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Variegated String of Hearts Care

Learn how to care for your variegated string of hearts plant, also known as Ceropegia woodii. Find out about the proper watering, lighting, and fertilization techniques for this popular houseplant, as well as tips for propagating and troubleshooting common problems.

How do you take care of a variegated string of hearts?

Hey there, plant people! If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve recently added a variegated string of hearts plant to your collection. Or you might be in the market for one. It’s a lovely plant, so I don’t blame you. 

String of hearts plants are not only beautiful with their delicate, trailing stems and heart-shaped leaves, but they’re also relatively easy to care for. That being said, they do have some specific requirements when it comes to watering, lighting, and fertilizing.

So, whether you’re a seasoned plant parent or a beginner, here’s everything you need to know about caring for your variegated string of hearts. With a little bit of love, you’ll be able to encourage a full, long, and trailing plant in no time.

variegated string of hearts on a shelf with other plants

Table of contents

Want to skip ahead? This is a beefy post, so I’ve included a table of contents below so you can skip to a specific section you might be looking for. You’re also welcome to scroll through it all and look at all the pretty pics 😉

What is a variegated string of hearts plant?

A variegated string of hearts plant, also known as Ceropegia woodii or Ceropegia linearis subspecies woodii, is a trailing, perennial plant native to South Africa. Ceropegia family plants are known for their unusual, heart-shaped flowers. 

The variegated string of hearts plant is named for its delicate, heart-shaped leaves, which are typically green with white or yellow variegation. They can also have hints of pink depending on the variety you have and its lighting conditions. 

The succulent-like leaves emerge from thin, thread-like stems that can grow up to several feet long. And many grow it in hanging baskets or as a trailing plant high up on shelves to show off the great lengths it can grow to.

string of hearts with pink variegation

Is ceropegia woodii a succulent?

I mentioned its “succulent-like” leaves. So you may be wondering if the string of hearts plant is a succulent. In short, it’s not. Ceropegia is not technically classified as a succulent.

Succulents are a group of plants that have evolved to store water in their leaves, stems, or roots in order to survive in dry or arid environments. String of hearts plants, on the other hand, are native to tropical regions of Africa and are not adapted to withstand prolonged periods of drought.

While string of hearts plants do have some characteristics that are similar to those of succulents, such as their thicker leaves and their ability to tolerate low levels of water, they are not classified as succulents.

variegated ceropegia woodii

What are the different types of variegated string of hearts?

There are several different varieties of the variegated string of hearts plant. These varieties can vary in terms of the shape and size of their leaves, the color of their variegation, and the overall appearance of the plant. Here are a few.

  • Ceropegia woodii ‘Variegata’: This variety has green leaves with white or cream-colored variegation, and it is known for its delicate, lacy appearance.
  • Ceropegia woodii ‘Tricolor’: This variety has green leaves with white or cream-colored variegation, as well as hints of pink or purple. It is known for its vibrant, colorful appearance.
  • Ceropegia woodii ‘Pink’: This variety has green leaves with pink or purple variegation, and it is known for its delicate, soft appearance.
  • Ceropegia woodii ‘Green and Gold’: This variety has green leaves with yellow variegation, and it is known for its bright, cheerful appearance.
  • Ceropegia woodii ‘Green and White’: This variety has green leaves with white variegation, and it is known for its clean, crisp appearance.

Ultimately, it can be challenging to figure out exactly what type of variegated string of hearts you have. I say, don’t get too bent out of shape about it. Just give it ideal conditions and see what growth it gives you! It probably won’t be labeled when you get it either…mine just said “variegated” when I bought it.

pink and purple variegated string of hearts

String of hearts vs. variegated string of hearts

The main difference between a string of hearts plant and a variegated string of hearts plant is the color and pattern of their leaves. A regular string of hearts plant will have pretty green leaves with delicate silver veining.

I personally love regular string of hearts plants—probably because I love anything with silver on it. But variegated string of hearts plants are also lovely. While the leaf size and shape—as well as stems and growth pattern—are largely the same, the coloring on the leaves is different.

The variegation can be white, yellow, pink, purple, or a combination of these colors, and it is often present in the form of stripes or patches on the leaves. Given the variegation, it will also grow a bit slower than its parent plant.

string of hearts plant
Regular string of hearts plant

Is the variegated string of hearts rare?

Variegated string of hearts plants are somewhat rare and difficult to find. This is because variegated plants, which have leaves with multiple colors or patterns, are often more difficult to propagate and grow than plants with solid-colored leaves. 

Additionally, because variegated plants are often more visually striking and unique than solid-colored plants, they may be in higher demand and therefore harder to find. The plants have been increasing in popularity, though! I’ve noticed them popping up left and right at local nurseries and plant shops.

If all else fails, you can look online. It really depends on the area of the country and world that you live in. I live in an area that has a pretty great selection, so I’m fortunate to have found one locally.

variegated string of hearts on a shelf with other plants

Can a variegated string of hearts revert?

