Ceropegia woodii, or string of hearts, is a succulent endemic to south-east Africa, from Mozambique to South Africa.
Described as cute and adorable by its admirers, the name Ceropegia, is derived from Ancient Greek, meaning wax fountain in reference to the cascade of succulent heart-shaped leaves that hang from wiry purple ‘strings’ (or stems), which grow to two metres or more.
In the wild, the stems spread across the ground, scrambling over rocks and other plants. At home their stems are strong enough to support the plant hanging from a pot, perfect for a bookshelf or hanging pot.
How to care for string of hearts
Unlike a lot of succulent plants, the string of hearts is tolerant of some shade, making a great houseplant.
In low light conditions, the heart shaped leaves lose some of their silvery variegation and turn a darker green, if moved back into a sunnier spot the colour returns to the leaves.
As the plants produce long stems, they are best grown from a shelf or ledge where they have free reign to hang down from the pot.
Key to success with Ceropegia is watering.
Remembering it is a succulent is the first step. It much prefers dry roots to wet roots. If the plant is left with moist compost for too long, the roots may begin to rot, this is exacerbated at colder times of the year, so hold back on the watering in winter.
It is unlikely you will need to repot your Ceropegia if you haven’t had it long, but you may want to consider feeding it with a double diluted liquid feed. At Walworth Garden we use worm tea for this.
How to propagate string of hearts
Ceropegia can be propagated with reasonable ease in a couple of different ways. As a succulent, it will prefer to be propagated when the weather is warm and there is a good level of light to encourage growth, in London that’s probably going to be June to August.
You can simply take stem cuttings of string of hearts, cutting a strand, or several strands from the plant, approximately 10-15cm long. Remove the leaves carefully with scissors or secateurs from the bottom third of the cutting.
Pot the cuttings into a free draining growing media, we use two parts peat-free multipurpose compost mixed with one part horticultural sand and one part horticultural grit.
As the stems are thin and wiry, you may find it easier to use a pencil to make holes in the compost, alternatively you can part fill the pot, position the cuttings and then fill in around them.
Mature Ceropegia plants also form small spherical tubers along their stems. You can make a cut just above the largest of these potato-like tubers, and place these on top of the same free draining growing media.
George Hudson is Head of Plants and Education at Walworth Garden, a South London charity delivering workshops, courses, therapeutic horticulture and plants for sale in a garden open to all. Follow on Instagram @walworthgarden