A Guide to Growing Hoya Kerrii (Sweetheart Plant)

Are you looking for an easy-to-care-for houseplant that will add a touch of love to your decor? Look no further than the Hoya kerrii, popularly known as the Sweetheart Plant or Sweetheart Hoya.

Hoya Kerrii is a rare and exotic flowering plant native to Southeast Asia. It’s an attractive, low-maintenance houseplant with lush foliage and fragrant pink porcelain flowers that may bloom throughout its growing season, from Spring to Fall. 

This adorable plant thanks its reputation and popularity to its distinctly heart-shaped leaves. Leaf cuttings grown in small pots are becoming more popular year after year as people give these little Hoya Hearts to their loved ones to symbolize love and devotion during Valentine’s Day or as anniversary gifts!  

These succulent plants are often called “heart cacti,” but it is important not to confuse them with actual cactus species. The hoya kerrii can be grown under most indoor conditions, making it a versatile houseplant for any home.

In this post, I’ll teach you how to grow, propagate, and care for the Hoya kerrii, so if you’ve recently been gifted one of these cuties or you’ve purchased one for your loved ones, you will find all the information you need about this unique little plant below. 

Hoya Kerrii Plant Overview

Scientific NameHoya Kerrii Craib
Common NamesSweetheart Hoya, Wax Plant, Valentine Hoya, Hoya Heart, Heart Cactus, Lucky Heart Plant
OriginSouth China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Java (Indonesian Island)
Size and Dimensions (Mature)Up to 3 or 4 meters (13 feet)
Distinguishing FeaturesHeart-shaped, thick succulent-type leaves that grow on a vine. A mature plant will produce white and pink delicate blooms. 
In-Home PlacementPlace in a brightly lit location. The vining plant is particularly beautiful when grown in a hanging basket, windowsill, and on a trellis. 

How Long Does it Take for a Hoya Kerrii to Grow?

hoya kerrii care

Hoyas are slow-growing plants; thus, they require patience to grow a big and lush vine. It will take a cutting up to three years to grow into a fully mature plant that will bloom and grow abundantly. 

Keep in mind that a single-leaf Hoya, as you often see in stores, will rarely grow into a vine. The Lucky Heart can survive for months, or even years, before eventually decaying. However, the leaf needs a node to grow into a mature plant, which they usually lack. 

Origin and Natural Habitat of Hoya Kerrii

hoya kerrii with aerial roots growing on tree trunk

The Hoya Kerrii originates from Southeast Asia, specifically from China and Java (Indonesia).

The plant grows as an epiphyte in its natural habitat, climbing onto surrounding tree trunks and plants, using aerial roots to access enough light. When there is nothing to climb, the plant will trail down. 

The Lucky Heart Plant belongs to the genus of Hoya, a popular group of plants that consists of more than 500 different varieties. One of the most well-known Hoya plants is the Hoya Carnosa, also known as the Wax Plant

Their native environment is warm, humid, and sunny. The key to keeping your tropical plant happy as a houseplant is to mimic its natural habitat as closely as possible!

When given ideal growing conditions, your hoya may reward you with its stunning blooms as it matures. 

Hoya Kerrii Varieties

Of course, we all know and love the well-known green Heartleaf Hoya. But did you know this plant also comes in other, maybe even more intriguing, varieties?

These plants have the same heart-shaped thick leaves and care requirements and needs, but their appearance differs slightly from the original green Kerrii Hoya. 

Hoya kerrii ‘Albomarginata / Variegata’

Hoya kerrii ‘Albomarginata / Variegata’ leaves in potting tray

This is a stunning, variegated Hoya Kerrii with cream and yellow-colored leaf edges. This stunning Sweetheart Plant variety can be found in local and online plant shops.

They’re inexpensive but add a little interest to your home decor compared to the regular green Hoya Kerrii, making it the perfect gift for your special person!

Hoya kerrii ‘Reverse Variegata’

Hoya kerrii ‘Reverse Variegata’ plant growing in red pot

Another variegated Hoya Kerrii, but the variegation seems to be in reverse this time! The beautiful yellow-golden coloring is on the insides of the leaf rather than around the edges.

Compared to the regular Variegata, this Hoya is significantly rarer and thus more expensive. However, I think it is a wonderful plant to add to your collection if you are a Hoya enthusiast. 

