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String of hearts: care, flower & propagation

The string of hearts plant is a very popular houseplant because of its uniquely decorative leaves and flowers. It is also extremely easy to care for. Here you will find an overview of the plant and our care tips.

String of hearts plant in hanging pot
Ceropegia woodii is ideal for hanging baskets [Photo: Matthew J. Lloyd/ Shutterstock.com]

This tropical succulent’s long shoots and beautiful leaves look great trailing out over the edge of hanging baskets. In this article you will find out what else makes this beautiful plant special, where to place it, and how you can easily propagate string of hearts yourself.

String of hearts: flower, origin, and characteristics

The string of hearts, or Ceropegia woodii, belongs to the genus Ceropegia in the dogbane family (Apocynaceae). It originates from South Africa but is now widespread in our homes. This is probably down to the beautiful, heart shaped leaves which give the plant its name. The leaves are grey-green with a white pattern and arranged in opposite directions on the long, tapered shoots. This makes the string of hearts ideal for hanging baskets that allow the shoots to hang down decoratively. When the string of hearts comes into flower, it produces pink, tubular flowers that look like candlesticks because of the darker coloured tip. Ceropegia woodii belongs to the succulents that have evolved to store water in their plant organs to survive longer dry periods.

String of hearts candlestick-shaped flowers
The flowers of the String of hearts look like small candlesticks [Photo: nnattalli/ Shutterstock.com]

Location and soil for Ceropegia woodii

The string of hearts prefers a bright and warm location, but out of direct sunlight. A room temperature of 20 to 25°C is ideal; below 15°C it starts to get too cold for the string of hearts. During the dormant period in winter, you can keep the string of hearts plant in colder temperatures, but do not let it drop below 8°C. The string of hearts is not particularly fussy about humidity either; it is comfortable in any room.

The soil should be loose and permeable. The string of hearts also likes a certain amount of humus. Add one part sand to two parts soil to increase the permeability of the soil and create ideal conditions for the string of hearts. Make sure the planter has a drainage hole and line the bottom with shards of clay or stones to avoid waterlogging.

Tip: In summer, you can also place the string of hearts in a sheltered spot on a balcony or in the garden. You should still avoid direct sunlight here, especially at midday.

String of hearts: care

Because string of hearts requires little care, it makes a perfect beginner’s plant. Succulents are very forgiving and are usually not too fussy about where they are planted. However, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Watering string of hearts: Like most succulents, string of hearts should not be watered excessively. Allow the soil to dry out well between watering before doing it again. However, do not allow the root ball to dry out completely. In very warm and bright locations and in the summer months, the plant generally needs more water. In winter, it should suffice to add a little water to the soil every fortnight.

Leaves of string of hearts plant
Heart-shaped leaves with a light pattern are typical of the String of hearts [Photo: Jus_Ol/ Shutterstock.com]

Fertilising string of hearts: String of hearts needs some nutrients to grow. During the growing season, the shoots grow quickly, so we recommend applying fertiliser regularly. Our Plantura Liquid Houseplant Food is an environmentally friendly and sustainable choice. Not only does it protect the environment, but it also enriches soil life with microorganisms. It contains the essential nutrients of nitrogen and potassium that ensure healthy, green foliage and strong roots. Add half the dose of liquid fertiliser to the water every four weeks from April to September.

Plantura Liquid Houseplant Food
Plantura Liquid Houseplant Food
Liquid fertiliser with an NK ratio of 3-4, for all houseplants, promotes healthy plant growth, child & pet friendly

Pruning string of hearts: The shoots of the lantern flower can be cut off if necessary. Do this in spring when the growth phase begins. The string of hearts then begins to form new shoots. The cut parts of the plant can also be used for propagation.

Transplanting string of hearts: When the roots have filled the soil, it is time to repot. This is also best done in spring so that the plant can grow well into its new soil. The fresh soil also provides the lantern flower with new nutrients that ensure a good start to the growing season.

String of hearts with yellow leaves
There can be a number of reasons for yellow leaves [Photo: Aum Haworthia/ Shutterstock.com]

The string of hearts’ leaves turn yellow: What can be done?

There may be a number of reasons for yellow leaf discolouration with various different solutions. Possible triggers are, for example:

  • Too much water: The string of hearts does not like waterlogging. Remove excess water from the saucer and only water when the soil has dried out. It is best to repot the plant in fresh soil at this point.
  • Direct sunlight: Too much direct sunlight can cause “burns” which results in leaves turning brown or yellow. Place the string of hearts in a less sunny but still bright spot.

Propagating the string of hearts: tubers, offshoots, or cuttings?

You can use two methods to propagate string of hearts. The simplest method is to propagate the string of hearts from seed tubers. These tubers are formed in the leaf axils (the point where the leaf shoot branches out of the main shoot of the plant) of mature plants and can simply be picked off and placed on fresh soil similar to that of the mother plant. Then place the pot in a shady location at around 17°C and keep the soil moist. Add a thin layer of sand on the surface of the soil to help prevent the tubers from rotting. As they are light germinators, do not cover the tubers with sand.

Long shoots of string of hearts plant
The String of hearts forms long shoots that can be used for propagation [Photo: Amverlly/ Shutterstock.com]

Propagation from cuttings is also easy. Cut the shoots in spring and make sure they are about 10cm long. Allow the cuttings to dry out for a few days and remove the lower leaves. Then plant the shoots into moist soil to form roots. This method also requires somewhat cooler temperatures of around 17°C. However, the cuttings need a brighter location than the seed tubers.

Is Ceropegia woodii poisonous?

The string of hearts belongs to the dogbane family. Many members of this plant family are poisonous but whether Ceropegia woodii is also poisonous remains uncertain. So far there is no evidence of toxicity, but to be on the safe side we advise not to let children or animals ingest any parts of the plant.

To find out how best to display the string of hearts in a hanging pot, read our article on hanging succulents.

Katja

I study landscape ecology and through my studies have discovered a love for plants. Plants are not only beautiful, but also have countless fascinating survival strategies. To bring a bit of nature into my home as well, I nurture my houseplants and herbs on every possible windowsill.
Favourite fruit: rhubarb and all kinds of berries
Favourite vegetables: onions and garlic