How to Care for Hoya Kerrii Succulent (“Sweetheart Plant”)

Updated: 18 Oct, 2023


Hoyas encompass a diverse array of shapes, sizes, and hues, yet among them, hoya kerrii stands out as a distinctive vining succulent. Its robust, heart-shaped leaves have garnered it endearing monikers like the sweetheart vine, hoya hearts, lucky heart plant, and Valentine’s hoya. These plants gain popularity annually, particularly around Valentine’s Day.

In the summer, mature hoya kerrii flourish under optimal conditions, producing charming clusters of fragrant, miniature star-shaped flowers. The leaves of Hoya kerrii can be entirely verdant or adorned with a creamy, white border surrounding a green core, exemplified by the ‘Variegata’ variety. Other sought-after variations include ‘Splash’ and ‘Reverse Variegata,’ known for their distinctive leaf coloration.

One of its extraordinary features lies in the ability to nurture a lone heart-shaped leaf in a petite pot, sustaining its vitality for years through well-drained soil, moderate watering, ample indirect sunlight, and periodic fertilization.

Caring for hoya kerrii proves to be a straightforward endeavor. Beyond their undeniable charm, these tropical succulents yield cascading woody vines that are remarkably undemanding, slow in their growth, and a joy to cultivate. The ensuing guide will furnish you with all the essential knowledge for fostering and tending to hoya kerrii as an indoor companion.

Read also: Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) Indoor Plant Care & Growing Guide

Common Name Hoya kerrii, sweetheart hoya, hoya hearts, lucky heart hoya, Valentine’s hoya 
Botanical Name Hoya kerrii 
Family Apocynaceae 
Plant Type Vine, succulent 
Mature Size 13 ft. long 
Sun Exposure Full 
Soil Type Well-draining 
Soil pH Acidic, neutral 
Bloom Time Spring, summer 
Flower Color Pink, white 
Hardiness Zones 11 (USDA)
Native Area Asia

What Is Sweetheart Hoya?

Hoya kerrii, an epiphytic marvel, ascends and coils as it matures, affixing itself to trees through its aerial roots.

This species is endearingly known as the “sweetheart hoya,” “Valentine hoya,” and “heart leaf hoya,” owing to its unmistakable heart-shaped foliage.

Its succulent, fleshy leaves serve as reservoirs, enabling it to retain water during dry spells. These leaves are velvety to the touch and emerge oppositely along lengthy vines. When first unfurling, they start off as minuscule emblems of greenery. In comparison to many other hoya species, the vines of H. kerrii exhibit notable thickness and a certain rigidity.

Encouraging this sweetheart hoya to bloom indoors is a breeze. It showcases fragrant, enduring clusters of blooms. Each individual flower bears creamy white petals with russet-hued centers. Resembling petite stars, these blossoms exude a waxy sheen, possibly inspiring yet another of its familiar aliases, the “wax hearts.” Valentine hoyas are known for their remarkably unhurried growth. At times, they may seem dormant for years before embarking on fresh spurts of vitality.

How to Grow

Growing hoya kerrii, or the sweetheart hoya, can be a rewarding endeavor for plant enthusiasts. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to cultivate and care for this unique succulent:

1. Light:

Provide bright, indirect sunlight. A few hours of morning sunlight is beneficial, but avoid harsh, direct afternoon sun.

2. Soil:

Use a well-draining potting mix, such as a blend of cactus or succulent soil with perlite or orchid bark to ensure proper drainage.

3. Pot Selection:

Opt for a container with drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating around the roots.

4. Watering:

Allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out before watering. Water thoroughly, ensuring excess water drains out. Avoid waterlogging.

5. Temperature:

Hoya kerrii prefers warm temperatures between 60-80°F (15-27°C). Protect it from cold drafts and extreme temperature fluctuations.

6. Humidity:

Average indoor humidity levels are typically suitable, but occasional misting or placing a humidifier nearby can be beneficial, especially in drier climates.

7. Fertilizing:

Feed with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength during the active growing season (spring and summer). Reduce or stop fertilizing in the fall and winter.

