Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’

Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’, also known as ‘Chain or string of Hearts’, is a captivating trailing plant from the Apocynaceae family. Primarily found in South Africa, it is revered for its heart-shaped leaves and distinctive, bulbous tubers. ‘String of Spades’ typically grow up to 4 inches in height and spreads extensively, creating an enchanting waterfall of greenery.

Features Table

String of Spades
Common NameString of Spades
Botanical NameCeropegia Woodii
Plant TypePerennial, Succulent
Mature SizeUp to 4 inches in height and 2-4 feet spread
Sun ExposureBright, indirect light
Soil TypeWell-draining
Soil pHSlightly acidic to neutral (6.1 to 7.3)
Bloom TimeLate summer to early fall
Flower ColorPurplish in color, enclosed in a green tube
Hardiness Zones10 to 11
Native AreaSouth Africa

Morphology and Anatomy

The ‘String of Spades’ is an eye-catching specimen due to its unique external and internal structures. It boasts a vine-like growth, allowing it to trail beautifully from hanging baskets or creep along the ground. The plant is adorned with small, heart-shaped leaves, often with a rich green hue on top and a purple tinge beneath. The stems, while thin, are surprisingly robust and give rise to a small, fusiform tuber at intervals, acting as storage units. The distinctive flowers are enclosed in a green tube, from which a purplish, five-lobed corolla emerges. Internally, like all succulents, ‘String of Spades’ have water-rich tissues, allowing them to survive dry spells.

Growth and Development

The growth and development of the ‘String of Spades’ are influenced by various factors, including environmental conditions and care practices. This plant thrives in bright, indirect light. While it can tolerate some direct sunlight, too much can scorch its leaves. As a succulent, it prefers well-draining soil, and it’s essential to avoid overwatering to prevent root rot. The soil pH should be acidic to neutral (6.1 to 7.3). While it doesn’t need fertilizers to grow well, providing it with a diluted succulent fertilizer during the growing season can boost its growth. The ‘String of Spades’ enters its blooming phase in late summer to early fall, producing delicate purplish flowers.


The Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ is classified under the scientific taxonomy as follows:

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  •  Phylum: Tracheophyta
  •  Class: Magnoliopsida
  •  Order: Gentianales
  •  Family: Apocynaceae
  •  Genus: Ceropegia

Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ is a distinctive species within the Ceropegia genus. It comprises over 160 species, including Ceropegia Ampliata and Ceropegia Sandersonii, renowned for their unique and diverse floral forms.

Growth Guide


Reproduction in Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ occurs sexually and asexually. The plant produces flowers which, upon pollination, produce seeds for sexual reproduction. Asexual reproduction, or vegetative propagation, can also occur through stem cuttings, a common practice in cultivation. Offsets, which are small bulb-like structures, can also be removed and planted separately, effectively creating a new plant.

Habitat and Watering

Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ is native to South Africa, typically found in woodlands and scrublands. Despite this native distribution, it has been introduced worldwide as an ornamental plant. Given the right care and conditions, it can thrive in various habitats, including forest margins, deserts, and mountains.

Ceropegia Woodii requires a delicate balance when it comes to watering. Overwatering can be detrimental to this delicate succulent, as it can lead to root rot and ultimately harm the plant. On the other hand, underwatering can cause the leaves to shrink and develop wrinkles, indicating their need for more hydration. In its natural habitat, Ceropegia Woodii can be found growing on rocks, where it has adapted to survive in various conditions. It has the capacity to withstand regular watering, including rainwater, but in such cases, its leaves may become thinner, as the plant doesn’t need to store water as much. By finding the right watering routine and emulating its natural environment, the String of Hearts can thrive, showcasing its captivating heart-shaped leaves and trailing vines, making it a delightful addition to any indoor garden or hanging arrangement.


‘String of Spades’ has developed several adaptations to survive in different environments. It’s a succulent, storing water in its leaves, stems, and roots, which helps it withstand dry spells. Its trailing growth allows it to spread and take advantage of available resources. Furthermore, the plant can go dormant during cooler months, reducing its water and nutrient requirements and enabling it to survive less hospitable periods.

