How to Water String of Hearts (Ceropegia woodii variegata)


String of hearts leaves curling

Water string of hearts plants with a generous soak then wait for the soil to dry out completely before watering again. Typically watering string of hearts plants once every 2 weeks allows the soil to dry out after watering to meet the string of hearts plants water requirements without causing root rot.

It is important to know how often and how much to water string of hearts plants (Ceropegia woodii variegata) as the are drought resistant plants that are susceptible to root rot which is caused by over watering and slow draining soils.

String of hearts require watering less often in the Winter as they are in a state of dormancy.

The optimal watering regime should be in conjunction with the well draining, succulent soil and the right pot to prevent water stress and keep your string of hearts plant healthy.

Keep reading for more on how to establish how often and how much to water your string of hearts plant in your climate and conditions and for the correct potting soil to ensure that your string of hearts plant…

How Often to Water String of Hearts

String of hearts plants are succulents that are specially adapted to growing in hot and dry climates with infrequent rainfall.

As string of hearts plants are adapted to survive drought they prefer dryer conditions then most house plant and are prone to problems associated with watering too often such as a yellowing of the leaves and stems and root rot.

To grow string of hearts successfully in your home or garden it is important to replicate the typical watering and soil moisture conditions of their native environment.

Water string of hearts plants with a generous soak when the potting soil has dried out completely. Typically, watering string of hearts once every 14 days to meets the moisture requirements and allows the soil to dry properly before watering again to avoid root rot.

However the potting soil for string of hearts plants can dry out at different rate due to the climate and indoors conditions due to several factors:

  • Humidity level and temperature of your climate.
  • The size of the pot (smaller pots dry out much quicker).
  • Whether your string of hearts is in an area of significant air flow, outdoors or because of air currents from, air conditioning or forced air when indoors.
  • The capacity of the soil to retain moisture.

To establish how often to water string of hearts, according to your climate, feel the soil at the bottom of the pot through the drainage hole. If the soil feels moist then do not water just yet, but if the soil feels dry, this is the perfect time for watering.

Once you know how long it typically takes for the potting soil to dry out from your string of hearts, you can establish a watering schedule that accurately emulates the drought, followed by rainfall, cycle of moisture of the string of hearts native Southern African environment.

How to Tell if you are Watering String of Hearts too Often

If you are watering your string of hearts plant more then once per week then you are likely over watering your plant.

The symptoms of an over watered string of hearts are leaves that turn brown yellow, translucent and eventually black which is an indication of rot. The stems can also feel mushy.

If your string of hearts is showing symptoms of over watering then scale back the watering immediately and let the soil dry out completely to give your plant a chance to recover.

(If your string of hearts plant looks unhealthy read my article for how to revive a dying string of hearts plant).

How to Tell if you are Watering String of Hearts not Often Enough

The leaves of your string of hearts plant start to shrivel and eventually turn brown when are not watered often enough or watered too lightly.

The leaves can also appear to be thinner as the moisture they store becomes depleted due to drought stress.

This is much easier to solve the over watering as giving the potting soil a good soak can save your string of hearts plant.

Wait for the soil to dry out again over the next 2 or 3 weeks and then soak it again.

With 2 watering cycles the string of hearts should show signs of recovery and the leaves should feel firm and look plump rather then shriveled.

It is also worth noting that string of hearts may require more or less watering at different times of the year…

How Often to Water String of Hearts in Winter

Water string of hearts plants once every 3 or 4 weeks during Winter as String of hearts is a Winter dormant plant so it requires watering less often compared to Spring and Summer.

String of hearts enters a state of dormancy in response to less hours of light, lower light intensity and due to cooler temperatures.

During the Winter dormancy the string of hearts plant barely grows if at all which reduces the demand for water.

String of hearts is at more risk of over watering during dormancy and it is easier to revive an under watered string of hearts then an over watered plant so scale back the watering.

However it is important to consider whether the string of hearts plant is near a source of heat during Winter which can cause daily temperatures to fluctuate significantly and dry out the soil more quickly.

If the leaves start to look shriveled (a sign of under watering) then give the string of hearts plant a generous soak.

As long as the soil has a chance to dry out between watering then the string of hearts plant should stay healthy.

