Call it what you will—sweetheart plant, lucky hearts, Valentine hoya, or wax plant—the fact remains: Hoya kerrii is easy to love. With leaves shaped like cartoon hearts and long, winding stems, this slow-growing succulent lives in the hearts of indoor gardeners everywhere. To help you care for your little sweetie vine, we’ve gathered all the info you need: everything from light, water, fertilizer and soil requirements to propagation methods to common growing problems to where to buy your own Sweetheart Hoya.
Hoya Kerrii Details
AKA Sweetheart Plant, Sweetheart Hoya, Lucky Hearts, Wax Plant, Valentine Hoya
Light: bright indirect sunlight
Water: Only when the soil gets a little dry
Temperature range: 65 – 80° F
Height: Stems can reach 6 feet or more
Special care: Susceptible to root rot from overwatering, and to spider mites, caterpillars, whiteflies, aphids, and other common pests.
Benefits of Growing a Hoya kerrii
One of the main things that the Sweetheart Plant is known for is its leaves that are shaped like tiny hearts. While this is a plant that can grow on vines, it is typically found in individual cuttings with a single leaf is potted and given as a Valentine’s Day gift. While the Sweetheart plant is adorable in its “miniature” version, you can’t really grow vines if the cut leaf doesn’t have a stem (more on that, later in the article).
Aside from being a plant suitable for people who want to give a different gift on the most romantic day of the year, it’s also a plant suitable for beginners because it doesn’t require any intensive care. That means that even if you’re new to this whole plant owner thing, you can have a Sweetheart Plant that thrives with the basic care rules that we’re about to show you.
Hoya kerrii Care
Caring for the Sweetheart Plant isn’t all that complicated as long as you follow some basic guidelines.
This plant loves bright indirect sunlight throughout the entire year. If you don’t really have sunny spots inside your house, you can purchase artificial grow lights. These should be placed about 8 inches above the plants themselves. You want to keep the lights turned on for about 14 hours per day and keep them in a dark place at night.
Watering your Hoya kerrii
As far as watering is concerned, make sure the plant gets enough water from the start or spring until fall. You want the potting mix to get a little bit dry between watering. Note that the plant doesn’t tolerate soggy soil, which means that you will have to choose a pot with a drainage hole to eliminate the excess water. Always make sure that the water tray is empty as well. During the winter, you want to add just a little bit of water as to prevent the soil from becoming completely dry.
If you notice that the leaves of the plants turn brown or have wrinkles, that means the plant is too dry.
Humidity & Temperature
The Sweetheart Plant thrives when the humidity level is around 40 percent. The plant is exceptionally resistant in dry air conditions.
In terms of temperature, the Hoya kerrii can withstand temperatures as low as 50° F, but the ideal temperature for the plant to thrive indoors is between 65 and 80° F.
Make sure that you keep the plant away from air conditioning and heat vents.
As for fertilizing, the plant needs water-soluble fertilizer that’s designed for succulents. Dilute it by half and feed the plant every month from the start of spring until fall.
Because this is a wax plant, it can basically attract any pests that are common to wax plants in general. That includes mealybugs, thrips, slugs, spider mites, etc. Wipe the leaves each week to remove dust. If you notice pests of any kind, spray the plant with insecticidal soap, neem oil, or another plant-safe cleanser designed to remove pests and protect your plant’s health.
There are three varieties of Hoya kerrii which, at a glance, look very similar to one another.
The standard all-green Sweetheart plant is the most common, the easiest to find, and generally the least expensive. It’s available in most greenhouses, succulent shops, and anyplace you can buy houseplants online.
The Hoya Kerrii Variegata, which is a heart-shaped plant that has leaves in a bright green color. The edges of the leaves are often in a creamy-yellow color (sometimes even white).
The Hoya Kerrii Reverse Variegata, which has bright green leaves in the shape of tiny hearts. Compared to the Variegata, this variety has center leaf variegation, this being the easiest way to tell the two varieties apart.