Threats and Conservation

Like many plant species, Ceropegia Woodii’s String of Spades faces threats, including habitat loss due to urban development, climate change, and invasive species. Conservation efforts include habitat protection, cultivation in botanical gardens, and seed banking. In addition, propagation through stem cuttings and offsets is used to maintain plant numbers.

Plant Nutrition and Soil Requirements

Unlike some plants, Ceropegia Woodii is not demanding when it comes to humidity, making it an ideal choice for various indoor environments. To keep this beauty thriving, it requires bright indirect light, especially from the top, as it enjoys basking in the gentle glow of sunlight. A well-draining soil mix is essential for Ceropegia Woodii, with a combination of perlite and coco mix proving to be an excellent choice. With proper care and attention to light and soil, the String of Hearts will flourish, adding a touch of natural elegance and charm to any indoor space.

For optimal growth, Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ requires well-draining soil rich in organic matter. The plant prefers a slightly acidic to neutral pH (6.1 to 7.3). Essential nutrients include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, often supplemented through a diluted succulent fertilizer during the growing season.

About Soil Requirements

Notable Plant Features/types

‘String of Spades’ is renowned for its cascading vines adorned with heart-shaped leaves, an attractive sight in hanging baskets. Its flowers are unique, featuring a green tube from which a purplish corolla emerges. There’s also a variegated version of the plant, known as Ceropegia Woodii variegata, displaying leaves with cream-colored edges, adding to the plant’s aesthetic appeal.

Importance and Uses

Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ is primarily utilized as an ornamental plant, adding aesthetic value to homes, gardens, and office spaces. Its trailing growth habit creates it perfect for hanging baskets, while its heart-shaped leaves contribute to its appeal. Beyond aesthetics, like all green plants, it plays a role in purifying air, removing carbon dioxide, and releasing oxygen, contributing to healthier living spaces.

Fun Facts or Curiosities

‘String of Spades’ is often called ‘Chain of Hearts’ due to its heart-shaped leaves, providing a charming and romantic touch to any setting. This plant produces fascinating purple flowers enclosed in a green tube, mimicking a tiny windsock! Contrary to some beliefs, Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ is not edible and should be kept away from pets as it can cause mild digestive upset if ingested.

Photosynthesis and Plant Metabolism

It undergoes photosynthesis like all green plants. The chlorophyll in its leaves absorbs sunlight, converting carbon dioxide and water into glucose and releasing oxygen. This glucose fuels the plant’s metabolic processes, including respiration, where glucose is broken down to release energy and transpiration, the process of water movement and evaporation in plants.

Plant Diseases and Pest Control

Ceropegia Woodii, commonly known as the String of Hearts, is a delicate and charming plant that can be unfortunately vulnerable to mealy bugs. These pesky pests can pose a significant threat, and if left unchecked, they can rapidly damage the plant, sometimes devastating it overnight. To protect this beloved succulent from mealy bugs and maintain its health, regular monitoring and prompt action against any infestations are crucial.

‘String of Spades’ can be susceptible to root rot if overwatered. It may also be infested by common pests such as aphids and mealybugs. To prevent these issues, maintain good watering practices and watch for signs of pests. Biological control methods, like introducing beneficial insects and using organic insecticidal soaps, effectively manage these pests.

To remove mealy bugs from your ‘String of Spades’ (Ceropegia Woodii) plant, follow these steps:

  1. Isolate the Plant: If you notice mealy bugs on your ‘String of Spades,’ isolate the plant from other nearby plants to prevent the pests from spreading.
  2. Inspect the Plant: Carefully examine the plant, especially the stems, leaves, and leaf axils, for any signs of mealy bugs. These pests look like small, white, cottony masses or clusters on the plant.
  3. Prune Infested Parts: If the infestation is localized, prune and remove the affected parts of the plant using clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears. Dispose of the infested plant material properly to prevent the bugs from returning.
  4. Wash with Water: Gently spray the plant with a strong stream of water to dislodge any mealy bugs present on the surface. This can help get rid of some of the pests.
  5. Alcohol Solution: Prepare a solution of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) and water (1:1 ratio) in a spray bottle. Spray this solution directly on the mealy bugs to kill them on contact. Avoid spraying alcohol on sensitive plant parts or in excessive amounts, as it may damage the plant.
  6. Neem Oil or Insecticidal Soap: Apply neem oil or insecticidal soap according to the manufacturer’s instructions. These products are effective against mealy bugs and are considered safe for many plants. However, it’s always a good idea to test on a small portion of the plant first to ensure there are no adverse reactions.