Hoya Kerrii Care and Growing Conditions

hoya kerrii craib growing in pot outdoors

Hoya Kerrii, the Sweetheart Plant, is a unique and beautiful houseplant that has become increasingly popular among plant enthusiasts.

Hoya Kerrii’s care and growing conditions are a must-know for gardeners worldwide who want to successfully grow these unique succulent-like leaves. 

Below is all the information you need to keep this tropical succulent vine healthy and thriving! 

Best Soil For Hoya Kerrii

Regarding Hoya Kerrii care, giving the plant proper soil is important. While regular indoor potting soil is suitable, adding amendments like perlite and orchid bark will help create an airy mixture, allowing for better water drainage holes and aeration of the roots. Using the correct soil ensures the healthy growth of this slow growing Hoya!

Creating your own potting mix gives you control over what goes in and what doesn’t. My preferred mix comprises 50% regular potting soil, 25% perlite, and 25% orchid bark. Adding sand to this mix can also help achieve better aeration and drainage.

Water Requirements

Due to their thick, succulent leaves, the water requirements for these plants are low. The plant can store much water in its foliage, reducing its need for moisture through the soil! 

Overwatering can lead to root rot; thus, it’s important not to water too often and ensure the soil is dry before watering again.

The amount of water needed for the plant varies with the season; in summer, more water is necessary, while less is required in winter.

A fun little fact about Hoyas is that you can test when they need water by performing the ‘Taco Test.’ Gently try to fold your Hoya’s leaves like a taco.

If the leaf easily bends and wrinkles, the plant is thirsty. If the leaf doesn’t bend and feels firm, wait a little longer before giving your Sweetheart a drink. 

When you water, please do so until you notice excess water running through the drainage holes. This allows the soil to become evenly saturated and promotes healthy root development! 

Temperature and Humidity

For those of you with a Sweetheart Hoya, temperature requirements for proper care and growing conditions can make all the difference in how your plant flourishes. The ideal room temperature range for the single-leaf species is between 65° to 77° F.

During the winter months, avoid placing your Hoya near cold drafts and radiators or air conditioning vents that can cause detriment to your plant’s health.

A humid environment is one of the most important requirements for Hoya Kerrii’s care and growing condition. During the growing season, you should aim for a minimum humidity level of 60%.

If you can provide more than that, go ahead and do so – but keep it from dropping below that level. These plants do not appreciate dry air.

A humidifier can be a helpful tool to boost the humidity levels for your Hoyas. Alternatively, you can mist the leaves lightly a few times daily or set your plants on a pebble tray. 

Light Needs For Hoya Kerrii

Hoyas require bright but indirect sunlight to thrive. But they can withstand a bit of direct morning sun, as well.

They will do well in a location where they receive a few hours of sun in the morning and are in indirect light for the remainder of the day. 

Place your Sweetheart Hoya in a North-facing sunny window for light intensity, or consider Eastern or Western exposure for even better light.

Ensure the plant does not receive direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the afternoon, as this can lead to sunburn on the leaves, especially during the hot summer months.

If you live in a dark area, or your windows fail to receive much light during the winter months, you may want to offer the plant an artificial grow light to provide brighter light for your Hoya. This way, your plant will grow abundantly, even during the darker months! 


Whether or not your Hoya Kerrii requires additional fertilizer depends on a few factors. If you are growing a single-leafed plant, it will not require any extra nutrients unless it begins to put out new vines. However, since these little single-leaf plants tend to have a short lifespan, they do not need extra food. 

A mature and well-developed plant may occasionally benefit from a small amount of plant food. However, the Hoya Kerrii is a light feeder, and less is more regarding fertilizer. You may apply a slow-release fertilizer granule once a year in spring to kickstart growth. 

If you choose to fertilize, make sure to pick a plant food that is rich in Potassium and Phosphorus. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers will encourage leafy growth and inhibit bloom production. Avoid using too much fertilizer because this will potentially burn the plant’s delicate roots. 

How to Propagate Hoya Kerrii

Propagating a Hoya is an easy and rewarding way to create new plants! As the Hoya Kerrii is a slow grower, seeing root growth on your cuttings may require a little patience. Find out all about Hoya Kerrii propagation below! 

