(image credits, IG: lesucculente)
One of the most desirable houseplants and one that makes a classic gift choice for Valentine’s day is the Hoya kerrii.
It’s also known as the Valentine hoya, or the sweetheart plant due to its heart-shaped leaves.
To care for Hoya Kerri use a substrate mix using 50% regular potting soil, 25% perlite, and 25% orchid bark. This Hoya prefers an East, South, or West Facing window where it gets bright indirect light. This houseplant needs to be watered sparingly when the soil is dry to the touch. Keep temperatures between 65°F and 77°F (18°C to 25°C). Humidity should be at least 40%. This indoor plant will appreciate higher humidity. Hoya Kerri is a light feeder. A diluted water-soluble fertilizer 2-4 times a month is advised.
Another big draw of this plant entails its ease of maintenance. As long as you don’t drown the plant by overwatering it, you’ll find it very easy to care for.
It means that you don’t have to be a gardening guru to enjoy the perks of keeping the sweetheart plant around.
But, if you need help, we’ve provided a step-by-step guide that will enable you to keep your Hoya kerrii alive until next Valentine’s day, and beyond.
- 1 Hoya Kerrii Care Guide
- 2 Common Problems with Hoya Kerrii
- 3 Tips to Keep Hoya Kerrii Problem-Free
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions About Hoya Kerrii
- 5 Conclusion
Hoya Kerrii Care Guide
When picking a growing medium for your Hoya kerrii, the most important aspect to consider is drainage.
Since this hoya is susceptible to rot, the ideal substrate ought to be well-draining. In that regard, an orchid potting mix or sphagnum peat moss are excellent options as they both drain water quickly.
Personally, I prefer to create my own potting mix. This gives me more control over the elements I can add to improve drainage and aeration.
My mix usually consists of 50% regular potting soil, 25% perlite, and 25% orchid bark.
The reason I incorporate perlite is that it’s highly permeable. Essentially, it allows excess water to be drained easily.
It also enhances aeration, meaning it allows proper air circulation around the root system. This also prevents soil from becoming too compact.
If you don’t have perlite, you can substitute it with pumice.
Orchid bark is another element that I like to add to my potting mix. This one also improves the soil’s drainage capability.
Valentine hoya loves bright, indirect sunlight. In fact, you can even expose it to direct sun for a few hours. This will enable it to grow optimally.
But you also don’t want to expose your sweetheart plant to too much light. The easiest way to know whether you’re doing it right is to check the coloration on the leaf.
If it’s starting to turn a lighter shade of green or yellowish-green, there’s a high probability that it’s receiving too much light.
One reason why the Hoya kerrii has become a favorite for many homeowners is the fact that it can also tolerate low light conditions.
The only problem is that it won’t grow as fast as it would if it were receiving more light.
Apart from the shape, another thing you might have noticed about the kerrii’s leaf is its thickness.
This fleshy, succulent leaf acts as a water storage unit for the plant. It means it has minimal water requirements compared to other plant species.
Also important to note is that the soil should dry out completely before you water it again. This way, you don’t end up overwatering it and risking leaf rot.
To know whether it’s time to water, poke your finger into the soil, at least two inches deep. If it’s dry to the touch, then you can water.
But if it still has moisture, let it dry for a couple more days. In my experience, it takes two to three weeks for the soil to dry out. So my watering frequency is usually once or twice per month.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that you should water every two weeks. Your requirements could vary based on the type of pot you’re using, season, and climate.
For instance, the plant retains more moisture during winter. So during this season, you’ll need to cut back on the amount and frequency of watering.
Now when it’s time, water the soil deeply, and then allow the pot to drain excess water.
Even though the growing medium should become bone dry before watering, it also shouldn’t be overly wet or soggy.
So ensure the pot where you’ve planted your Sweetheart hoya has a drainage hole.
The ideal temperature for a Hoya kerrii is between 65°F and 77°F (18°C to 25°C).
This is almost the same as standard room temperature so you should have no trouble maintaining it.
However, it’s crucial that you avoid placing it near cold drafts, air conditioning units, or heating vents.
When it comes to humidity, you want to mimic the plant’s conditions in its native environment.
The Valentine hoya is native to southeast Asia, which is pretty humid. Thus, ensure the humidity level does not go below 40%.
If you suspect that your home is not humid enough for your plant, there are a few things you can do to raise the levels.
For one, you can start misting your Hoya regularly. Another remedy is to group it alongside other houseplants.
The Hoya kerrii is a relatively light feeder, meaning it can even do without a fertilizer.
However, I highly recommend using one as it will help to boost its growth. A simple solution that is well-balanced and water-soluble will suffice.
Remember to dilute the fertilizer before application to avoid fertilizer burn.
In terms of frequency, apply the fertilizer just two to four times a year. Discontinue the fertilizer application in winter.
Hoyas tend to go semi-dormant in winter, meaning they cannot make the most of any nutrients added.
Want to share the love of the Sweetheart plant? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that propagating it is pretty easy.
The technique I use to propagate my kerrii is known as the ziploc, and it’s successful almost all the time.
All you need for this is a ziploc bag, your preferred potting medium, and a vine cutting of the plant. Here are the steps to follow:
- Examine the condition of your potting mix. If you’re not using a soilless mixture, you might want to sterilize the potting soil first to avoid planting your cutting in a pest-infested medium. To achieve this, pour hot water over it, and then drain thoroughly. Drain to a point where it will be moist but not saturated
- Next, add this mixture to your ziploc at least one-third of the way
- Place your Hoya kerrii cutting inside the soil. You don’t have to be overly accurate about how you plant the cutting. As long as the stem and about a third of the leaf-cutting is covered in soil, you’re good to go.