Growth patterns

Ceropegia Woodii, a captivating and versatile succulent, displays intriguing variations in its growth patterns. Some strains of this plant feature thick leaves and tend to be slow growers, taking their time to develop and mature. On the other hand, certain strains exhibit a remarkable speed of growth, thriving and flourishing at an impressive rate. When grown outdoors, these succulents are blessed with ample sunlight and fresh air, which triggers a stunning transformation. The exposure to outdoor conditions allows them to develop a striking purple hue, enhancing their overall beauty. Furthermore, the outdoor environment seems to invigorate their growth, leading to rapid and vigorous expansion. Whether as a slow-growing specimen or a rapidly flourishing one with vibrant purple foliage, Ceropegia Woodii remains an enchanting addition to any indoor or outdoor garden, delighting plant enthusiasts with its charming heart-shaped leaves and graceful trailing vines.

As part of our planet’s biodiversity, protecting ‘String of Spades’ and other plants is crucial for maintaining balanced ecosystems. Threats include habitat loss, climate change, and overexploitation. Efforts to conserve plant species like ‘String of Spades’ include habitat preservation, sustainable harvesting practices, and cultivating plants in gardens and greenhouses.

Gardening Tips and Cultivation Techniques

Cultivating ‘String of Spades’ requires well-draining soil, bright but indirect light, and watering only when the top soil becomes dry. Overwatering can cause root rot. The plant benefits from a diluted succulent fertilizer during the growing season. Pruning can be done to maintain desired shape and size, and the pruned cuttings can be propagated.

Gardening Tips

Medicinal and Herbal Plants

Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ is not typically used for medicinal purposes. It’s primarily appreciated for its ornamental value. Always ask a healthcare professional before using any plant for medicinal purposes.

Ornamental Usage and Landscaping

Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ is greatly appreciated for its ornamental use, thanks to its cascading vines adorned with heart-shaped leaves. Ideal for hanging pots or trailing off shelves, it adds an appealing touch to home decor, office spaces, and landscapes. Regular watering, access to bright, indirect light, and good air circulation are essential for maintaining its vibrant charm.

Ethnobotany and Traditional Uses of Plants

Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ has been insignificant in traditional use. It has largely been appreciated for its decorative appeal rather than ethnobotanical applications. Yet, this doesn’t discount its value in the diverse tapestry of plant-human interactions, especially in horticulture and indoor gardening.

Ecosystems and Food Webs

In its natural habitats, the Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ contributes to ecosystems by offering shelter to small insects and serving as a food source for some specialized herbivores. Its role in home and office environments is also noteworthy – it helps purify the air, enhancing indoor air quality and contributing to the well-being of humans and pets alike.

Temperature requirements

Ceropegia Woodii, or Rosary Vine, is a delightful succulent that thrives in moderate temperatures, generally preferring a climate between 16 to 29 degrees Celsius. This range provides the ideal conditions for its growth and vibrant appearance. However, this delicate plant can be sensitive to drastic temperature fluctuations caused by air conditioning or heaters. Rapid changes in temperature can shock the plant and lead to stress, affecting its health and growth. Furthermore, Ceropegia Woodii dislikes cold droughts, so it’s best to keep it away from drafty doors and windows, as the chilly air can be detrimental to its well-being. By providing a stable and mild environment, this charming succulent will flourish and reward its caretaker with cascading trails of heart-shaped leaves, adding a touch of natural beauty to any indoor setting.

Life Span and leaves

When the leaves of Ceropegia Woodii become very soft and start to bend, it’s a clear indication that the plant is in need of more water. However, it’s essential to strike the right balance, as overwatering can be detrimental and potentially lead to the plant’s demise. With its charming heart-shaped leaves and cascading vines, Ceropegia Woodii is a delightful addition to any pet-friendly space, bringing beauty and tranquility to both the home and the well-being of its inhabitants.

It is a perennial plant that can live for several years under proper care. The plant commonly blooms in the late summer or early fall, producing distinctive, lantern-shaped flowers. Ideally, it should be planted during the spring when the threat of frost has passed.

