Hard-to-kill Houseplant: The String of Hearts Vine
Since an unfortunate incident with an indoor palm tree (rest in peace Paulie) I try not to buy high maintenance or exotic plants anymore. The stress of second-guessing their exact requirements to stay alive outweighs the happiness they provide. Is this too much water? Or not enough? What type of soil do I need? Why is fertiliser so expensive?
The String of Hearts Vine (or Ceropegia linearis) is native to Africa, but unlike most other exotic plants it doesn't come with a strict list of rules you must adhere to to keep it alive. Water it sparingly, resist the urge to repot it, leave it in a bright room - or don't, depending on which colour you like the leaves... That's more or less it. Most plants give up on life soon after crossing the threshold of our flat, so I'll be interested to see how this one fares. Ten days in and I'm cautiously optimistic.
In fact, the only real danger to the String of Hearts is overwatering. Guardian gardening expert Alys Fowler reckons you can leave it as long as a month at a time during winter. The advice provided with my plant suggests soaking the soil thoroughly to the bottom of the pot, then leaving it to dry completely before watering again. This guy hates to have a soggy bottom, so you'll need to make sure the soil can drain properly when you do water him. One idea is to take the plastic container out of the plant pot when you water, let it drain and then put it back again. That sounds like a bit of a faff so I just chucked a few pebbles in the bottom of my 'planter' (Starbucks mug) to make sure he doesn't end up sitting in water.
This plant has long, purple vines which sprout pairs of heart-shaped leaves at regular intervals. The colour of the leaves will change depending on how much sunlight they get - if left in a bright, sunny room the silver effect will be more pronounced; if left out of sunlight the leaves will stay predominantly green. The vines get seriously long so you'll want to find a nice high shelf for them to cascade down. If you want to bulk up the number of vines your plant has, you can trim and replant the little brown tubers which grow along them. You could add them to the same pot, or plant them separately to give away to your friends.
Mine cost £8.50 from eBay. There are loads of other offerings there if you want a bigger plant or don't want to spend as much.