If you have a string of hearts, you’re a lucky person. When I first got my hands on one, I didn’t even know I could make as many plants out of it as I wanted. And that too pretty easily. However, things like these shouldn’t stay a secret.
Therefore, I am writing this guide on how to propagate your string of hearts using different methods. In this guide, I will dive deep into various propagation methods and the mistakes you must avoid for successful propagation.
Before learning about different ways of propagating this plant, it is crucial to understand the plant itself.
String of hearts is a popular succulent loved for its heart-shaped leaves. Botanically, it is known as “Ceropegia woodii.” It is one of the species in the genus Ceropegia and is grown as an ornamental house plant. The plant originates from various regions of southern Africa, such as the countries Zimbabwe and South Africa. Here are the key characteristics of a variegated string of hearts plant.
Characteristics of variegated string of hearts
String of hearts is an evergreen climber that scrambles with native vegetation in its habitat. For this reason, it is also commonly known as “hearts entangled.” It has stringy vines that make it a perfect trailing and hanging houseplant.
You can train the stems to climb a trellis or frame if needed. Its distinct feature is its variegated heart-shaped leaves, which is a unique shape in the plant kingdom. The leaves are about 1-2 cm wide with silver streaks on the upper side and green/purple streaks on the underside.
The plant can grow several feet long in a hanging pot, giving its leaves the look of large beads strewn in a thread. Moreover, it has small tubers under its leaves and along its stems. These tubers and the leaves give the plant the look of a rosary, giving it another common name, “rosary vine.”
Even though the plant primarily blooms in summer or fall, the flowers appear inconsistently and unpredictably all year. The flowers have a unique cylindrical shape with a bulbous base. Its white or pale-magenta petals are fused with a small opening at the top. This gives the flowers a look of an inverted pink vase.
Variegated string of hearts is an easy-to-grow house plant if you meet its basic requirements. Let us now take a look at why you should propagate a variegated string of hearts.
Reasons to propagate variegated string of hearts
Here are some reasons why you may feel the need to propagate your string of hearts plant:
- To increase the species and develop new cultivars cost-effectively.
- To share the plant with friends and family
- To promote better root health and prevent them from creating knots.
- To prevent root rot and give the plant a fresh growing environment.
- To spread the plants around your home without spending a lot of money or time.
Benefits of propagating variegated string of hearts
As you can see, propagating a variegated string of hearts has many benefits. Learning to propagate them correctly can save you money and time while ensuring better plant growth.
Moreover, having the ability to propagate plants correctly will make you a better gardener. The reward and pleasure of successful propagation will fill you with self-confidence to help you in your other gardening endeavors. Since this plant is relatively easy to propagate, you can become an experienced gardener with little chance of making mistakes.
Propagation is a great way to have more of this fantastic plant from a single pot. You can plant it in different places around your house, such as your kitchen, living room, or home office, without spending a dime on new plants. All it takes is a bit of time and knowledge, and you’re good to go.
Lastly, you can use propagation to give these beautiful and eye-catching plants to your beloved friends and family without breaking the bank. Some might even appreciate the fact that instead of buying from a store, you put your love and effort into propagating this plant for them!
There are three basic methods of propagating a variegated string of hearts. All of these methods are easy enough to do by yourself.
This is the most common propagation method, so I will discuss it first. Here’s a step-by-step process of propagating a string of hearts plant using stem cuttings.
Step-by-step guide to propagating variegated string of hearts using cuttings
- Select a healthy 5-6 inch section from the vine with a few leaf pairs.
- The stem cuttings you take should always have nubs attached, or the propagation will fail.
- Choose the section where a pair of leaves join the stem and cut just above it with some extra stem on each side with shears or pruners.
- Prepare a pot with a fresh and well-draining potting mix.
- Water the potting mix lightly so that it is moist but not soggy.
- Fill two-thirds of your container with the potting mix.
- Poke holes in the soil with your fingers and gently place the nodes so that leaves stay above the soil line while the node touches the soil.
- Add the remaining potting mix so that it doesn’t cover the leaves but just the nodes.
- Maintain the humidity by covering the container with a plastic bag. Keep checking for condensation every few days to protect the plant from mildew.
- Place the pot in bright and indirect light.
Tips for successfully propagating variegated string of hearts using cuttings
- Don’t place the pots in direct sunlight.