Flowers, Roots, and Seeds

Ceropegia Woodii flowers

Ceropegia Woodii exhibits a delightful feature when provided with proper light – the development of a charming pink hue along the border of its leaves, adding to its visual appeal. The ‘String of Spades’ produces unique, lantern-like flowers, often boasting a soft purple hue. Unfortunately, these flowers are generally not fragrant. The plant tends to bloom in late summer or early fall. As for the roots, they can be susceptible to rot if overwatered, so proper drainage is essential. Seed sowing can be challenging; most gardeners prefer vegetative propagation through stem cuttings. However, if you have seeds, they should be sowed shallowly in a well-draining medium and kept in a warm, bright location. As the plant matures, allow ample space for its trailing growth habit. To save seeds, allow the flowers to dry on the plant before collecting them.

Plant Care/Fertilizers

The Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ is relatively easy to care for. It requires moderate watering, with the top inch of soil allowed to dry out before the next watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot. The plant thrives in well-draining soil, which can be achieved by mixing regular potting soil with perlite or sand.

In terms of care, fertilizing the String of Hearts with Growmore spray or any natural/synthetic fertilizer once a month can provide the necessary nutrients for its growth and well-being. As the vines grow longer, pruning them and propagating through water can help the plant maintain its lush appearance and allow enthusiasts to create new plants to share with others. By providing diligent care and swift action against pests, the Ceropegia Woodii can thrive, displaying its enchanting heart-shaped leaves and adorning spaces with its graceful trailing vines.

Fertilizer burn

While Ceropegia Woodii may not be a cactus, it shares some care requirements with succulents, making it relatively easy to maintain. When it comes to fertilizing this beauty, most cactus or succulent fertilizers prove to be suitable for its growth. However, during the flowering season, which is a spectacle of cascading small, tubular flowers, it craves more nourishment and benefits from a bi-monthly application of fertilizer. Yet, one must exercise caution not to over-fertilize, as it can lead to adverse consequences. The risk of fertilizer burn looms large, manifesting as unsightly marks on the delicate leaves. Thus, a balanced approach to fertilization ensures this dainty succulent thrives with luscious foliage and abundant blooms, enhancing the splendor of any indoor garden or hanging planter.

Pruning needs

Pruning is usually unnecessary unless the plant becomes overly long or some parts turn yellow or brown due to stress or disease. As for fertilization, a diluted complete liquid fertilizer, seaweed fertilizer, or fish emulsion can be used during the growing season (spring and summer). The application should be less frequent when the plant slumbers in the fall and winter.

All About Care

Propagation using Butterfly method

When propagating from vine cuttings, it’s essential to remove the leaves at the bottom to promote successful root growth. Two common propagation methods are water propagation and soil propagation. While water propagation might take a bit longer to root, soil propagation can yield quicker results. The butterfly method is a popular technique for soil propagation, involving the simple process of cutting a small piece of vine and laying it on the soil mix, with the lower part of the leaves in contact with the soil. This method ensures a favorable environment for root development and new growth. For visual guidance, the butterfly method of propagation is depicted in the figure above, enabling enthusiasts to successfully propagate and expand their collection of this enchanting succulent.

When propagating Ceropegia Woodii, it can be a great idea to wrap your bowl or container containing the cuttings in a plastic bag. This simple yet effective method helps create a humid environment around the cuttings, promoting faster root development and increasing the chances of successful propagation. The enclosed atmosphere within the plastic bag retains moisture, preventing excessive evaporation and providing a consistent environment for the cuttings to thrive.

covering propagation in bag

When propagating this charming plant, you can expect to witness signs of success after a few days as tiny roots begin to grow. Initially, these roots might be challenging to spot, as they appear as faint white, fuzzy lines on the stems. These seemingly elusive lines are, in fact, the roots that couldn’t find their way into the soil during the propagation process. However, with a closer look, you’ll realize that these delicate roots are an essential indication of the plant’s vitality and potential for growth. By providing the right conditions and continued care, these young roots will eventually establish themselves in the soil and contribute to the robust growth of your Ceropegia Woodii, rewarding you with a beautiful and thriving display of this unique succulent.

White fuzzy roots of string of hearts.

