How To Propagate String of Hearts: 7 Easy Ways

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A new vine growing from a young string of hearts plant.

The only thing better than a lovely string of hearts plant is… more string of hearts plants! And the good news is that there are several easy and effective methods for increasing your collection of these delicate, interesting plants.

String of hearts, known officially as ceropegia woodii, produces multiple nodes on each of its long, trailing stems, and every one of these nodes is capable of producing new roots. You can also harvest stem tubers or seeds. These are 7 ways to propagate string of hearts:

  1. Butterfly method
  2. Stem cuttings rooted in water
  3. Stem cuttings rooted in soil
  4. Using underground tubers
  5. Using aerial tubers
  6. From a single leaf
  7. From seed

In this article, we’ll walk you through each method, including the necessary supplies and what you might be able to expect for a results timeframe.

Let’s get started!

RELATED: I’m working with a standard string of hearts plant here, but have you seen the variegated version? Stop by our post on this rare, multi-colored stunner to see for yourself!

How to Propagate String of Hearts Using the Butterfly Method

Materials needed:

The first method is the butterfly method, which is taking string of hearts cuttings that involve two leaves together on a stem on both sides of the “butterfly”. This method has a high rate of success and also makes excellent use of whatever stems you have.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1. For the butterfly method, start by clipping a section of the stem and keep a quarter inch of the vine on either side of the leaves (it will look like a butterfly). 

Here’s the first cut:

The first cut to make a butterfly cutting on a string of hearts plant.

This is the second cut:

The second stem cut to make a string of hearts butterfly cuttings.

This is what each butterfly cutting should look like (it’s easy to see why they call it the “butterfly method,” right?):

A single butterfly cutting taken from a string of hearts plant.

From a single stem, you can get a lot of cuttings, like this:

Several string of heart butterfly cuttings taken from two stems.

Step 2. Place some sphagnum moss in the plastic container and wet it thoroughly. If you prefer, you could also use moistened succulent soil instead. I’m using moss here:

A container of damp sphagnum moss.

Step 3. Then place the butterfly cuttings with the stems down (leaves up) on the moss or soil. The first photo shows a single cutting, and the second shows a bunch of them in the moss together:

A string of hearts butterfly cutting in damp moss for propagation.
String of hearts butterfly cuttings in a container of moss for propagation.

Step 4. Cover the container to create a nice, humid climate. This encourages new roots to sprout:

A container of butterfly string of hearts cuttings covered in plastic wrap for humidity.

I’m using plastic wrap to cover my container, but you can use anything that’s clear. A couple of other examples would be the plastic containers that you can buy spinach/salad mix in or takeout containers that have a clear lid. The thing that matters most is that the lid lets light through, so the leaves on the cuttings can photosynthesize and produce enough energy to form new roots.

Set your butterflies in a warm, sunny window, and within about two weeks, you’ll see roots developing from your butterflies. Once the roots are 1-2 inches long, take them out of the moss and plant them in well-draining soil. And if you placed your cuttings in soil, you’re already done!

RELATED: Learn all the details for string of hearts care in our total guide!

How to Propagate String of Hearts Using Stem Cuttings

This is another super easy method that produces reliable results. The downside to rooting entire cuttings vs the butterfly method is that you’ll get fewer new starts since you need more stem length. But the benefit of propagating from longer stems is that you’ll get a fuller, more mature-looking plant faster.

You can either root your stem cuttings in water or in soil. We’ll cover the details of each one here, but first things first: you need a good cutting! So let’s look at how to do that:

Clip off a stem from near the base of the plant, where the leaves are bigger and stronger. Make sure your cutting is at least 3 inches long:

A string of hearts stem cutting for propagation.

Carefully remove the lowest 2-3 pairs of leaves on your cutting, clipping them as close to the main stem as possible without damaging the stem. What you’re doing here is exposing the string of hearts node tissue, which is where the cutting will send out its new roots.

This photo shows the leaf sets that will need to come off on my cutting:

Arrows pointing to the bottom sets of leaves to be removed for string of hearts stem cutting propagation.

And here it is with two sets of lower leaves removed:

A string of hearts cutting with the lower leaves removed.

This cutting is now ready for going into water or soil, so let’s move on to how to root string of hearts stem cuttings.

Rooting String of Hearts Stem Cuttings In Water

Materials needed:

  • Clear glass at least 2 inches tall
  • Water

Step 1. Use a clean clear glass, and fill it with enough water to completely cover your cutting’s exposed nodes.

Step 2. Put your cutting into the glass, making sure you’ve completely submerged all exposed nodes:

A string of hearts stem cutting in water propagation, with the nodes below the water surface.

