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Ceropegia Woodii: How To Grow, Care For The Rosary Vine

Rosary vine (Ceropegia woodii) is a very easy houseplant to grow. It has many common names. You may also hear it referred to as:

  • Sweetheart Vine
  • Hearts Entangled
  • String of Hearts
  • Chain of Hearts
  • Rosary Plant

This unusual, hardy vining succulent produces pretty, variegated, heart-shaped leaves on tough, wire-like stems.

String of hearts - Ceropegia woodii close up of leaves, flowers and growing in a pot with long runners

It trails nicely and makes an unusual hanging plant. The vines can grow to be two or three feet long, and the pretty leaves are deep green with variegated silver markings.

The nearly odorless Chinese lantern flowers are small and a peculiar shade of brownish pink.

Some people say these blooms looked like little vases with a rounded base and long, narrow top.

As a member of the Milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae), the plant provides plenty of visual interest.

In addition to its attractive leaves, it also produces small, bead-like tubers or bulbs at intervals along the vine giving it the appearance of a rosary.

These bulbs can be planted like seeds to grow new plants quickly and easily.

Tuck them into the soil around the parent plant or place them in new pots and you’ll have a new rosary plant almost before you know it.

String of Hearts Plant Requirements

Water: As a succulent, these plants like to be watered sparingly, especially in the wintertime. Allow the soil to nearly dry out and then water thoroughly.

Winter care: Your plant will look a bit droopy during the cold months, but only water it sparingly. Begin watering normally in the springtime.

Humidity: Ceropegia woodii is comfortable in most household settings. It does not require high humidity.

Light: The plant appreciates bright, indirect sunlight, but it can do well in a low light setting.

Lower light will result in less contrast in the leaf variegation. Additionally, a low light setting will cause the backs of the leaves to take on a purplish hue.

Soil: You can use a cactus soil potting mix or combine regular potting mixture of soil with sand.

Fertilizer: During the growing season (spring to midsummer) use a balanced fertilizer for houseplants. Follow packaging instructions.

Stop fertilizing in midsummer and allow the plant to wind down for its semi-dormant period during the autumn and winter.

Hardiness: This plant is native to Africa, so it is only winter hardy in semi-tropical areas of the United States.

You can grow it outdoors year-round in zones 11 and 12. Otherwise, let it enjoy being outdoors in light shade the summertime, but be sure to bring it back indoors before the temperature drops in the fall.

Note that, even though Ceropegia woodii is not listed as an invasive species by the USDA, if you do live in an area where it can stay outdoors year round, keep an eye on it and keep it under control.

A hardy, enthusiastic grower like this one is very likely to adapt and run amok if we aren’t vigilant!

Repotting: Keep an eye on the roots, and repot when the plant seems root-bound. Typically, you should repot the parent plant and start new plants early in the springtime.

Propagation: You can grow the plant from “seed” any time. Just gather the peas and plant them in their own little pots of soil. Alternately, you can grow these succulents from cuttings. Just tuck the wiry vine into soil and watch it grow.

Growth Habits: The rosary vine tends to have a long, thin, trailing growth habit. Vines can grow to be two or three feet long and may look a bit spindly. This is why it is a good idea to tuck a few of the peas or cuttings into the soil around the mother plant to create a fuller, bushier effect.

Toxicity: Ceropegia woodii is non-toxic, but don’t get it confused with the “rosary pea”, which is thought to be the most poisonous plant in existence. [source]

Uses: Ceropegia woodii is ideal as a small hanging basket plant with long trailing vine and stems with small, attractive variegated heart-shaped leaves.

The rosary plant makes a nice specimen plant on its own when sitting on a pedestal or hung alone in a tall narrow window. These plants also make a nice filler when hung between other hanging plants.

Because the plant’s light requirements are flexible, it can do well in a variety of settings.

Hang Ceropegia in your bathroom; set it on a pedestal in an entryway; hang it over your kitchen sink or in your sunroom or conservatory.

Caring For The Rosary Vine Throughout The Year

The plant may bloom at any time but is most likely to bloom during the summer months and into the autumn. After blooming, the plant rests until springtime.

From late autumn (around November) until early spring keep the Ceropegia plant in a cool place (no warmer than 65° F) with plenty of indirect light.

During this time, water the plant very little and do not feed it at all.

