String of Hearts : Caring for a Semi-Succulent Plant

Content Index

String of hearts has really captured many people hearts with its beauty and simple care. This plant is suitable to grow in indoor and outdoor setting. It is a great choice for new gardeners who want to have more than just green leaves in their living space.


Ceropegia woodii or string of hearts is a native plant of South Africa. It has various nicknames like chain of hearts, hearts on a string, Chinese lantern, and Rosary Vine.


As it names suggests, this plant has dark green heart-shaped leaves with purple/pink undersides. Marbled and variegated white/silver patterns decorate the leaf surface. The string-like vines where the leaves grow appear with purple hue.


It is rare, but the flowers are quite interesting. The 1 inch flowers have bulbous base as well as white or pink tubular corolla. Five magenta petals form a miniature canopy, thus Rosary Vine name appeared. Others also think that the flower shape resembling a lantern.

These flowers produce some scents to attract small flies. Later, the plant will release the flies rather than eating them like carnivorous plants. The escaped flies bring the pollen on them and transfer it to other plants.

They mostly bloom in late summer or early fall. To make the flowers bloom indoor, put the plant in its ideal lighting condition and feed with liquid fertilizer.



A mature version of this plant grows 2-7 cm tall. The stems could stretch 2 meters long or more particularly outdoor. Even with its small leaves; the shape, color, and veins have created a dimensional appearance to the eyes. The thin and delicate thin would help the plant to hook to other supporting objects like tree or stone.

Younger plants start with thin leaves that easy to curl. After the plants grow bigger and mature, the “hearts” become thicker. They grow fast and easy to multiply. It means you can save more money than buying more plants.

This plant is more familiar with dry condition, thus it has quite a strong survival instinct. Therefore, the plant doesn’t require much water and still tolerate cold weather a bit.

In the growing season (spring and summer) you might spoil them with frequent water and bright indirect sunlight for good growth. Despite many people grow it as a trailing plant, it is also common to let the plant sprawling on the ground instead on the hanging basket.

Toxicity and Safety

Compare to other “real” succulent plants, string of hearts plants enter a non-toxic plant group. Nevertheless, we suggest you NOT to eat them as they are not edible.

What you need to look at is how to protect it from kids and pets. Its trailing veins and delicate leaves would invite them to play with it, causing damage. So, place the plant higher of further from the pet and kid reach.

Tips to Buy String of Hearts

If the nearby local nursery doesn’t sell this plant, many online shops have sold various houseplants including string of hearts. Some online shops sell Rosary Vine in affordable price plus free shipping. Other comes in more expensive price, but have more varieties to choose from.

Try to choose a healthy mature plant or bigger ones. Read the customer and individual seller reviews thoroughly. Shipping the plant could be tricky, therefore ensure that the sellers are professional in their field. Once you receive the delivery, examine the plant as the plant might bring pest or get sick.

Setting and placement


In outdoor setting, you could position string of hearts plants in cascading down walls, ground cover, or rock gardens. It is okay to leave them outside all year ONLY if you live in USDA zones 9-11 (warmer areas). However, be careful of cold draft or direct sunlight. Make sure you provide a shaded area or shelter to protect the plant.

On the other hands, you can still grow these plants outdoor even if you live in a cold region. To anticipate the winter, grow the plants in a portable container. Once the temperature drops, bring them inside.


Hanging basket/pot is the common medium to display the plants indoor. If possible, place the pot inside the natural brightest room in your house. Remember that extreme heat and cold may hurt the leaves if you place it too close to window. A dark corner is not suitable for this plant.

Acclimatization comes first if you want to move the plant outdoor in summer. This is essential to prevent the leaves from scorching. During winter, maintain the temperature above 15°C

Read also : String of Bananas : Simple Ways to Grow and Handle


String of hearts thrives well in warm temperature of 26-29°C. A short period of 20°C or lower might be tolerable, especially in winter. However, it would kill the plant when continues longer and without sufficient moisture.

