How to Grow and Care for Hoya Kerrii

Hoya kerrii plant with heart-shaped leaves in clay pot next to gold watering can

The Spruce / Cori Sears

Hoya come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, but hoya kerrii are truly a unique variety. Their thick, heart-shaped leaves have earned them common nicknames including sweetheart vine, hoya hearts, lucky heart plant, and Valentine’s hoya, which is especially fitting considering these hoyas become extremely popular each year around Valentine’s Day. Not only are they adorable to look at, but these tropical succulent vines are delightfully easy to grow as well. Here’s what you need to know about growing and caring for hoya kerrii as a houseplant.

Tip

Many garden centers sell single-leafed hoya kerrii. While you can care for these adorable potted hearts, it is important to know that they will never grow into a full plant or develop any other leaves. This is because they are simply a rooted leaf, rather than a true stem cutting. If you are hoping to have a full, lush hoya kerrii one day steer clear of these single-leafed ‘plants.’

Botanical Name  Hoya kerrii 
Common Name  Hoya kerrii, sweetheart hoya, hoya hearts, lucky heart hoya, Valentine's hoya 
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, US 
Native Area  Asia

Hoya Kerrii Care

When it comes to caring for hoya kerrii, thinking of them as succulents helps. They require lots of sun, a little bit of water, and well-draining soil. Basically, they thrive on neglect. Give them a sunny windowsill in your home and some water every few weeks and they will be happy! Don’t be alarmed if you notice your hoya kerrii hasn’t grown a leaf in a while. These hoyas are notoriously slow-growing. As long as you are providing it with enough sun and water, it will reward you with new growth when it's ready.

Tip

When hoyas are getting ready to grow new leaves or flowers they put out long vines that are often bare for a while. Never cut these vines unless you are trying to control growth. They will grow leaves and/or flowers eventually! 

Hoya kerrii plant with variegated heart-shaped leaves near glass mister

The Spruce / Cori Sears

Hoya kerrii plant with variegated heart-shaped leaves in clay pot with straw mulch

The Spruce / Cori Sears

Light

Similar to succulents, these heart-shaped hoyas require lots of light in order to grow and thrive indoors. Choose a location for your hoya kerrii that receives several hours of bright, direct sunlight every day. A west- or south-facing window is ideal. If you are lacking in the natural light department, adding a grow light to your setup may be a good idea. A full-spectrum LED grow light is a great choice for hoyas.

Soil

As an epiphyte, hoya kerrii require extremely airy, well-draining soil. Planting them in a regular indoor potting soil without any amendments will lead to compacted roots and stunted growth over time. Instead, use a mixture of potting soil, perlite, orchid bark, and sand that your hoya kerrii will love!

Water

Allow the soil to dry thoroughly between waterings. Hoya kerrii can withstand long periods of drought thanks to their thick, water-storing leaves and are highly susceptible to overwatering and root rot. The amount of water that your hoya kerrii needs will vary by season. In the summer you can water more frequently while in the winter you should cut back on watering significantly. 

An easy way to tell if your plant is ready for water is to look at the leaves - if they are still plump then it doesn’t need water, but if they are thinner and slightly wrinkled it’s time for a good drink! You can also use a moisture meter to ensure that the soil is completely dry before watering.

Temperature and Humidity

Hoyas thrive in warm, humid conditions and hoya kerrii are no exception. They do best in temperatures from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and should not be exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. For the most part, typical household humidity levels are fine for hoya kerrii, but they will thrive with extra humidity. Placing a humidifier nearby is one of the best ways to increase humidity around your plant. Alternatively, choose a naturally humid room in your home to grow these hoyas such as a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room. While they are most commonly grown indoors as a houseplant in the United States, hoya kerrii can be grown outdoors year-round in USDA hardiness zone 11.

Fertilizer

Hoya kerrii are not high feeders but can still benefit from regular fertilization during their active growing period. During the spring and summer, apply a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month to encourage healthy growth.

Types of Hoya Kerrii

  • Hoya kerrii
  • Hoya kerrii ‘splash’
  • Hoya kerrii ‘reverse variegata’
  • Hoya kerrii ‘albomarginata’

Propagating Hoya Kerrii

Hoya kerrii can be propagated using stem cuttings. You can either propagate hoya kerrii in water, or in sphagnum moss. Both methods can be successful, but some people have more success with one medium over another. Here is how you can propagate your hoya kerrii using either water or sphagnum moss.

