It’s Valentine’s Day and what better way to celebrate than with a heart-shaped plant? I love heart-shaped anything-my engagement ring is a heart, heart-shaped stones, dishes, and more. One of my favorite heart-shaped plants, though,  is the sweetheart hoya or Hoya kerrii. You may have seen them for sale as a single leaf, like the one shown below.  They can be found for sale all year but you will see a plethora of them near Valentine’s Day. Though they are adorable (who wouldn’t want one?), they may only ever be one leaf and not become a vine. Why? Read more about that here.

Hoya kerrii

Hoya kerrii leaf

The vine

Hoyas are vining plants, as a rule. Yet, when sold as a single leaf, you may not see it become a vine. For a propagated hoya to grow, it needs a piece of stem attached to the leaf. I wrote about propagating hoya vines here. These plants grow as epiphytes in their native habitat of Thailand and Indonesia where they scramble through the treetops sending out flowers as they go.

 

Hoya kerrii variegated

Care

Sweetheart hoyas are easy to care for as long as you have a bright area to place them in, such as an unobstructed south or west window. Mine blooms regularly for me in my sunroom and has filled its container with roots. I’ve found hoyas do flower better when they are a bit snug in their pot because instead of putting their energy into growing roots, they can put their energy into making flowers.

Water

This is a succulent plant so watering too often and keeping your plant too moist may rot the root system. Water thoroughly, meaning until the water flows out of the drainage hole. (I feel a drainage hole is always a must.) Then, allow the plant to dry out almost completely before watering thoroughly again. When we talk about watering, we also need to discuss the potting medium used. It should be a quick-draining medium mix. If you use a commercial cacti and succulent mix, it would be best to add some pumice, extra perlite, or turkey grit to the mix. You might also want to add some orchid bark. These epiphytic plants are naturally growing in the crooks of trees and so aren’t growing in much “soil” but instead, the roots are living in plant debris and whatever falls in the root area.

Fertilizer

In their native habitat, fertilizer for the plant would be animal and bird poo and decomposing plant debris. In your home, use a low nitrogen fertilizer made for cacti and other succulents. I fertilize every fourth watering or approximately once a month while the plant is actively growing. I stop fertilizing here in Michigan in late fall when the light levels are lower and wait to see new growth in late winter to early spring before fertilizing again. 

Hoya kerrii flowers

Hoya kerrii flowers with excessive nectar dripping

Flowering

The flowers of hoyas are also called wax or porcelain flowers as they appear to be carved from wax or porcelain. They also have an excess of nectar, especially the sweetheart hoya and the nectar is dark and may stain anything it drips on. Make sure you don’t have them hanging over carpeting or furniture when they are flowering. Remember, when the flowers fall, you need to leave the small spur or peduncle that the flowers emerged from on the plant. It is natural to want to cut the “spent” flowers off the plant but they fall naturally leaving the peduncle behind. The next time it blooms, the flowers will appear from that small spur again. 

Hoya kerrii (sweetheart hoya) Look at that dripping nectar!

I hope you receive a plant for Valentine’s Day. Who needs cut, dead flowers anyway, right? And hopefully, it is a heart-shaped hoya!

Hoya kerrii

Hoya kerrii planted with an echeveria

Have a great week, plant friends, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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