It is possible for a variegated string of hearts to revert to a solid-colored form. Variegation in plants is caused by a genetic mutation that results in the production of pigments in different patterns or areas of the leaves. 

This mutation is not always stable, and it can sometimes be lost or “reverted” over time, resulting in the plant producing solid-colored leaves. There are several factors that can contribute to variegation reversion in string of hearts plants.

For example, if a plant is exposed to extreme temperatures, low light levels, or insufficient water or nutrients, it may become stressed and lose its variegation. The best thing to do to prevent variegation reversion is to provide ideal care conditions for your baby.

If you notice that your plant is losing its variegation, I recommend doing a care audit. You can trim back the non-variegated growth and switch up your care routine. Likely moving the plant into a place with brighter indirect light to encourage healthier new growth.

variegated string of hearts plant in soil

How much light do variegated string of hearts need?

So now that I’ve mentioned light, let’s jump into the care needs. Variegated string of hearts plants thrive in bright, indirect light. This means that they prefer a location where they receive plenty of light but are not exposed to direct, intense sunlight, which can scorch their leaves and cause them to become faded or discolored. 

Variegated string of hearts plants can tolerate a range of light levels, from low to medium, but they may become leggy and lose their vibrant color if they do not receive enough light.

If you are unable to provide your plant with sufficient natural light, you can also use artificial lighting, such as grow lights, to supplement its light needs. Just be sure to play around with the settings until you get the right balance of intensity, distance from the plant, and the length of time you keep the lights on.

variegated string of hearts stem

Should I bottom water my string of hearts?

I generally do not love bottom watering plants…but many people swear by the method and think it’s actually easier to do! I find that it disrupts my whole plant watering routine, but I am a bit stuck in my ways…alas, many people recommend bottom watering for string of hearts plants.

Bottom watering is when you fill something shallow with water and then set the plant in that. The plant will then suck up the water it needs through the drainage holes. So this method works the best when you are using a plastic nursery pot with lots of drainage holes in it.

However, I generally just water my string of hearts plants from the top. I water thoroughly, rinsing off all of the foliage. Let all of the excess water drain from the drainage holes and don’t water the plant again until the soil almost completely dries out again.

After I water the plant, I make sure to shake off as much of the excess water as I can from the stems and leaves. I don’t want it sitting on the leaves, potentially contributing to fungal growth.

variegated string of hearts on a shelf with other plants

What type of soil is best?

I recommend using a succulent soil for your variegated string of hearts plant. Why? Because these mixes are very well-draining and come pre-mixed with perlite and sand to help encourage drainage.

It will help to ensure that the plant has access to the nutrients it needs while also allowing excess water to drain away from the roots. You can pick one up at your local nursery, or you can make a mix at home using my DIY succulent soil recipe. 

It is important to avoid using soil that is too heavy or dense, as this can cause the plant’s roots to become waterlogged and lead to root rot. Always avoid letting the plant sit in standing water.

variegated ceropegia woodii leaves

Temperature & humidity

The variegated string of hearts plant is generally tolerant of a wide range of temperatures. It can thrive in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings and is known for its ability to adapt to different temperature ranges.

In general, string of hearts can tolerate temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it is important to avoid exposing the plant to extreme temperatures, as this can cause it to become stressed and may result in problems such as leaf drop or slowed growth.

To provide your string of hearts plant with the best growing conditions, shoot for a location where the temperature remains relatively stable and falls within the moderate range mentioned above. 

String of hearts plants do not have strict humidity requirements and can tolerate a wide range of humidity levels as well. While they do prefer moderate levels of humidity, they are generally able to adapt to the humidity levels present in most indoor environments.

However, if you live in a particularly dry or arid climate, or if you are growing your string of hearts plant in a location that tends to be dry, such as in front of a heating or cooling vent, it may be helpful to provide the plant with additional humidity.

variegated ceropegia woodii plant

How do you get more variegation?

Sometimes keeping your variegated plants highly variegated can be a challenge. But there are several methods you can try to encourage more variegation on your string of hearts.

The first is to provide adequate light. Variegated string of hearts plants require bright, indirect light to thrive, and providing them with sufficient light can help encourage the development of more variegation on their leaves. Remember that direct, intense sunlight can scorch the leaves.

The second is to avoid over-watering, which can fade the leaves and discourage healthy new growth. Water your plant only when the top several inches of soil are dry.

The third is to consider fertilizer. Fertilizing your string of hearts with a balanced plant food can help provide it with the nutrients it needs to thrive. Be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging for the appropriate dosage and frequency of application.

The fourth is to prune regularly—one of my favorite things to do on my plants! Pruning your plants can help encourage new growth and the development of more variegation. As a bonus, it also encourages fullness in the plant.

And the fifth is to experiment with temperature. Some variegated string of hearts plants may develop more variegation when exposed to cooler temperatures. Consider moving your plant to a cooler location or providing it with additional air circulation to see if it responds well.

variegated string of hearts on a shelf with other plants

Do variegated string of hearts bloom?

