Ceropegia Woodii - Plant of the Month
Ceropegia Woodii (also known as string of hearts/chain of hearts) is probably a plant a lot of you are familiar with. Although it’s long and trailing vines look delicate, this Ceropegia is a very hardy indoor plant, securing it’s place as a household favourite for many. Native to South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, it was originally found hanging from a rock and growing in full sunlight. However, as a house plant they are highly tolerant to varying levels of light and watering.
Most of us are used to seeing the heart shaped leaves in a soft green/silvery colour, but when placed in direct sunlight (which they will happily live in), they turn a deep shade of green. As a lot of household conditions don’t offer direct light, it seems that Ceropegia have adapted and don’t mind bright but indirect light or even semi shade.
Depending on where your Ceropegia is housed, moderate watering is the way to go. When placed in indirect light/partial shade they can withstand long periods of draught, going as long as a month without water! If placed in full sun they will need more regular watering during the growing seasons (spring and summer), although always allow the top 3 inches of the soil to dry out before watering again.
One thing Ceropegia find difficult tolerate is being left to stand in water. They are best potted into a mix of free draining and multi-purpose compost, and into a pot with sufficient drainage. Over watering can cause the tubers to rot and your plant to suffer.
In the cooler months watering needs to be reduced heavily – if the plant isn’t in direct light (and it’s a rarity that we get bright winter light in the UK!) it’s best to wait until the leaves start to feel soft and look a little limp before watering again. Depending on the heat of your house this could be anywhere between 3 to 6 weeks, although central heating can take its toll.
If your Ceropegia is happy, you will see it start to flower during the growing seasons. It has quite an unusual flower – long and thin, off white/pinky in colour, and with little brown petals.
When happy they also tend to grow pretty quickly, sometimes reaching the floor in one growing season alone! Don’t worry though, if you find your plant growing too long you can give it a little haircut to encourage new growth and thickness. The best way to do this is to pinch off a stem, never more than a third of the plants length, directly above (if you were to turn the strand and hold it upright) or below (if your looking at the plant naturally trailing downwards) a leaf.
Ceropegia often grow small, round, woody looking tubers along their stems which can be re-potted into fresh soil and placed in bright but indirect light until they root. The soil should be fairly free draining and left to dry out between waterings, as with the adult plant, so the tubers don’t rot.
The rooting process can take up to 8 weeks but your new ceropegia will grow quite quickly from then, and can then be treated the same as an adult plant, slowly being moved into direct light if that’s where it will end up.
You can also do the same process with a stem cutting of approx. 15cm in length although this method doesn’t always guarantee results.