Any temperature fluctuation (heat and cold) may shock the plant. They like dry air, but not intense heat and frost. Exposing them to household appliance such as AC and heating vent is dangerous. In addition to stable temperature, this plant needs excellent air circulation for good.


This plant is good news for any household with dry air and those live in four seasons region. Unlike other tropical plants, string of hearts prefers lower humidity around 40%-50%.

Less watering should not be a problem when you live in humid area. Still, try to lower the humidity level when the plant enters dormancy in winter.


Experts say that bright indirect light is important for string of hearts. However, many beginners might ask what it means by bright indirect light. Other may suggest referring to foot candle measurement using light meter or certain phone apps.

Sound complicated? Here is a quick summary to indicate bright indirect light easily. First, the light cast a distinct but not the darkest shadow. Second, you are still able to read newspaper in that condition.


String of hearts requires bright indirect light on daily basis. Ideally, the plant should get a balance between direct and indirect light with moderate intensity. The right lighting will encourage flower production and the overall growth of plant.

  • Some people suggest placing the plant near south or west-facing windows since they are the brightest window. Yet, northern or eastern-facing windows are not that bad either. Simply move the pot a bit far away when the sunlight is too much.
  • When attempting to diffuse or filter the intense light please refer to the basic color rule. White color would reflect more light than dark color. For instance, choose white sheer curtain where the light could easily pass through between the panes.

For your information, bright light will maintain the deep green color and silver pattern on the leaves. Meanwhile, you will get a lighter green leaves under less bright lighting condition.

  • Morning or afternoon direct sunshine is safer than hot midday sun. You can put the plant a few feet away from the window at noon to avoid sunburn. In outdoor setting, keep the plant under bright but shaded area for optimum light absorption.
  • For the rest of a day, ensure you provide indirect light by installing a hanging grow light nearby. This indoor lighting is a good supporter when the plant is in a low light area.


To keep the variegated feature and color, Rosary Vine needs equal lighting. Depend on the position, you may have to rotate the plant occasionally.


This plant will send some signals when it gets improper lighting. Pale leaves and subtle variegation indicate lack of lighting. Moreover, the leaves may grow sparse and leggy.



Since String of hearts plants are not a huge plant, small pot would be suffice. Don’t worry because they are quite okay with restricted space. Hence, oversized pot is absolutely not ideal since it may lead to overwatering.


Porous pot made of terracotta for example, is perfect for this plant. This pot would allow fast draining that prevent the roots from staying in wet condition.

Drainage hole

The pot for this plant must have at least one drainage hole! Drill one if your pot doesn’t have it. More drainage holes might be necessary if the soil is too compact or if you tend to overwater.


It might not be the true succulents, but Rosary Vine grows well in cactus/succulent potting mix. If using regular potting soil, you must add perlite/pumice to promote better drainage.

As a reminder, overly rich potting mix might turn your string of hearts into straggly-looking plant. You may add organic-rich material for the plant fertility, but just a little bit is enough.


Basically, string of hearts is not a big eater. The purpose of applying fertilizer is specifically to stimulate flower growth. Still, adding a bit of fertilizer is useful to grow longer vine, maintain health, and improve pest resistance.

You could apply a houseplant fertilizer diluted at half strength, once a month in growing seasons. Don’t use fertilizer containing high nitrogen because the plant may turn to be excessively soft. Then, never feed the plant during winter. Always follow the label instruction for commercial fertilizer and don’t overfeed the plant.



This plant enjoys being in a root bound condition for quite a long time. Therefore, frequent repotting is unessential. You only need to repot once every 2 or 3 years in spring or summer preferably. Repotting during active growing months would minimize transplant damage.

Well, due to its active growth, the plant will eventually need larger space to grow. Once the roots overflow outside the pot, repot the plant. Additionally, repotting is the right time to replenish the soil that has lost most of its nutrients.

