Sumo Gardener

Hoya Kerrii | Sweetheart Plant Growing Guide

While Hoya kerrii are often sold as rooted leaf cuttings, their heart-shaped leaves are far better suited to their natural form which trails up to 2m from the root ball and can be trained up poles, or allowed to hang. 

Like all Hoya, these trailing succulents make excellent houseplants and are super easy to care for, but if you’ve got a single leaved Hoya kerrii in a pot, it’s going to take a lot of patience to achieve the high-impact plant of your dreams. 

That’s where we come in though. Let us share our experience with these plants, help you to understand how to grow Hoya kerrii, and just what makes them tick.


Hoya Kerrii Sweetheart Plant Growing Guide

What is Hoya Kerrii?

Hoya kerrii is a succulent vining plant from tropical regions of Asia and is most commonly found growing in mountainous regions of Thailand

Hoya kerrii is a gorgeous succulent vine, with particularly long nodes separating their distinctly heart-shaped leaves. Young plants grow upright, and are able to support the eight of their small leaves, looking much more like a Kalanchoe or a Jade than a mature, trailing Hoya. 

As Hoya kerrii develop they require support or the space to trail, but their succulent leaves are well adapted to store water which makes them great low-maintenance houseplants that can go for over a month without water.

Hoya Kerrii’s Natural Habitat

Hoya kerrii’s perfect heart-shaped leaves often lead people to believe it must have been bred into that form, but in fact, Hoya Hearts is native to south-east Asia, first discovered by western plant growers in 1910 by Arthur Francis George Kerr in 1911 on a trip to the Doi Suthep Mountains in Northern Thailand.

The mountainous regions of Thailand are hot and humid, but despite heavy rainfall, Hoya has to share the soil with far more efficient drinkers. When grown indoors, you can either replicate this by underplanting Hoya kerrii with low growing plants in the same container or just watering less frequently.

Ensure Hoya kerrii has as much light as possible, as they are trailing and climbing plants which aim upwards for the sun in their native habitats.

Plant Name:

Hoya Kerrii





Common Names:

Sweetheart Plant, Valentine Hoya, Wax Plant




Succulent, Vine


2m (trailing)

Sun Requirements:

Bright, direct light

Foliage Color:


Flower Color:

White / Red


Spring to Autumn



Maintenance Level:


Poisonous for Pets:

Non-toxic to cats and dogs

Will a Single Leaf Hoya Kerrii Grow?

Hoya kerrii are often sold as single leaf cuttings thanks to their recognizable heart-shaped leaves. Those leaf cuttings will usually live for up to eight years indoors, but may never show any signs of growth.

The reason that Hoya leaf cuttings fail to develop is thanks to poor propagation, but that is not to say it is impossible.

When you’re in a garden center, remove Hoya kerrii leaves from their containers (any good garden center will be happy for you to do this) and check for nodes (a horizontal section of stem at the base of the leaf, or a fleshy base that extends beyond the green leaf’s base.

That node is where true roots will form, otherwise, what you have is a succulent leaf that is able to store water but not develop stems, roots, or new leaves.

How to Grow Hoya kerrii

How to Grow Hoya kerrii

Hoya kerrii care is pretty straightforward if you know how to care for other succulents. The important adaptation of succulent plants is that they store water in their stems and leaves.

This ability to store water allows it to cope with drought making them ideal low-maintenance houseplants that are hard to kill with kindness or neglect. Below, we’ll look at the ideal conditions for growing Hoya kerrii:


Hoya kerrii like bright, direct sunlight for at least 4 hours a day. If you can’t provide that then make sure they are in as bright a spot as possible.

Most Hoya, including the sweetheart plant, prefer more sunlight than less and are able to cope with 8 hours or more of direct light provided they are watered generously at least once a month.

Watering Sweetheart Plant

Hoya kerrii don’t need much watering as they are adapted to store water in their leaves. If you notice leaves puckering then you do need to adapt your watering routine. The more frequently you water Hoya kerrii, the more vigorously they will grow.

For many houseplant parents it's better to stall their growth for more manageable plants, but for passionate growers, watering once every fortnight, or whenever the soil surface is dry will maintain growth rates, and you can have 2m tall plants in less than 5 years.

Hoya kerrii is a gorgeous succulent vine, with particularly long nodes separating their distinctly heart-shaped leaves

Best Soil for Hoya Hearts

Hoya Kerrii needs good drainage. They have simple root systems that are easy to propagate, sending out pale, translucent white roots into a glass of water from their nodes. Those roots are little different in soil, so are very susceptible to rot if they are forced to live in damp conditions.

Hoya benefit from an occasional general-purpose houseplant fertilizer, but don’t have any particular nutritional needs, so are happy without feeding, and can therefore thrive in very loose sandy, or gritty soils.


Hoya kerrii love heat. Heat from the sun is a better, more natural way to keep Hoya plants happy, but by placing them in warm rooms like bathrooms or a porch, they will almost always be happier than in sunny, but overly ventilated spaces like kitchens.


Hoya kerrii don’t particularly need humidity, as they already store water in their leaves, but reasonably humid rooms like bathrooms or shower rooms are a great way to maintain leaf shine without having to dust your plant.

