Hoya Kerrii Care (Sweetheart Plant)

The gorgeous simplicity of the Hoya Kerrii is unmatched. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, this plant packs all the benefits of a Hoya plant in these adorable heart-shaped leaves! It is no wonder why this beauty is also referred to as the Sweetheart Plant or Valentine Plant.

Hoya Kerrii Origin and History

This Sweetheart Plant is considered a member of the Hoya family. Hoya plants are native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia, recognized by several key characteristics. The first worth mentioning is that Hoyas are flowering plants with fragrant blooms. While a Hoya Kerrii in full bloom is difficult to come by, the most mature Valentine Plants (and the green thumbs with the most patience!) will enjoy pink star-shaped flowers. Don’t take our word for it, just look at these quaint little Hoya blooms!

In addition, this Kerrii holds one of the most distinguishing characteristics of Hoyas: thick, green, waxy leaves. Each leaf almost looks succulent-like, holding in water to survive the occasional dry spell. Lastly, we love the Kerrii because they are pet-safe! Beginners, pet parents, and Hoya lovers alike will all enjoy growing this lovely (pun intended) Hoya Kerrii in their green spaces.

With the rise of Instagram and picturesque houseplants, the Hoya Kerrii inevitably has stolen the show. The only plant that can top a Sweetheart Plant is one with variegated leaves! One form of this variegated Hoya includes the “Variegata”, with yellow coloring on the outsides of the leaves. The “Reverse Variegata” has yellow variegated centers, with the normal green hue on the edges of the heart-shaped leaves. The Hoya Kerrii “Splash” has a spotted creamy-white variegation throughout the leaves. No two variegations are alike, as each have their own patterns and coloring.

Hoya kerrii

Hoya Kerrii Care

In this section we’ll cover important Hoya kerrii care tips such as watering schedules, lighting requirements, repotting, propagation, and more.

Growth Habit

There is no way to sugarcoat it: Hoyas are slow growers. It may take several years for a Kerrii to reach its maximum growth, and only if impeccable conditions are met. Most likely, a sprawling indoor Valentine Plant will be about one to two feet long. In nature, however, the maximum recorded length is nearly 13 feet!

Speaking of its growth and length, many do not know that Kerriis are actually vining plants! As they grow and sprawl, they thrive with a small trellis or totem pole for stability.

Before purchasing a Hoya Kerrii, take this word of caution. On the web, you will come across pictures of sprawling Kerrii vines. However, in most plant stores, you are most likely to come across one grown as a single leaf. If you expect a full-grown Kerrii to vine and propagate, buying one single rooted heart-shaped leaf will not be enough. One single Kerrii node will stay as a single leaf forever. If you plan to propagate it (which we will cover in detail later), you will need to find a Hoya Kerrii with a stem. Otherwise, if you only wish to only grow a single heart leaf, opting for a tiny single-leaf Valentine Plant could be a great fit for your space and your wallet.

Lighting

Part of the beauty of Hoya plants are their ability to adapt to light. Most Hoyas can grow flawlessly, even when only exposed to low light. Ideally, the Sweetheart Plant will thrive with bright indirect light. Place your Valentine Hoya in an area where it receives plenty of sunshine, but at most only has a few hours of direct sunlight hitting the leaves each day.

As you find the best place for your new plant addition, be sure to pay attention to how it will respond. Too much light may cause the leaves to sunburn and become “crispy” on the outside. Too little light can cause leaves to yellow and even fall off. Luckily, Hoyas are often very skilled at communicating their needs and are most likely not going to fuss in low or medium lighting.

If you are growing a variegated Sweetheart Plant, be prepared to up the ante when it comes to light. The reason being is that variegated plants show different colors because they do not have as much chlorophyll as other leaves. Chlorophyll is a pigment in leaves that not only makes plants look green, but also allows them to convert sunlight into energy. If a plant has fewer green leaves (since variegation creates colors like white and yellow), you will need to boost their lighting to help them harness the energy from sunlight that they need to survive.

Watering

Forgetful Plant Parents will find satisfaction in growing the Sweetheart Plant. The thick green leaves post the ability to store water, making them succulent-like in the sense of surviving dry spells.

While the soil can remain relatively dry, this does not guarantee drought tolerance. In fact, since Hoyas are originally from tropical areas, they are accustomed to humidity and soil that never fully dries out. Try to keep a regular watering schedule so the soil is not excessively dry for too long during the spring and summer.

Temperature and Humidity

Like most tropical plants, heat and humidity are keys to healthy growth. Average room temperatures are ideal for the Hoya Kerrii, usually around a range of 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmer the temperature, the faster they will grow. Contrarily, consistent temperatures below 50 degrees will lead to cold shock and are not suitable for Hoyas. This is one of the main reasons why the Hoya Kerrii is best suited as an indoor plant year-round.

When it comes to humidity, fellow tropical plants usually prefer medium to high humidity levels. You may be surprised to learn that some Hoyas are not incredibly picky with humidity, especially the Valentine Hoya. As long as the humidity stays at a minimum of 40-50%, which is common in most households, there is no reason to micromanage the humidity levels for healthy foliage.