Can I Propagate My Single Leaf Hoya Kerrii?

hoya kerrii single leaf porpagation in disposable cup

The single leaf cuttings you find at local plant shops will survive for a long time, but sadly, it is very unlikely to continue to grow as these cuttings typically are planted without a node. Nodes are crucial for plants to root; without them, the leaf will eventually wither and die. 

Rarely, you may get lucky, and your Sweetheart Hoya has a stem and a node, and it will continue to vine and grow into a full plant. But if you are determined to grow more Hoya vines, I would recommend purchasing a full, mature plant instead. 

When Should I Propagate My Sweetheart Hoya?

hoya kerrii plant propagated via stem

The best time to propagate your Hoya Kerrii is in Spring or Summer, during the active growing season.

This way, the plant can reap the benefits of warm temperatures and sufficient light, and it can easily photosynthesize to produce the energy it needs to root and grow new leaves.

You can propagate year-round, but remember that the rooting process will be much slower in winter. 

Stem Cuttings

Stem cutting is a common and effective technique propagating the Sweetheart plant. It may seem a little daunting to chop up your beloved plant but don’t worry, Hoyas are forgiving, and they will grow right back from wherever you cut them. 

Some basic materials and tools include small nursery pots, a healthy cutting from the parent plant, bottled water or rainwater, sterilized scissors or shears, potting soil, and a spray bottle.

It’s important to sterilize all your tools by soaking them in rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria and fungi that can cause disease.

You will also want to prepare your potting mix beforehand by mixing equal amounts of peat moss, coarse sand, and coco coir for optimal drainage. 

To propagate a Valentine’s Hoya with stem cuttings, you’ll need to follow the step-by-step guide below! 

Step 1

Prepare a small pot filled with a well-drained growing medium. Ensure that the pot has drainage holes to prevent your cutting from rotting.   

Step 2

First, choose where you want to cut your vines. Aim for about 4 inches of stem. Remove the stem from the mother plant. Cut right above a node, where new leaves will sprout, and roots will grow. 

Please remember that you cannot propagate single leaves without the presence of a node! Keep a part of the stem attached to the cutting so the plant can take root. 

Step 3

Trim off any of its unnecessary leaves from the bottom of the cutting. I always pinch off or trim off the bottom set of leaves. 

Step 4

Grab your prepared pot with succulent soil mix and gently stick the cut end of your vine in the soil. Place the right side up. Otherwise, your cutting will not root! 

Place the propagation in a location with bright, indirect sunlight. Keep the soil slightly moist as the cutting takes root. You may lightly water the soil or mist it every other day to prevent the cutting from drying completely. 

Soon, you will have another beautiful version of your Sweetheart Plant with fresh new growth!

How to Propagate Sweetheart Plant From Seed

Propagating the Sweetheart plant from seed is surprisingly easy, perfect for gardeners of any skill level. Although, it is worth mentioning that this method is very time-consuming. 

Hoya Kerrii seeds are harvested from a mature, flowering plant or can be purchased online. Make sure to purchase high-quality and fresh seeds! 

Step 1

Wrap your Hoya seed in a slightly dampened paper towel and place it inside a ziplock bag. This will allow the seed to germinate. Place the closed ziplock bag on a windowsill out of direct sun. 

Step 2

After 1-2 weeks, the seed will have germinated. It is now time to transfer the seeds to potting soil! Prepare a pot with well-drained potting soil and poke small, 1-inch deep holes. Lightly water the soil after planting.

Step 3

Keep the seedlings in a well-lit spot away from direct sun. Within a few weeks, leaves should begin to sprout! Continue to care for your little Hoyas, and you will soon have a lush Hoya Kerrii vine growing in your home. 

Potting and Repotting Hoya Kerrii

repotting hoya kerrii plant outdoors

When choosing pots, pick one with drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.  It can also be a good idea to use pots made from materials that help promote aeration, such as terracotta or clay-based potting mediums; this will ensure water retention but not too much to avoid potentially hazardous rotting at the base. 

Hoyas do not need repotting often, as this plant loves to be rootbound. Keeping your Hoya’s roots slightly rootbound will encourage it to create more blooms! When you notice the soil drying out too fast, there is a big chance the plant is too rootbound and will require a slightly bigger pot. 

Every couple of years, transplant it to an ever-so-slightly bigger pot – pot size should remain proportional to the size and age of the plant. Choose a pot that is no more than 3 inches larger in diameter than the root ball. 