Avoid the kitchen as the grease can clog up succulent leaves even if you have an extractor fan installed. Kitchen humidity is far worse for plants than bathroom humidity, which is a much purer steam.

Hoya Kerrii Propagation

Hoya Kerrii Propagation

Hoya will actually grow very well from seeds, but because it’s so difficult to find seeds, even online for these gorgeous trailing plants, we thought we’d just give a brief explanation and then focus on taking Hoya cuttings.

If you do manage to find, or harvest, Hoya kerrii seeds, soak them briefly for a few hours in tepid water, then lay them on the surface of a free-draining seed compost.

Water the compost well, then cover with a plastic bag. Leave for a few weeks and you should see germination. Leave the seedlings in place until they reach a couple of inches long and their leaves take their true shape.

But, for whatever reason, it’s nearly impossible to find Hoya kerrii seeds from reliable retailers so you would be very lucky to be able to try this out!

Propagating Hoya Kerrii from Cuttings

There are two ways to propagate Hoya from cuttings, but with Hoya kerrii, both require the same treatment as it is absolutely essential to include a node!

Nodal Cuttings

Hoya leaf cuttings are easy to take, but unless you want the kind of plant you buy in shops, which will never grow beyond its first leaf you need to include the node. 

To take a successful nodal cutting from Hoya kerrii, cut a leaf with 1” of stem on either side of the leaf. There is no need to be precise as the stem, the node, and the leaf itself all have a part to play!

Hoya stems help reduce infection from taking hold and act as a barrier between damp soils and cut leaves. The leaf stores water, helping the cutting to stay alive for long enough to root, and the node itself is where your productive roots will sprout.


  1. Using clean secateurs, cut a healthy Hoya kerrii leaf, leaving 1” of stem on either side of the leaf.
  2. Bury the node and stem 1cm into the free-draining compost.
  3. Water thoroughly.
  4. Cover with a plastic bag to preserve humidity.
  5. Keep watered until new growth appears.
  6. Treat like a mature Hoya.

Common Hoya Hearts Pests and Diseases

There are a few pests that can cause damage to Hoya kerrii

There are a few pests that can cause damage to Hoya kerrii, but very few can cause lasting harm. Spider mites and mealybug are the only pests that are likely to cause any serious fungal problems on your plants. The rest can simply be rinsed off with a hose.

Hoya Kerri Pests


Mealybugs are horrid little insects that cover themselves in saliva slowly eating saps and moisture from leaves. Succulent plants like Hoya kerrii are well adapted to cope with this damage but if there is a particularly bad infestation you may notice scabbing or rusting on leaves which have been severely damaged.

Wash off any insects you can see, rinse the entire plant with a hose, and then remove damaged leaves. These tough trailing vines can recover pretty quickly from mealy bugs.

Spider mites

Spider mites are hard to spot until they lay eggs, which they wrap in a silk web to protect them. As spider mites build their populations they eat chlorophyll from leaves, causing leaves to dry and shrivel up.

This can be potentially devastating to plants as it increases the impact of drought, so these otherwise drought-tolerant plants find it impossible to store and take up water.

Hoya Kerrii Diseases

There are very few diseases that can significantly affect Hoya or Hoya kerrii. These tough, succulent houseplants are disease resistant and cope well with overwatering or under watering, but their roots can suffer from rot which will cause leaf drop.

Thankfully this is usually solved by watering less for a few weeks until the problem resolves itself, unlike most houseplants where a full re-potting process would be required.

Hoya Kerrii Frequently Asked Questions

Hoya Kerrii make excellent houseplants and are super easy to care for,

How do I get my Hoya kerrii to grow?

There is a strong possibility with Hoya kerrii leaf cuttings that they won’t ever grow, this is due to a lack of nodal inclusion in their original cutting, meaning the leaf will root just enough to sustain itself, but never develop true roots.

To give Hoya kerrii leaf cuttings the best chance of growing, give them good light but limit their water intake.

Is Hoya kerrii slow-growing?

Hoya kerrii grows quickly once it has established a good root system, but cuttings can take a long time to properly establish and growing vines or any form of stem can take over a year even from properly prepared cuttings.

Is Hoya kerrii a succulent?

Hoya kerrii is a succulent vining plant from tropical regions of Asia and is most commonly found growing in mountainous regions of Thailand. Their leaves are well adapted for storing weather.

Why is my Hoya kerrii thin?

There are a few reasons why your Hoya kerrii might be thin. If you bought your plant as leaf-cutting, it may be nearing the end of its life (leaf cuttings won’t last forever), but if your Hoya kerrii has developed into a long vining plant, thin leaves are the sign of severe drought or very low humidity.

Wrapping Up Our Hoya Kerrii Guide

Hoya kerrii are often maligned by houseplant experts as a money-spinning exercise by garden centers thanks to their most common form being single leaf cuttings that are sold without any sign of nodes.

But, if you take a Hoya kerrii cuttings correctly, or can find a true vining specimen of this wonderful succulent vine, they are one of the most stunning houseplants you can grow.

Now you know how to grow Hoya kerrii properly, maybe you’ll check again in the garden center. And that tip for checking the roots in the container… Always check inside a pot at garden centers. Good shops will always be happy to let you inspect roots.

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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