8. Propagation:

Hoya kerrii can be propagated from cuttings. Take a stem cutting with at least one leaf and let it callus over for a day or two. Plant it in well-draining soil and keep it lightly moist until roots develop.

9. Pruning:

Trim back leggy or overgrown vines to encourage bushier growth. You can also remove any yellowing or damaged leaves.

Hoya Kerrii Care

Caring for hoya kerrii is akin to tending to succulents. They thrive on abundant sunlight, minimal water, and well-draining soil, reveling in a bit of neglect. A sunny windowsill and occasional watering every few weeks suffice to keep them content. These hoyas are famously unhurried in their growth, so don’t fret if you don’t see immediate leaf development. With the right dose of sunlight and hydration, they’ll reward you with fresh growth in due time.

Much like succulents, these heart-shaped hoyas crave ample light for optimal indoor growth. Select a spot with several hours of direct, bright sunlight daily. A west- or south-facing window is perfect. If natural light is lacking, consider adding a full-spectrum LED grow light to bolster their growth.

As epiphytes, hoya kerrii necessitate exceptionally airy, well-draining soil. Standard indoor potting mixtures without modifications can lead to compacted roots and hindered growth. Instead, blend potting soil with perlite, orchid bark, and sand for a mix that your hoya kerrii will relish.

Allow the soil to thoroughly dry out between watering sessions. Hoya kerrii’s robust, water-retaining leaves equip them to endure extended drought periods, making them susceptible to overwatering and root rot. Watering frequency should be adjusted according to the season. In summer, more frequent watering is acceptable, while winter calls for a significant reduction in watering.

To gauge water readiness, inspect the leaves. If they remain plump, hold off on watering. If they appear slightly thinner and wrinkled, it’s time for a drink. A moisture meter can also confirm when the soil is adequately dry for watering.

Temperature and Humidity
Hoyas thrive in warm, humid environments, and hoya kerrii is no exception. They flourish in temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, avoiding exposure to anything below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Standard household humidity levels typically suffice, but providing extra humidity through methods like a nearby humidifier is beneficial. Alternatively, select naturally humid spaces in your home, such as bathrooms, kitchens, or laundry rooms. While commonly grown indoors, hoya kerrii can thrive outdoors year-round in USDA hardiness zone 11.

While not heavy feeders, hoya kerrii can benefit from periodic feeding during their active growth phase. In spring and summer, administer a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month to promote robust growth. Refer to product label instructions for appropriate dosage.

Types of Hoya Kerrii

Here are the descriptions of the hoya kerrii varieties with a bit of rephrasing:

Hoya kerrii Heart:
This variety earns its name due to its singular potted heart-shaped leaf, which is unlikely to grow further but can thrive for years with attentive care.

Hoya kerrii ‘Splash’:
Distinguishing itself, this variety showcases leaves adorned with silvery speckles rather than large yellow patches.

Hoya kerrii ‘Reverse Variegata’:
The unique feature of this type lies in its cream-colored variegation, positioned at the leaf’s center, while the edges boast a vibrant green rim.

Hoya kerrii ‘Albomarginata’:
This striking variety boasts leaves with bold white variegation, creating a visually captivating display.

Hoya kerrii ‘Fuzzy Leaves’:
This rare specimen also boasts heart-shaped leaves, though they possess a less pronounced heart shape compared to other varieties. Additionally, these leaves are larger and have a pleasantly fuzzy texture.

Propagating Hoya Kerrii

Here are the steps for propagating Hoya kerrii using either water or sphagnum moss, with some rephrasing:

