Chain of Hearts - Ceropegia Woodii


Top Tips

  • Chain of Hearts must endure periods of near-dry in between waters - if you're stuck with when to water it, think of the ukhouseplants' phrase of 'Drenches Between Droughts'.
  • Be careful when watering - allowing excess moisture to sit on the leaves above the soil will result in them yellowing and rotting off. Either be careful when watering, or irrigate using the bottom-up method.
  • A few hours of morning or evening sun is mandatory, especially in the winter months.
  • Avoid situating it in a dark location due to the exaggerated phototropism (growth towards light) and leggy internodes.
  • Supplement at monthly intervals all year round, using either a Cactus or Houseplant feed, or a general plant fertiliser.
  • Repot every two or three during the spring, using a Cactus & Succulent potting mix.
  • Take vine cuttings during the spring or summer to put back into the soil to promote a bushier head.

•Water - 🔸

Chain of Hearts, or COH, must endure dry soil in between hydrations. Once the majority of the soil dries out, give it another good water, keeping the foliage as dry as possible. Either water from the top (albeit carefully), or submerge the bottom quarter of the pot for several in a saucer of water. If any excess moisture is allowed to settle on the leaves sitting above the soil, it could cause them to yellow and rot away. If this has occurred, place stem cuttings onto the soil after several weeks of good root growth in water. Scroll to the 'Propagation' section for more information on this. Under-watering symptoms include crispy or curling leaves, little to no growth and gradual foliage decline. Be sure to study its environment; a position that offers too much sunlight will dry out the soil quickly, eventually leading to sun-scorch and dehydration. Over-watering symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, wilting, mushy leaves or stem, basal rot, and plant death. Again, study where it's situated in your home and increase the amount of light, so that it receives splash of either morning or evening sun.


Read More - Identifying Common Houseplant Disease, Viruses & Pests


•Humidity -

This isn’t a factor; however, a quick hose down from time to time will wash away dust particles and unwanted pests.


•Location & Light - 🔸🔸🔸

Although a location that offers indirect light is best, providing a splash of morning sun is highly beneficial, especially during the winter. A location that offers little or no light should be avoided as over-watering will lead to the rotting of foliage and VERY leggy growth.

In terms of a location around the house, either a few metres within a windowsill or beneath sky-light lighting is best. Avoid placing COH in a north-facing room during the winter.


•Fertilisation - 🔸

Once a month, all year round using half-strength general plant fertiliser, cactus feed or houseplant food. Be sure to pre-water the soil before using a 'ready to pour' fertiliser, for the prevention of root-burning.




Common Issues with Chain of Hearts

Root rot is the biggest issue. Typical symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth and stem collapse. Those situated in darker locations and/or too-soggy soil are most likely to be hit with this issue. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect its root systems - if they sport a yellow appearance, you're okay, but if they're brown and mushy, action must be taken immediately. More information about addressing root rot can be found on this link.

Yellowing leaves or a naked base are products of excess moisture being allowed to sit on the foliage, commonly sped up by too little light or poor air circulation. Although watering from the top is best, it's recommended to use the bottom-up method if you're a messy waterer. For specimens that have a bare head, improve growing contains by using this method and increasing light levels slightly. Promote a bushier appearance by taking vine cuttings and placing them halfway down into the soil, after a few weeks of root development in water. Always remove yellowed or rotten debris off the soil, as this could harbour both bacterial and fungal diseases.

Too much sunlight will lead to sun scorch, with typical signs including the browning or crisping of leaves, dry leaf-edges, sunken leaves or stunted growth. Although too little light will cause over-watering issues, too much sunlight will be a detriment, too. If yours has fallen short of this, reduce the amount of sunlight considerably and always be mindful of environmental shock (when too locations offer too different growing conditions). Remove some of the affected leaves and increase waters slightly.

As mentioned before, powdery mildew and southern blight are major threats among heavy foliage plants when excess moisture is allowed to sit on compacted foliage. Remove the affected areas and improve the growing conditions by situating the plant in a brighter location and keeping the leaves dry.




Origins

Ceropegia Woodii is a epiphytic and lithophytic species (grows on trees or rocks) that was discovered in 1881 by John Wood, during a visit to South Africa. Live specimens were sent to Kew Gardens in 1894 which flowered shortly later, resulting in its formal classification. The name, Ceropegia, derives from the ancient Greek words for 'wax' and 'fountains', which is in reference to Carl Linnaeus' initial observation of the genus (not species) back in 1753.


Temperature

10° - 30°C   (50° - 86°F)
H1b - can be grown outdoors in spring and summer in a sheltered location, once the nighttime temperatures are above 10°C. If you decide to bring it outdoors, do not allow it to endure more than an hour or two of direct sunlight a day as this could burn the leaves. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, most notably being Aphids on the new growth.


Spread

Up to 1.4m in length and 0.5m in width, with the ultimate height being reached in 3- 5 years.


Pruning

Remove yellowed or dying leaves and plant debris to encourage better growth and improve the all-round appearance. Pruning must be done with clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases - remember to make clean incisions as too much damage can shock the plant.


Propagation

Via seed or vine cuttings. To learn about the essentials with sowing seeds, be sure to click on this link - Seed Propagation Tips.


Vine Cuttings


  1. Choose the healthiest, most established vines from the leading growths. This propagation method can be taken from spring to summer, using between three to six leaves, with the vine being at least 8cm (3 inches) in length. 
  2. Cut directly below a nodes (leaf), using a clean pair of scissors to reduce bacteria count.
  3. Place the cuttings into water. Once small roots develop in the nodal junctions (3cm / 1 inch +), it's time to prepare the soil and pot.
  4. Use a 5 inch pot that has good drainage holes - plastic or terracotta are both acceptable in this instance. Houseplant or Cactus & Succulent composts are best as they'll provide adequate drainage. Alternatively, place the cuttings into the soil of the mother plant to promote a bushier appearance.
  5. Set the cutting into the compost, keeping the foliage above the soil line. Be sure to submerge the bottom nodes into the soil, or else further root development will hinder. Try not to over-pot the cuttings - blackleg occurs when the bottom wound becomes infected, typically caused by water-logging with too little light.
  6. Avoid direct sunlight and offer good humidity, by placing the potted plants into a transparent plastic bag for the first two weeks. Keep the soil almost moist at all times to prevent dehydration.
  7. Open the bag every two days, for half an hour to stop the spread of disease. After a month of being placed in soil, remove it from the bag and treat like an ordinary houseplant.


Flowers

During the spring, COH will produce small clusters of white flowers along the leading growths, lasting up to a week once opened. To aid the chance of a spring bloom, reduce the amount of waters considerably, and dip the nighttime temperatures to around 12⁰C  (54⁰F)  in the winter months. The combination of drying soil, shorter days and cold nights will give the plant a dormancy period, which is vital for flower growth in the following season.


Repotting

During the spring, repot every three years using Houseplant Compost and the next sized up pot. Water the plant's soil 24hrs before the repot, as damage to the dry root hairs will cause transplant shock. For matured specimens, introduce more grit to promote a stronger root ball; click on this link for more information on how to perform the perfect transplant.


Diseases & Pests

Typical diseases associated with COH are leaf-spot disease, botrytis, powdery mildew & root rot. Keep an eye out for spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, whitefly, root mealybugs, scale & thrips. Click here for more information about how to identify and address any of these issues.


Toxicity

This plant is classified as poisonous. due to varying concentrations of calcium oxalate crystals found around the plants body. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information.


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