By Erin Marissa Russell
Want to learn how to take care of a string of hearts houseplant? You’ve come to the right place. We’ll tell you everything you need to know to keep a string of hearts plant happy and healthy.
String of hearts is a delicate trailing plant—the vines can reach up to several feet long. It looks best in a hanging planter where it can show off its pretty heart-shaped leaves. The foliage is a mottled gray color with pretty pink undersides. The string of hearts plant is also called rosary vine, hearts on a string, chain of hearts, and sweetheart vine.
Fertilize your string of hearts plant monthly from spring until fall. You should not give your string of hearts plant fertilizer in the wintertime when it is dormant. Use an organic fertilizer for houseplants, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions about dosage and scheduling.
As a semi-succulent, string of hearts plants need soil that offers plenty of drainage for the plant to stay healthy. You can purchase soil designed for succulents and cacti, which will work perfectly for your string of hearts plant. Or you can create your own mix of equal parts coarse sand, perlite, and potting soil for your string of hearts plant.
String of Hearts Care: Sun
String of hearts plants are happiest when they get plenty of bright indirect light, though they can handle some direct sun. Bright indirect light can be filtered light that comes through a curtain or through leaves on a tree, or it can be light that’s reflected onto the plant from nearby objects. Too much direct sunlight can burn the leaves of your string of hearts plant with sunscald.
Find your string of hearts plant a spot on the windowsill of a northern-facing or eastern-facing window. You can also position the string of hearts plant a few feet away from a western-facing or southern-facing window.
As a semi-succulent plant, it’s more likely for a string of hearts to be overwatered than it is for it to be underwatered. There’s a simple test you can do to figure out whether it’s time to give your string of hearts plant water.
Simply insert your finger into the soil where your string of hearts plant is growing, to a depth of at least an inch. Does the soil feel moist? Do bits of earth cling to your skin? If the answer to either question is yes, there is still moisture in the soil for the plant and it isn’t yet time to water your string of hearts plant again. If the soil feels dry and does not cling to your skin, go ahead and water your string of hearts plant.
When you do water your string of hearts plant, make it a deep watering. When you give a plant a deep watering, water it until the moisture begins to drip from the drainage holes in the bottom of the container.
In the winter when your plant is dormant, it needs less water than during the growing season. You’ll want to let the soil dry out all the way down to the bottom of the pot before you water string of hearts again in the wintertime.
An underwatered string of hearts plant will have softened, deflated-looking, or wilted leaves. An overwatered string of hearts plant will have yellowing leaves that may drop off the plant. If your plant has been overwatered, let it dry out for at least a month before you water it again.
Smaller plants can be repotted every year to 18 months if you want to give your string of hearts plant the space to grow larger. Choose a pot with a diameter one to two inches larger than the plant’s current container. Take this time to give your plant fresh, new soil and do a bit of pruning. Trim away any dead or discolored leaves and trim the roots just a bit to encourage new growth. Repot in the spring or summer when the plant is thriving.
If your plant is larger, you can repot it every 18 months to two years. Choose a container with a diameter two to four inches larger than the plant’s current pot. Repot your string of hearts plant in spring or summer when the plant is actively growing.
If you don’t want your string of hearts plant to get larger, you should still remove it from its container every year or two to trim the plant a bit and get it into fresh new soil. Even with the use of fertilizer, your plant will need new potting soil every year or two. To keep it from getting larger, simply repot it into the same container with clean new soil.
It’s possible to propagate a new string of hearts plant either by layering or by a stem cutting, but layering is so much easier and takes so much less time that we’ll give directions for layering here.
First, locate a stem with a small, beadlike tuber on it. These tubers will send down roots if you touch them to the soil. Simply create a new container full of moist soil for the new plant, then drape the trailing vine with the tuber on it over into the new container. Rest the tuber on top of the new soil. If you keep the soil moist, the tuber will start sending down new roots in about a month. Wait for these roots to develop and for the new plant to be growing healthy and strong. Then you can simply clip the stem to detach the new plant from the old one.
The only problem you’re likely to face with a string of hearts houseplant is overwatering, which can lead to root rot. Here are instructions on how to identify overwatering and root rot as well as how to fix the problem.
If your string of hearts plant has yellowed leaves, which may drop from the plant, it’s possible you have overwatered it. You’ll need to check the roots of the plant for root rot to make sure the plant is healthy.
Gently lift the string of hearts plant from its container, being careful not to damage the roots. Carefully shake any excess soil away from the roots of the plant. If you smell something unpleasant, if the roots are slimy, or if the roots are discolored to brown or black, your plant has root rot.
If root rot is present, you must cut the diseased portions of the roots away before replanting your string of hearts plant. You’ll need a clean, sterile pair of shears. Clip away any slimy or discolored sections of the roots so only clean, healthy pale roots remain. Discard the trimmings and do not use them in compost.
Once the diseased roots have been removed, you can replant your string of hearts plant. Use a fresh new container—one that has drainage holes in the bottom. You’ll need to fill the container with new, clean soil. Discard the old soil and do not put it in your compost heap. You can use the container again once you have cleaned and disinfected it.
Do not water your plant for at least a week after addressing root rot. Read the section of this article on watering to make sure you know how to give your string of hearts plant the right amount of water, so root rot won’t make a comeback.
Now you know just what to do to take care of your string of hearts plant. This little plant is easy to care for as long as the soil offers plenty of drainage and it isn’t overwatered. Before you know it, your string of hearts plant will be trailing long vines and flourishing.