The string of hearts is native to southern Africa. It is a member of the milkweed family, and its unique look has earned it various common names, including the wine-glass vine, lantern flower, bushman's pipevine, or parachute flower. Its vining growth makes it an excellent choice for a hanging basket, but it can also be trained to climb up a small frame. If you move your string of hearts outdoors during the summer, you may attract hummingbirds to your porch.
You don't need to repot your string of hearts when you bring it home unless lots of roots are visible in the holes of the pot or you have a specific decorative planter in mind. This speces doesn't mind being slightly root-bound, so don't repot it too often. When you do want to rehome your plant, do so during the spring or summer, which is when it is actively growing; this will ensure it bounces back quickly. The string of hearts grows from shallow tubers, so handle it carefully when you remove it from the pot.
The string of hearts is a succulent and does best in soil that drains very well. You can use potting mix made specifically for cacti and succulents, either as your only soil or mixed half-and-half with traditional potting soil. If you cannot find a potting mix made for cacti and succulents, add perlite or coarse sand to the soil before planting.
The string of hearts prefers bright, indirect sunlight. If you notice changes to the variegation of the leaves, it may need more light. Too little light will often result in a loss of contract between the leaf colors, and the backs of the leaves may become discolored. In addition to sufficient light, the string of hearts needs warmth to thrive. During the active growing period, keep temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees F. It can handle cooler temperatures when dormant, as long as it remains above 60.
Like other succulents, the string of hearts does best with light watering. Allow the soil to dry out, and then water thoroughly. It needs even less water during the winter. If the leaves begin to turn yellow, develop black spots on the bottom, or fall off the plant, you may be overwatering.
The string of hearts is vulnerable to many of the same pests that bother other houseplants. Scale, mealybugs, and aphids will feed on the plants, leaving them looking wilted and sick. Spray the plants thoroughly with soapy water every few days until there are no remaining signs of bugs.
Your string of hearts can develop root rot easily when overwatered. If the soil is saturated, the roots are less capable of absorbing nutrients, and this starves the plant. Repotting the string of hearts can help it bounce back. Allow the plant to dry out for a few hours after removing it from the pot, before replanting with fresh soil.
The string of hearts does not need pruning, although you can trim it occasionally to keep it looking tidy. Use a clean pair of gardening shears or scissors to trim and shape your plant. Begin fertilizing your string of hearts when it develops new growth in the spring, and continue through the middle of the summer. Diluting a fertilizer and using it each time you water makes it easier to remember and works well for the plant. You want to stop fertilizing a little before the active growing season is over to give your plant time to prepare for dormancy.
The string of hearts is easy to propagate. Place cuttings in water or a tray of succulent mix. Keep the soil damp — the cuttings should develop roots within a few weeks. You can also propagate a string of hearts using its tubers. Place your pot on a tray of succulent mix, and position the vines so the tubers have contact with the soil. Keep the soil damp while they develop roots. Once you see new growth, separate them from the adult plant by snipping the connecting vine.
The string of hearts is an easy to grow, attractive houseplant. It grows with eye-catching, cascading vines and blooms through the summer. The blossoms are light pink and have an interesting "puffed-out" shape that narrows at the tip. While only hardy in tropical zones, you can move the string of pearls to your porch or deck over the summer.
There aren't many choices in varieties of the string of hearts, although it is common for there to be a difference in the appearance of various plants. Sunlight has a dramatic impact on the color and variegation of their leaves. One plant may have leaves that look nearly solid, while others will have definitive green and white patterns, along with a purple tint to the stems. Likely, the first plant is being kept in low light, while the second is getting the bright exposure and warm temperatures it needs to thrive.