Propagation of Hoya kerrii: Water or Sphagnum Moss

  • Begin by obtaining a stem cutting from a mature Hoya kerrii using sharp pruning shears or scissors. Each cutting should feature a minimum of three nodes along the stem, where leaves and roots will emerge.
  • Trim away the lower one to two leaves from each cutting, leaving the nodes exposed. Make sure that each cutting retains at least one leaf at the top of the stem.
  • If opting for water propagation, prepare a small container with water. Submerge the lower part of the cutting in the water, ensuring that the leaves on the stem remain above the surface. For sphagnum moss propagation, soak the moss in water for about 10 minutes and then gently squeeze out any excess moisture. Place the moss into a container and gently pack it around the base of the cutting, ensuring that the nodes are covered while the leaves remain uncovered.
  • Position the cutting(s) in a spot that receives bright, indirect light.
  • If using water, remember to change the water every week. If using sphagnum moss, ensure that it remains consistently moist and does not dry out.
  • After a few weeks, you should observe the emergence of small roots. Wait until these roots reach a length of at least 1 to 2 inches before proceeding to plant the cuttings.
  • Pot the rooted cuttings in a well-draining potting mixture and water thoroughly. Maintain slightly moist soil for the initial couple of weeks to assist the new roots in adapting to their new environment. Return the potted cuttings to their previous location. They can gradually be transitioned to a brighter spot for more robust growth, taking care to do so gradually to prevent leaf burn.

Best Uses

Hoya kerrii, with its distinctive heart-shaped leaves and charming growth habits, lends itself to various delightful applications:

Decorative Houseplant:
Adorn your indoor spaces with the unique beauty of hoya kerrii. Its heart-shaped leaves add a touch of charm and elegance to any room.

Gifts and Tokens of Affection:
Given its common name, “sweetheart hoya,” it makes for a thoughtful and symbolic gift, especially around occasions of love and affection.

Tabletop Centerpieces:
Placed in decorative pots, hoya kerrii can serve as eye-catching centerpieces for tables and shelves, adding a touch of natural beauty to your décor.

Hanging Planters and Trellises:
Utilize its vining nature by hanging it in decorative planters or providing a trellis for it to climb, creating a visually striking display.

Botanical Displays:
Incorporate hoya kerrii into larger botanical arrangements, adding a unique and eye-catching element to your plant displays.

Office or Workspace Décor:
Bring a touch of nature to your workspace by placing hoya kerrii in a well-lit area. Its low maintenance nature makes it an excellent choice for office settings.

Living Wall or Vertical Garden:
With its vining growth, hoya kerrii can be a stunning addition to a living wall or vertical garden, providing an interesting texture and form.

Wedding Décor and Favors:
Given its heart-shaped leaves and symbolism, hoya kerrii can be used in wedding bouquets, centerpieces, or as plantable favors for guests.

Themed Gardens:
Incorporate hoya kerrii into succulent or tropical-themed gardens, creating a focal point with its distinctive heart-shaped foliage.

Educational Purposes:
Hoya kerrii can serve as an interesting addition to botanical collections, providing an example of unique leaf morphology and growth patterns.

Potting and Repotting Hoya Kerrii

Hoya kerrii benefits from repotting only once every few years, as they thrive when slightly root-bound. Moving them into an overly large pot can lead to potential overwatering issues, which may harm the plant.

The repotting process for your hoya kerrii is relatively straightforward. Gently extract the plant from its container, taking care not to damage the roots. If it’s firmly lodged, exert a gentle pressure on the sides of the pot to loosen it, or sway the stem side to side while holding the plant upside down.

Once the plant is freed, delicately remove as much of the old soil surrounding the roots as possible. It’s crucial to minimize root breakage during this step, so proceed with care. Next, transfer the plant to its new container. Ensure the new pot is only 2 to 3 inches wider than the previous one. Set your plant in the new pot and fill any excess space with a well-draining, airy potting mix.

Give your recently potted hoya kerrii a thorough watering and return it to its original location. This process will help ensure your hoya kerrii continues to thrive in its new home.

How to Get Hoya Kerrii to Bloom

A blossoming hoya is a clear indicator of a contented, thriving plant. Typically, these hoyas grace us with their blooms once a year, often during the spring or summer seasons. It’s worth noting that Hoya kerrii tends to withhold its blooms until it reaches a maturity of 2 to 3 years, so if you haven’t observed any blossoms yet, there’s no cause for concern. Nevertheless, there are steps you can take to expedite the blooming process.