(Read my article how to care for string of hearts plants for all the best practices for care).

How Much Water to Use When Watering String of Hearts

Always water string of hearts with a generous soak so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot.

Whilst the variables of climate, humidity and temperature can all influence how often to water string of hearts plants, the amount of water should stay the same.

Always watering string of hearts generously, ensures that the water has infiltrated the soil properly so that the roots of the plant can uptake the moisture they require.

A good soak encourages root to develop properly and keeps the string of hearts healthy.

Watering too lightly results in only the top inch or so of the soil being moist and the water does not reach the roots where it is required which causes the string of hearts plant leaves to shrivel and eventually turn brown as a sign of drought stress.

(It should be noted succulents sometimes shrivel when over watered as well as under watered so read my article for how to tell the difference).

Watering with a good soak then allowing the soil to dry out replicates the watering conditions of the string of hearts plants natural environment in Southern Africa with a deluge of rain followed by a period of drought and high temperatures.

Well Draining Soil to Avoid Over Watering

Good watering practices should be in conjunction with planting string of hearts plants in a well draining soil mix to avoid root rot.

Ordinary potting soil retains too much moisture around the roots for the string of hearts which is adapted to tolerate drought rather then live in damp soil.

Saturated soil can cause the leaves to turn yellow as a sign of stress.

Potting mixes that contain peat also have a tendency to repel water when they dry out which causes water to run off the surface of the soil and prevents moisture from reaching the roots of your string of hearts plant which causes the leaves to shrivel due to drought stress.

String of hearts plants grow naturally in sandy or gritty soil on hill sides in Southern Africa, in soil that drains well and does not hold much moisture.

To keep the string of hearts plant healthy and avoid root rot it is important to grow string of hearts plants in special succulent and cactus potting mix (available from garden centers and Amazon) as this emulates the specific well draining soil characteristics and soil profile of a string of hearts plants native environment.

With right soil it is much easier to maintain the perfect moisture balance for string of hearts plants and prevent any affects of over watering such as the roots and tubers rotting, keeping your plant healthy.

Water String of Hearts in Pots and Containers with Drainage Holes in the Base

String of hearts do not tolerate their roots being in saturated soil, so it is essential that you ensure your pot has a drainage hole in the base to allow the excess water to escape.

Watering so that excess water trickles from the bottom of your pot is also the best to to ensure your plant has been sufficiently watered and a good way to detect whether the soil is moist or dry at the bottom of the pot to so you know when your string of hearts plant should be watered.

If you plant string of hearts in pots and containers without drainage holes in the base, then this causes water to pool around the roots which causes root rot with yellow leaves.

Water can still pool around the roots of your plant in its pot if:

  • The drainage hole becomes blocked with roots or compacted soil. If you notice your soil draining slowly then it is worth checking whether you should clear the hole in the base to allow excess water to escape properly.
  • Saucers and trays underneath your pots. It is very common to use a saucer or tray underneath your plant pot to prevent water spilling in your home. Empty the saucer or tray regularly to prevent water pooling and keeping the soil too boggy for your string of hearts plant.
  • Decorative outer pots. String of hearts plants are often sold in a plastic pot with drainage holes but put in a decorative outer pot which looks good and prevents water from spilling in your home. However the outer pot prevents excess water escaping and keeps the soil too damp which causes root rot, so either empty the pot of water regularly or plant in a pot with drainage holes in the base.

Key Takeaways:

  • Water string of hearts plants with a good soak, wait for the soil to dry out completely before watering again. Typically this means watering string of hearts plants once every 2 weeks. Water string of hearts once every 3 or 4 weeks in Winter when the plant is dormant,.
  • String of hearts plants should be planted in special succulent and cacti soil which is formulated to recreate the drainage conditions and soil nutrients of their native environment for the string of hearts plant to stay healthy.
  • String of hearts plants should be planted in pots and containers with drainage holes in the base to prevent excess water pooling around the roots and causing root rot.
  • The symptoms of an under watered string of hearts are shriveled leaves that turn brown whereas the symptoms of an over watered string of hearts are leaves that turn yellow with mushy leaves and stems. Water string of hearts plants when the soil has tried out completely to avoid root rot.

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