The String of Hearts is a very easy to care for houseplant. Despite its small and sometimes fragile looking appearance, it's actually surprisingly robust and is currently a trendy and popular indoor plant.
It may also be called Chain of Hearts, Rosary Vine, Sweetheart Vine or even by the botanical name - Ceropegia Woodii. All common names come from the plant's subtle marbled heart-shaped leaves that grow from thin wiry stems.
They can be grown in almost all homes and make exceptional hanging plants, with a small footprint they perfectly suit narrow spaces where larger hanging plants would swamp the area. Their semi-succulent nature means ongoing upkeep is minimal, which is great news if your plant is positioned in a tricky to reach space (like ours which lives high up on top of a kitchen cupboard!).
How do you pronounce Ceropegia Woodii correctly? Say:
They grow fast, are fairly resistant to pests and diseases and will live happily in the same pot for several years without a single complaint. Another bonus is that they're safe to have around pets as they're non-toxic.
They can be a little on the pricey side, but this is partly because their current popularity attracts a premium. That said, once you have one, they're super easy to propagate so you can create more plants with ease. If you have a friend or family member with one perhaps see if you can pinch some propagating material so you can start your own for free.
Either way, these are very desirable indoor plants and because there is so much going for them, they're worth every penny!
The varieties and cultivars of Ceropegia Woodii as a houseplant is very limited. In fact, you're only likely to come across either the standard variety or the variegated type. To make things more complicated the two look remarkably similar at first glance because the standard is also slightly variegated, so can be hard to tell apart.
TIP - There are only two cultivars currently available. The "standard" and "variegated". Don't be fooled by anyone claiming they have something different.
The variegated type has the same mottled green and silvery grey on the leaf surface but just before the edges of the leaf, the green and grey disappear and are instead replaced with a slight purple hue. This carries onto the back of the leaf where the purple hue deepens.
Care requirements are the same and the difference in appearance between the two types is not overly striking. The variegated cultivar is also the rarer (and potentially more expensive) of the two.
Different light conditions can also change the overall leaf color and placement of the marbled markings. We talk about that in the "problems" section of the article further on. However we would stress again, there are only two generally sold cultivars and although two plants side by side could well look quite different they're actually likely to be the same.
This is an adaptable houseplant when it comes to light levels. It will put up with some lower light conditions and also some fairly bright spots. However avoid gloomy, low light conditions and intense sun-drenched south-facing windows.
You'll get the best looking leaves and good amounts of growth from having it in a bright location with just the occasional ray of sunlight hitting the growing stems.
This is a semi succulent plant so it will cope with sporadic watering. In our experience, it's perfectly happy and thrives by being well watered and then not watered again until the soil has or has almost, fully dried out. This could mean watering it once a week or so in Summer, and once every two weeks (or even less) in Winter.
TIP - Typically, plump leaves will often mean the plant has enough water. On the flip side, if the leaves are feeling squishy or spongy, then it's a good sign that it needs some more water.
Ultimately the amount of water it will need will depend on where you grow the plant in terms of how much heat and light it receives. Plants in warm temperatures and high light locations will need more water than those growing in cooler and lower light spots.
String of Hearts will easily rot if the soil is kept constantly wet, so ensure you let the soil dry between waterings. Be extra careful if you're growing it in a cooler / lower light part of your home.
The stems, from base to the tips, are very thin and wiry and can be easily damaged by pests or disease. So when you have clusters of stems in the same pot, to discourage pests and disease, good ventilation is recommended. However, the actual level of humidity itself is not overly important and your plant will put up with whatever it receives.
A specially formulated Cactus or Succulent feed is the ideal choice, but it won't turn its nose up at a regular all-purpose houseplant formulation if that's all you have.
Although the stems can grow to immense lengths, the plant doesn't need a great deal of fertiliser. Feeding twice a year is enough. We do ours in early Spring and once more in mid Summer and that's it.
15°C (59°F) - 25°C (77°F). This plant loves to be warm. So they should easily cope with both your average and also hottest rooms in your home. On the flip side they don't like the cold much.
There are some reports that they will be able to survive a mild frost and even some sub-zero temperatures providing the soil they're growing in is almost completely dry. However, some of the leaves and stems received damage and plants which had a wet growing medium faired even worse as the roots essentially froze.