Prepare a one size bigger pot than the old one with ample drainage holes. Then, fill it with succulent compost and peat-free cactus. Another option is to mix a peat-free house plant compost and perlite.


Basic rules

  1. In warm months water the plant biweekly or more often in higher heat location. Since string of hearts is prone to overly wet condition, always watering after the soil is fully dry (at least 2/3).
  2. Improve the aeration if the soil is too compact after replanting. Next, deep watering the plant from the bottom. Scientifically, just let ¼ of soil in the pot to soak for ±10 minutes. Wait until the excess water escapes through drainage holes.
  3. Cut watering frequency in winter (into every 3 or 4 weeks). When entering a semi-dormant period in cold months, the plant actually busily prepares for the next growth in spring. Although droopier leaves may appear, DON’T give water no matter what. This is a normal life cycle and the plant will return in its best condition soon.


There is another method to check the watering time beside using finger testing and moisture meter. Firm leaves means the plant is not thirsty yet. Contrarily, the plant needs thorough watering if it has soft foliage that is also easier to bend.

Watering problem: indication and solution


Dropping and curling leaves are the common sign of under watering. The foliage may look thinner too. If you spot these signs, give enough water then move it to a shaded area. After several watering cycles (2 or 3), your string of hearts will recover well.


At the beginning you will see the following symptoms: leaf discoloration, swollen leaves, and leaves start dropping. In the worst case, the leaves turn mushy along with the roots below.

The first action you must take is stop watering the plant right away. Let the soil to completely dry out for a while. During this time gap, find the cause of overwatering. If soil is the one to blame, replace the current one with fresh, porous, and well-drained soil.


There is no fixed period when you must prune the plant. Some people simply cut the too long vines to make it tidier. Cut the long vines into your like right below the node. This is a place where some leaves grow of the stem.

Instead of throwing them, you can propagate the vines in the soil to get more Rosary Vines. Also, remove the dead or rotting parts if any. Aside from that, it will be fine without pruning.

Moreover, dusting the plant carefully is beneficial for efficient photosynthesis. At the same time, you should examine the plant condition in case of disease and pest issues.


Tuber Propagation Method

The older string of plant would have bigger and more tubers to choose from. A guide to pick the right one is those with fingernail size at minimum. If you see small white balls both on the stem and root, they are actually tubers not flower.

  1. Cut the tubers with their vines.
  2. Press lightly the selected tubers in the soil from the old pot or new soil. The bottom part should be under the soil.
  3. Half cover the space (with soil) where the tuber connect with the vine.
  4. Place the tubers in bright enough area and water them moderately.
  5. After a few weeks, you may cut the vines as the roots would have established.

Water Propagation Method

Any beginners in gardening would love this easy propagation method.

  1. Prepare sterile shears, vase, and clean water.
  2. In the spring, cut a number of vines you want from the mother plant.
  3. Put the vines inside the vase with water.
  4. Remove the remaining leaves below because you don’t need to submerge them.
  5. The vase must stay in warm area with bright indirect light.
  6. Replace the water on weekly basis.
  7. Normally, you can witness the growing roots in a few days.
  8. If the light and temperature are not ideal it might take longer for the plant to grow the roots. Some have to wait 3-4 weeks.
  9. Then, you can move these plants to the soil.

Soil Propagation Method

This method is a little bit tricky for some people. Nonetheless, with some patience you can have a successful soil propagation.

  1. Use an aerated and moist soil.
  2. After cutting the vines, remove the leaves to avoid rot.
  3. Create small holes on the soil using stick-like object.
  4. Then slightly stick the vines in the soil. Push some soil to the center to secure the position.
  5. Ensure the plants stay in well-lit area with good aeration.
  6. Water the plants weekly to keep the soil slightly moist.
  7. In 3-4 weeks, the roots will pop out. Next, if new leaves grow, you can say that the propagation is successful.

