Ceropegia Woodii

Ceropegia Woodii ‘Chain of Hearts’ Leaf & Seed Propagation- A How To Guide

The variegated version of Ceropegia Woodii is THE most popular plant in our online shop and a healthy stockpile can sell out within days. It is one of a very few plants that we just can’t grow enough of. Because of its popularity, Ceropegia Woodii can fetch eye-watering price tags and so it is no wonder people try and propagate this plant from leaves.

But can Ceropegia Woodii 'String of Hearts' be propagated from a single leaf stripped from the vine or seed?

The String of Hearts can be propagated by just a leaf, but the process may often end in the leaf rotting. It can also take a long time for the plant to grow. Ceropegia Woodii is easily propagated by seed, though the process is also quite slow.

ceropegia wooddii leaf propagation

In our opinion, there are better and quicker ways to propagate this plant. We will describe propagation methods below.

But first let's have a closer look at what this plant is and how to care for it. 

Description

Ceropegia Woodii/ Chain of Hearts/ String of Hearts/Rosary Vine is a succulent plant in the Apocynaceae family, native to southern Africa. It is a tender, but reasonably hardy succulent that, in its natural environment, would scramble through vegetation on the ground or climb up.

Ceropegia Woodii is a vine with small and fleshy, heart shaped leaves growing in an opposite fashion. The vine itself is very thin but can easily grow a few meters long. The more root space the plant has, the longer the vines will grow.

ceropegia woodii

Some of the plants in our greenhouse growing in large pots have vines over 2m long.

The leaves come in a few different colours. The regular Ceropegia Woodii can grow mostly green leaves with a white vein-like pattern and purplish undersides, mostly pale green- almost white leaves and a darker green vein like pattern & purple-green and white pattern. The variegated Chain of Hearts is a mixture of pink, cream and shades of green.

Chain of Hearts come in different leaf colour from mostly pale green dotted with dark green spots to purple with pale purple veins. The leaves in this photo all come from one plant.

The colour of the leaves can be determined by a few factors. The amount of light the plant receives usually dictates how vibrant its colours are. Chain of Hearts grown in a bright shade or filtered light, with a bit of sun is likely to have deep pink/purple colours. Plants grown in darker shade will be more pale and mostly green. Sometimes, however, the colour can be quite random despite the growing conditions. The plant above has different coloured leaves for no obvious reason. The leaves come from one single plant.

Colours can also change with the seasons. Cooler months will bring out the purple in the regular hearts and pink in the variegated version.

The potting mix, size of the pot and watering can also have an effect on the colour.

The leaves can range in size from couple of centimeters (0.8 inch) to less than 1 cm (0.4 inch). Again, the size of the leaves can be determined by light, seasons, size of pots and potting mix. Darker growing position is likely to result in bigger leaves but the plant will grow less of them. Plants in bright light can have smaller leaves, but the strings will have more hearts. In winter the leaves can sometimes also grow smaller.

Ceropegia Woodii flowers quite prolifically and randomly, once established. The flowers are bulbous at the bottom with a long, tubular centre and end in a canopy of purple petals covered in fine hair. The colour of the flowers can range from pink to dark purple. If the flowers have been pollinated, two opposite, long seed pods will be formed. The plant can be grown from seed, though they may take a while to germinate.

Ceropegia Woodii seed pods.

Propagation

Seed propagation works well with the Chain of Hearts, though the process is quite slow. To grow Ceropegia Woodii from seed wait until the seed pods harden up and start opening. To collect  the seeds and stop them from falling on the ground or flying away (seeds are attached to a bit of fluff so they can be carried by the wind), the seedpods can be bagged in breathable small bags (similar to tea bags). The seeds can then be planted in a seedling potting mix (do not use ordinary garden soil) and should sprout within a month in the growing season. Do not plant the seeds in autumn-winter as they may have trouble germinating. Ceropegia Woodii is winter dormant. Best time to plant seed is mid-late spring or summer. Keep the seeds in a warm spot, in bright shade. The potting mix should be moist but not over-saturated.

Ceropegia Woodii From Seed

These are 3 month old Ceropegia Woodii seedlings we have grown from seed. They were planted in mid Spring. As you can see the progress is slow, but the plants are growing.