Here’s what it looks like further back. I’ve just got one cutting in this glass, but you could root several at the same time:

A string of hearts stem cutting in a glass of water for propagation.

Make sure none of the leaves are under the water. If they are, they’ll just rot and contaminate your propagation.

Step 3. Place your cutting in a warm area that gets lots of bright, indirect sunlight. Maintain a water level that’s always higher than the exposed nodes- if they dry out, the cells that produce the new roots can die. And make sure to change out the water whenever it gets cloudy or dirty. 

This method should start new roots in a few weeks. Once the new roots are about 1 inch long, transfer your cutting into soil and treat it as an adult plant.

Rooting String of Hearts Stem Cuttings In Soil

Materials needed:

Rooting stem cuttings tends to have a slightly lower success rate than rooting in water; the roots seem to have a little bit harder time getting established in soil. But many growers still have good results from rooting in soil, and it saves you the extra step of having to transfer your cutting from water into its permanent soil home.

So it’s still a good option, especially if you want to do some experimenting to find out what works best in your home. Besides, string of hearts grows so quickly that you’ll soon have more cuttings to root even if a few fail!

Here’s what to do:

Step 1. Clip and prepare a cutting exactly as described above.

Step 2. Fill a small pot with soil. Cactus/succulent soil works well here, or you can make your own soil mix with 3 parts potting soil and 1 part perlite or orchid bark. Moisten your soil slightly- you want to aim for damp, not soaking wet.

Step 3 (OPTIONAL): Dip the end of your cutting in powdered rooting hormone to help stimulate new root growth. Normally, string of hearts is such an enthusiastic grower that it doesn’t need any hormonal help, but since cuttings have a harder time getting established in soil, it certainly can’t hurt.

Step 4. Insert the cutting into the soil, far enough that all the exposed nodes are completely covered:

A closeup photo of a string of hearts stem cutting in a small pot of soil.

Here’s what it looks like from a little farther back:

A string of hearts cutting in a pot of soil for propagation.

Step 5. Place your pot in an area that gets lots of bright, indirect light and is protected from any chilly drafts. Keep the soil nice and moist at all times. A spray bottle works really well for this, and you’ll probably need to mist your cutting every day.

Step 6. Check for root growth. New roots should sprout in 2-3 weeks, and you can test this by gently pulling on your cutting.

If you feel resistance, new roots are anchoring your cutting in the soil, and you’ve successfully propagated a new plant!

If the cutting still wiggles freely, wait another week and try again.

Alternative method: If you like the idea of soil propagation but want to try something a little different, Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love, shares his strategy:

“I took cuttings and laid them on top of soil. I was surprised at how quickly roots started to grow!”

If you want to try this, don’t clip any leaf sets off, and just lay your stem cutting right on the soil surface. To help hold it in place, use a bent-open hairpin or a floral pin.

Humidity can really help the rooting process move along faster, so Jeremey recommends using a plastic bag as a dome. “Seal the pot in the plastic bag and then every couple of days open it up so that mold doesn’t form.”

You should notice some roots coming from the nodes within a couple of weeks.

How to Propagate String of Hearts Using Tubers

What is a tuber? Britannica defines it as a thickening or swelling of plant tissue with multiple growth points that can develop into independent plants. So if you can harvest string of hearts tubers, you can easily sprout them and have several new plants.

Most often, plants produce these tubers underground, and string of hearts frequently does this. But you may also see aerial tubers on your plant, which are small, round, light brown-colored growths on the trailing vines. 

Either type of tuber will produce new babies, though you’ll see faster results from underground tubers compared with aerial ones.

The process for rooting a tuber is pretty easy, and we’ll outline the steps below. But sometimes you just can’t beat a visual. Ashley Glassman from Herbal and Succulent Academy has a fantastic video showing how she works with both types of tubers:

Propagating String of Hearts from Underground Tubers

Materials

Step 1. If you discovered underground tubers on your string of hearts plant during repotting, brush as much of the old soil from the individual tubers as possible. Each tuber has likely already put out some roots and possibly even new growth, so try not to break off any parts if you can help it.

Step 2. Plant your tubers in a pot filled with well-draining potting soil, spacing them 1-2 inches apart. Make sure to plant the tuber shallowly, just about 1/4 to 1/2 inch below the soil surface. String of hearts has a shallow root system, and they do much better when they’re under just a thin layer of soil.

Step 3. Place your pot in a warm, bright area. Keep the soil lightly moist, and you should see some new growth springing up in a couple of weeks.

Propagating String of Hearts from Aerial Tubers

Materials needed:

Step 1. Cut your string of hearts vine about 1 inch above the tuber, and cut the vine about 1 inch below the tuber to free it. (If there are healthy leaves on the remaining portion of the cutting, clip them into butterflies or stem sections to propagate even more plants!)