- To give a safe amount of light without overexposing your plants, you can place them near a window.
- For potting mix, you can purchase a mix for succulents or cacti and add some sand to it.
- You can also lightly apply rooting hormone to leaf nodes for speedier propagation.
- Placing the pot on a heat mat can also speed up the propagation.
Propagation by division has the highest success rate of all the methods. However, it is a bit more time-taking but not difficult. It involves removing the mother plant, dividing the root ball, and planting the divided section into a new planter.
Here’s a step-by-step process of propagating a variegated string of hearts using division.
- Prepare clean pots with well-draining potting soil.
- Add a 2-3 inch layer of potting soil into the new pot and press the soil.
- Take the mother string of hearts out of the pot by turning it upside down and tapping on the sides.
- After shaking the soil off the roots, divide the root ball into smaller chunks.
- You will need to gently untangle the roots and vines to get clean divisions for propagation.
- Pot the divisions into the new planter at the same depth as the original plant.
- Fill in the remaining potting mix and press it gently to remove air pockets.
- Place the pots in bright and indirect light.
Tips for successfully propagating variegated string of hearts using division
- For successful propagation using the division method, ensure the pot size is accurate. Since not all plants’ roots are the same size, you’ll have to use your best judgment. Just make sure that the roots have enough space to grow without the pot being excessively large.
- You should also sterilize the pot to eliminate the chances of infection.
Propagation by layering refers to using the bead-like tubers of a string of hearts plant for propagation. These plants have these tubers on the vine and underneath the soil. When these tubers are potted in a new pot, they take roots and start to propagate.
Here’s a step-by-step process of propagating a string of hearts plant using layering.
Step-by-step guide to propagating variegated string of hearts using layering
- Separate the tubers so that they have a little bit of vine/stem attached to them.
- You can pick the tuber from above the soil or underneath the soil. If you pick one from above the soil, you’ll notice it doesn’t have roots like under-the-soil tubers. However, that is not a cause for concern, and the tuber will take root when planted.
- Fill the pot with a well-draining soil mix and sow half of the tuber in the soil.
- Cover it lightly with soil and mist the top layer.
- Make sure that the soil is always moist but never dry or overwet.
- Place the pots in bright and indirect light.
Tips for successfully propagating variegated string of hearts using layering
- When using aerial tubers, you should not remove the stem or leaves.
- Sow the aerial tubers so that any leaves or stems attached to them stay above the soil line.
- Do not place the pots in direct sunlight. You can also add bottom heat to speed up the propagation.
Here are some of the best practices for successfully propagating variegated string of hearts.
Before you make up your mind about propagating a string of hearts, knowing the right timing and conditions is essential.
Best time to propagate variegated string of hearts
Ideally, you should propagate a string of hearts during the growing seasons (spring and summer). The plants are also less likely to be stressed if you take a cutting from them during this season.
Springtime is also ideal for developing flexible, healthy, and green stems. You’ll also notice that these cuttings will develop healthy roots readily during spring.
You should abstain from propagating a variegated string of hearts during winter days. The plant is more stressed and vulnerable during this time. As a result, the chances of successful propagation are low.
Optimal conditions for propagating variegated string of hearts
The conditions for propagating a string of hearts should be bright and warm without direct sunlight. If you’re propagating it inside, you should maintain a room temperature of about 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure that the soil is loose and moist without being soggy. The soil should also be relatively porous, and you should ensure that the planter has drainage holes.
If the temperature dips below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you will have a hard time propagating the plant.
Once you have propagated the plant choosing a method and keeping in line with the ideal conditions mentioned above, here are some aftercare tips to ensure a successful propagation.
Tips for caring for a newly propagated variegated string of hearts
- Always keep your newly propagated plant safe from air conditioning or any source of cold drafts like open windows during winter.
- Choose a planter that doesn’t retain moisture, like an unglazed pot or a porous terracotta pot.
- During the growth season, water the plant once every week.
- After propagation, feed the plant with a diluted houseplant fertilizer every month. This will ensure faster and better growth during the growing season (spring to fall).
- Keep the plant under 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Repot the plant in a planter an inch bigger than the previous one every 1-2 years. This will prevent it from developing root knots.
