There are plenty of classic flora-themed gifts that you can get someone for Valentine’s Day — a bouquet of flowers is a classic, as is a potted orchid. But if you want a gift that’s truly on the nose, look no further than the adorably heart-shaped (and aptly named) hoya heart succulent.
The hoya heart succulent is one you’ve likely seen in stores, especially in February with other Valentine’s Day gifts, where it’s presented as a single potted leaf with a fleshy, waxy texture. (You might have seen it labeled a hoya heart, wax heart, sweetheart plant, sweetheart vine, Valentine’s hoya, or lucky heart plant.) In their tiny pots and with their trademark heart shape, these little plants are hard to resist.
But to keep hoya heart succulents lasting for longer than a few weeks, there are a few things you should know. Below, the best tips for caring for hoya heart plants.
What is a hoya heart succulent?
A hoya heart succulent is actually just one leaf of the hoya kerrii (the plant’s official name); the full-sized plants grow their heart-shaped succulent leaves on climbing vines that can reach 13 feet tall.
In their full-grown form, hoya kerrii develop small clusters of fragrant pink flowers with a waxy appearance.
So, why is the hoya kerrii most often available to buy as a single potted leaf? The hoya kerrii plant is so slow growing that it takes years to develop the stems and climbing vines you’d see in nature. Potting up a single leaf makes for much more attainable (and affordable) hoya kerrii for most plant parents.
Here’s the bad news about growing a single potted leaf: While it can develop roots to sustain itself for a time, it’s not able to grow a stem — meaning it can’t get any bigger.
Even if you had the good fortune of getting a stem cutting as your hoya heart succulent, it will be years and years before you will be able to see a lush adult plant.
You’ll likely have a hoya heart succulent for a couple years at most before it dies.
There’s good news, though! While hoya heart succulents might not make it past a couple of years (or outgrow their tiny pots), they’re extremely easy to care for.
How to Water Hoya Heart Plants
Because the succulent leaves of hoya kerrii are extremely effective at retaining moisture, you won’t need to water them often.
Water your sweetheart plant every two to three weeks, when the soil is dry and the leaf just begins to wrinkle.
Make sure that your hoya heart is planted in a well-draining pot. Standing water can lead to rot in the roots and leaf of this plant.
What Kind of Soil to Use for Hoya Heart Plants
You shouldn’t need to repot this plant, since it won’t ever grow outside the confines of the planter you purchased it in, but there might be instances in which you need to either replenish spilled soil or replace the soil it came in (if it wasn’t appropriate).
What Kind of Light Do Hoya Heart Plants Like?
Hoya heart succulents thrive in bright light, and direct sun is best. They can also tolerate bright indirect light, though you might find that less light will cause variegated versions of hoya kerrii to develop darker leaves.
For best results, place hoya heart succulents in east-, south- or west-facing windows. North-facing windows will likely not receive enough sunlight to keep these plants happy.
Are Hoya Heart Plants Safe for Pets?
More good news: Yes, hoya heart succulents are safe for pets, according to the ASPCA. No need to worry about your pet if they taste test a nibble or two (though your plant might not survive the attack — so it’s still best to keep these out of pets’ reach).
Where to Buy Hoya Heart Plants
You can pick up these cuties at many retailers around Valentine’s Day, including nurseries, home centers, and grocery stores. Of course, you can also buy them online, too.
Want the look of a full-grown hoya kerrii? You’ll have to hunt a little harder — but there are options available from specialty sellers, like those on Etsy.