The adorable String of Hearts (Ceropegia woodii) is the charm when trailing draperies of abundant leaves, but they quickly lose their allure when those vines are all string and no heart.
So you’ll need to rekindle their passion for getting them ready for a new wave of dear hearts to flow.
You can increase the fullness of a String of Hearts plant by propagating whole new vines either by winding the existing vines around the inside of the pot or by making butterfly cuttings around the base of the plant. It will reward you with healthy growth if you provide the plant with appropriate lighting and moisture levels.
Why Is My String Of Hearts Thin?
String of Hearts requires a lot of sunlight to produce the energy it needs to grow. The production of leaves requires a lot of energy, and if there isn’t enough light, there won’t be any leaves.
Creeping or vining plants will frequently extend their leaves or stems in the direction of their light source.
Etiolation is how they stretch out their branches to get closer to the sun.
This results in the String of Hearts plant taking on the appearance of a weed, with almost leafless vines and a few scattered pairs of leaves here and there.
Even though the String of Pearls enjoys bright light and doesn’t mind spending a few hours a day basking in a sunbeam, their leaves will become charred if they are exposed to an excessive amount of it.
Their delicate tissues can be damaged by the sun in the same way ours can if exposed to it for too long.
If the side of the String of Pearls that is closest to its light source is the side that is the thinnest, it is likely that the plant has sunburn or is otherwise stressed out from too much light.
Also, keep an eye out for discoloration on the leaves and brown spots in the areas that are closest to the light.
Over-watering String of Hearts plants can cause them to die. They are native to arid regions of southern Africa, and as a result, they do not fare well in wet soils if they are allowed to sit there.
Overwatering can cause weak, yellowing leaves, slow growth, and rotting roots.
For example, if your String of Hearts plant is over-watered from the roots up, it won’t produce thick, green leaves.
On the other hand, a String of Hearts with insufficient water is in survival mode.
It does not have the necessary amount of water to construct any new leaves.
So instead, it focuses on maintaining the leaves that it already has.
Your plant’s way of telling you it needs a good drink is a sluggish, wrinkled heart crisping at the edge.
Additionally, they will be incapable of producing any new growth at all.
How to Make String of Hearts Fuller
Propagate Existing Growth
Even if your String of Hearts is starting to thin out, you can use the remaining vines from the pot or basket to bulk it up and give it more greenery.
Although most of us grow String of Hearts for the pleasure of their trailing vines, these plants are more appropriately classified as creepers.
This is because the long vines enjoy crawling along the ground and laying down new roots.
For this reason, they are also known as Rosary Vine because of the tubers or rhizomes that grow along their stems.
These tubers will assist the plant in surviving difficult periods of drought and help it propagate new vines.
To allow your remaining vines to touch the soil, coil them up and place them inside your pot.
I like to bring the soil level up so that the vines can rest neatly against the growing medium.
Some growers will add a layer of sphagnum moss or coco coir beneath their coiled vines.
Pay particular attention to any of the small tubers that look like beads scattered along the vine.
If you gently tuck them into the medium, they’ll send out roots incredibly.
This method requires the least amount of effort to thicken your plant. Because there is no cutting, there is a reduced risk of disease.
Furthermore, by maintaining connections to the mother plant, the new growth is provided with ample support and develops at a rapid rate.
Another option is to bury the vines that are already there.
The decrease in a light level that results from burying the vines, any aerial roots, and tubers brings about the necessary changes to get those roots moving!
Using a small amount of potting soil, bury the stems of any vines that have been planted in the pot.
Please make sure the medium gets down under the vines, but keep the leaves themselves above the soil level.
It is essential to exercise caution when it comes to watering after you have completed burying the connecting stems.
If you use the watering can too often, they may develop fungal infections.
Also, as long as the String of Hearts’ roots hasn’t fully developed, it’s vulnerable to fungi that thrive in moist environments.
Thicken With Butterfly Cuttings
A more dramatic approach is to cut a long vine and use the cutting to make your plant thicker.
Taking this route carries a higher degree of risk, but the reward will be a product that is more dense and lush in texture than the other two.
I recommend ‘butterfly cuttings.’ This increases the number of new vines to a maximum and gives you complete control over where they are placed.
You will need:
- Scissors or shears
- Rubbing alcohol
- A long String of Hearts cutting
- Spray bottle with clean water, preferably filtered or rainwater.
- Rooting compound (optional)
- Disposable chopstick (optional)
Take a long cutting and label each pair of leaves. These are the nodes, which are points of growth that look like butterflies and have two tiny leaves on either side of the stem.
They might also have a tuber or little leg-like aerial roots if you’re lucky.
Allow your scissors or shears to dry after sterilizing them with alcohol. Any cut into a plant or vine is a wound, so keep your tools as clean as possible to avoid disease transmission.
Cut neatly between each butterfly, leaving a half-inch border on each side of the node.
If desired, liberally apply rooting hormone to the vine of each butterfly. If you have tubers or aerial roots, make sure they get an excellent rooting hormone dusting.
Compounds that stimulate rapid root growth are known as rooting hormones. (Check out the prices on Amazon here)
Plant the butterfly’s head end into the growing medium, ensuring any tubers or roots are resting on the soil.
Make sure the medium does not contaminate the leaves. Repeat this process until all of the desired butterflies have been planted.
If you prefer, you can prepare a hole with a chopstick, but it is often easier to wiggle them into place.
Water the newly planted cuttings gently with a mist of water. It’s critical to keep them moist but not soggy while growing roots.
After a month or two of diligent care, you should see new vines emerge.
Brighter, warmer conditions promote faster growth, keeping your little butterflies well-lit and cozy.
Provide Sufficient Light
These African beauties require a lot of light, preferably three to four hours of direct sunlight and as much bright, indirect light as possible.
Growing new leaves is an energy-intensive process, and without that level of light, they will never become thick and lush.
It is ideal for hanging a basket of String of Hearts in a window facing southeast because it will allow the trailing strings to bask in the gentle morning sunlight.
Without worrying about sun damage, they’ll have the light they need.
Fertilize Your String of Hearts
String of Hearts plants aren’t heavy feeders and don’t need a lot of fertilizer.
Too much can scorch their root systems, but too little will result in a thinner, raggedy plant.
To support good leaf growth, fertilize once a month during the warm parts of the year with an excellent quality liquid fertilizer.
You’ll get the best results if you add the fertilizer to your watering can and dilute it to half strength.
This will protect the roots while supplying the nutrients needed for abundant foliage.
Keep Them Well-Watered
The String of Hearts plant requires particular watering conditions to produce the most beautiful leaves.
Allow the medium to dry out between waterings for desert plants. If there is too much water, these experts will rot away.
The heart-shaped leaves you crave will be missing if you don’t have enough. Let the growing medium dry out before you water it again.
During the warmer months, once every two weeks is generally sufficient, and you may be able to keep the medium moist for a month or more during the winter.
Make Sure It’s the Right Temperature
A string of Hearts plants prefer temperatures ranging from 80-85°F (26-30°C).
They will tolerate temperatures as low as 65°F (18°C) but will not thrive. These sweethearts must be kept warm.
This is especially true if you plan to thicken your plant through propagation.
Those newborn Hearts require all the help they can get to establish new roots.
Keep them warm, and that bare pot will quickly become thick and lovely.