Firstly, hoyas are more inclined to bloom when they find themselves slightly root-bound, so refrain from transferring your hoya to a pot that’s excessively large. Secondly, sufficient daily sunlight is crucial for flowering. Ensure that your hoya is basking in several hours of direct sunlight each day. Lastly, exercise caution with watering. Hoyas appreciate a substantial interval between watering sessions and may abstain from flowering if the soil remains too damp. By adhering to these practices, you’ll be on your way to nurturing a blooming, happy hoya kerrii.

Common Problems With Hoya Kerrii

Hoya kerrii generally proves to be a low-maintenance delight for indoor gardeners, largely trouble-free. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when cultivating these tropical sweetheart vines.

1. Curling Leaves:

Curling leaves may arise from various factors, including overwatering, underwatering, or abrupt temperature fluctuations. To pinpoint the issue, scrutinize your plant’s environment closely.

If underwatering is the culprit, expect discolored leaves in addition to the curling. Increase watering to prevent future leaf curling. In cases of overwatering, signs of root rot may be evident beneath the soil’s surface or the soil may feel waterlogged. Swiftly repot the plant with fresh soil, trimming away any compromised roots. Temperature shock is another possibility, occurring when a plant experiences a rapid and drastic temperature change. Ensure your plant is situated in a space with consistent temperatures, avoiding abrupt fluctuations.

2. Limited Growth:

Hoya kerrii are renowned for their leisurely growth. However, if significant growth has not occurred over several years, it may signal an issue with its growing conditions.

Firstly, confirm that your plant is receiving ample light. Hoya kerrii necessitates abundant light for healthy growth; even medium light may not suffice. Secondly, assess the health of your hoya’s root system. Prolonged overwatering or underwatering can gradually damage the roots, impeding growth. If your plant exhibits a scant root system, propagation may

How often should I water my hoya kerrii?

It’s important to allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Typically, once every two to three weeks is sufficient. Adjust based on your specific climate and the moisture levels of your home.

What kind of light does hoya kerrii need?

Hoya kerrii thrives in bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid direct, harsh sunlight as it can scorch the leaves.

Can I propagate hoya kerrii from a single leaf?

Yes, you can! Simply let the cut end of the leaf callus over for a few hours, then plant it in well-draining soil. Keep it lightly moist until roots form.

How can I encourage my hoya kerrii to bloom?

Provide it with plenty of bright, indirect light and make sure it experiences a consistent temperature drop at night, ideally around 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit.

What type of soil is best for hoya kerrii?

A well-draining succulent or cactus mix is ideal. You can also amend regular potting soil with perlite or sand to improve drainage.

Do hoyas need fertilizer? If so, how often?

Yes, they benefit from occasional feeding during their active growing season (spring and summer). Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half-strength, applied every 4-6 weeks.

Should I repot my hoya kerrii, and how often?

Repot when the plant has outgrown its current container or when the soil has become compacted. This is typically needed every 2-3 years.

Is hoya kerrii toxic to pets or humans?

Hoya kerrii is considered non-toxic to humans and pets. However, ingesting any plant material can lead to digestive discomfort, so it’s best to keep it out of reach of curious pets or small necessary to foster new roots and reestablish its foundation for growth.


Hoya kerrii, with its distinctive heart-shaped leaves and charming blooms, is a delightful addition to any indoor garden. Its unique characteristics, such as the ability to propagate from a single leaf, make it an endearing choice for both beginners and seasoned plant enthusiasts.

By providing the right balance of light, water, and well-draining soil, you can ensure the health and longevity of your hoya kerrii. This low-maintenance succulent offers not only aesthetic appeal but also a touch of natural beauty to your living space.

Mary Lloyster

Mary Lloyster

Mary, the ultimate oracle of indoor gardening! With years of experience and a flourishing indoor expo, Mary has become our go-to expert for all things related to house plants and indoor gardening. Despite her background in Political Science, Mary has discovered a delightful way to blend her full-time job with a touch of relaxation through indoor gardening. Now, she eagerly shares her wisdom and experiences with our readers on a daily basis. If you have any inquiries about house plants, indoor gardening techniques, or caring tips, don't hesitate to leave a comment for Mary in the designated section below!

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