can grow a string of hearts from seed. You should plant in fall, and only outside if you live a zone above 9a. In cooler locations, it is always advised that you start your seedlings inside under a grow light to promote optimum propagation.
The string of hearts grows fairly fast, which means that you sometimes need to re-plant them to ensure the best living environment.
Generally, the best time to repot large, parent plants is the springtime. Springtime is also a great time to take stem cuttings for the propagation of new plants.
The Ceropegia woodii variegata is prone to the same issues as many houseplants. Pests such as aphids and mealybugs can occur, but you only need to follow the usual guidelines to get rid of them without harming your plant.
Because this plant is a type of succulent-like plant, over watering can be dangerous. Over watering a string of hearts can make the plant susceptible to fungus and fungal gnats. The most common reason for this type of plant dying is linked to fungus from over watering.
This plant is completely safe for both humans and animals. It is not toxic in case of accidental digestion. However, there is a plant known as the rosary pea that is extremely poisonous.
You should double-check that you have not bought a rosary pea instead of a string of hearts. The string of hearts is sometimes called a rosary vine, which is similar to the name rosary pea.
FAQ & Plant Tips
Q: Can this plant be put in full sun?
A: Although this long, trailing succulent prefers plenty of light, you should never place it in extremely bright, direct sunlight. Full sun can be too much for the delicate leaves of this plant.
Q: How fast does this plant grow?
A: This type of plant grows relatively fast, except in the winter months. When treated with proper care, this plant will quickly fill out a small container. It can sometimes grow to 10 feet long in the best conditions.
Q: Should you untangle the vines of this plant?
A: These delicate stems can get easily tangled. It is possible to separate them to make them appear neater, but you should always practice caution. You should not pull the stems apart quickly, or the leaves might easily get rip off.
The best thing to do should this happen is to very carefully and patiently and separate any joined stems. You can avoid getting your plants tangled by placing it away from drafty areas. Allowing your plant enough room on a shelf and not allowing little hands or pets to come into contact is ideal.
Q: Does this plant have flowers?
A: Yes, the flowers of the Ceropegia woodii variegata look like tiny purplish vases. They can appear at any time of the year but are less likely to show in the winter. You have the best chances to see flowers if you treat your string of hearts well and keep it happy.
Q: Are these safe around pets?
A: Although this plant is not toxic, you should be extremely careful of this plant near your pets. This plant has delicate stems that can hang down. They can easily be destroyed by the wayward paws of a cat or dog.
Q: Why is my string of hearts dying?
A: The most likely culprit is over watering. Over watering is particularly dangerous for this plant because it is a succulent vine. You can tell that your plant is receiving too much water if leaves start to turn yellow before finally falling off.
Q: Can you prune your string of hearts too much?
A: This plant is very hardy when it comes to pruning. You can even cut it all the way back in spring or summer to stimulate fresh growth. However, you should avoid cutting it back too severely in late fall or winter. It goes into a period of semi-dormancy in fall and winter.
Q: How do you make a string of hearts plant fuller and bushier?
A: You can cut back your plant to encourage more growth, especially in one chain. You might also loop one vine around the top of a pot along the surface of the soil. This looping is to encourage the tubers on a string of hearts to form roots and add more lush growth.
Q: Is it possible to save a dying string of hearts?
A: The most common cause for a string of hearts to die is over watering. If you have over watered a string of hearts, you should take a few immediate steps. First, you should stop watering and try to get the soil to completely dry. You should not put it in direct sunlight.
It will not help dry the soil, but it will stress your plant even more. You might also remove the plant from its pot or even extract the roots from the soil. Overall, you want to prevent or manage any stage of root rot before it gets too bad.
Q: Why are the leaves of my string of hearts pale green?
A: A low light environment will give your string of hearts a less dynamic look. There will be more subtle speckles, and the leaves might even be more spaced out.
Q: Why are the leaves of my string of hearts growing close together?
A: Bright light will encourage leaf growth to be very close on a stem. You will also notice very vivid colors on all of the leaves than in lower light.
If you wish the plant to be more sparse with leaves or longer in general, move it a slightly less bright location. Alternating light amounts during season will change the way the plant looks and grows.
Q: What do different leaf shapes mean on a string of hearts?
A: There is a difference between the look of older and younger leaves. Older leaves have more time to mature, and will often appear bigger and plumper.
Young leaves, especially ones part of new growth may change in shape as they mature. Leaf shapes on a string of hearts can range from triangular, roundish, or to the more common heart shaped.
Q: Why are leaves turning brown or yellow randomly?
A: Random, dying leaves is not a typical characteristic of a healthy string of heart houseplant. You should determine if over watering is the cause of leaves dying.
If you have been following the proper watering requirements, random leaves might have sustained damage. This is a type of plant that can be easily harmed if you are not careful.
If your plant has been exposed to direct or bright sunshine, it can also turn the plant leaves brown or crispy. Plants can get sunburns even so its important to make sure your plant is only exposed to indirect light.