A string of hearts (Ceropegia woodii) is one of several trendy, trailing succulents found in houseplant collections around the world. There’s plenty to like about this little plant — its eponymous leaves and unique variegation are just the starts — and it’s easy to see why someone would want to own more than one.
If you already have a string of hearts in your home, getting your hands on a second could be simpler than you think. This succulent is extremely easy to propagate in a number of ways. It’s a wonderful guinea pig for anyone interested in trying out different propagation methods.
In this article, I’ll teach you how to propagate using several effective and reliable techniques. I’ll also offer some general tips and tricks for growing this succulent indoors.
- 1. Propagating From Seed
- 2. Propagating in Water From a Cutting
- 3. Propagation in Soil From a Cutting
- 4. Placing Cuttings On Soil or Sphagnum Moss
- 5. Butterfly Method
- 6. Loop Overlapping Strands
- 7. Tuber Propagation
7 Ways To Propagate String of Hearts
If you’re new to propagation, this is one of the best plants to start with. This succulent can be propagated using a number of methods, most of which are relatively simple regardless of past experience.
With that said, I recommend approaching any propagation project with an expectation of (some) failure. It’s nearly impossible to achieve a 100% success rate. For the best results, propagate multiple seeds, cuttings, or tubers at once to account for this natural margin of error.
1. Propagating From Seed
Starting a string of hearts from seed is relatively simple. Seeds can be purchased from reputable collectors or succulent retailers. In some cases, you can also collect seeds from your own plant.
A string of hearts kept as houseplants don’t often flower. It’s even more uncommon for these plants to produce viable seeds that have been fertilized. If your plant does produce seeds, however, wait for them to drop naturally before collecting and planting them.
For the best results, use a specialty seed-starting soil mix. Keep the potting medium moist but never soaked. I suggest using a spray bottle filled with clean water to ensure the soil doesn’t dry out.
Keep planted seeds in a bright, warm location. Germination typically takes a couple of weeks.
2. Propagating in Water From a Cutting
Water propagation is great for beginners as you will need minimal supplies and it’s easy to track rooting progress. You can propagate nearly any length of cutting using this method.
- Select a vine that is at least a few nodes long for the best results. Remove the lower leaves to expose a bear stem, with multiple nodes where the roots will develop.
- Fill a clear glass container with room-temperature water. If you’re unsure of your tap water’s mineral content, I recommend picking up a bottle of distilled water instead.
- Remove the leaves from the end of the vine and ensure the exposed node is submerged in the water. Cuttings typically root within 2 to 8 weeks.
- Keep your propagation setup in a well-lit location but out of direct sunlight, changing the water every week.
It can take some time for roots to develop but keep an eye out for signs of rot. (If your string of hearts cutting starts to rot, it’s best to dispose of it and start over.) Once the roots are about ½ inches long you can transplant the cutting to a container filled with suitable potting soil.
3. Propagation in Soil From a Cutting
You can also propagate cuttings by placing them in moist soil. This works almost exactly like water propagation but without the extra step of transplanting the rooted cuttings.
Be sure to use clean potting soil that is appropriate for succulents. I recommend starting with a relatively small container so you can easily monitor the soil’s moisture level.
Again, remove the leaves from the bottom nodes of each cutting. Gently place these ends into the soil. Each node must make full contact with the soil in order to produce roots.
Keep the cuttings somewhere with bright, indirect sunlight. The soil should be consistently moist but never waterlogged. Leave the cuttings undisturbed for a couple of weeks before carefully checking for root growth.
4. Placing Cuttings On Soil or Sphagnum Moss
You don’t need to bury a string of heart cuttings in the soil to promote root growth. In fact, you can accomplish great results by simply placing the cuttings on a moist layer of potting medium. This is my preferred method when rooting several cuttings at once. If fact using this method you can create a mop-like effect with lots of cuttings that root at the same time. Then simply transfer the whole rooted system into a pot.
- Using a sterile seed-starting mix (such as one made of coconut coir) or sphagnum moss. You can also use clean potting soil if it’s what you have on hand.
- Place your moistened moss, coconut coir, or soil in a plastic container, like an old Tupperware-style container or similar food packaging. A Ziploc-style bag will also work.
- Arrange your cuttings so that each node comes into contact with the potting medium. Securing the cuttings isn’t always necessary when using an airtight plastic container but is always an option.
If you try this method using a regular pot, I suggest securing the cuttings to the surface using hair pins or wire. I also recommend keeping a spray bottle at the ready so you can periodically mist the surface.
5. Butterfly Method
Butterfly cuttings are very small sections of vine that include one set of leaves (and the respective node) each. If you opt for this cutting method, there’s no need to remove the leaves from the node. But the main benefit is that you can get many, many individual cuttings from a single vine.
Be aware that this technique will not work with all rooting methods. Butterfly cuttings generally produce the best results when propagated in a container filled with sphagnum moss.
6. Loop Overlapping Strands
If you have a mature string of hearts plant that you feel needs to fill out and become thicker or bushier, this is the ideal method to try.
- Take long vines hanging out of the container and untangle them if needed.
- Carefully wrap the vines back into the container and lay them on the soil. You want to avoid breaking the vines off from the mother plant.
