Hoya Kerrii: sweetheart plant

Heart-shaped leaves on this slow, yet satisfying grower

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SANDI KOBIESA

Hoya Kerrii’s thick waxy leaves make it more of a succulent than leafy houseplant.

SANDI KOBIESA, Managing editor

Happy (late) Valentine’s Day, plant friends! I felt like this week, I would share with you one of my quirkiest plants, the Hoya Kerrii, aka the sweetheart plant.

Now here is the thing, I love hoyas, but they do not love me back. I have managed to kill three different types of them, but my Kerrii is still thriving, so that’s a plus.

Hoyas are basically succulents; they do not like being watered a ton, and they love bright light. That’s something that took me THREE plants to learn.

Kerrii is known for her stunning, thick heart-shaped leaves. When I say heart-shaped, I mean they look like a kindergartners heart drawing for their mom.

They are extremely slow growers; I’ve had mine for about a year now and she’s only given me two leaves. The better their conditions are, the more likely it is that you’ll get new growth.

This plant loves lots of light. Mine is directly underneath my grow light, as my home does not have any good windows.

Watering the Kerrii is pretty simple, when the leaves look wrinkly, give her a good soak. Depending on the soil you use, that could be anywhere between one week to one month.

Ideally, you want to plant your Kerrii in very airy soil: tons of bark, charcoal, perlite and soil. They do not like to sit in water and are prone to root rot. I have lost three to root rot because I didn’t realize my soil wasn’t well-draining and never gave the plant a chance to dry out.

My biggest issue with these plants isn’t the plants themselves, but with the sellers. Unfortunately, most big-name stores sell “zombie” leaves. A zombie leaf is literally just a leaf cut from the mother plant and stuck into dirt. If there is no node, the leaf will eventually die, no matter how much love you give. When purchasing one, stick your finger in the dirt and see if there’s a little stem coming from the bottom of the leaf.

Sometimes you can get lucky, and there will be a node and you can grow a big, beautiful plant. I purchased mine from a nursery that sells through Etsy. I made sure that it was not a single leaf; the description of the one I purchased specified that it would arrive with three to four leaves.

If you have the chance to get the Kerrii, do it. Don’t even think about it, just add to cart. Trust me on this one, she is quite the stunner and honestly, every time I look at her, I giggle a little.