Hoya kerrii Care Guide (Sweetheart Plant/ Valentine Hoya)

Last Updated on August 17, 2023 by Sophie

Of all the plants with heart-shaped leaves, there is perhaps no plant more beautiful than that of the Hoya kerrii. A notoriously slow grower, the plant is also known as ‘sweetheart plant,’ ‘Lucky Hearts Plant,’ ‘Wax Heart Plant’ and the ‘Valentine Hoya’ or ‘Hoya Hearts’ on account of its succulent-like green heart-shaped leaves. Here’s a complete Hoya kerrii care guide, as well as what substrate the plant needs, how to propagate the plant and other essential tips.

This is one plant that I wanted in my collection for a while, but it was pretty hard to get the whole plant and not just a single leaf. If you’re looking to buy a Hoya kerii, I recommend going to a specialist indoor plant shop.

Hoya kerrii Care Guide (Sweetheart Plant/ Valentine Hoya)


Hoya kerrii single leaf potted (is this a scam?)

Hoya kerrii originates in South-East Asia, are part of the Dogbane family, Apocynaceae, and you’ll often seen single leaves of the plant potted into small containers on Valentine’s Day and sold as the “lucky-heart” plant.

You should know that although these single leaves root, they are often planted into sphagnum moss and, due to the fact that they don’t have any node attached, they will never grow into a full plant.

Editor’s note: this isn’t entirely true. Back in 2019, my mum bought me one of these, and as of 2023, the plant obviously had a node attached to the leaf as it is now growing!

Nevertheless, if given adequate light conditions and enough water, the leaf can survive for many months of even years. The climbing plant can grow up to four foot high and is characterised by its heart shaped thick leaves which are up to 6cm wide and 0.5cm thick.

Hoya kerrii single leaf potted (is this a scam?)
Hoya kerrii Care Guide

Hoya kerrii varieties

You should note that, in spite of their increasing popularity in recent years, the Hoya Valentine remains pretty elusive to find outside of its single-leaf forms. When you do find a vining specimen with multiple leaves, the plant can be a little on the pricier side of things. 

Hoya kerrii “Splash”

A green leaf with mottled white spots, hence the name ‘splash,’ this beautiful variety is slightly slower growing than the fully green leaf variety, but is well worth a purchase nonetheless.

Hoya kerrii “Albomarginata”

A variegated form, the leaves of Albomarginata are characterised by their green inner section, surrounded by a pale yellow border. When a new leaf is forming, it often takes on a pinkish hue. 

Hoya kerrii “Albomarginata”

Hoya kerrii Plant Care & Watering Guide

Watering your Valentine Hoya

Due to its semi-succulent leaves, the Hoya kerrii retains lots of water between waterings and so doesn’t need a lot of watering. After all, one of the biggest cause of houseplant death (pests aside) is overwatering, leading to root rot. I personally wait until the plant is dried out completely before watering it again. My plant only needs watering around once a month, and even less during the winter months.

Best soil conditions for the Hoya kerrii

Thanks to its succulent-like nature, you’ll want to plant your Hoya kerrii in well-draining substrate with little organic material. Unlike some other houseplant types, hoyas (including the much easier to find for sale Hoya carnosa) tend to like to be a little root bound, and this will also make the plant more likely to flower.

With this being said, if the hoya is too pot bound, then the plant will not grow to maturity, and in some cases, being too pot bound can stunt the growth of the plant completely. Hoya kerriis should be repotted every couple of years (due to their slow growing nature).  

Best light conditions for the Sweetheart Plant

Hoya Kerrii needs bright indirect light. Too much light and the heart-shaped leaves will end up burning. Lower light conditions will lead to slower growth. In turn, lower lighting levels during the winter months means that the growth of the Hoya kerrii slows considerably during the colder months of the year.

In order to maintain even growth, you’ll want to rotate your plant after each watering. You should also note that, much like many other variegated plants, the variegated Hoya kerii will need more light than its non-variegated counterpart, and will also grow slower.

Getting your Hoya Kerrii to flower (bloom)

Of course, yet another beautiful aspect of the Hoya Kerrii, asides from its uniquely shaped leaves, is the fact that Hoya plants produce beautiful and fragrant flowers. The first thing you need to know is that the plant has to be older and more mature in order for it to even be able to bloom.

Once your plant has reached maturity, the plant is most likely to flower if it is given the right water, soil, and light conditions. Hoyas, in general, enjoy being pot-bound and the Kerrii is no exception. The plant will also have to have many leaves before it starts putting out flowers. Once your plant has flowered, this may well be an annual occurrence. 

hoya kerrii flower

Sweetheart Plant Propagation

There are actually a number of different ways to propagate hoyas, which I will dive into more fully in a future post. With this being said, the easiest and most effective way to propagate your hoya carnosa is to take plant cuttings with at least one node and root them in water.

Once they have developed a root system that is a few inches long, you can pot up the cutting. When watering the rooted and planted cutting, be wary of overwatering as the root system will still be small and not require as much water as a fully rooted plant. Of course, you can also take a cutting of one of the leaves and plant it in sphagnum moss (though it will likely always remain in this state). 

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About Author

Sophie Nadeau is a travel, pizza, and history lover who is currently based in Paris, France. A keen indoor gardener, she spends her time at home reading books, looking at too many dog photos, and growing an indoor jungle in her tiny flat!