Variegated String Of Hearts: Your Questions Answered!

This succulent plant can be hard to find a full array of information on. Some of the information we found online was incorrect.

We had to dig deep to ensure that the information we collected here is true and correct.

We saw that people wanting information on this plant were sometimes coming up short.

So, we have decided to put together a list of the most frequently asked questions about Variegated String of Hearts to make it easy for you to find the information you have been looking for.

For your answers on this interesting plant, scroll down below to discover them for yourself!

What Are Variegated String Of Hearts?

The “String of Hearts”, or as called by its scientific name “Ceropegia woodii”, is a type of plant originating from the Apocynaceae family.

It is commonly found in Africa, Southern Asia, and Australia. As one might presume, the plant’s name comes from its heart-shaped leaves attached to their vine-like stems, giving it the name “String of Hearts”.

One could understand finding it in all those countries save one. How would this have evolved in the same way in Australia?

That would be similar to the reverse of finding a native Madagascar species in some other remote location around the world, where a bird would not have been able to fly within a day or two after consuming the seeds.

The odds would just be off the charts.  

Australia and Madagascar have a commonality. They both broke off from their continents during a mass movement and never re-attached. They then of course had all sorts of life forms develop independently in those amazing isolated environments.

This particular succulent, however, is thought to be a rare hybrid based upon its unique irregular look of a creamy-pink heart-shaped leaf that adorns a green vine.

This is not even close to what you might find in nature elsewhere, so the serious speculation of it having been hybridized has continued over the years.

If so, the mystery at the ‘heart’ of this unique plant has yet to be solved. For, if it were a hybrid, how was it relocated to the areas where it now flourishes?

I’m sure this has kept many a botanist up late at night attempting to figure this one out.

Do you have any ideas?

By Matilda Smith (1854–1926) - Curtis's Botanical Magazine vol126 (1900), Public Domain,
By Matilda Smith (1854–1926) – Curtis’s Botanical Magazine vol126 (1900), Public Domain,

History Of String Of Hearts Succulent

The String of Hearts was first discovered in 1881 by John Medley Wood, curator of the Durban Botanic Gardens of South Africa.

He quite by accident noticed the plant was hanging between the rocks of the Groenberg Mountain in Natal while on an expedition to look for another plant altogether.

He brought back samples that were at first lost then he went back for another round which he was successful at retaining.

The String of Hearts was sent thirteen years later to Kew, a non-departmental public body from the United Kingdom that researches plants, for cataloging and documentation.

Through more research and cultivation, they found that the plant can be grown in “variegated” colors, with pink being the top or most prevalent color of the species.

During propagation and grafting experiments they found that the plant resists grafting to an extent not seen in many other succulent species.

This further mystifies the origins of the plants being found in other areas around the world, especially those as isolated as the ones we discussed earlier.

If you’ve ever wondered what botanists tell their children for scary bedtime stories, this plant might be one of those tall tales of the night before the sandman arrives.

How To Care For Ceropegia Woodii

To properly take care of your now nearly infamous succulent it is best to keep the plant in moist soil during the spring and summer while it’s in its prime growth seasons.

You do not need to use the soak-and-dry method of watering here as you do with most succulents. Instead, just keep the soil moist but now overly wet or soaked during the spring and summer to give it the best chance of a great growing season.

Because the plant goes dormant during the fall and winter, it needs far less water during those times of the year. Here you could use the soak and dry method, but only when the plant’s soil is truly bone dry.

FYI: The Soak and Dry Method of watering plants, especially succulents.

With your finger, feel the soil around the plant. If it feels moist, wait a week and feel it again.

If the soil feels bone dry, then water it using the following soak method.

You need to use a pot that drains really well, so that you completely avoid standing water. Standing water for succulents is the kiss of death.

They develop root rot and get pest infestations from over watering or standing in water.

Soak the soil all the way around the plant, but do not pour your water directly onto it. The water may pool un the plants nooks and crannies which may cause either rot or pest infestations.

Be sure to really soak the soil, so that there is a little drainage of water coming out the bottom of the pot into its catch basin, just a little, not a lot.

Then, when the soil of your succulent is bone dry again, give it another soaking just like this one.    

Your plant needs to have plenty of direct sunlight (but not all day). So, find an area that gets nice direct sun for somewhere around 4 to 6 hours per day, and you should be doing great.

One way to do this is to put it in an area that gets either morning sun of afternoon sun, but not both. This should give you just the right amount to keep your plant happy without burning it up with too much intense sunlight.

It is highly suggested that the plant is kept in 40-50% humidity and at a temperature of 18 to 24 Celsius (64.4 to 75.2 Fahrenheit).