In early spring (around April) evaluate your plant and repot it as needed. Use a light, porous, well-drained soil mixture.

This is also a good time to give the plant a trim and start new plants from cuttings or corms.

Throughout the spring and into early autumn Ceropegia woodii should grow and flourish.

Keep it in a warm setting with plenty of light. A south-facing window is a good choice as long as you protect the plant from harsh, direct sunlight.

Water the plant regularly throughout the summer months.

Allow it to dry out nearly completely and then water the plant thoroughly.

Provide water-soluble houseplant fertilizer solution through the month of August. Stop fertilizing in September and resume in April.

How long will the rosary vine live?

Your original, parent plant can live a very long time on its own.

Add to that the fact that this is a very prolific plant. Once you have a rosary vine you can count on having at least one in perpetuity.

Is Ceropegia Vines Difficult To Grow?

These plants are so enthusiastic and hardy so anyone can grow them successfully.

They are attractive, rugged and require little care.

If you like to have lots of little plants to share with your friends and garden club, you need to have a rosary vine.

They are super-easy to root, grow and care for and they make a cheery addition to any collection of indoor plants.

closeup of rosary vine plant flowers

Good Care Gets The Best Results

Even though these plants are practically indestructible, it naturally makes good sense to provide them with the best care for best results.

Water your rosary vine regularly throughout the summer months. Always protect it from harsh sunlight.

A happy plant is more likely to bloom and produce lots of growth buds at the bases of the leaves.

These are easy to plant to grow lots of new rosary vines that you can share with your friends.

Steps For String Of Hearts Propagation

Propagation is incredibly easy as this plant grows very well from cuttings and from the small, pearl-like seed pods growing along the vine at the base of the leaves.

You can sow these growth buds in soil exactly as you would seeds.

Follow these simple instructions:

Place three or four of the buds and a well-draining soil mixture in a small pot.

Water them well and keep them at room temperature. You will be amazed by how quickly new plants emerge.

To start new plants from cuttings you just need to clip off a small bit of stem with a couple of leaves.

Just poke the stem into light, sandy soil and treat it as you would a mature plant.

Before you know it, it will begin to grow. It’s a good idea to place several cuttings in one small pot to create the illusion of a single, bushy plant.

Is Pruning Necessary?

Grooming the rosary plant is easy. Trim it frequently to control its length and keep it looking attractive.

If you wish, you can prune it back a great deal. The plant does not mind hard pruning. Remember to use cuttings to create new plants.

Troubleshooting Rosary Plant Pests and Problems

Like most plants, if you take care of your Rosary plant and do not overwater it you should not have trouble with pests and disease.

Without the right amount of light, the right temperature or the proper amount of water, you may have problems with mealy bugs or aphids.

The plant may also be subject to fungal attacks if plants are overwatered or kept in a cold place. Harsh sunlight can result in scorching.

Aphids: If you notice tiny bugs on your plant, you may have aphids feeding on floral tissue, and there are a few options for dealing with them.

Try spraying the plant with a solution of natural soap (e.g. Dr. Bronner’s natural liquid soap) and water.

This does not need to be a very strong solution.

A teaspoonful of soap to a cup of water should do the trick. Spray daily until the infestation is resolved.

For a particularly stubborn infestation, use an insecticide that contains pyrethrum. Follow packaging instructions carefully.

Control Aphids And Mealybug With Neem Oil

Mealybugs: These pests are slightly bigger and individuals can be removed by hand. You may also be able to remove mealy bugs by wiping away using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

If you see dry, corky looking spots on your plant’s leaves, the problem may be too much direct sunlight.

Prune back the affected areas and make adjustments so that your Sweetheart Vine receives only bright, indirect sunlight.

You can do this by providing a light shade or relocating the plant.

Should I Buy A Big Ceropegia Woodii Plant?

Because these plants grow so quickly and so enthusiastically, there is really no reason to start off with a large plant.

If you want to have a long and luxuriant rosary plant, just wait a minute!

Even if you begin with a handful of corms or a few cuttings or a very tiny plant, you will soon have a long, lush and luxuriant rosary vine.

Clearly, there’s really no need to buy a long trailing plant, and carrying a large plant from one place to another can be quite difficult and may result in damage to the plant.

In fact, if you are moving and have a large plant you want to transport a long distance, prune it all the way back.

When you get to your new home, set it up and start caring for it. You’ll have a large plant again in no time.