By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Sweetheart hoya plant, also known as Valentine plant or sweetheart wax plant, is a type of Hoya appropriately named for its thick, succulent, heart-shaped leaves. Like other Hoya varieties, the sweetheart hoya plant is a stunning, low-maintenance indoor plant. Read on for additional wax plant info.
Native to Southeast Asia, sweetheart hoya (Hoya kerrii) is often a quirky Valentine’s Day gift with a single 5-inch (12.5 cm.) leaf planted upright in a small pot. Although the plant is relatively slow-growing, it appreciates a hanging basket, where it eventually becomes a bushy mass of green hearts. Mature plants can reach lengths of up to 13 feet (4 m.).
During the summer, clusters of white, burgundy-centered blooms provide a bold contrast to the deep green or variegated leaves. One mature plant can display up to 25 blooms.
Sweetheart hoya care isn’t complicated or involved, but the plant is somewhat particular about its growing conditions.
This Valentine hoya tolerates relatively low light, but not full shade. However, the plant performs best and is more likely to bloom in bright or indirect sunlight. Room temperatures should be maintained between 60 and 80 F. or 15 and 26 C.
With its fleshy, succulent leaves, sweetheart hoya is relatively drought-tolerant and can get by with as little as one or two waterings per month. Water deeply when the soil is slightly dry to the touch, then let the pot drain thoroughly.
Although the soil should never become bone dry, wet, soggy soil can result in deadly rot. Be sure sweetheart hoya is planted in a pot with a drainage hole.
Sweetheart hoya is a light feeder and requires little fertilizer. A light solution of a balanced, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer mixed at a rate of ¼ teaspoon (1 ml.) in a gallon (4 L.) of water is plenty. Feed the plant once a month during the growing season and discontinue feeding in winter.
If a mature plant doesn’t bloom, try exposing the plant to brighter light or cooler nighttime temperatures.
This article was last updated on
Hoya is an Asian native plant introduced by Scottish botanist Robert Brown and named in honor of the 18th-century botanist Thomas Hoy. Gardeners today find it a fragrant, low-maintenance tropical flower. They are slow to moderate growers, and should be planted outside in spring or early summer.
Flowering plants in the genus Hoya are part of the Asclepiadaceae family, otherwise known as the milkweed family. Newer taxonomy places the genus in the Apocynaceae (dogbane) family. Although hoya isn't difficult to pronounce, you may prefer to call the plants by one of their other common names, including the wax plant, wax flower, Indian rope plant, porcelain flower, or honey plant.
|Botanical Name||Hoya carnosa|
|Common Name||Hoya, wax plant, wax flower, Indian rope plant, porcelain flower, honey plant|
|Plant Type||Tropical succulent|
|Mature Size||12-20 ft.|
|Sun Exposure||Bright, natural light|
|Bloom Time||Spring or summer (but some varieties bloom in fall)|
|Flower Color||Yellow, orange, pink, burgundy, white, near black|
|Hardiness Zones||8-11 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Tropical Asia, Australia|
|Toxicity||Non-toxic to humans and pets|
A Sweetheart Hoya, with its heart-shaped leaves, is a beautiful easy care houseplant. Here are Hoya Kerrii care tips plus good things to know.
The Hoya Kerri is such a sweetheart of a plant that it has multiple common names. You may know it as Sweetheart Hoya, Hoya Hearts, Valentine Hoya, Heart-Shaped Hoya, Wax Heart Plant, Love Heart Plant or Lucky Hearts Plant. Wow, that’s a lot of names for 1 plant! This succulent vine is a beauty and I want to share with you what I’ve learned about caring for and growing a Sweetheart Hoya as a houseplant.
Around Valentine’s Day, you may have seen a single Hoya Kerri leaf in a small pot for sale. The reason this plant has so many common names is because of marketing. Yes, it’s true, a novelty item needs many catchy names!
I live in the Sonoran Desert where all my Hoyas do well despite the dryness and heat. There are also variegated forms of this plant if that’s a look you like.
Hoya Kerriis are commonly used as tabletop plants (sitting on a table, shelf, buffet, credenza, etc) or as hanging plants. You can also train them to grow on a trellis or bamboo hoops.
Slow to moderate. My 3 other Hoyas (all of the H. carnosas) grow faster. If you have a single leaf growing in a small pot, don’t expect any growth. More on that under “Propagation”.
They’re most commonly sold in 4″ and 6″ grow pots. I bought mine in a 6″ pot with a hanger. I saw them one time for sale in 8″ pots. And, you can buy a single leaf in a small pot if you want a cutesy plant.
They can grow to 10′ long but as a houseplant, it’s slow going.
