String of hearts (Ceropegia woodii) is a popular vining plant native to South Africa. It bears grayish-green heart-shaped leaves and long trailing stems that cascade down like a waterfall. You can grow it in hanging baskets or in pots on shelves to create a captivating display.
This plant comes in different types, some with multiple colors or patterns. The variegated string of hearts has patches or streaks of different colors on its leaves that make it appear unique and visually striking. The leaf color may range from white, pink, or purple, combined with silver markings.
All varieties of string of hearts are tolerant of abuse and easy to care for. However, the variegated string of hearts is slightly more sensitive and thus needs more attention. Improper care can easily result in the plant fading and losing its variegated patterns.
|String of hearts, pink rosary vine, chain of hearts
|Ceropegia woodii or Ceropegia woodii f. variegata
|2 to 3-inches tall and 3 to 9 feet long.
|Partial sun to partial shade
|Well-drained (slightly acidic to neutral)
|Summer to fall (white red tubular flowers)
|USDA zone 9-12
|Non-toxic to pets and humans
Variegated string of hearts care
The variegated string of hears grow best outdoors in tropical or subtropical climates where temperatures are consistently warm. However, they make great indoor plants as long as the room gets plenty of bright indirect light.
In warm climates, string of hearts can be grown outdoors in rock gardens as ground cover or for covering walls. Otherwise, they are best planted in portable containers where they can easily be moved indoors when temperatures start to drop.
If you are planning to grow a variegated string of hearts indoors, here are the important care requirements.
Variegated string of hearts thrive in bright indirect light. The plant should receive about 5 to 6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight per day to sustain and enhance its variegation. However, too much direct sunlight can burn or damage the plant. Outdoors, ensure they are grown in a shaded area.
If you are growing the string of hearts indoors, place them near the brightest window but away from direct sunlight. East or west-facing windows should be the perfect spot. But if you see leaves wrinkling or getting soft, especially during summer, try to diffuse to the light or move the plant away from the window.
When the variegated string of hearts plant is not receiving enough light as needed, you’ll easily tell from the foliage. The leaves will start becoming pale and wider spaced from one another. In such a case, relocate the plant to a brighter spot or add some succulent grow lights in the room.
Additionally, plants not receiving light evenly may also etiolate or lean on one side as they try to reach the source of light. To avoid that, keep rotating the plant preferably every time you water so that all the sides can receive a balanced amount of light.
The variegated string of hearts is prone to root rot when overwatered or if left sitting in standing water. Additionally, they have great water storage capabilities. Therefore these plants can survive drought conditions and they need infrequent watering.
To avoid moisture-related issues, give your string of hearts a good soak of water regularly in spring and summer, typically when the soil has completely dried out. It’s important to insert your finger in the soil to check for moisture levels before watering.
Bottom watering is also a sufficient way to water variegated string of hearts plants. Simply place the plant in a shallow tray filled with water. The roots will perfectly absorb water through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. If bottom watering is not reaching top, consider soak watering.
Inserting the whole plant pot in water is useful when potting soil is compacted or has become extremely dry. Soak-watering should take only 10 to 15 minutes after which the pot must be removed from the water. The excess water should also be allowed to drain away before returning the plant to its location.
During the late fall and winter months, your variegated string of hearts will go dormant. Therefore, your watering should be cut back as the plant takes a rest. Just water once every 4 weeks to keep it alive. Wrinkling leaves and dry potting mix indicate the need for watering.
String of hearts need a well-draining soil to remain healthy. When planting, use succulent or cactus potting mix. If you are using the standard potting soil, mix it with pumice or perlite to improve drainage and aeration. A well-draining soil allows water to flow easily, ensuring the roots breathe and grow healthy.
Temperature and humidity
The variegated string of hearts grows best in warm conditions with a temperature range of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This hanging succulent can tolerate slightly cooler conditions but won’t cope in temperatures lower than 40°F.
During wintertime, aim to keep the temperature at 60-70°F (15-21°C) and humidity at 40 to 50%. Generally, this plant needs protection from frost and freezing temperatures.