Ceropegia Woodii can prove difficult to propagate from leaf. Some leaves do form a swollen stem root, but most just rot/ dry out.  If the root does form, it takes a long time (sometimes over a year) before it grows new shoots and vines. If you try propagate the leaf just as you would with other succulents (leaving the leaf in a dry spot until it sprouts new offset) this, in our opinion and experience, just does not work. To have a chance the leaf needs to be planted in potting mix

By far the most reliable method of propagating Chain of Hearts is by cuttings. As mentioned above, Ceropegia does not grow much or send roots in winter and so is best propagated in the warmer months. Our favourite time to propagate is mid-late spring as it is still fairly cool, but quite warm as well and this is when the plants grow the best.

Always choose a mature vine, not one that is thin, with tiny leaves or just sprouted out, as these tend not to root well and may die. The hearts on a mature vine should be big and plump. Cut with clean scissors 1 cm (0.4 inch) above a leaf or where there is an obvious node (a bulbous growth on the vine). Take the last set of leafs out and leave the wound to dry for a day. To get a nice, full new plant, cut as many strings off the existing plant as possible. When the wound has dried up, bunch the strings together, make a hole in the potting mix and plant close to the next leaf on the vine. Leave the pot in a protected, bright spot with no strong sun. Filtered light or 30% shadecloth are ideal. In the growing season, the roots should start forming in a month or two.

When propagating by cuttings, do not choose young, new shoots like these. Always cut off further up, closer to the roots where the leaves are bigger and more plump.

This swollen bit of the stem is called a node. Simply cut off a a few cms above the node and pull the leaves off. Make sure the node is covered by potting mix to encourage root growth. 

Sometimes a root will form on its own on a node touching the soil. To fast-track the propagation, pull the root out and plant in new, fresh potting mix. New plants with roots like the ones circled above will establish faster.

Position & Care

Ceropegia Woodii is a versatile plant and will happily grow in a bright spot indoor, outside in bright shade, filtered light or even in full sun when the it’s not too hot. The ideal spot for Chain of Hearts is outdoors, in filtered light.

The more light the hearts receive the more vibrant the colours should be. The variegated Chain of Hearts will turn mostly pink in a spot with a little bit of sun. In hot climates where temperatures often go north of 40 C (104F) Ceropegia Woodii should be kept out of strong summer sun as it can burn and younger plants would almost certainly die.

The plant should be watered when the potting mix has dried up, though, as long as the poting mix is a good quality succulent mix and the pot has a drainage hole, Ceropegia Woodii will not mind being watered a bit more often. The plants will happily live outdoors, even if it rains quite a bit.

Ceropegia Woodii is not frost tolerant and should be brought inside in cold climates.

It can be grown in both pots and the ground. Chain of hearts will look fantastic in hanging pots. To get long vines, the plant will need to be potted in a large pot.

Ceropegia Woodii does not mind being root-bound, though if it has been in one pot for a long time, the growth will slow down. The colours tend to be more intense in root-bound plants.

Pests

Ceropegia Woodii and its variegated version are mostly pest free and the usual suspects (aphids & mealybugs) do not attack often. Mealybugs do sometimes get into the roots, but it is quite unusual.

If the vines are trailing in snail/slug territory, they can make some damage.

Possums and deer can also eat this plant.

We have, on a couple of occasions, found grubs in some of our large pots. This is quite rare, but can happen. To make sure the roots are happy and healthy, we'd recommend re-potting the plant every year or two.

In our experience, when the plants are hanging, mealy bugs on roots are pretty much non existent. We only sometimes find them if the pot is on the floor.

Where Can I Buy It?

Ceropegia Woodii is notoriously hard to come by and usually sells out very quickly in garden centers. It can also be very expensive. Our nursery sells quite advanced Variegated Chain of Hearts for $25, and regular Chain of Hearts for $17 but we often get asked if we ship worldwide as Ceropegia Woodii, especially the variegated version, can sell for well over $100 in some parts of the world.

Our advice would be to try online nurseries & garden centers in the growing season (spring, summer) as the plants may be a bit cheaper and more readily available than in autumn & winter when Ceropegia Woodii is dormant. Ebay and Amazon sellers also tend to stock Ceropegia Woodii with the bonus of being able to check the reviews.

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