Around 9 to 10 days after propagation, you may observe some dead leaves in the pot. This is a natural occurrence as the plant adjusts to its new environment and redirects its energy towards rooting. To ensure the health and vitality of your Ceropegia Woodii, it’s important to remove these dead leaves by hand-picking them gently. By doing so, you help maintain a clean and disease-free growing environment for your plant, allowing it to focus its resources on producing healthy new growth.

Interaction with Animals/Pets

In its native habitat, Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ may offer shelter to small insects. However, it’s essential to note that while it is not toxic to pets, its consumption is not recommended. If ingested, it might cause mild digestive discomfort in animals. Always place houseplants out of reach of curious pets to prevent accidental ingestion.

On the bright side, Ceropegia Woodii is non-toxic and considered pet-friendly, making it a safe choice for homes with curious pets. Nevertheless, due to its delicate nature, this charming succulent should be kept out of reach of curious paws to avoid accidental damage.

Commercial Availability

The Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ is commercially available in many countries, including the United States and parts of Europe. Its unique appearance and relatively easy care make it a popular houseplant. Its average price varies depending on the size of the plant and its maturity, but it usually ranges between $15 to $30. It can often be found in local nurseries, garden centers, and online platforms specializing in houseplants.

Growth Rate

Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ has a moderate growth rate. It can grow up to 1-2 inches per month with the right care and conditions. The plant is a trailing species, so it’s more likely to expand in width than height. It is usually grown indoors but can also thrive outdoors if placed in a location with bright, indirect light and protected from extreme temperatures. It is not frost-tolerant and prefers temperatures above 50°F (10°C).

Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ Variegated

variegated string of hearts

Variegated forms of Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ exist and are quite sought after by plant enthusiasts for their unique appearance. The variegated form typically showcases leaves with green, white, and sometimes even pink hues. This variation results from a lack of chlorophyll in some plant cells, creating a stunning multicolored effect.

Variegated Ceropegia Woodii, also known as the Variegated String of Hearts, is a stunning variation of the classic Ceropegia Woodii, distinguished by its enchanting variegated leaves. This captivating succulent thrives in environments with ample heat and light. Sun-facing windows are particularly beneficial for this plant, as it loves soaking up the sunlight to enhance its colorful foliage. However, if placed in lower light conditions, it’s crucial to compensate by increasing the frequency of watering. A fascinating aspect of caring for this plant is its remarkable propagation ability. By cutting the trailing vines, as shown in illustrations or guides, numerous propagations can be easily achieved. Don’t hesitate to trim and discard any extra vines to maintain the plant’s compact and vigorous growth. With proper care and a little pruning bravery, the Variegated Ceropegia Woodii will reward you with a stunning display of unique variegation, making it a standout addition to any indoor garden or hanging planter.

Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ Frequently Asked Questions


Why is my Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ turning brown?

Browning of your ‘String of Spades’ could be due to several factors. Overwatering is a common issue, causing root rot that can lead to browning leaves. Conversely, the plant may also be underwatered and needs to receive the necessary hydration. Insufficient light could also be a cause. It is best to review your care routine and adjust accordingly.

Why is my Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ leaves shriveling?

Shriveling leaves often indicate underwatering or too much sunlight. If the plant’s soil is dry and placed under direct sunlight, move it to an area with bright indirect light and increase watering frequency.

Is Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ toxic to cats?

Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ is not listed as toxic to cats by the ASPCA. However, keeping the plant out of your pets’ reach is still best, as it may cause mild gastrointestinal upset if ingested.

How often should I water my Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’?

Watering should be done when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Overwatering can cause root rot, which is detrimental to the plant. The quantity of watering will depend on the growing conditions, but generally, watering every 1-2 weeks should be sufficient.

Can I propagate my Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades’ in water?

Yes, water propagation is possible. Place a stem cutting with a few nodes into a jar of water. Change the water every few days to prevent bacterial growth. Once roots appear, the cutting can be transferred to the soil.


The Ceropegia Woodii ‘String of Spades,’ uniquely shaped leaves and trailing growth habit, offers a captivating addition to any plant collection. Its moderate care requirements make it suitable for novice and experienced gardeners. Whether grown for its aesthetic appeal or interesting biology, the ‘String of Spades’ provides a rewarding experience for all who cultivate it. As we continue to explore and appreciate the wonders of the plant world, let’s also remember to respect and protect these fascinating organisms and the habitats they call home.

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