How to grow and care for a string of hearts house plant

String of hearts, Ceropegia woodii

String of hearts (Ceropegia woodii) is a trailing house plant with heart-shaped grey leaves with attractive mottling, and pinkish undersides. In summer it may bear pink, tubular flowers. String of hearts is a succulent plant and is native to South-Africa and Zimbabwe.

How to grow string of hearts

Grow string of hearts in bright indirect light, out of direct sunshine. Water regularly in spring and summer, allowing the soil to completely dry out between waterings. Reduce watering in winter, and never let the plant sit in water as the roots can rot and kill the plant. Fertilise with house plant fertiliser once or twice a year, during the growing season.


Where to grow string of hearts

String of hearts growing in a yellow pot
String of hearts growing in a yellow pot on a shelf. Getty Images

Grow string of hearts in a bright spot, out of direct sunlight. It’s ideal for growing on a shelf or hanging pot, so its leaves can trail over the edges.


How to care for string of hearts plant

New leaves of string of hearts plant
New leaves of string of hearts plant. Getty Images

Water regularly in spring and summer, allowing the compost to completely dry out between waterings. Reduce watering in autumn and winter, and never let the plant sit in waterlogged soil, as this can cause the roots to rot.

String of hearts isn’t a particularly hungry plant, but it’s a good idea to fertilise pot-grown plants twice a year, in spring and summer.

Repot string of hearts only when it starts to out-grow its existing pot, moving it to a slightly larger container. Use a free-draining compost mix such as a peat-free cactus and succulent compost, or a peat-free house plant compost mixed with perlite. Repot in late-spring and summer, when it’s in active growth.


How to propagate string of hearts

Propagating string of hearts plant by layering
Propagating string of hearts plant by layering

There are two ways to propagate string of hearts plants – one is considerably easier than the other. The easy way is to propagate by layering. After the plant flowers, look for bead-like aerial tubers on the vine, which take root when they touch the soil. To propagate new plants, prepare a new pot of damp compost and simply drape a vine over the new pot, ensuring a tuber makes contact with the compost. Keep the compost moist for around a month and you should see roots develop from the tuber and grow into the compost. Once the tuber has developed roots and the new plant appears to be growing strongly, simply trim away the stem that has a tuber attached, to separate your new plant from the original.

If you don’t want to wait for tubers to develop, you can propagate new string of hearts plants from stem cuttings. Bear in mind that this process can take months, and it’s a good idea to take several cuttings as chances of success are limited.

  1. Trim a length of stem just below a leaf
  2. Remove the lower leaves and place the stem in water
  3. Leave the stem in water until it has developed a good root system – this could take several weeks. Replace the water regularly
  4. Pot the well-rooted cuttings into gritty, peat-free house plant or cuttings compost, and water well. Keep plants well watered until they appear to be growing strongly, and then reduce watering to normal levels for string of hearts

Growing string of hearts: problem-solving

Large spaces between the leaves indicate that your string of hearts may not be getting enough light.

Yellowing leaves and root rot may mean you’re overwatering the plant. Always let the compost completely dry out between waterings.

Wilted and deflated leaves means the plant isn’t getting enough water.

Scorched or crispy leaves indicate too much sunlight – move it to somewhere bright but out of direct light.

Advice on buying string of hearts

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  • Buy as large a plant as you can afford, as this makes for the most dramatic display
  • Always check plants for signs of damage or disease before planting

Where to buy string of hearts

 

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