Sub-zero temperatures are not a regular feature of modern homes, but just in case you're growing it outside in a garden or balcony to be absolutely safe we suggest not letting the plants remain in temperatures that start to creep below 5°C (41°F).
In time the String of Hearts will produce fairly large tubers to store nutrients and water. Nevertheless the root system of these plants stay quite basic which is why it's easy to grow so many stems close together in the same pot. This means they don't need much growing space.
Good drainage is essential as this will help aerate the soil and give the roots space to grow and prevent them from suffocating in tight, closed soils
All of this means outgrowing a pot does not occur very often and repotting is only needed infrequently. We could be talking about two, three or even four years here. As mentioned the roots are fragile so some damage is almost certain when you start digging and moving the plant around, so do be gentle and careful.
This houseplant is also a prime candidate for some specialist soil. On almost all our plant profile articles we say that standard potting compost is fine. However in this instance, if you can, we'd strongly recommend you avoid this and go for something much more open and naturally aerated, like a Cactus or Succulent designed mix.
If you're not sure what we mean, below are links to Amazon products which should help. You can buy them from Amazon, or most local Garden Centre's and Nurseries should have something like this too.
If you'd rather not buy a specialist compost, make sure whatever you use is as open as possible and add grit or something to aid in drainage (more ideas mentioned in our growing mediums guide). Good drainage is essential as this will help aerate the soil and give the roots space to grow and prevent them from suffocating in tight, closed soils.
In terms of the new pot, because these plants don't have extensive root systems they don't need a particularly deep or big container, so you could just slightly increase the size from the existing pot and it will be fine.
If you want to create more plants or bulk out your existing plant it's very easy to do by DIY propagation.
The String of Hearts looks best when several stems are growing fairly close in a pot, so when gathering the material you will need quite a bit so be sure you have enough "material" on the existing plant before you start.
In a week or so, small white roots will be visible and a month later they will be ready to plant into some soil. Just be extra careful as everything will be quite delicate, it might even help to "dig" small holes with a pencil before slotting the cutting into place and gently covering the roots.
TIP - Make sure you use an open airy soil mix. Small cuttings will struggle and have stunted growth if the soil is heavy and compacted
Initially keep the soil "moist" for the first week or two. Afterward treat like a mature plant, by letting the soil almost fully dry out before watering again.
It's super easy to propagate by cuttings and there is almost always a supply of cutting material as the mother plant will keep growing even after "pruning". You can also "layer" cuttings by laying a stem across a fresh pot of soil and then "pegging" the stem at the leaf nodes under the soil a little. New growth should be fairly rapid.
Fulfill the care instructions detailed above and you'll get rapid growth in Spring, Summer and Fall. During Winter you might get a little bit, but nowhere as much as other times of the year.
This is certainly a fast growing houseplant, although plants grown in lower light, the wrong type of soil or without enough water will be put out new growth at a much slower rate.
The natural height straight upwards out of the pot will be no more than two or three inches (5cm to 7.5cm). Some people wrap their plants around and around to create a bird's nest-like appearance, which will then give a taller looking plant (see the first photo at the start of the article for the beginnings of a wrap)
The long trailing stems will just grow and grow
The spread can be huge and this comes from the long trailing stems, that will just grow and grow. They tend not to split or divide, so each stem just keeps inching along week by week (see photo at the end of the article to see a cascading plant).
They can get very long, so feel free to prune them at the bottom once they've reached a height / spread you're happy with. Don't forget you can use the clippings to create more plants.
These plants do often flower indoors. They look like tiny vases and although you might only get one or two of these flowers at a time, they're still a welcome sight as it will show your plant is happy and thriving in your care. They can appear at any time during the year, although they're rare in Winter.
They won't last long, and you can pull or cut off the dead flower once it's finished its show. Sometimes you can get little small white ball like pods appearing at the base of the flower. As the stems are so tiny, it's probably best just to leave these pods where they are, otherwise trying to remove them could mean you damage the stem itself.
Yes and no. The plant itself is not toxic, so is safe around cats, dogs and people from that standpoint. But anyone who has spent time with a Ceropegia Woodii will know that the leaves and stems hook and grab onto things easily. You don't want any pet or child playing with this plant simply because it can be pulled from it's home and destroyed in a matter of seconds.
By this point, you should be aware that the stems get really long. Although attractive, the leaves are attached to the stems in such a way that it's very easy for things to get tangled and wrapped up.