Talking Hoya Kerrii care on my side patio:
Hoyas are native to tropical Southeast Asia, a humid climate. Despite this, they do just fine in our homes which tend to have dry air. Here in hot, dry Tucson mine is growing beautifully.
I take mine to the kitchen sink every other week and give it a good spray to temporarily up the ante on the humidity factor.
If you think yours looks stressed due to lack of humidity, then fill the saucer with pebbles and water. Put the plant on the pebbles but make sure the drain holes and/or the bottom of the pot aren’t submerged in any water. Misting a couple of times a week will help too.
I’ve done this post on Repotting Hoya Houseplants which will give you the details. The most important thing is to make sure the soil mix is fast draining.
Repotting is best done in spring or summer early fall is fine if you’re in a warm climate.
Regarding transplanting and repotting, don’t think your Hoya Kerrii will need it every year. Like Orchids, they’ll bloom better if slightly tight in their pots so leave them be for a few years. In general, I repot mine every 4 or 5 years.
I’ve done a general Guide To Repotting Plants geared for beginning gardeners which you’ll find helpful.
You can let your Hoya Kerri trail and do its thing, or you can train it to grow up a trellis or some type of topiary form or over bamboo hoops.
I Trained My Hoya carnosa variegata to grow over bamboo hoops a few years ago. It’s not hard to do and it’s a look I happen to like.
You can prune your Sweetheart Hoya to control the size, make it bushier, thin it out, remove any dead growth, or if you want to propagate it.
If yours has flowered, don’t prune off too many of the short stalks from which the flowers emerge. That’s what they bloom off of next season. In other words: a hard pruning (which is sometimes necessary) will delay the flowering process.
Here’s an entire post I’ve done on Propagating Hoyas. It’s not hard at all to do because a Hoya Kerrii, like other Hoyas, has tiny roots starting to emerge off the stems.
Here’s the condensed version of the post above: I’ve had great success with 2 of the methods – propagating by stem cuttings in water and layering.
For layering, you simply take a softwood stem of the plant (which is still attached to the mother) and pin it into a pot filled with light mix like my DIY Succulent & Cactus Mix. Make sure the mix is thoroughly moistened before pinning the stem and keep it moist throughout the rooting process.
As I said above, most times you’ll see little roots appearing on the stems and that’s what you want to get on top of the mix. For cuttings in water, make sure 1 or 2 nodes are submerged at all times.
Regarding those single-leaf plants you buy in small pots, don’t expect any growth.
In the video, you’ll see a single-leaf Hoya obovata that I propagated almost 2 years ago. Even though I got a piece of the stem, there’s been no growth at all. It looks good and has firmly rooted but there’s been zero growth activity.
This is How I Feed My Indoor Plants, including all my Hoyas.
Whatever you use, don’t fertilize houseplants in late fall or winter because that’s their time for rest. Over-fertilizing your Hoya Kerrii will cause salts to build up and can burn the roots.
Be sure to avoid fertilizing a houseplant that is stressed, ie. bone dry or soaking wet.
When grown indoors, a Sweetheart Hoya can be susceptible to Mealybugs. These white, cotton-like pests like to hang out in the nodes as well as under the leaves. I simply hose them off with water as soon as I see them.
Also, keep your eye out for Scale and Aphids. It’s best to take action as soon as you see any pests because they multiply like crazy and can spread from plant to plant.
Sound the trumpets! Sweetheart Hoyas are non-toxic. I consult the ASPCA website for this information.
Just know that if your pet chews on the leaves or stems, it could make them sick.
Saving the best for last – Hoya Kerrii flowers are beautiful! Their intriguing waxy, star-like blooms are creamy-white with dark pink centers.
How often they bloom seems to depend on age, and the conditions they’re growing in. And, as I said in “Pruning”, don’t cut the old flowers stems off let them remain on the plant.
Indoors they take longer to bloom. If yours has never flowered, it’s most likely not getting enough light or it’s not mature enough.
A single leaf will stay alive but it won’t grow.
If your Hoya is getting leggy, you can tip prune (aka pinch prune) on a regular basis (roughly every 6 months) to keep it bushier.
Hoyas like bright natural light but no direct hot sun. A moderate or medium exposure is where they do best.
In my experience, they don’t bloom on the regular and will do it when they please.
My Hoya carnosa variegata growing on my side patio bloomed 3 times when I lived in Santa Barbara. Here in Tucson, that Hoya (along with my other Hoyas), has never flowered.
Yes they both climb and trail. In their native tropical forests, they climb up other plants.
This is commonly a watering issue.
In summary: The 3 most important things to note when growing a Hoya Kerrii are it grows best in bright, natural light, it likes to be kept it on the dry side, and that the mix it’s growing in is well-drained.