Step 2. Plant the tubers 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in a pot of well-draining soil, leaving 1-2 inches of space between tubers.

Step 3. Aerial tubers have never been exposed to direct moisture, so use a very light hand in watering them. Aim to keep the soil just slightly moist. Place your pot in an area that gets plenty of bright, indirect light.

Sprouts will take a little longer to appear on aerial tubers than they will on underground ones. You should see some sprouts appearing about 3-4 weeks after planting.

Alternative method: If you’ve got the vine length, you can get your aerial tuber to root before making any cuts to the mother plant. Set your new pot of soil next to the mother plant, and nestle the aerial tuber into soil. Once the tuber produces roots, clip it free from the mother plant.

RELATED: Can’t get enough “string of” plants? Stop by our post on the delightful string of turtles to see another fun houseplant!

How to Propagate String of Hearts from a Single Leaf

Materials needed:

This method has a high rate of failure, and it definitely should not be your first option. But if you have a leaf that accidentally got pulled off your plant, it’s worth a shot to see if it will root.

It’s important to note that to have any chance of rooting, your leaf needs to be healthy and have the petiole attached and intact. The petiole is the thin stalk that connects the leaf to the main stem. Here’s a picture of it:

A closeup photo showing a leaf petiole.

The tip of the petiole may have enough node tissue from the main stem to generate new roots, and if it does, then you have a much better shot of successful propagation from your leaf.

If you have a leaf that shriveled up and fell off your plant, you will not be able to successfully root it. Sadly, just throw leaves like those away.

So if you have a leaf you think is viable for propagation, here’s what to do:

Step 1. Fill a small pot with soil and moisten it lightly.

Step 2. Insert the petiole into soil, letting the leaf rest on the surface:

Two string of hearts leaves in soil for leaf propagation.

Step 3. Place your pot in a warm, bright area, and keep the soil moist by watering carefully or misting with a spray bottle.

Step 4. Be patient. Attempting to propagate from a single leaf takes a lot of time, and it may a few months or even up to a year to see much growth. Just keep monitoring your leaf, and if it shrivels up or turns brown, you’ll know that the experiment didn’t work this time.

How to Propagate String of Hearts from Seed

Materials needed:

The last method of propagating string of hearts is from seed. 

You may never have seen one yourself, but string of hearts does in fact produce a pink, vaguely trumpet-shaped flower that yields a seed pod. Flowering and seed production doesn’t happen extremely often for indoor string of hearts. But if you have your plant outside (even just for part of the year) or you’ve found that magical indoor sweet spot, you may be rewarded with blooms and seeds.

You can collect the seeds once the pods open up. If you’ve ever seen a dandelion seed, that’s very much what a string of hearts seed looks like!

If your plant produces seeds, someone gives you some or you find them for sale somewhere, here’s how you can grow them:

Step 1. Prepare a shallow container with seedling potting soil.

Step 2. Plant your seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep, or lay on the soil surface and sprinkle a light layer of soil over them. You want them just under the soil surface.

Step 3. Cover with a dome or a clear plastic bag to increase humidity and help the seeds sprout.

Step 4. Place your container in an area that gets bright, indirect light. Mist the soil to keep it consistently moist.

Step 5. Wait. It can take about 3 months for seedlings to develop, so be patient! 

Frequently Asked Questions about Propagating String of Hearts

One way of making your string of hearts appear bushier is to trim off the trailing vines and plant them back into the soil of the original plant. Once these cuttings root, they will help fill out your mother plant’s pot. 

Another thing you could do is wind the long vines around the inside of the pot. Nodes will be in contact with the soil and send out new roots, and you’ll have a bushier plant.

You can propagate string of hearts cuttings in water but it won’t live in water. As a semi-succulent, too much water is a bad thing and will contribute to root rot and plant death.  So once it’s sprouted roots, plant it in some well-draining soil and enjoy!

When your string of hearts vines start getting too long, consider trimming them to the desired length and rooting the trimmings using whichever method you like. Then you can propagate string of hearts for your mom, sister, boyfriend, teacher, etc. etc. 

Final Thoughts

String of hearts is just one of those easy-care, easy to propagate vines that everyone needs in their home. With a few simple supplies you probably already have on hand and a little bit of patience, you can pretty easily propagate your string of hearts for yourself or someone else. 

We want to hear from you! Have you tried any of these methods for propagating a string of hearts? How did it go for you? Do you have any other propagation strategies or tips to share? We learn best together, so please share your thoughts and questions in the comments!

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