Even though propagating a string of hearts is easy, here are some common mistakes and pitfalls to avoid.
Some people assume that their plant needs extra water for better propagation. However, overwatering is a common mistake people make, and here are some signs to identify it.
Signs of overwatering in variegated string of hearts
If you’ve been overwatering the soil, propagation will not take place. However, these are some common signs of overwatering in a well-propagated plant:
- Swollen leaves (edema)
- Pale leaves
- Leaf drop or wilting leaves
- Mold or fungus on the soil
- Fungus gnats
Tips for avoiding overwatering when propagating variegated string of hearts
- When watering the stems, divisions, or layers, ensure the soil is moist. If it is soggy, it is a sign of overwatering.
- Always create drainage holes and cover them with pebbles to let the excess water flow freely. Empty the tray, and don’t let the pot sit in the water.
- Use pots made of porous material to reduce the chances of overwatering.
Lack of knowledge or time can cause your plant to be underwatered. Here are some signs and tips on avoiding underwatering your string of hearts.
Signs of underwatering in variegated string of hearts
The biggest sign of underwatering when propagating is an unsuccessful propagation itself. However, once your string of hearts plant propagates, here are some telltale signs of underwatering:
- Dry, shriveled, and browning leaves.
- Slow or no growth
- Lack of upright or taught vines. The vines tend to sag and become lifeless when underwatered.
- The soil feels dry to the touch.
Tips for avoiding underwatering when propagating variegated string of hearts
- You can avoid underwatering by learning the water requirements. The plant soil should be moist at all times.
- Ideally, you should water the plant once a week during growing seasons when you’re propagating.
- Checking the soil routinely will also reduce the chances of plants being underwatered.
- Avoid placing the plant under direct sunlight as it is harmful to the plant and will dry up water quickly.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when cutting for propagation and some ways to avoid them.
Common mistakes when cutting variegated string of hearts
One of the most common mistakes when cutting for propagation is cutting too close to the leaves. You should always leave a bit of stem on each side of the pair of leaves to ensure successful propagation.
Another mistake to look out for is never to cut across the pair of leaves. You should always cut in a line parallel to the pair of leaves.
Tips for correctly cutting variegated string of hearts
To get appropriate cuttings for propagation, start by cutting a long piece of the vine. You can then cut it into smaller parts with a single pair of leaves and leave 1-2 inches of stem intact on each side.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the best time to propagate variegated string of hearts?
The growing season lasts from spring to summer, and is ideally the best time to propagate a variegated string of hearts.
What are the common mistakes to avoid when propagating variegated string of hearts?
Some common mistakes to avoid when propagating variegated string of hearts are:
Overwatering, underwatering, improper cutting technique, low light, lack of moisture, low temperature(below 60F), soggy soil, and lack of humidity.
What tools and supplies do I need to propagate variegated string of hearts?
Depending on the pruning method, you might need different tools and supplies. However, you’d need the following essential gardening supplies for any pruning job.
● Pruning shears.
● 98% Isopropyl Alcohol (for sterilizing pruning shears)
● Clean and tepid water (for water propagation)
● 500 ml transparent vase (for water propagation)
● 4-inch terracotta or clay pot (preferably porous with holes at the base for drainage)
● Potting mix (coarse and loose soil for planting)
How long does it take for variegated string of hearts to propagate?
Even though a variegated string of hearts can take root quickly, you should wait two to four weeks for noticeable propagation. It will then take another couple of months for the roots to mature.
Can I propagate variegated string of hearts in water, or do I need soil?
Using the cutting method, you can also propagate variegated string of hearts in water. This method is also easier if you’re new at propagating.
How do I know if my variegated string of hearts cutting has successfully rooted?
If you’ve followed the propagation, temperature, watering, and sunlight guidelines, your string of hearts plant will take root in about two to four weeks. Be patient until then, and let the plant take its time.
Can I propagate variegated string of hearts from a mature plant or only from cuttings?
Besides cutting, you can use different propagation methods like layering (using tubers) or division from a mature string of hearts plant too.
Should I use rooting hormone when propagating variegated string of hearts?
Using a rooting hormone will ensure faster propagation of variegated string of hearts.
How often should I water a newly propagated variegated string of hearts?
Water once a week and check the soil every few days to ensure it is moist but not soggy. Never let the soil become completely dry.