Tips. Some suggest to dip the vine bottom part in rooting hormone to encourage faster growth. Rooting hormone is a common synthetic chemical to use in plant propagation.



Building a weekly inspection habit helps preventing pest infestation in most houseplants. Thoroughly check the leaves, undersides, and soil. The pests are mainly tiny and that makes it harder to find them before it is too late.


These pests target are the sap in the plant tissue. With pear-like shape, long antennas, and only ¼ inch in size, it is normal to ignore them at a glance. They also grow in various colors and reproduce rapidly until covering the whole plant.


Fortunately, they are pretty slow to run away. Therefore, you still have a chance to save the plant. You could spray some cold water to the leaves as first aid. For severe infestation, dust your plant with flour. This common cooking ingredient work well to make the pest experiencing constipation which leads to their death.


These particular insects produce sticky matter after their infestation. They are able to move faster from one plant to another. A big pest population would cause yellow and curling leaves.


Mix water and soap in equal part. Use this soap dilution to wash the plant. After that, move on with diluted rubbing alcohol and apply it on the leaf and vine. Repeat this treatment twice a month till no pest and its sticky residue left. To prevent the spreading, isolate the plant from other greeneries.


Scales have shell like-cover to protect their body. They don’t like to move that much, but will suck the plant sap quietly. Similar to mealybugs, scales generate sticky substance called honeydew. In this condition, the plant is going to wilt and have black mould on the leaves. The stems also become the victim of scales.


Rub the leaves and stems using neem oil, soapy water, or mild dishwashing liquid. A mixture of soda and water is effective when fungus develop. After that, wash the plant thoroughly to flush the dead insects. To avoid burn, never use these mixtures in a hot and bright day.

Note. Chemical or synthetic pesticide should be the last resort to save the plant. Early prevention is crucial. Since it is a small and delicate plant, always treat them gently to lower the damage.


Low maintenance could arise various problem for string of hearts plants. Luckily, they are quite strong. Simple treatment such as correcting watering practice or relocating the plant into brighter area are usually enough.

Common diseases and causes

  • Brown leaves: overwatering, dry condition, sunburn
  • Curling leaves: lack of light, under watering, pest, or simply natural growth
  • Dark spot: pest, fungal disease, wrong lighting
  • Drying leaves: dry condition, root bound, excessive sun exposure
  • Falling off/dropping leaves: lack of light, waterlogged (especially the lower leaves near root)
  • Leggy stems: insufficient lighting
  • Losing color (pale): higher chance to occur in variegated version, lack of light, season, change in environment after repotting/propagation
  • Mold: soggy soil, looks like white substance on the soil surface
  • Rot: overwatering, dark condition, sunburn
  • Slow growth: low light condition, root bound small pot, cold climate/dormancy
  • Smaller leaves: root bound, under watering, lack of light, new growth
  • Thin leaves: lack of light, plant age
  • Yellow leaves: overwatering, too cold temperature, insufficient lighting

Other Varieties and Similar Plants

  • Durban or String of Spades

The heart shaped leaves are more pointed than the regular string of hearts. So, the leaves shape is more like a diamond or spade. It has a light green hue on the leaves and grows a bit slower.

  • Silver Glory

Silver color is more dominant than green on the leaves. Some describe the foliage to be similar to apple or pumpkin. The bottom part has rounder shape.

  • Orange River

Lighter green color covers the foliage surface. In fact, the faint orange hue would show up on the leaves and undersides if you strain them a little bit.

Frequently asked questions

Is string of hearts a succulent plant?

String of hearts is NOT a succulent although its appearance might deceive. Because this plant can store water like the original succulents, many call it as semi-succulent plant instead.

How to create a fuller look for string of hearts?

Keep the plant in bright area and put the pruning stems into the soil.

Should I mist string of hearts?

We don’t recommend misting the plant because string of hearts likes low humidity. Excessive misting could harm the plant.

Leave a Comment