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The reverse variegated variety of Hoya kerrii, which features heart-shaped leaves with bright yellow centers at Tula Plants & Design. The reverse variegated variety of Hoya kerrii, which features heart-shaped leaves with bright yellow centers at Tula Plants & Design.

Hoya kerrii

Botanical Name — Hoya kerrii

Common Name — Sweetheart Plant, Sweetheart, Lucky Hearts, Heart leaf, Porcelain Flower, Wax Plant, Sweetheart Hoya, Valentine Hoya, Wax Hearts

Plant Family — Asclepiadaceae

Background

Hoya kerrii’s thick, waxy, heart-shaped leaves make it a crowd pleaser. In Europe, it’s often bought as a gift for Valentine’s Day. This fast-grower is native to Southeast Asia, where it vines up the trunks of trees. Clinging aerial roots keep this plant attached to its support, making it an ideal candidate for totem or other climbing arrangements.

Growth Requirements

Sun

  • Hoya kerrii prefers a few hours of direct sun. Though it will survive in bright indirect light only, giving it a few hours of sun will boost growth, encourage flowering, and maintain any variegation. Indoors, a sunny window with eastern western exposure is a great spot.
  • Avoid intense afternoon sun. This can burn the leaves.

Temperature/ Humidity

  • Hoya kerrii can tolerate high temperatures in the 70s and 80s or higher. They are not cold hardy, however. Avoid temperatures below 50 ºF.
  • Hoya plants thrive in high humidity, though they are tolerant of more moderate, indoor humidity levels. Extremely arid climates may cause dryness at the tips of leaves.

Water

  • Though Hoya plants can withstand some drought, during the growing season they prefer a more consistent watering schedule. Water regularly during the growth period. Allow the soil to dry out at least halfway before watering thoroughly.

Soil/Roots

  • Hoya carnosa prefer a well-draining, yet moisture-retentive soil. Regular potting soil works just fine. Amend soil with coco coir and compost to improve moisture retention and supplement soil nutrients.
  • These plants are epiphytes, meaning they grow attached to trees. This means their growing substrate in the wild is mainly composed of materials such as decomposing bark, leaves, and flowers.

Flowering

  • Hoya kerrii produce small, sweet-smelling flowers in clusters of 10 to 30. Flowers are star-shaped, and typically pink or white in color. Flowers are covered in tiny hairs giving them a fuzzy appearance up close.
  • Flowers appear from late spring to summer. Give Hoya plants optimal conditions to improve their chances of flowering.

Fertilization

  • You can fertilize your Hoya kerrii with a water-soluble balanced fertilizer once every two weeks, only during the active growing season.

Propagation

  • Hoya kerrii can be easily propagated from stem cuttings, rooted in soil or water. Cuttings taken from more recent growth will have the best chances of success.

Health

Diseases

  • Hoya plants are pretty hardy plants, though they can fall susceptible to some fungal infections if they are not receiving proper care. Botrytis blight appears as large, gray-colored spotting at the center or margins of infected plants. Wilting and black or brown stem lesions are another symptom to look out for. Copper or sulfur fungicides can be helpful in treating.
  • Aphids, mealy bugs and other sap-sucking pests can also be of concern and can vector other fungal or bacterial diseases. Treat this plant with diluted neem oil or insecticidal soap at the first sign of an infestation.
  • Root rot is another concern and is triggered by overwatering. With this plant it is always best to err on the side of underwatering.

Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)

  • Hoya plants require little maintenance. Prune away unhealthy looking parts of the plant.
  • Hoya prefer to be somewhat rootbound. Repotting should only be necessary once every two to three years. Soil can be replenished with fertilizer during the growing season.

Toxicity

  • Hoya kerrii are considered non-toxic to humans and pets, though ingesting them can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and vomiting. Best to keep these plants out of reach of children and pets.