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This Delicate-Looking Plant Is Actually Shockingly Hardy

Here's how to care for it.

  • Posted on 22nd May, 2022 09:55 AM
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This Delicate-Looking Plant Is Actually Shockingly Hardy Image

The string of hearts (Ceropegia woodii) is a delicate yet marvelous plant, making it a no-brainer for any houseplant collection. It’s the epitome of low-maintenance and makes great use of any space—especially for those who have a thing for living walls and plants that like to hang. Here’s everything you need to know about keeping this beauty of a semi-succulent as a houseplant.

The string of hearts, aka Ceropegia.

Native to South Africa, the classic string of hearts is part succulent, part trailing vine, characterized by its heart-shaped green and cream leaves. There’s also a variegated variety that promises a pink hue on its leaves. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the vining plant in bloom, too. “These trumpet-shaped flowers are quite unique looking,” Laura Jenkins, Ph.D., the founder of House Plant House, tells mbg. “And if you see them in bright light, [they] are the most beautiful dusky pinky-lilac color!”

The string of hearts hails from warm, but not excessively wet climates, so you can forget about hanging it near a cold AC vent or in your humid bathroom. But near a window that receives tons of light? It’ll love that. “It enjoys warmth, but it might suffer in temperatures above 90 degrees,” says content creator and houseplant lover Brittany Goldwyn Merth.

You should have no trouble finding this popular houseplant in your local nursery, gift shop, or online retailer.

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Growth tips.

The string of hearts prefers an environment with plenty of bright, indirect sunlight and will do well in a pot with well-draining soil. Think about planting it in a cactus potting mix, perlite, peat, or moss blend; You’ll want to treat your string of hearts like a succulent. (These plants also look and do great in an open terrarium, if you’re looking to spice up your collection!)

Speaking of treating it like a succulent, this means letting your string of hearts dry out between waterings. “When the potting mix has dried out, it feels much lighter to pick up,” explains Jenkins. Or you can use your fingers to tell when the top two-thirds of the soil is bone dry. And absolutely, under no circumstances, do you need to frequently water or fertilize this plant during the winter. If you do choose to fertilize your plant in spring and summer, Goldwyn Merth recommends using either worm castings or organic fertilizer for a gentler option.

As a fast grower, the string of hearts fills and trails along whatever space it’s in. “They really do grow and grow if you don’t prune them at all,” Jenkins tells mbg. The great news is they actually prefer to snuggle and be slightly rootbound so there’s absolutely no rush to repot this guy. It’s truly a set it and let it thrive kind of houseplant. 

When the day does come to repot, give yourself plenty of time to do it because it can be tricky, especially if your plant has longer leaves. Take a slow and steady approach to keep the vines from tangling and the rootball from enduring transplant shock.

To maximize its growth potential, opt for a hanging planter near a window, ledge, or window sill!

Propagating a string of hearts.

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True to its succulent nature, string of hearts is supremely easy to propagate. Water propagation is always an option, but there's also a particularly interesting way of propagating these semi-succulents that’s worth giving a try: the butterfly method.

“It’s called this because the pairs of ‘hearts’ look like little butterflies sitting on top of the potting mix,” says Jenkins. Here’s how to use the butterfly method to propagate your string of hearts.

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Materials:

  • Your string of hearts plant
  • Scissors
  • A small pot or container to place your clippings
  • Potting soil or moss/ peat
  • A spray bottle filled with water (optional)

Method:

Step 1: Grab your materials.

Grab scissors, another pot or wide, aerated container to put your clipping into, and potting soil. (Moss and peat work, too!) If you have a bottle for spritzing, you’ll also want to grab that.

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Step 2: Make your cut.

Honestly, cut anywhere. The cool thing about the string of hearts is that it has nodes all over the place. When you make your cut, think about cutting off a strand of the plant—not a lone leaf. You’ll want a few leaves on your cutting to ensure there are multiple nodes for new roots to spring from.

Step 3: Place the cutting in the medium.

Place the cutting on top of your soil or growing medium of choice. You want to bury the nodes, but not the leaves. (Remember: Butterfly wings!)

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Step 4: Light, spritz, repeat.

Give your cutting a nice spritz to moisten the potting mix. Then, place your pot or container in a spot that receives plenty of filtered bright light. “I recommend keeping a clear plastic baggie over the pot to help keep humidity high while the plant is rooting,” Goldwyn Merth tells mbg. 

Check on it daily to make sure it’s loving the new digs. Spritz with water when it needs it, leave it be when it doesn’t. After roughly two weeks, or when you notice white fuzzy roots form at each node, you have yourself a new string of hearts plant.

Step 5: Pot it.

If you used a container to propagate, transfer your new plant to a new home with well-draining soil.

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The takeaway.

The string of hearts is an eye-catching plant that makes a wonderful addition to any home. It’s not the kind of houseplant that makes a loud statement, but it has a way of adding character to a space in an unassuming way.

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