It's actually more noticeable with the nearby stems, a small breeze from a nearby window and before you know it two stems have joined together in several places. It doesn't take much before a lot of the stems can be become quite tangled and messy.
You can separate them again, but do it carefully, don't try to pull them apart as it will cause leaves to be ripped off. It's a case of being very patient and gently and gradually separating everything.
Medium to Bright Light Good light is preferred. Some filtered sun for an hour or two a day would be well received.
Moderate Watering Water well and then don't water again until the potting mix has dried out almost completely.
Temperature Warm rooms are needed as they don't like the cold. Between 15°C (59°F) - 25°C (77°F).
Feeding Once or twice a year at most using a liquid fertiliser.
Remember we said earlier in this article that they will adapt to lower light conditions but will also enjoy some very bright spots? Well depending on what they've received over the last couple of months, will determine the leaf coloring you see.
What do purple hues on the leaves indicate? If the purple is fairly extensive then there is a good chance you actually have a Variegated String of Hearts instead.
Different Heart Leaf Shapes
Older leaves tend to be bigger and plumper than newer younger leaves. It can take many months before a leaf reaches full maturity, so the ever changing leaf shape is normal and to be expected.
We've touched on this within the article above. It does happen quite frequently and can take over an hour to detangle a very large plant! Try to prevent it from happening by keeping it away from high traffic areas where they can get knocked together and places with a large number of natural movements such as near open windows or doors.
Thankfully pests and diseases are not common with these houseplants. You need do need to watch out for Fungus Gnats in the soil and you may get the occasional Mealybug coming to visit, but that tends to be it.
Occasional Yellow / Brown dead leaves
Unlike a lot of houseplants, it's not typical for leaves on String of Heart plants to yellow or die off randomly. It does happen of course, normally towards the top or if lower down is likely to have been caused by the odd leaf getting damaged.
The bulk and look of these houseplants are made up of multiple stems all growing close together. So if you notice quite a few leaves in random places going brown, it might well be that one of the stems has completely died. Track the stems and see if that's the case. If it is then you have the task of trying to remove it from the rest.
Mass Yellow / Brown dead leaves
If lots of stems are going yellow and dying off, then there is a high chance your plant has been watered too frequently and has been overwatered. This is causing the roots to suffocate and allowing root rot to set in.
You can remove the dead stems in a similar way to the instructions in the point above. Although if most of the stems have gone like this, the plant in its current form might not be worth saving. The beauty of the String of Hearts is the clustering of the stems all close together. So if you only have one or two stems the look might not be as attractive. But if you like this, fine you can leave things as they are.
If you want to grow a "waterfall" of trailing stems, then consider salvaging what's left and propagating more plants to build a new cluster.
Either way, remember, water your plant well and then wait until it's almost / fully dried out before watering it again.
New cuttings not taking/growing once moved to soil
Cuttings are so easy to create and get started, but sometimes when they're in the soil the growth slows or stops almost completely. In our experience, the soil you're using can be a really important factor for success here.
Remember these are baby cuttings with tiny fragile roots. Trying to grow through compact and dense soil is hard going. Wherever possible try and use a soil mix that is open and light.
Our entire website is about houseplants and helping to educate people in caring for them. Part of this involves keeping an eye out for "new" plants that are becoming trendy. Along with Pilea Peperomioides, Instagram and houseplant influencers pointed out quite insistently that the String of Hearts was crash landing in our homes and needed to be looked at.
In the early days, it was hard to find these plants in stores and the ones that were available were priced $60+ / £45+ which for the size (the stems were only a few inches long!) was truly eye watering. Eventually, once they became more widespread prices dropped and I brought mine.
Getting it home was tricky as the stems kept twisting together, then came almost an hour of trying to untangle the unruly mess (think trying to separate a mass of plugs, phone chargers and wires from the back of a drawer!). Eventually, everything was good and I was left with a lovely cascading waterfall of stems (and a very pleasant feeling of satisfaction!).
I had a very narrow space at the top of a cupboard in the kitchen that had been empty for years. It was a difficult space, but the String of Hearts slotted in perfectly and has lived there as a "mother" plant for over a year now. During that time it's grown a crazy amount and every time the stems reach the countertop, I prune them back and propagate new plants.
Everything with this houseplant is easy. Care and maintenance are a breeze and all the while it's incredibly rewarding to have around.
(Article / Gallery) Young Variegated String of Hearts photo by Nicole at bloom and fiddle