If you want to propagate the Sweetheart Plant, you can do so through 3-inch stem tip cuttings performed in spring. Locate the place where the leaf is attached to the stem and cut just below that spot (which is known as a node). Inside the node lie cells that will help grow roots. Every cut that you make needs to have a minimum of one pair of leaves. Proceed to place the cutting in potting mix so that roots may grow.
Alternatively, you can dip the cut end in rooting hormone powder and then proceed to place it in water. Leave it in bright light conditions, but make sure there is no direct sunlight. Within two weeks, you should start to notice growing roots. Make sure that you change the water once per week. When the roots are about one or two inches in length, you can proceed to repot them in soil.
If you have a single Hoya Kerrii leaf, then pruning is one care less for you. However, those of you that have vines of the Sweetheart Plant are going to have to know a little bit about what it means to prune this plant.
You want to use a pair of pruning shears to cut any dead, damaged, or wilted leaves. You also want to remove damaged or dead branches or vines. You can recognize these by their brown or yellow color. If you notice that there is any foliage showing signs of disease (like chalky leaves and vines), trim them as well.
Purchasing a Sweetheart Plant
If you want to buy a single leaf of this plant to gift out to someone you love, The Sill is a great place to start\. You can even select the design and color of the planter, for a more personalized shopping experience.
Hoya Sweetheart Duo in Custom Planters
Each heart is a rooted cutting from the Hoya kerri succulent plant. They do well in full sun, with infrequent waterings. This set comes handpotted in earthenware planters with matching saucers. Buy as a duo and save $14. Gift them both – or keep one or both for yourself.
Amazon is no stranger to the Hoya kerrii plant either. This particular purchasing option includes leaves and a little bit of stem, which is a great “starting kit” for those who want to grow a large fine of these adorable plants.
Costa Farms Live Hoya Heart
Grow your love with this unique, long-lasting Hoya heart-shaped, low-maintenance plant that grows like a succulent. Ultra-trendy and easy to grow, it's great as a gift all year long. Grows best in sunlight. Water when the soil is dry.
House Plant Shop sells the variegated variety and seems to be well stocked, so if you’re hoping to get your hands on one of the harder-to-find varieties, this is a good starting point.
Hoya Sweetheart Variegated in 4-Inch Pot
This single-leaf offering is a very slow grower, but is also extremely hardy. Ideal as a novelty gift, it is more of an ornament than a needy houseplant. For the houseplant enthusiast, proper care and patience can be rewarded with a striking growth of multiple heart-shaped leaves on vines.
For all varieties of Hoya kerrii, but especially for the variegated and revere variegated plants, Etsy is an excellent source.
At this point, it’s important to note that it will be very difficult to find a fully-vined Sweetheart Plant at a decent price, as most of them are sold as single-leaf cuttings.
How can I make my Hoya grow faster?
The trick is to use artificial light. You don’t want the plants to be placed in direct sunlight as this can cause the leaves to turn yellow. With a good grow light setup, your Hoya can thrive and the heat will make sure that the plant’s soil is never too soggy.
Why is my Hoya not growing?
If you are trying to propagate a Sweetheart Plant but it just doesn’t seem to be growing, the answer is pretty straightforward. The roots of the Hoya plant can grow from a single leaf but if there is no stem attached to it, it will never actually fine. That means that every time you attempt to grow a Sweetheart Plant, you will need to make sure that there is a piece of stem attached to the leaf for proper growth. However, if you want to grow but a single leaf and place it in something like a miniature pot, then you don’t have to cut part of the stem. Those of you that want a vining plant will require that piece of stem.
Is the Sweetheart Plant toxic?
It’s true that there are a few succulents that happen to be toxic to children and pets, but the Hoya Kerrii is not one of them. According to the ASPCA, the plant is non-toxic for pets but ingesting a large quantity of the plant will still cause the animals to have an upset stomach.
Do Hoyas like to be misted?
It really depends on why you’re misting them. If you need to mist the plants to give them an extra boost of humidity or because they are dusty and need cleaning, that’s fine. However, you should avoid misting the plant when it’s flowering. Also, avoid misting them during winter, as the plant goes dormant.