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

updated Jan 26, 2021
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(Image credit: The Sill)

It’s pretty clear how this “Sweetheart Plant” got its nickname, with its spade- or heart-shaped leaves (or bum-shaped, if you want to be cheeky about it). It’s also called a Hoya Heart, Wax Heart, or a Lucky Heart. Hoya Kerrii (its official plant name) are actually tropical succulent vines that can grow quite long, but you most often just see individual cuttings of their thick waxy leaves in a single pot. They make pretty cute Valentine’s Day gifts for anyone who doesn’t want traditional roses or a box of chocolate. Here’s what you need to know about them:

(Image credit: The Sill)

The first thing you should know is that these leaves will most likely never grow into a full plant. Even if yours was a stem cutting, they grow very, very slowly and it will be years upon years before it’s a lush adult. But most likely you’ll just have this sweet little leaf — perfect for your desk at work perhaps — for a couple of years before it dies. (I’ll leave you to decide what that means for a metaphor for love.)

The good news is that your leaf/plant is extremely easy to care for. They like to live in bright sun (but can tolerate bright indirect light) in a well-drained pot, and don’t need tons of water. Water every two or three weeks, or when soil is completely dry and the leaves start to wrinkle.

You can find a little cutie in equally adorable little pots at places like The Sill. Our readers have said they see them this time of year in local nurseries as well.

(Image credit: The Sill)

If you want an actual plant, check out your local nursery or you can even buy them on Amazon. The plants are definitely not as cute or fun at first, but, eventually, you can do your own cuttings for friends and lovers. (Just make sure that you include a section of the stem at its base, along with the leaf.)

And good news for pet owners: according to the ASPCA, these plants aren’t toxic for cats or dogs.

Here’s a little more info about them, from The Sill:

Hoya kerrii, or Hoya Hearts, are tropical succulent vines that are often cultivated and sold as leaf cuttings. They belong to the Dogbane family, Apocynaceae, which includes some notable plants such as Dogbane, Oleander, Plumeria, Periwinkle, Golden Trumpet, and Mandevilla. Plants in Apocynaceae have latex sap, are usually fragrant, and are high in alkaloids (esp. Iridoids). The aromatic compounds produced by the flowers are prized as fragrances in perfumes, and the flowers are also cultivated as ornamentals in warmer climates. Hoya flowers are fragrant and waxy-looking, with the fragrance changing with the age of the flower.