- Ensure the leaves are facing up so that the nodes come into contact with the soil.
- Just as you would if propagating cuttings on top of soil or sphagnum moss, secure the wrapped vines using small pieces of wire, bobby pins, or something similar. You don’t want the nodes to lift away from the soil while you wait for roots to form.
7. Tuber Propagation
An established plant may produce tubers along its vines. Tubers vary in size but tend to be fairly small (about the size of a marble). Most importantly, they can be planted in moist soil and allowed to grow roots of their own.
Many experts — myself included — recommend leaving the tuber attached to the original vine if possible. Place a small pot next to the mother plant’s container and gently press the tuber into moist soil. When the tuber has rooted, you can then cut the vine from the original plant.
How To Take A Cutting – Step by Step
Part of the reason this plant is so easy to propagate is the relative simplicity of finding a suitable cutting. As always, a better initial cutting will result in a healthier plant down the road.
The number one thing to know about propagation is that all cuttings must contain nodes. Nodes are the parts of a plant that produce new growth. A cutting without a node will not be able to create roots. On a string of hearts plant, the nodes are located where each pair of leaves meets the stem.
As long as each cutting contains at least one node, the total length isn’t very important. Your chosen propagation method will determine how long each cutting should be. For example, you want to use cuttings that are several inches long for water propagation.
Cuttings should always be taken from healthy stems of healthy plants. I don’t recommend taking cuttings from plants that are stressed or ill. Personally, I like to source cuttings from younger vines that are showing signs of vigorous growth.
Keeping the above information in mind, a viable cutting can be taken in just 5 simple steps:
- Select a healthy, green stem that is several inches long.
- Using pruning shears, scissors, or a razor, remove the stem just below a node. Ensure all tools are sanitized and sharpened prior to use.
- Carefully remove the leaves from the bottommost node(s). Dispose of the leaves.
- (Optional) Apply rooting hormone powder to the exposed node(s).
- Immediately place the cut stem into your chosen propagation setup.
Best Time to Propagate
While you can technically propagate at any time, I strongly suggest waiting for the active growing season for the best results.
Remember that even plants kept indoors go into dormancy or slow their growth during the colder months. Cuttings propagated during this period may be very slow to produce roots and put out new growth.
If I had to choose one time of year to start my propagation projects, it would be during the spring. Your plant’s growth rate will naturally increase at this time. Propagating in the spring also means that cuttings have several months of rapid growth to root and establish themselves before the dormant season begins.
Caring For String of Hearts After Propagation
Post-propagation, caring for string of hearts cuttings is very similar to caring for a mature plant. You should try your best to meet its basic needs during this time, particularly when it comes to light, temperature, and humidity.
As your cutting grows and establishes itself as a brand-new plant, proper maintenance will ensure all of that hard work put into propagation doesn’t go to waste.
Succulents like plenty of light and string of hearts are no exception. Place your plant near a window that receives several hours of bright light each day. Too much sun exposure can cause heat stress, however, so select a location with filtered light or move the container a few inches back from the window for added protection.
Adequate sun exposure is required for optimal color and leaf variegation. You should rotate your plant periodically for even growth.
Temperature & Humidity
String of hearts needs warmth to thrive. The good news is that these plants do well in typical household temperatures between 60 and 80°F. Keep your plant away from extreme sources of heat or cold, such as furnaces or drafty windows.
A string of hearts may be grown outdoors in areas that consistently stay above 60°F. Do not leave the plant anywhere that could drop below 40°F, even for a very short period.
Humidity is another concern for many popular houseplants. However, a string of hearts tolerates lower humidity than most alternatives. You can successfully keep this succulent in 40 to 50% humidity with great results. This is the average summer humidity level of most households. In winter, you may need to supplement your plant’s environment with a humidifier or water tray.
I recommend using potting soil designed for cacti and succulents. These formulas have ample drainage and limited fertility, which is ideal.
If you’re using traditional potting soil, you’ll also want to add an amendment like perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage.
String of hearts is well-adapted to mild drought conditions. As a rule of thumb, you should water slightly more frequently than other succulents.
Waterlogged soil is the most common problem among container-grown plants. Never leave your plant sitting in a saucer of standing water. Personally, I prefer to place succulents in a tub or sink where the containers can sit and drain for as long as needed after watering.
I always recommend letting the soil mostly dry out between waterings. Add water to the container when the top few inches of soil are completely dry — if you’re unsure whether your houseplant needs water, gently press a finger into the soil to feel for dampness.
This plant requires much less water during winter dormancy. Decrease your watering frequency as the weather cools. It’s safe to let the soil dry out almost completely during this time.
While string of hearts are not heavy feeders, they often benefit from the use of a succulent and cactus fertilizer. For the best results, select a formula with minimal nitrogen that can be diluted in water.
Feed according to your chosen fertilizer’s instructions during the warmer months. You should not fertilize during winter dormancy.
I recommend using a liquid feed such as Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food and waiting to apply fertilizer until propagated specimens are well-established.
Fertilizing too early could place undue stress on the plant and cause root damage.
FAQ Propagating String of Hearts
Wisconsin Horticulture String of Hearts, Ceropegia woodii