Academic Studies on Hoya Kerrii’s Medicinal Use

hoya kerrii plant in pot placed outdoors

Besides being a valuable ornamental plant, Hoya kerrii has been widely used as a folk medicine in Thailand to treat inflammatory-related diseases such as swelling and wounds.

Unfortunately, there was little scientific evidence available regarding the compounds present in Hoya kerrii responsible for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions until a brief study conducted by Sisaket Rajabhat University, Suranaree University of Technology and Rajamangala University of Technology Rattanakosin Thailand revealed those hidden valuable agents. 

For the conduction of the experiment, fresh leaves of Hoya kerrii were selected and converted into a fine powder after passing through a series of chemical reactions.

The phytochemical analysis of that powder revealed the presence of tannins, phenolics, alkaloids, and flavonoids in the leaves of the sweetheart plant. Among these four chemicals, phenolics and flavonoids are widely known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. 

The amount of these two most essential phytochemicals, phenolics and flavonoids, were 61.69 ± 0.17 mgGAE/g and 15.99 ± 0.12 mgCAE/g, respectively, in dry extract of plant leaves. The study also showed that per 100g of fresh Hoya kerrii leaves, 91.68% moisture was available, which is no surprise as the plant is a succulent storing water in its leaves. 

Common Problems with Sweetheart Plant

hoya kerrii plant in pot with black spots on one leaf

As with any plant, it is important to be aware of the common problems it can experience to keep your Sweetheart Plant healthy. Below we will look at some common issues with these plants and how you can address them.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a common problem with Sweetheart Plants. Powdery mildew is a type of fungus that can form on any outdoor or indoor plant, and while it’s not fatal, it can cause significant damage to your sweetheart plant. 

The most common symptom associated with powdery mildew is a white coating on the top layer of the plant’s waxy leaves, eventually blocking their access to sunlight, leading to their death over time. The fungus can be treated by removing the infected foliage and spraying the leaves with a Bordeaux fungicide. 

However, severely infected plants are unlikely to recover from this fungal infection. The best method to treat this issue is prevention. You can prevent Powdery Mildew on your Hoya Kerrii by keeping the plant well-pruned and avoiding overwatering, which helps to reduce humidity. 

Root Rot

Root Rot is also a common problem with Sweetheart Plants, as this plant is not tolerant of wet soil conditions. 

Unfortunately, many people find that their Sweetheart plant quickly develops root rot, leading to the yellowing of the green leaves and, ultimately, the death of the plant.

Root rot occurs when too much water is present in the soil around the roots of the sweetheart plant, causing them to die off or become infected with fungi.

To prevent root rot on your beautiful Hoya, it’s important to prevent constantly moist soil and ensure the plant’s soil and pot have good drainage to prevent soggy soil conditions. 

Fungal Diseases

The unique foliage of the Sweetheart Plant is an attractive addition to any home or garden, but sadly, it can be vulnerable to fungal infections.

Most often, fungal diseases cause yellowing or blotchy patterns on the leaves of the tricolor plant. These symptoms are most visible during warm and humid conditions, which provide ideal breeding grounds for fungi spores.

To help protect your sweetheart plant from these fungus-borne illnesses, you must continually monitor its growth and condition.

If you spot any signs of infection, intervene quickly with pruning tools and fungicides to prevent the further spread of disease throughout the entire plant.

Spider Mites

Unfortunately for lovers of the sweetheart plant, spider mites have become an increasingly common problem. While these tiny biting pests may be small, they can cause major damage to your beloved houseplant if left unchecked. 

Spider mites are so small that you might not even notice them initially. However, yellow spots or webbing will appear when they feed on the sap of the sweetheart plant’s leaves.

If not taken care of quickly and efficiently, spider mites can ruin the look of your sweetheart plant and stunt its growth.

When you notice signs of this pest, rinse the plant in the shower thoroughly and spray it with a neem-oil solution or horticultural oil to kill these nasty bugs. 

Creative Ways to Present Hoya Kerrii in Your Home

hoya kerrii in white pot on wooden rectangle against wall

If you want to spruce up your living space with a unique, eye-catching plant, the Hoya Kerrii is a great choice! This interesting succulent species has bright green heart-shaped leaves that will bring a smile to any room.

Below We will explore some creative ways to help you present Hoya Kerrii in your house or garden area! 