This plant does not tend to do very well with super dry climates. So, just the normal humidity that you have in your house year-round should be just fine.

This succulent is absolutely not cold hardy. If it even looks like it might get anywhere close to freezing, then in must be brought inside.

If the plant freezes even just a little bit, it can be lights out for this little guy. It does not have a very good track record from coming back from having been frozen.

From the best reports we have on it, the plant does well in hot weather, but abysmally bad in cold weather. It just can’t take the direct sun for full days, half days are perfect.  

How To Propagate Variegated String Of Hearts Succulent

Thankfully this is one of those plants that can easily be propagated by cutting the tubers, which are located at the base of the leaves, place the tubers into the soil so that they are just barely covered but the plant that you took with it is standing up out of the soil.

It is preferred that the tubers are still attached to the plant for a lower risk of dying and is highly suggested to continue being cared for as you would tend to the plant if you had not planted it fresh.

You can also plant the seeds after they dry out when the plant goes to seed. With the seeds, just make a depression in the soil about half an inch deep with your finger or a tool such as a pencil.

Place one seed in the depression, cover it, and water it.

Once you see the plant sprouting through the soil just begin to care for it the same way we discussed above for the mother plant.

This succulent does not appear to favor grafting; it just tends to die afterward. You can experiment with that at your own risk and who knows; you might just win an award for coming up with a new beautiful plant of your own once your graft seeds and plant those as your unique plant.

Variegated String Of Hearts
By Photo: Dr. David Midgley – English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.5,

What Is The Best Soil For Variegated String Of Hearts?

The best soil for your string of hearts would be an equal soil mix of succulent, cactus mix and coco coir soil. If you can’t find those, a perfect substitute would be half cymbidium orchid and half succulent mix.

Unlike most succulents, this plant does not need super-fast draining soil like the others which require fifty percent or more be coarse sand or perlite.

Make sure that the plant has nice moist soil and that the soil mix can drain easily to prevent the plant tubers from rotting out.

Just because it can stand a little more moisture, does not mean that it lacks the traits of nearly all succulents in that it detests standing water.

How To Properly Cut Variegated String Of Hearts

It is suggested that the string of hearts is to be cut at the tuber beneath the leaf or seed. As said earlier, the plant can be easily propagated by cutting the tubers and placing them in soil to be grown.

How Do You Grow The String Of Hearts Succulent?

Any house plant soil mix will do for the plant; however, it prefers an equal three part soil mix of succulent, cactus mix and coco coir soils.

The main thing is that it’s very important for the soil to be moist. The vine can’t survive without water for a long time, so once in every 12 to 15 days should be sufficient unless you live in a very dry climate.

Place the plant in indirect sunlight, but not for more than 6 hours per day. Average household humidity is just fine for the plant, unless you live in an extremely dry climate where you may need to humidify the air up to the suggested 40  to 50 percent.

As far as fertilizers go, you don’t need to use any heavy fertilizer for it, so any regular house plant fertilizer in its diluted form from March to August and no fertilizer is needed during the fall and winter since the plant is dormant during that time.

Variegated String Of Hearts

How Fast Do Variegated String Of Hearts Grow?

Roots will start to grow in about 2 to 4 weeks. In the next few weeks, expect leaves to start growing and the plant could be fully grown in as little as 6 to 9 months.

What Is The Best Fertilizer For The Ceropegia Woodii ?

The best fertilizers for this succulent are half-diluted and infrequent fertilizers, there is no need for heavy fertilization. It’s best to feed the plant at least once a month during its growing period in March through August. The string of hearts does not need to be fertilized during the fall and winter because of its dormant period.

Why Aren’t My Variegated String Of Hearts Growing?

If your plant isn’t growing, it’s either because it’s in a small pot; it is not getting enough bright light, or is not getting enough water.

If the pot it’s in is small and does not have enough space for it to grow, then you should re-pot it into a larger pot so that it has room for growth.

This succulent needs bright indirect light to grow. Put the plant near a windowsill or a bright area and prevent it from having any more than about 6 hours per day of exposure.

A great way to do this would be to grow your succulent under other shade plants that let in a lot of light, but that will also prevent burning from overexposure.

How To Keep Variegated String Of Hearts Succulent Pink?

Simply allow your plant to get plenty of bright light for the leaves to stay pink and grow with their dominant color. If your leaves are not pink or at least pinkish, then your plant may need a bit more sun.

Why Are My Variegated String Of Hearts Losing Leaves?

Your succulent is losing its leaves from over-watering, causing the leaves to droop, turn yellow, and rot. Make sure you don’t water your plant too often and use a pot that drains excess water well for nice moist soil, but not overly wet, for the best growth of the plant.

We Hope We’ve Answered All Your Questions!
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