The Sweetheart Hoya is not only beautiful and unusual looking, but it’s as easy as can be to care for. I just might have to get myself a variegated one!
Here are more gardening guides just for you!
This post may contain affiliate links. You can read our policies here. Your cost for the products will be no higher but Joy Us garden receives a small commission. Thank you for helping us spread the word & make the world a more beautiful place!
It is known that most Hoya species grow in the forests, where they are more than pleased to get diffuse light. Most of these plants can not withstand intense and direct light, which can lead to leaf burning, so it is recommended that you recreate their native habitat if you want your Hoya to grow healthy. They are doing well in sunlight only if they are put in the shade during the heat of the day.
As a tropical succulent-like plant, it can have a great time indoors, where the entire climate tends to be warm. The ideal temperature will be different, depending on the Hoya species, but the average values supported by most of them are somewhere between 50 °F and 95 °F (10-35 °C).
They do well in moderate to high humidity levels so you won’t have any issues growing these plants in conditions found in regular households. To maintain your Hoya plant healthy, keep it away from everything that may dry it out (such as heaters). Given the fact that it may be damaged by dry air, you might have to use an electric humidifier or spray the plant every couple of days using a water mist to increase the humidity around your Hoya.
In case you wish your Hoya plant to always look young and fresh, you can remove any leaves that might be damaged or dead. However, pruning it too often or accidentally removing vital parts could have unpleasant side effects on your plant.
Leaving these plants in their pot until they become root-bound will encourage blooming, so you should consider repotting them only if they outgrow the pot. The best time to repot your Hoya plant is during the spring by choosing a pot that is not much bigger than the current one. Using a pot that is just one or two inches wider and deeper should keep you away from any growth problems like overwhelming the roots with too much moisture and prevent flowering.
Throughout their growing season in the spring and summer, feed your Hoya plants a nitrogen-based fertilizer. This will increase your chances of growing a vibrant and opulent plant. Once the flowering period comes to attention, these plants will benefit from fertilizers with a high level of phosphorus if they are fed a month before blooming.
Although Hoyas are pretty resistant to pests, you should always check if they have any mealybugs on the leaves. First, you can use water sprays to scary the bugs and then pamper the plant with neem spray or horticultural oil.
Botanical Name: Cyclamen persicum
Common Names: Sowbread, Florist’s cyclamen
Cyclamen is one of the most beautiful heart shaped leaf plants with attractive foliage and flowers. Some gardeners consider this holiday season houseplant a bit finicky, but with some proper cyclamen care information, you can grow it. Check out this informative article here.
The 50 Hoya varieties on our list are ranked in approximate order of availability and cost. It’s not ordered by the difficulty of growing: some of the most desirable and expensive species make fine beginner plants.
This list reflects a US perspective. Availability varies according to location.
Care tips are included, but these aren’t comprehensive. Research the care needed for your specific plant.
If you’re just starting with Hoyas, don’t be discouraged by species priced beyond your budget. The market fluctuates: it may be economical by the time you’re ready for it.
The basic (green) form of Hoya Carnosa is less common than many of its excellent hybrids (of which there are a ridiculous number). The foliage can be plain, variegated, crinkled, or otherwise textured. The blooms are long-lasting, fuzzy clusters of fragrant stars.
Hoya carnosa are hardy, versatile, and easy to live with: they adapt to moderate humidity and light better than most Hoyas. They’re equally happy climbing a trellis or cascading from a hanging basket.
The Carnosa has been cultivated since its discovery in 1770 there are dozens, maybe hundred of cultivars. These include some of the hottest houseplants currently on the market:
This all-star is great for beginners, and it might reveal if you’re a prospective Hoya fan. Carnosa hybrids are found everywhere Hoyas are sold, but beware: the plant has launched countless plant addictions. I’ve written a guide to caring for Hoya carnosa, which should get you up to speed with the main aspects of Hoya care.
(Image source), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
One of Hoyas’s charms is that inexpensive, common varieties can be as gorgeous and interesting as rare, expensive ones. Such is the case with Hoya pubicalyx, an easy-to-grow Hoya that blooms in clusters of up to 30 small, fuzzy flowers. Its crisp, ovoid leaves splay out from vines that grow up to eight feet long. The fragrant flowers last up to 14 days.
Pubicalyx is a hardy twining vine that can trail or climb, but it’s a little unruly: you may spend time unwinding the plant from its neighbors. It’s one of the fastest-growing Hoyas and very easy to propagate – just put a cutting in water.
Hoya pubicalyx is inexpensive and easy to find locally and online. There are cultivars with flower colors from black to deep red to light pink. One of the most sought-after is the ‘Pink Silver’ hybrid flecked with white variegation.