Variegated string of hearts plants do bloom, yes. However, they are not known for their showy flowers. The flowers are typically quite small and are not particularly noticeable compared to the plant’s decorative leaves. 

Every string of hearts plant I have ever owned has bloomed. And while the flowers aren’t pretty or sweet-smelling, they are cool and unique. And I love it when my houseplants flower. Some variegated string of hearts plants may be more likely to bloom when exposed to cooler temperatures. 

string of hearts flower

What are the white balls growing on my string of hearts?

The white balls growing on your string of hearts plant are likely to be seeds. String of hearts plants are known for producing small, round seeds that resemble balls or beads. These seeds are typically white or pale in color and are produced by the plant’s flowers.

If you would like to propagate your string of hearts plant using its seeds, you can collect the seeds and plant them in a well-draining soil mix. Be sure to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and provide the seeds with plenty of light, either natural or artificial. 

It may take several weeks or even months for the seeds to germinate and produce new plants. I have not done this yet, but I am DYING to get some seeds on my plants so I can try!

variegated ceropegia woodii leaves

String of hearts propagation

The easiest way to propagate a string of hearts plant is through stem cuttings. I will show you how to do this using a stem that I accidentally pulled off of my plant.

  1. First cut all of the leaves separately.
  2. Prepare a small pot of well-draining soil or sphagnum moss and perlite
  3. If using soil, stick the cuttings with the back of the leaves facing down and water; if using moss, dampen the moss and add the cuttings.
  4. Keep your medium moist but not super wet while the cuttings root; keep humidity high by putting a plastic bag over the cuttings or by using a DIY clear plastic propagation box.

The stem cutting should root within a few weeks or months depending on the conditions and time of year. Keep in mind that variegated plants are generally slower growers, so a variegated string of hearts will probably take longer to root than a non-variegated one.

variegated string of hearts cuttings for propagation
variegated string of hearts cuttings rooting in moss
moss and perlite in a cup
variegated string of hearts cuttings rooting in moss

String of hearts issues & solutions

While this plant is generally an easy one, there are a few things you might encounter while caring for a variegated string of hearts plant. Most of these issues relate to variegation and the potential for pests.

1. Why is my pink string of hearts turning white?

There are several factors that could potentially cause a pink string of hearts plant to turn white. A lack of light is one. Insufficient light can cause their leaves to lose their color and become pale or white. Give your plant plenty of bright, indirect light to encourage variegation on healthy new growth.

variegated string of hearts on a shelf with other plants

2. Why are my variegated string of hearts curling?

In general, curling leaves in a plant often means that it is thirsty. However, with string of hearts leaves, you’ll generally notice that they thin out and get a bit wrinkled when they are thirsty. 

Curling can mean a number of things, but it’s likely that insufficient light could be the cause. Check your lighting conditions to see if you need to move your plant or add a new light source.

variegated ceropegia woodii plant

3. Pest issues

Variegated string of hearts plants are generally not prone to pest infestations. However, as with all plants, they can be vulnerable to common houseplant pests:

  • Aphids: Aphids are small, pear-shaped insects that are typically found on the undersides of leaves and stems. They feed on the plant’s sap and can cause the leaves to yellow and become distorted.
  • Mealybugs: Mealybugs are small, white insects that are covered in a waxy, powdery substance. They feed on the plant’s sap and can cause the leaves to yellow and wilt. Read more about mealybugs.
  • Spider mites: Spider mites are small insects that are often found on the undersides of leaves. They feed on the plant’s sap and can cause the leaves to yellow and become speckled. Read more about spider mites.

If you notice any of these pests on your variegated string of hearts, pick up a store-bought insecticide spray and spray the plant down. Make sure to get the undersides of the leaves, and isolate the plant while you are treating it.

variegated string of hearts on a shelf with other plants

Are string of hearts plants toxic?

String of hearts plants are generally considered to be non-toxic to humans and pets. While they are not poisonous, it is important to be cautious when handling the plant, as it may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals.

I also always recommend keeping plants—even non-toxic ones–out of reach of children and pets. This plant is meant to be ornamental, so consuming it is never a good idea.

beautiful plants in a sunroom

Variegated string of hearts care overview

Variegated string of hearts is generally considered to be a pretty easy plant. Below is a care overview of some of the main points I’ve covered in this article. Good luck with your plant!

  • Light: Provide bright, indirect light; intense sunlight can help them grow and develop vibrant colors, but avoid direct, harsh sun.
  • Soil: Succulent soil works well.
  • Water: Water when the top several inches of soil are dry.
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize regularly with a balanced plant food.
  • Maintenance: Prune regularly to encourage new growth.
  • Temperatures: Tolerates all normal household temperatures and humidity levels well.
  • Propagation: Stem cuttings in moss or soil.

Pin this care guide!

collage that says variegated string of hearts care including images of the plant

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