Soil

For the best growth results, we always recommend a well-draining soil mix for tropical houseplants. Well-draining soil is meant to circulate oxygen for the roots to breathe, while also draining the excess water out of the container. Elements that make up a well-draining mix include perlite, orchid bark, sand, and coconut coir mixed into soil, along with light organic matter such as compost.

Containers

Your Hoya Kerrii may be planted in a plastic, ceramic, or terracotta pot. The type of container you use purely comes down to your preference. However, be sure that your planter has the most important quality: drainage holes. This allows water to empty out of the bottom after you water your Hoya. Leaving the soil swampy or waterlogged can lead to a fungal infection known as root rot. Prevent the effects of overwatering by planting your Hoya in a pot with ample drainage holes.

Fertilizer

For single-leaf Hoyas, fertilizer is only needed in small doses at most. When fertilizing your plants, be sure to apply plant food during the growing season: usually spring or summer. With adding fertilizer, less is more. Follow the instructions on the label of the plant food you are using, as many fertilizers are made at extremely concentrated doses. Overall, the Hoya Kerrii can live a healthy live without plant food, so there is nothing to worry about!

Pruning

Since it’s common to obtain a Sweetheart Plant as a single leaf, which stays as a single node throughout its lifetime, there may not be a need to constantly prune your plant. If you are lucky to find a long vining plant, you may choose to cut each node to propagate your new plant.

Repotting

Valentine Plants grow slowly if at all. If your vining Hoya Kerrii looks to have outgrown its pot, gently lift the plant out of its container. Grab a new container that is a few inches wider, and begin by covering the bottom with soil. Start to place the plant in its new home while filling the pot up with well-draining soil. Consider adding a trellis or totem pole into the pot as well, as this gives stability to trailing plants such as the mature Hoya Kerrii.

Toxicity

If you have a dog or cat in your home and are looking for non-toxic plant companions, then look no further! The Hoya Kerrii is non-toxic to dogs, cats, and small children if the leaves or stems are ingested. Rest easy knowing that this Valentine Hoya is safe to grow around pets!

Hoya Kerrii Propagation

If you have a Hoya with multiple heart-shaped leaves, then you have the wonderful option to propagate your green beauty! The process to propagate entails taking stem cuttings. If you have ever propagated a Pothos or Snake Plant with cuttings, then the process is nearly identical. With Hoyas this is a very a slow process, but by no means impossible. Just follow these set of steps, and you are on your way to re-growing your new houseplant!

  • Grab a clean pair of gardening shears.
  • A cutting needs at least one leaf and one node in order to maximize the chances of rooting. Cut below one (or more) of the nodes.
  • Take this cutting and place it directly in either a jar of water or a pot of soil. Maintain proper light, temperature, and humidity conditions while the cutting continues to grow.
  • Check in regularly. Roots should start to emerge within the next couple of weeks, and the rooted cutting will be ready to transplant!

Pests & Disease

For the most part, Hoyas are not prone to common pest infestations. However, if you do come across the uncommon pest or abnormal growth, here is a quick guide on how to help your Hoya stay healthy and thriving.

Spider Mites and Aphids

The common pest infestations for Hoyas include spider mites and aphids. These insects can look as small as flakes of pepper, and can be found in colors including white, brown, red, and black. These parasitic insects suck the nutrients out of plants, using houseplants as their hosts. If you find tiny bugs on the leaves and stems of your plants, treat your Valentine Plant as soon as possible.

Many different plant parents swear by all kinds of remedies to remove pests from your Hoya plant. Some common options include applying neem oil, insecticidal soap, or watering your plant with a watered-down hydrogen peroxide solution.

Root Rot

Hoyas are extra sensitive to overwatering. Signs of root rot include: brown spots on leaves, swampy or waterlogged soil, yellow leaves, and limp “squishy” leaves.

To treat root rot, try repotting your Hoya in a pot with ample drainage holes on the bottom. This new pot should also include some well-draining mix, that way the roots can circulate air and drain excess water.

Common Questions about Keeping Hoya Kerrii

Here are a few of the most common questions about Hoya Kerrii care:

Why are the leaves turning yellow?

Yellowing leaves can signal many different issues that could be going on with your plant. Most likely, your Hoya may be overwatered if the leaves are yellowing and “squishy”. This can also signal poor soil drainage which is retaining too much water. If the soil feels bone-dry and the edges of the leaves are brown as well as yellow, an incongruent watering schedule may be the reason for yellow foliage. Be sure to pay attention to the growing conditions for your plant along the way.

How can I get my Hoya Kerrii to grow?

As touched on earlier, a single leaf will most likely never keep growing unless it has a node. Instead, your best option is to find a Hoya Kerrii with multiple leaves, and be patient as it takes its time growing.

Are you as excited as we are? The Hoya Kerrii is a lovely, picturesque houseplant that anyone is sure to love. As the icing on the heart-shaped cake, the Valentine Plant is safe to grow around pets, low light friendly, and one of the most easygoing plants out there! Enjoy everything that the Hoya Kerrii brings to the table.