Is there such thing as a Valentine’s Day plant? There sure is! And it’s called a sweetheart Hoya. This unique and fun plant is going to melt your heart.
Due to its name and heart-shaped leaves the Sweetheart hoya is a popular gift choice for Valentine’s day symbolizing love and devotion. To say this plant is “cute” is the understatement of the year.
The Sweetheart Hoya is absolutely adorable!
At first glance, the heart hoya looks like the type of plant that you say to yourself “hmm, my black thumb will surely kill this plant.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s an easy plant to grow. And hoya’s aren’t toxic for people, dogs or cats. Another big plus.
No doubt they will tug at your heartstrings for many years to come if taken care of properly!
So let’s get at the heart of the Sweetheart Hoya!
The many alter ego’s of the Sweetheart Hoya!
Would “a rose by any other name smell as sweet?” You tell me!
The Sweetheart Hoya is also called the Valentine Plant, Sweetheart Wax Plant, Hoya Kerrii, lucky-heart plant, love heart plant, wax heart, wax plant and heartleaf plant.
Whatever you call it, it will be love at first sight with this novelty plant!
Aptly named those thick, succulent, heart-shaped leaves sure to leave your heart beating a little faster! Each of the thick heart-shaped leaves measures roughly 2-3 inches wide and 2-4 inches long.
Most shocking is that the Hoya heart plants are a species of climbing vine in the genus Hoya- hence the wax plant label.
Once the Heart Hoya is established with a good root system “vines” will shoot out quite quickly on which new leaves are formed.
Mature vines are grey and often look and feel ” woody”. Most of this stiffness is a result of lignin designed to support a heavy climbing plant (out in their natural habitat they tend to grow up and up).
Nevertheless, the Sweetheart Hoya grows at the rate of a sloth. I can’t imagine mine trailing. In fact, I know it can bloom which at times why it’s called the “porcelain flower” plant but can’t imagine that happening either.
Time will tell!
Watering & fertilizing the Sweetheart Hoya with care…..
With its fleshy, succulent leaves that store water, the sweetheart hoya is relatively drought-tolerant. They can get by with as little as one or two waterings per month. Typically this is when the soil is dry to the touch.
But when you do water, water deeply then let the pot drain thoroughly. Never let this plant become waterlogged or it’s a goner.
Watering deeply allows all the roots, even the tiny ones at the bottom to become hydrated.
Sitting in water is also a big no. Soggy soil will surely cause root rot. Drainage holes with a fast drying potting mix is ideal.
A good sign that it’s time to water is when the leaves start to wrinkle. You’ll water less in winter than the other seasons. So obviously in summer you may find yourself watering once a week to keep this plant pristine.
I find I rarely have time to fertilize so it’s with a big sigh of relief that I announce that the Sweetheart hoya is a light feeder and requires little fertilizer.
Try a light solution of a balanced, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer mixed at a rate of ¼ teaspoon (1 ml.) in a gallon (4 L.) of water.
Feed the plant once a month during the growing season and stop feeding in winter.
Lighting and humidity for the Sweetheart Hoya
This Valentine Hoya tolerates relatively low light, but not full shade. However, the plant performs best and is more likely to bloom in bright or indirect sunlight. Room temperatures should be maintained between 60 and 80 F. or 15 and 26 C.
But the Sweetheart Hoya draws the line at shade. It will not tolerate complete shade and darkness will affect not only growth but its ability to bloom.
Never direct sun which will burn the leaves.
And even with bright-indirect light and spot-on perfect conditions, it may take years to start growing new heart leaves. I’ve had mine for 1.5 years now and still, no new leaves!
In fact, a single leaf Valentine Hoya will not grow any bigger than when you bought it.
If you have variegated types of Sweetheart Hoyas, a windowsill is an ideal spot.
Adequate light is necessary to keep the variegation on the plump heart leaves vibrant. When the Sweetheart Hoya plant is in the shade for too long, it may start to wilt.