Hanging Planters

Using homemade or original hanging planters is a great way to bring Hoya Kerrii into your home. Many varieties of plant hangers are available, but of course, you can also let your creativity run wild and create your own! 

Consider making a DIY macrame hanging planter. These baskets are perfect for keeping your plant off the ground, and they come in various sizes and materials, so you can choose one that fits best with your interior design style.

You will also find various hanging planters in every possible style and color in local plant shops and garden centers. Hanging planters can be hung in many ways in houses and apartments. The sky is the limit! 

Creating a Wall Garden

Creating a Wall Garden is an exciting and creative way to showcase the beauty of Hoya Kerrii. The key to creating a beautiful wall garden with this type of plant is to plan your project, pick the right spot in your home, and choose accessories that complement its colors and textures.

When creating your wall garden, think about which area of your home would best display the beauty of the Hoya Kerrii.

Make sure you have access to enough sunlight if you want it to grow properly. Consider the size of your space when deciding how many plants you can realistically accommodate on your wall.

Feel free to combine different varieties of Hoya or other trailing plants to grow alongside your Sweetheart Hoya! 

Climbing Poles

Climbing poles offer a creative and fun way to display the beautiful Hoya Kerrii in your home. This unique species of evergreen vines can reach up to ten feet in length, making them an ideal candidate for this type of presentation. 

Installing a climbing pole is relatively easy, and plenty of different varieties exist. If you want ideas on how to trellis your Hoya Kerrii, you can find some creative DIY ideas for trellis indoor plants on our website! 

Frequently Asked Questions

hoya kerrii plant with aerial roots and flowers

Is Sweetheart Plant Toxic to Cats?

With its vibrant heart-shaped fleshy leaves, the Sweetheart Hoya Plant has become increasingly popular as a decorative addition to any home.

But before you introduce this beauty into your living space, you must know whether this plant is safe for your feline friends.

The answer is yes. The Sweetheart Hoya is non-toxic to cats, according to ASPCA. And thus, you can safely place this Hoya in areas where you keep your furry friends roaming around! 

Is Sweetheart Plant Toxic to Dogs?

If you own a Hoya Kerrii and are worried about your dog’s safety, you can rest assured because this beautiful heart-shaped vine is safe to keep around if you have a dog!

All species of Hoya, including H. carnosa and H. australis, are considered non-toxic to dogs, according to this list from the University of Connecticut.

Do I Need to Prune My Hoya Kerrii?

Pruning is essential for the health and growth of your beloved Hoya kerrii. But do you need to prune it? The answer is: that it depends. 

If you want your hoya kerrii to look its best, then yes, you should consider pruning it. Pruning will help promote bushier and fuller growth, allowing more sunlight to reach the plant’s lower leaves.

Additionally, regular pruning of this slow-growing plant helps keep pests away by removing dead leaves and stems that could become a breeding ground for unwanted critters. 

On the other hand, if you are okay with how your hoya kerrii looks or aren’t in dire need of extra fullness or natural light exposure, then there’s no real need to prune it.

Does Hoya Kerrii Grow Best Indoors or Outdoors?

Whether your Hoya Kerrii will grow best in or outdoors depends on the climate in which you’re growing it. If you live in a temperate zone (USDA zones 9-11) with mild temperatures, your Hoya Kerrii can do well indoors and outdoors.

The key is providing sufficient bright light for most of the day without exposing it to temperature extremes.

Outdoors, however, its roots may be exposed to heat and drought if you live in a hot climate, which can compromise the plant’s health!

Consider moving your plant indoors during extreme heat or cold to protect the roots against temperature damage.  

Where can I find a Hoya Kerrii for sale?

hoya kerrii plants in pots on a grill

If you’re in the market for a Hoya Kerrii, then it’s important to know where the right place is to buy one.

Before committing to a purchase, you should check if the plant has healthy green leaves free from brown spots or yellowing.

If purchasing online, ensure they offer a warranty of some form, and ensure their policies are posted so you have a point of recourse should there be any issues with your order.

Of course, it is best to buy in person whenever possible, as you can inspect what you’re buying before picking it up.

As for online shops, Amazon is always reliable, but you can also look at specialist stores like Nature Hills Nursery, which often stock this type of plant.

Wherever you get yours, make sure that you take the necessary steps for successful acclimation – this entails gradually introducing your new houseplant to its new environment over time – and follow good care instructions for best results.

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