  1. Take a stem cutting from a mature hoya kerrii using a pair of sharp pruning shears or scissors. Each cutting should have at least 3 nodes along the stem. The nodes are where leaves and roots will grow from.
  2. Remove the bottom 1 to 2 leaves from each cutting so that those nodes are left exposed. Ensure that each cutting has at least 1 leaf left at the top of the stem.
  3. If you are using water, simply fill a small container with water and place the bottom of the cutting in the water, ensuring that the leaves on the stem remain above the surface. If you are using sphagnum moss, soak the moss in water for 10 minutes and then squeeze out the excess water. Add the moss into a container and gently pack it around the base of the cutting, ensuring the nodes are covered by the moss but the leaves remain uncovered. 
  4. Place the cutting(s) in a location that receives bright, indirect light. 
  5. If you are using water, the water should be refreshed once a week. If you are using sphagnum moss, ensure that the moss remains moist and does not dry out.
  6. After a couple of weeks, small roots should begin to form. Wait until the roots are at least 1 to 2 inches long before planting the cuttings. 
  7. Pot the rooted cuttings in a well-draining potting mixture and water well. Keep the soil moist for the first couple of weeks to help the new roots acclimate to the soil. Return the potted cuttings to their previous location. They can be moved into a brighter spot to encourage more vigorous growth now that they are established, but do so gradually so as to not burn the leaves.

Potting and Repotting Hoya Kerrii

Hoya kerrii should only be repotted once every few years. These hoyas like being slightly root-bound and can suffer if they are moved into a pot that is too large due to the increased chance of overwatering. 

When it comes time to repot your hoya kerrii, the process is fairly straightforward. Simply remove the plant from its container, being careful not to break the roots in the process. If its really stuck in the pot, gently squeeze the sides of the container to get it loose, or wiggle the stem side to side as you hold the plant upside down. 

Once you have removed the plant, gently remove as much of the old soil from around the roots as you can. Again, it’s important to break as few roots as possible so be careful here. Next, you will be moving the plant into its new container. Ensure that you have chosen a container that is only 2 to 3 inches wider than the previous pot. Place your plant in the new pot and fill the excess space with an airy, well-draining potting mix. Water your freshly potted hoya kerrii and return it to its original location.

Common Pests

As with most plants grown indoors, keep an eye out for some common houseplant pests including mealybugs, scale, aphids, and spider mites. Hoya kerrii are not particularly prone to any of these pests, but if you have other houseplants that are infested these pests will also happily take up residence in your hoya kerrii as well. Regularly inspect the leaves and stems of your hoya kerrii for pests to catch any infestations early.

How to Get Hoya Kerrii to Bloom

A blooming hoya is a sure sign of a happy, healthy plant. These hoyas tend to bloom once a year during the warmer months of the year, usually sometime during the spring or summer. Hoya kerrii normally don’t bloom until they are at least 2 to 3 years old, so if you just got your plant and haven’t noticed any blooms this is normal. However, there are a few things that you can do to speed the process along and encourage blooming. 

First, hoyas tend to bloom more readily when they are root-bound—i.e. don’t give your hoya a pot that is too big! Second, getting enough light each day is extremely important for flowering. Make sure that your hoya is receiving several hours of direct light every day. Lastly, don’t overwater your hoya. They need a good break between watering and will not flower if the soil is too damp on a consistent basis.

Hoya kerrii flower that is light and dark pink hanging off a thin vine against a white background.

SusanGaryPhotography / Getty Images

Common Problems With Hoya Kerrii

Generally hoya kerrii are not high-maintenance plants and are relatively problem-free for the indoor gardener. Tha being said, there are a couple of things to watch out for when growing these tropical sweetheart vines.

Curling Leaves

Curling leaves can be the result of a number of different issues including overwatering, underwatering, or temperature shock. Evaluate your plant’s growing situation closely to figure out which one applies to you. 

If underwatering is the cause, curled leaves are normally accompanied by leaf discoloration. Increase watering to prevent future leaves from curling. If overwatering is the cause you will notice signs of root rot below the surface of the soil, or may observe the soil is waterlogged. Repot the plant immediately with fresh soil and trim away any rotted roots. Temperature shock is another possibility and occurs when a plant is subjected to a large temperature change very quickly. Ensure that your plant is in a room with stable temperature and avoid any further large temperature changes.

No Growth

Hoya kerrii are very slow-growing hoyas. That being said, if its been a few years without any significant growth then there may be something wrong with its growing conditions. First and foremost, ensure that your plant is receiving enough light. Hoya kerrii will not grow in low light conditions, and even medium light likely won’t be enough. Second, check the roots of your hoya to ensure its root system is healthy. Overwatering and underwatering can both kill the roots over time, which ultimately hinders growth. If your plant does not have much of a root system, you will likely need to propagate your plant to help it grow new roots and become established again.

FAQ
  • Are hoya kerrii fast growers?

    Unfortunately, hoya kerrii are notoriously slow-growing hoyas. Sometimes you may not see any growth within a year and that’s perfectly normal. Keep caring for your plant as usual and over time you will be rewarded with new leaves.

  • Are hoya kerrii succulents?

    Hoya kerrii are tropical succulent vines. They differ from the desert plants that are normally associated with the word “succulent” since they are native to tropical environments, but fall under this category nonetheless.

  • How big do hoya kerrii get?

    While they are slow-growing plants, mature hoya kerrii plants can grow up to 13 feet long.