- Once the cutting is secure, mist inside the ziploc and then seal it. Sealing is important to create a humid atmosphere, which will speed up the growth of the root system.
Now all that’s left to do is to wait for the cutting to root. Avoid opening the ziploc too many times.
Only open if you notice the soil is too dry, and need to add some water. Otherwise, let it grow at its own pace. Eventually, it will develop vining stems, from where the heart-shaped leaves will grow.
You should also be mindful of where you place the ziploc bag.
I recommend leaving it in a spot that receives bright natural lighting, such as a south-facing window. Alternatively, you can place it under a grow light.
Another way to propagate your cutting is to place it in a medium of sphagnum moss. I have successfully used this medium for other Hoyas before.
In fact, many gardeners prefer this substrate because it encourages faster development of the root system.
Another aspect I like about this substrate is that it’s inert in nature. It means there are fewer chances of any microbial pathogens being present.
Furthermore, it has good retention capability so it will retain nutrients long enough for the plant to utilize them.
So how do you propagate your Valentine hoya using Sphagnum moss? Well, start by pouring hot water over the substrate.
This will kill any existing fungi or pathogens. Next, give it ample time to cool, and then squeeze out excess water.
With the now-dried substrate, wrap it around the nodes of the plant’s cutting. Then, place the cutting in a pot.
When potting the cutting, place it in such a way that the bottom third of the leaf-cutting is buried in soil.
This will ensure that the cutting has proper anchorage as it develops roots. Finally, mist the Sphagnum moss, and wait for your cutting to root.
At the early stages of your young Valentine hoya, the speed of growth will be quite slow according to Penn State University. But once it develops a healthy root system, vines will grow pretty fast, and this is where the new leaves will form as well.
Keep in mind that if your kerrii is single-leafed, that is, it lacks a stem, your plant might remain this way forever.
Whenever this plant’s leaves are growing on their own, there’s very little chance that they’ll produce new shoots. Even if this does happen, it will likely be after several years.
Since it’s a slow-growing plant, it doesn’t need to be repotted often. Repot once the roots fill up the current pot.
When transplanting, choose a slightly bigger pot- one size larger than the current one- to give your kerrii more room to grow.
You should also think about the material used to make these pots.
I prefer to use a terracotta or clay pot as they allow air and water to move easily. Plus, they don’t retain excess moisture.
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Common Problems with Hoya Kerrii
The Hoya kerrii is a carefree plant. However, it’s important to be aware of the issues that it’s likely to encounter so that you can take the necessary precaution. The most common problems this plant faces are:
Failing to water your Hoya kerrii properly can result in a number of problems; from wilting to discoloration on leaves and more.
Given its epiphytic nature, you’re better off erring on the side of underwatering than overwatering.
Even if you underwater, it will perk right back up when you resume your watering routine. But this won’t work as well if the situation is reversed (overwatering).
Luckily, they’re not hard to control. You don’t even need to spend money purchasing pesticides as you can make your own right at home.
One homemade pesticide that works really well against pesticides is neem oil spray. Add 2 ml of liquid soap to a liter of water.
Next, slowly stir in 5 ml of neem oil to the mixture, and your pesticide is ready for use.
Tips to Keep Hoya Kerrii Problem-Free
Since it’s a succulent, it stores water in its leaves. Thus, you should wait until the soil feels dry to the touch before watering again.
Expose it to bright, indirect light
Look for a spot that has access to bright natural lighting for placing your potted Hoya.
Use a free-draining soil
Your Hoya kerrii thrives in a potting mix that is well-draining. So ensure you choose a potting mix with good drainage. It should also be airy and rich to support your plant’s growth.
Maintain warm temperatures
In the wild, this hoya grows in a warm climate, so try and replicate the same indoors. Ensure room temperature doesn’t drop below 65°F (18°C).
Frequently Asked Questions About Hoya Kerrii
Is Hoya kerrii a fast- or slow-grower?
This plant is a slow grower. It could be a few years before your cutting develops into a vining plant filled with beautiful heart-shaped leaves.
How often should I water my Hoya kerrii?
Since it can store water in its leaves, don’t water it too often. Poke your finger in the soil to assess the level of moisture. Water only if it feels dry.
Is Hoya kerrii a heavy feeder?
On the contrary, it’s a very light feeder. Feed your plant two to four times a year.
Why is my Hoya kerrii turning yellow?
If you expose it to too much sunlight, the leaf (s) will start turning yellow. Move it a little further from the window or add a sheer curtain to filter the light to rectify the situation.
Native to southeast Asia, the Hoya kerrii is one of my favorite houseplants and Hoya. Due to the distinctive heart shape of its leaves, the plant is known by other names such as Heart-shaped Hoya, Sweetheart Hoya, Valentine Hoya, or Valentine Wax Plant.
The kerrii is a climbing plant that can grow up to 4 meters high. However, it’s often sold as a single leaf.
For proper growth, water your hoya moderately, place it in a spot with bright, indirect light, maintain humidity level above 40% and temperature above 65°F.
If you don’t have one or want more, you can buy a Hoya Kerrii now from our shop!
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.