Chain of Hearts care tips
Chain of Hearts is one of my all time favourite house plants, with those amazing wispy strings that just grow & grow, and those gorgeous heart shaped leaves. They're generally considered to be easy care plants, although to keep them happy there's a few things you need to know. In this article I'll detail my tips and advice on how to find and maintain a lush Chain of Hearts plant.
Buy more than one
The easiest way, by far, to achieve a lush looking plant quickly is to buy multiple plants and plant them together. Chain of Hearts is a slow growing plant when it’s small, so if you’re only working with a few strands to start with, it will be a long play waiting for it to thicken.
Unless they’re rare or hard to find where you live, shop around to get the biggest plant/s you can find. All of my big Chain of Hearts purchases ones have been online and second hand purchases - via Gumtree, FB marketplace, FB Buy/Swap/Sell groups or eBay. Buying second hand is a great way to get established plants at reasonable prices. You can save searches into most if not all of these platforms so you get alerts when your lusted after item becomes available, although I will note this is both a blessing and a curse!
Light is key to make them grow
To make them grow, you need light. Light light light. Bright indirect light that hits the top of soil as well as the leaves. Without decent light, they will not grow well. Whilst they will thrive in bright indirect light, be sure to not allow direct sunlight to hit the leaves as this may cause sun burn. I tend to position my COH plants as close to a window as possible, and in a spot on a shelf or table that is unobstructed by other objects to ensure the top of the soil has ample access to light.
Water them sparingly
They're not technically succulents, but should be treated like one in terms of their watering requirements. Use your finger or a moisture meter to check the soil before watering, and give them water equivalent to one fifth of the pot size only when the soil is dry. One of the reasons these guys prefer to dry out between watering is due to the tubers they grow in their roots. They look like little potatoes, but are in fact their water stores.
Watch your pot size - keep it small for optimal drainage
Ensure the pot you put them in is only a little larger than the roots. To my eternal frustration, nurseries often grow these in pots that are way too big. The bigger the pot, the more soil. The more soil, the longer it takes for it to dry out after watering. The roots are prone to rot if left in moist soil, so drainage is key. Repotting these plants is very easy, despite how delicate they appear. Simply dig the roots & tubers out of the soil using your hands (they're not usually that long), and repot them in an appropriately sized pot. They'll often nicely fit in a small vessel where they can live for a long time before requiring a new pot.
Chain of Hearts is one of the easiest plants to propagate. Snip along the chain, and put the cut end in water to grow roots. You can expect roots to form in around 4 weeks. Once the roots are a few cm long, they're ready for transplantation to soil, where you can either add them back in with the mother plant or pot them in a new pot to create a new plant. As an added benefit, cutting the chain will encourage bushier growth, as the chopped chain will send new growth out on the nodes further up.
Pin the vines on the top of the soil
Another trick to encourage new vines is to take a vine & loop it around on the top of the pot, ensuring the nodes have contact with soil. Bobby pins are super useful to hold them in place. The nodes will eventually grow roots and then grow new chains.
Watch out for pests
Like you would with any plant, watch out for pests. They tend to attract the occasional mealybug, as well as aphids & scale. Prevention is the best form of pest management, and they'll benefit from a monthly spray down with neem oil solution to keep pests at bay. If you notice pests on your plant, first ensure you isolate the plant and put it in quarantine while it's being treated. Then apply the necessary pest treatment a few times during the following month. Neem oil is a good product to have on hand as it works on a range of common plant pests. Be careful if using a soil soak solution, as too much moisture in the soil for too long can results in root rot.