Hoya kerrii, also known as the sweetheart plant, is a beautiful specimen to grow for Valentine’s Day or any day of the year. A member of the Asclepiadaceae family, hoya kerrii has heart-shaped leaves and tiny clusters of star-shaped flowers. It is an epiphyte or semi-epiphyte that clings to trees or shrubs and grows in tropical regions.
About Sweetheart Hoya
Hoya kerrii is a species of Hoya native to China (Guizhou, Sichuan, Yunnan), Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is an evergreen climbing plant growing to 5 m (16 ft) tall. The leaves are heart-shaped, 3–10 cm (1.2–3.9 in) long and 2.5–7 cm (0.98–2.76 in) broad, glossy green above with a paler underside. The flowers are fragrant, up to 1 cm (0.4 in) in diameter across a five-lobed corolla, with a star-shaped corona of five pale yellow or white petaloid structures 15 mm long; flowering is from May to July.
The Sweetheart Plant has a vine-like growth habit that makes it ideal for hanging baskets and trellises. It has thick stems that will eventually grow woody if not pruned back. This plant is native to Southeast Asia where it grows outdoors in warm temperatures.
The leaves of this species are heart-shaped, and they are sometimes given as Valentine’s Day gifts. Hoya kerrii can also be used as ground cover in your garden or house.
The leaves of this plant were traditionally thought to bring good luck and health to you. The legend goes that a soldier who was dying of hunger found the sweetheart leaf on a tree and ate it, which gave him back his strength and saved his life. However, there is no scientific proof that this plant will do anything for your health or physical well-being.
Growing Sweetheart Hoya
If you are interested in growing sweetheart hoya plants, it’s important to note that they do best in bright or indirect light. Though they prefer full sun, Hoya kerrii plants should not be placed in direct sunlight because this will cause the leaves to burn off and the stems to scorch. For this reason, Hoya kerrii plants are typically grown indoors. However, if you wish to grow a sweetheart hoya outdoors, it should be placed in a shady spot where it will receive a few hours of direct sunlight per day. If grown outside, these plants will thrive best when planted in well-draining soil that is kept consistently moist but not overly wet.
Hoya kerrii is a fast-growing plant that can grow to about 2-3 feet tall and wide. The plant has small, dark green heart-shaped leaves. You can also find the variegated version with white markings on the leaves.
If your Hoya Kerrii is not growing, this may be because it’s too cold, too much water, or not enough light. It is important to provide the proper care for your Hoya Kerrie.
The best temperature to grow the Hoya Kerrii is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but no more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If your house is constantly below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, then you should keep your plant in a warmer area like a heated room or greenhouse.
Caring for Sweetheart Hoya
Hoya kerrii is a great houseplant because it can tolerate low-light conditions, but it grows best in bright indirect light.
Hoyas require well-draining soil that is not allowed to dry out between waterings. Hoyas are drought-tolerant plants that do not like to have wet feet. A good rule of thumb for watering hoyas is: when the soil has dried out, water until you see water draining out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
Your Hoya Kerri won’t need much water, especially during the winter months when growth is slower. Water is just enough to keep the soil from completely drying out.
Be sure your soil drains well and isn’t kept constantly wet as it can cause root rot.
Average warm room temperatures are 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit / 18-29 degrees Celsius. Hoya Kerri is not cold tolerant and will not tolerate any frost.
Propagating Sweetheart Hoya
Sweetheart hoya seeds need light to germinate. Sow them on top of a potting mix and press them into the surface, but do not cover them with soil. Cover the container with plastic wrap and store it in bright indirect light at temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the soil moist while waiting for germination, which should occur within four to six weeks.
Propagating by Cuttings
Cuttings can be taken year-round from healthy sweetheart hoya plants. Use a sterile knife or pruning shears to cut a stem that is approximately 4 inches long, including a node at the bottom and at least two leaves on top. Remove all leaves except for those at the very top of the cutting and dip the cut end in rooting hormone powder before planting it in a moist potting mix. Place the container in bright indirect light and keep the soil moist until roots form, which should take about six weeks.
Pest and Disease control
Sweetheart hoya is not particularly susceptible to pests and diseases.
However, the plant may suffer from scale (brown or gray bumps on the stems) or mealybugs (white cottony masses on the stems and leaves).
Solution: If this happens, apply a general-purpose insecticide following the label directions.
Crown gall – A bacterial disease that enters the plant through wounds and causes deformation of stems and roots.
Hoyas are susceptible to crown gall, which is a bacterial disease that can infect hoya from soil or other plants. Crown gall is a common problem in gardens where there are many plants (especially roses) infected with crown gall. The bacteria enter the plant through wounds and cause galls to form on the stems and roots. In hoyas, these galls are often hidden in the middle of a stem or under leaves, so they can be difficult to detect. Once it gets into your main plant, it is impossible to eradicate because the bacteria live in the soil indefinitely. Diseased plants should be removed promptly when detected and burned to avoid spreading the bacteria to other plants.
Crown gall develops slowly, so you may have your plant infested for years before symptoms appear. Young seedlings are most susceptible, but older plants can become infected as well. Some varieties are more susceptible than others (Hoya carnosa seems especially vulnerable).
Solution: Prune away all infected areas with sterilized pruning shears. Sterilize them by wiping them down with rubbing alcohol after each cut you make to avoid spreading crown gall to other areas of your plant.