Hoya kerrii, otherwise known as the Sweetheart Plant, Porcelain Flower, Lucky Hearts, Wax Plant, Hoya Heart or Valentine Hoya, is a tropical species of climbing plants in the Apocynaceae family. This lovely vine is native to many regions of Asia, such as South China, Thailand, South Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos, and Cambodia.
Although it is quite difficult to find full-grown vined Sweetheart plants in nurseries or markets, they are sold very often as a single leaf cutting. Their succulent leaves can readily root and you’ll get to enjoy these adorable planted hearts for many months and even years. Sweetheart plants are considered novelty houseplants thanks to their ability to develop into mature plants from a single leaf cutting in several years. However, the cuttings will sprout vines only if a part of the stem and a node are attached to them.
With their cute heart-shaped leaves and mesmerizing flowers, Valentine Hoyas are the ideal gift for a beloved one to remind them how much they mean to you. These ornamental plants are already very popular gifts worldwide, especially during Valentine’s day.
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About Hoya Kerrii
- Sweetheart plants belong to the Hoya genus that contains around 200 to 300 species of evergreen perennial vines, creepers, and shrubs. These species usually grow epiphytically on other trees, but some can grow terrestrially or in rocky areas.
- There is a nice-looking variegated specimen of these plants known as Hoya Kerrii ‘Variegata’ which has green leaves with yellowish-lemon margins.
- Their flowers have a waxy appearance and produce several sticky small balls of nectar which is usually tinted red to brown. The nectar has a sweet taste and it is safe to eat.
- Like all tropical species, these climbing vines do well in warm locations where they can receive plenty of bright and indirect light all-year-round.
- Sweetheart plants are very permissive when it comes to humidity levels and can also tolerate long periods of drought if you forget to water them once in a while.
- They are susceptible to root rot, so potted plants require well-draining growing substrates and containers that have drainage holes at the bottom.
- Hoyas can be friendly and stunning companions to ferns, Kalanchoe, and Aglaonema, or other species of plants with similar environmental requirements.
- Hoya Kerrii plants pose no threat if touched or consumed, so they can be grown without worries near curious pets or children.
Hoya Kerrii Features: An Overview
- In their natural habitat, they are climbing vines that can reach up to 13 feet (4 m) in height. They can be found growing mostly among trees.
- While growing, these plants form steady roots that help them cling onto surfaces to provide support and absorption of nutrients and moisture.
- Hoya Kerrii plants climb their way up on tree trunks and curl around the branches to receive the light they require for photosynthesis. They are fast-growers.
- Their thick, succulent, greenish, fleshy-leathery, and heart-shaped leaves grow oppositely on glabrous, pale, and woody stems. They measure between 1.6 and 4.7 inches (4-12 cm) in length and 2 to 3.9 inches (5-10 cm) in width.
- During their blooming period in summer, mature Sweetheart plants produce curious globe-shaped and hanging inflorescences facing the ground. They grow about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter and contain up to 25 flowers.
- The tiny, flat, and star-shaped flowers have the typical appearance of Hoya plants. Each bloom is formed of two stars that appear one on top of the other, called corolla (bottom) and corona (upper).
- The corolla is larger than the corona, having ovate to triangular lobes that come in a pleasant creamy-white tint. The corona, on the other hand, has broadly ovate lobes and present various shades of pink, red, and purple.
- Their waxy bloomings are very eye-catching and are said to have a vague fragrance that resembles chlorine. They can last for almost two weeks in bloom.
Growing Hoya Kerrii
Light-wise, Hoya Kerrii plants can withstand a wide range of conditions no matter what region you live in. Whether you decide to grow them indoors or outdoors, these lovely plants require a reasonably bright place with some indirect sunlight to grow at a normal rate. They can also do well in partially shaded locations, but you should avoid placing them in very dark areas.
Sweetheart plants thrive at average room temperatures as long as they do not get too cool in autumn or winter. If you grow your succulents outdoors and the temperatures start to drop below 59 °F (15 °C), it is suggested you bring them inside to protect them from mid-cool conditions. In general, they prefer slightly warm to warm temperatures that range from 65 to 80 °F (18-27 °C) all-year-round.
These succulents are susceptible to infestations of scale insects, aphids, and mealybugs. If you notice any suspect presence on your plants, remove the pests right away and apply suitable insecticides/pesticides if needed.
Planting Hoya Kerrii
When it comes to their growing medium, Sweetheart plants have the time of their life when planted in well-draining loose soil. If you want to make sure your plants grow at their best, you can prepare your own potting mix by combining 50% all-purpose potting soil, 25% orchid bark, and 25% perlite.
Hoya Kerrii plants are not very heavy feeders and can grow on their own without too much effort on your part. Small plants or those who grow as a single heart-shaped leaf require feeding only once or twice every year. Even if your plants are older or the independent leaf is showing up new shoots, they will be just fine if they are fertilized no more than four times a year. Either way, you must feed your plants with a balanced and water-soluble fertilizer in spring.
Sweetheart plants need repotting only when they start to outgrow their pots. On younger plants, transplant them in slightly larger pots only when you notice some new growth. Mature plants that have many leaves must be repotted once every couple of years in containers that are one size larger than the current ones.
Watering Hoya Kerrii
Thanks to their succulent leaves, Hoya Kerrii plants can store high amounts of water to last them a long time. These hardy and undemanding plants are drought-tolerant, making them the perfect choice for a beginner or forgetful gardeners. However, basic care and little water will result in a surviving plant with low chances of thriving.
As a general rule, Sweetheart plants need watering only when the soil feels dry to the touch. To avoid soggy conditions and over-watering, you should always check the soil in-between waterings. For optimal drainage, make sure you grow your plants in pots that have drainage holes at the bottom.
Propagating Hoya Kerrii
We cannot find any better words to describe Hoya Kerrii plants than these−absolutely adorable! They are already a popular gift worldwide, so why not participate in this tradition too? We guarantee that your family and friends will love them at first sight. These plants can be propagated pretty simply through leaf and stem cuttings, but you must find your courage early because they usually take several months to show new growth.
To get healthy growing Sweetheart plants, the leaf cuttings must have some stems attached to them. The stems are known to produce aerial roots which ensure the easy development of a root system when placed into a moist medium. Once you have the cuttings, you should allow them to dry for a day before planting. If you place the stems in water, make sure you change it once every two days to keep the medium fresh. When propagating in potting soil, provide the cuttings with water regularly to keep the substrate damp.
A common sign that your cuttings respond well to propagation is that the leaves still look green, fresh, and healthy. If the cuttings start to wrinkle, turn yellow, or even shrivel up after a month or so, this may be an indicator that you will have no Sweetheart babies around this time. But this should not hinder you from trying again!
Remember that even the most experienced gardeners can encounter some difficulties in the process, so patience is always the key to success.
If you want your Sweetheart plants to show some results faster, you can also propagate them through seeds. For optimal growth, you must sow the seeds in spring in a well-draining substrate, something like sandy peat moss. The seeds will germinate quickly if they are placed in a warm and shaded location and also provided with water regularly. You can also cover the container to maintain the humidity at proper levels for germination.
No one can resist a cute plant, especially when it is so easy to grow, to care for, and to propagate! We all know that Hoya Kerrii has all it needs to be the ideal houseplant, so why not having one beauty around? Just imagine that one day it will surprise you with its spectacular flowers in return and that will be the result of your constant care and love for your tiny companion!
Are you a fan of Hoya plants? Share your experience in the comments below!