The string of hearts: care and propagation

Know in one minute about the string of heart plant

  • The string of hearts plant is beautiful, creeping, flowering succulent.
  • This plant is easy to care for, wonderful to maintain, and a forgiving plant for beginners. 
  • Plant string of heart plant in well-drained soil with normal room humidity.
  • Watering only when the top few inches of soil are dry. 
  • Mild fertilizer to obtain the best growth.
  • Need direct sunlight (at least 3–4 hours) a day.
  • Repotting and pruning are not necessary.
  • Easy to propagate by seed, tubers, and stem cutting.

Introduction

The string of hearts (Ceropegia woodii) is a pretty, adorable, evergreen plant belonging to the family Apocynaceae. These plants are grown in hanging baskets because of their heart-shaped leaves, distinctive flowers. As the name suggests its leaves look like a row of large beads. 

Like all the succulents, this plant is also easy to care for and has good tolerance. The string of heart plants produces mixed coloring of off-white and pale magenta flowers in the growing season, spring, and summer. 

History

The plant was officially collected in 1881 by John Medly Wood, he was a self-trained botanist who gathered a large collection of plants in the province of Natal.

Common name

This plant is known by many different names. Chain of hearts, collar of hearts, rosary vine, hearts-on-a-string, necklace vine, sweetheart vine, and hearts enmeshed (because the vines tangle easily). Also known as bushman’s pipevine, lantern flower, wood’s ceropegia, hanging milkwort, Jacob’s beard, little pitchers, and hearts entangled.

Geographical distribution

A string of heart plants is found in South Africa, Mozambique, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland (1).

Botanical description

Appearance

The string of heart is a climber or trailing vine with slender, prostrate stems arising from tubers. This trailing vine can grow up to 2-4 meters (6 ft 7 inch-13 ft 1 inch) in length. 

Stem

It has a pink-purplish hue and produces heart-shaped leaves. The upper surface is deep green to pale green, often with bluish-white or silvery markings. 

Tuber

These are produced along the stems that are white and look like small beads. In the wild, these allow the plant to spread by rooting on whatever surface they can find and forming new growth there.

Flower

Along the stems, the plant also produces vase-shaped small flowers that are starting white, turning purplish as they age (2).

The string of heart plant care

Caring for string of hearts is very easy. For healthy and proper growth the right amount of light, temperature, water, and fertilizers are required. 

1. Light

This plant needs plenty of direct light (3–4 hrs/day). 

For indoor, it can be placed near a sunny window and for outdoors, partial shading is necessary. 

Side effects of low light

Low light will stunt stem elongation and cause large spaces between leaves. It also turns pale, sparse to plant, and causes a purplish hue or loss of the coloration or wilting of leaves. 

Side effect prolonged sunlight

On the other hand, direct exposure to the sun for a long time will scorch its leaves. Thus this plant needs small doses of direct sun.

2. Water

Irrigate only when the top two-thirds of the soil becomes dry. Water thoroughly during spring to early fall. Excess water or over-watering causes rotting of tubers and roots. It may cause yellow-brown spots and loss of the leaves.

3. Soil

The string of heart plants needs well-draining, light, nutritious, breathable soil. Best growth is obtained in equal parts of soil and perlite or sand.  

4. Fertilizer

Only fertilize the mature plants. Half-diluted water-soluble fertilizer gives good results during the active growing season. Do not fertilize the plant during dormant or winter seasons.

5. Repotting

This plant does not require to be repotted often as they perform best in crowded pots. Generally repotting is done in the spring before they start growing again.  Moreover, this plant does not need a very deep pot because it has very shallow roots so use a shallow container.  

6. Pruning

Pruning is necessary to control the length of the vines and keep them looking attractive.

7. Temperature and humidity

Best grown in 15-23 ºC (60-75 °F) for outdoor and 25–30ºC (below 60°F) for indoors with 40-50% humidity.

The string of Hearts Propagation

Plants are easily grown from seed, stem cuttings, or tubers that grow along the stems. 

Use equal parts of a soil-based potting mixture, coarse sand, and perlite as a growing medium. Make sure drainage is good. The best time to propagate should be done during the spring (i.e. the growing season).

Propagation by tuber and seeds

Plant seed and tuber take 1-2 weeks for germination when covered in a thin layer of sand. Proper development, it requires around 8 weeks. The best time for the propagation is in spring.

Propagation by stem cutting 

The string of heart plants can be easily propagated using stem cuttings with at least some internodes. Place them in a container with water or soil for a few days to weeks for the roots to grow out.

Is the string of hearts plant toxic to cats and dogs?

The string of heart plants is non-toxic to cats and dogs.

Side effects of String of heart plants on humans

This plant is generally nontoxic and nonallergic to humans. But if a person who is allergic to other plants can also be allergic to this plant. It may cause eczema or contact dermatitis. Allergic occupational dermatitis due to Ceropegia woodii (a string of hearts) (3).

The string of heart medicinal value or health benefits

The string of heart plants contains a high amount of alkaloids, phenols, tannins, and flavonoids (4). These compounds help to inhibit inflammation and pain, fight against microbes that are resistant to antibiotics. Also, increased urine production thus protects the body from various diseases (5).

Q&A

How do you take care of a string of hearts?

The string of hearts is a semi-succulent plant, easy to care for, and needs minimum maintenance.  They need very little effort like supplying some direct and indirect bright light, water when dry, providing well-draining soil. Moreover, feeding the plant with half diluted water-soluble fertilizer in spring is helpful for its growth.

How fast does the string of hearts grow?

At Least 8 weeks are required for the proper development of roots from the tubers. Apart from this, stem cutting of this plant propagates in water or soil and can take a few days to weeks to germinate. 

How much sun does the string of hearts need?

It does well in full to partial sun, at least 3–4 hours of sunlight a day. 

Is a string of hearts a succulent?

The string of heart plants is semi-succulent. It requires all the growth conditions like a succulent. Like any other succulent, this plant can store quite a bit of water in its stem and wonderfully patterned leaves.

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