Variegates string of hearts aren’t heavy feeders but it’s recommended to fertilise them once a month, in spring and summer. Use a well-balanced succulent fertilizer diluted to half-strength and apply as directed by the manufacturer. Do not fertilize during wintertime when the plant is dormant.
The variegated string of hearts doesn’t require frequent pruning. However, if the plant is growing out of proportion, you can trim some of the overgrown vines to maintain their shape and encourage bushier growth. You can also use the trimmed stems to propagate new plants.
Variegated string of hears can live pot-bound but it’s beneficial to repot the plant in fresh soil after every 3 to 4 years. The best time for repotting succulents is spring and summer. This active growth season helps in minimizing the risks of transplanting.
However, you must be very careful when repotting variegated string of hearts to prevent the delicate vines from breaking. Remember to use well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes at the bottom.
How to propagate string of hearts
String of hearts are easy to propagate as long as you follow a few simple rules. When this succulent matures, it produces aerial tubers which easily grow roots when they come into contact with soil. These tubers give the highest success rate when propagating string of hearts.
So if you want to expand your collection, look for healthy tubers on the parent plant and detach them. You may use a sharp knife to cut them off or twist them gently without causing any damage to the plant. Let the tubers sit for a day to callus over then insert them in your potting mix.
Mist the soil and place the tubers in a place with bright indirect light. In about one month, roots should start forming. Once the new plant appears to be growing, transplant it to your desired location and provide standard care as you would for mature succulents.
Stem cuttings approach
Since aerial tubers take time to form, you can propagate your variegated string of hearts succulent earlier in the growth stage using stem cuttings. To carry out this method, choose a healthy stem with nodes and obtain a cutting. You may let the cutting sit for a day to callus over.
Next, stick the vine in your potting mix ensuring the nodes are covered with soil. Place the cutting in a bright ventilated area and mist the soil regularly. Under proper care, your string of hearts cutting should root in about 4 to 5 weeks.
Propagating the string of hearts in water is also viable. All you need to do is prepare a vase with clean water and a healthy stem cutting from the parent plant. Remove the lower leaves and submerge the lower portion of the cutting ensuring the nodes are fully covered with water.
Place the container in a location with bright indirect light and keep replacing the water every 3 to 4 days. In a few weeks time, you’ll see roots emerging from the nodes on the stem cutting. Once they are long enough and the cutting has shown some sign of growth, transplant it to your desired location.
Common problems and solutions
Variegated string of hearts are hardy plants but you can’t avoid a few problems including the following:
- Wider spaces between the leaves is a sign that your string of hearts succulent is not receiving an adequate amount of sunlight. Try to increase the amount of light or reposition the plant to a brighter spot.
- Soft or drooping leaves commonly indicate too much direct sunlight. The leaves may eventually get scorched and crispy if the plant is not relocated to a cooler place away from the heat or direct sunlight.
- Leaves turning yellow and dropping can be a sign of underwatering or overwatering. If the soil is waterlogged, stop watering and let it dry completely. If you haven’t watered for a while, give the succulent a good soaking of water.
- Pests such as scale, aphids, and mealybugs can also suck sap from the plant causing it to weaken and become unhealthy. If you suspect pests, treat them with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
- If the string of hearts is wilting or looks shriveled, this can indicate root rot. Inspect the root, remove the damaged parts, and repot the plant in fresh potting soil.
The variegated string of hearts is one of the highly sought-after trailing succulents due to its captivating display of colors on its heart-shaped leaves. It is the best plant for hanging planters, shelves, and for covering walls. Its care and propagation are equally easy and straightforward.
Plant variegated string of hearts in well-draining soil, water infrequently, and ensure it gets plenty of bright indirect light. Although not a heavy feeder, fertilize it once or twice a year with a well-balanced houseplant fertilizer to encourage growth.
My name is Diane M Lewik, and I am the founder of this website. I am a degree holder in plant biology from the University of California – Berkeley. Over years, I have cultivated a vast collection of succulents and I have learned a great deal about how to grow and care for these unique plants.