Although a slow grower the Sweetheart Hoya does grow faster in a bright location with humidity above 50%. The Sweetheart Hoya is particularly demanding when it comes to humidity but the rumor is that humidity does help the plant grow faster.
You could put a humidifier in the room where it resides or simply grow the plant in the bathroom where it will live quite happily.
Sweetheart Hoya plants need loose, quickly-draining soil to thrive. The best type of medium for this species of Hoya to grow is orchid pot soil, sphagnum moss, coconut husk or cactus mix.
You can also whip up a DIY potting mix for the Sweetheart Hoya by combining potting soil, perlite and orchid bark.
The end goal is to ensure that water drains quickly through the soil. Compared to your average houseplant, the Sweetheart Hoya would like better drainage due to their succulent-like leaves.
The Sweetheart Hoya can grow in a soilless medium like an orchid potting mix. But if you choose that route, be aware that you’ll have to water more often than if you used a more traditional potting mix.
Never let this plant sit in standing water. A pot with a drainage hole is a must-have accessory. I chose a clay pot filled with a cactus and succulent mix and both my Sweetheart Hoya plants are thriving.
A terra cotta pot with a saucer at the bottom would also work wonders for the Valentine Plant.
How-to propagate the Sweetheart Hoya
The Sweetheart Hoya is super easy to propagate. My propagation preference is to root in water.
However, I’ve noted that the Sweetheart Hoya takes a lot longer to root in water than other plants. Most plants take about 1-2 weeks to show some root growth, but with the Sweetheart Hoya, it can take a month or more. Patience is key! It will happen.
How to Propagate A Sweetheart Hoya:
- Cut a healthy stem from a Sweetheart Hoya just below the node, making sure there are two or three leaves on it. (If that’s possible, but aim for at least 2 leaves).
- Put the cutting in a jar of water and put it in a bright place, protected from direct sunlight. This is likely a windowsill in the sunniest spot in your home.
- Change the water weekly with filtered or distilled water.
- Within a month, small roots should start to appear from the stem. If you are lucky, you’ll see sprouts in 3 weeks.
- When the roots are 1” to 2” (2.5 to 5 cm) long, transfer to a pot that has a loose, fast-draining potting mix.
It’s tempting to try to propagate a Sweetheart Hoya from leaf cuttings. However, very rarely does a Sweetheart Hora leaf produce a new stem or other leaves.
A single leaf cannot usually be propagated because it doesn’t have a dormant bud to grow new stems. Therefore it is called ‘blind cutting’. The leaf will root, and with proper care, your hoya heart leaf cutting can live for several years without growing a stem and other leaves.
Rarely, after a few years a leaf cutting will produce a stem, but this is because a tiny bit of stem was attached to the leaf that had a small dormant bud.
The Sweetheart Hoya is the sloth of plants
I’ve had my Sweetheart Hoya that my friend Cheri sent me for well over a year. I have yet to see any new leaves. That’s how slow this plant grows!
However, no leaves have died on me either. Except, my 9-year-old daughter was fiddling and fussing with my plant and a piece came off (luckily with a node) so we rooted that piece in water. Tiny roots are emerging but it did take over a month!
And even when you have successfully planted your rooted stem cutting, it’s going to be awhile before you see growth.
To say the Sweetheart Hoya grows at a painfully slow rate is the understatement of the year. It could take numerous years for a small plant with a few leaves to mature.
If a mature plant doesn’t bloom, try exposing the plant to brighter light or cooler nighttime temperatures.
Don’t expect a newer plant to bloom. Those pinkish white flowers in the shape of a star can take many years!
I have yet to live this thrill!
A single leaf Valentine Hoya will not grow any bigger than when you bought it. Even though the leaf cutting roots in the soil, you can’t propagate more Sweetheart Hoyas from a single leaf cutting. You need a stem cutting to propagate a vining Hoya Kerrii.