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Yellowing, dropped leaves, edema, and root rot – we’ve seen it all too often with our plants.
Overwatering is usually the main culprit behind these symptoms and can be an especial shock when you encounter it in your String of Hearts.
The String of Hearts (Ceropegia Woodii) is a gorgeous succulent vine plant characterized by heart-shaped leaves trailing along a slender stem.
Popular as houseplants and outdoor plants alike, the String of Hearts (or Chain of Hearts) grow quickly with adequate water, sunlight, and the right soil.
When potted in a hanging pot, the many trailing vines offer a unique spot of greenery in any space – but what to do when you’ve accidentally overwatered your String of Hearts?
When you overwater a string of hearts the first signs you’ll see that your plant is unhappy is that the leaves are turning yellow.
If left untreated the string of heart leaves can then turn from yellow to brown and then black and then die. Overwatering can also lead to wilting, falling leaves and root rot.
Your plant is equipped to tell you when it is unhappy, and it’s easy to see with a String of Hearts. Look out for yellowing leaves, usually the first sign of overwatering in any plant.
A yellow leaf is the result of an iron deficiency in your plant as nutrients are washed away with excess water.
Wilting and dropped leaves are another sign, as your plant is under stress and is trying to get rid of as many energy-draining elements as possible. At this point, your plant is dying.
Edema is a further sign of overwatering, which is a condition caused by an oversaturated plant bursting from too much water.
Black or brown spots can be seen on leaves where transpiration failed.
Finally, root rot is a very common sign of overwatering. Apart from your plant potentially smelling badly, its leaves will wilt, and fungal growth will be seen on the soil before you find it on the roots.
As the roots cannot get to oxygen and your plants drowns, its root will literally rot away. This is often seen in succulents and other fleshy-root plants as they don’t like wet soil.
Getting started with saving an overwatered String of Hearts begins with finding out the reason why your plant is unhappy.
You need to make sure it is actually due to overwatering and not a different issue or disease that requires different care.
If you’ve established your plant is definitely drowning, don’t worry – there are a number of ways you can save your plant:
Depending on the severity of damage to your String of Hearts, saving it could be as easy as repotting or propagating the plant.
If there is little damage, you can get away with just repotting the plant and checking the soil to know when to water and how much to avoid overwatering again.
If the plant’s roots are damaged, it might be best to propagate it for a chance at saving it.
Repotting your String of Hearts
It’s super important to repot your plant correctly to avoid further damage or killing your plant. Here’s how to do it right:
1) Avoid harsh sunlight
One of the worst things you could do is putting the plant in the sun to allow the soil to dry out, but don’t do it!
Direct sunlight will only cause it more stress and cause it to possibly die faster.
2) Remove the plant from its pot
String of Hearts grow from bulb-like roots called aerial tubers, as well as stringy roots.
These bulbs make it easy to remove a plant from soil and should be handled delicately as the vines that the plant grow on are connected to these.
Loosen the soil gently and remove the plant from its soil and shake out the wet soil.
Make sure to cut off dead roots, leaves, and vines as the plant uses precious energy to try to keep these a part of it instead of focusing on new growth.
3) Let it dry
Now you can let the plant dry out by allowing it to air dry for a few hours, depending on how wet the plant is. Don’t let it become bone dry but allow the moisture to dry up a bit.
4) Choose the right soil
New soil should be suited to the String of Hearts. If your old soil has become moldy or lacks in nutrients (you can tell by how ‘sandy’ it is – if it’s more bark than soil, it’s time for a change).
You can use succulent soil mix to repot your plant as a String of Hearts is a succulent.
5) Choose the right pot
One of the most important things you can do for your plant’s health (and especially to prevent overwatering) is choosing a pot with drainage holes.
These will allow excess water to drain. However, if you don’t have a pot like this, some rocks at the bottom of the pot will make do in a pinch.
6) Reintroduce the plant
Once the plant has had time to dry out, you can repot it. It’s a good idea to water a newly potted String of Hearts plant but be careful it’s not overwatered!
Misting is a great way to make sure your plant has moisture without oversaturating it. Check how often your plant needs to be watered by doing the finger test.
Put your finger into the soil about an inch deep and check the ‘crumb’ of the soil – does it coat your finger like mud, or is it dry like sand? Wet soil does not need to be watered!
Dry soil, however, needs water. You can use this test for all your plants.
Propagating your String of Hearts
Propagating a plant means taking cuttings and placing them in water or soil to grow new roots and leaves from a ‘parent’ plant.
In this way, you can practically create indefinite new plants from just one. There are two ways you can do this:
1) Prepare an airy soil mixture of succulent mix and a helping medium like peat or perlite to help with drainage.
Many gardeners prefer not to use peat because of the way it is harvested, which damages the earth, but you can choose the medium that works for and is available to you.
2) Take cuttings from your String of Hearts. Choose vines with nodes that will become new leaves.
3) Pot the cuttings into the soil. If the cuttings lack support, you can provide it by sticking a few sticks into the soil where necessary.
4) Always make sure all the leaves are above the soil to prevent rotting that will be detrimental to your plant’s health and growth.
5) Water the plant but avoid overwatering! Misting is a good idea.
6) Wait a few weeks; usually you will see new growth from week 3 to 4. At this point, you can repot the cuttings into a larger pot containing succulent mix and let it flourish from there!
1) Take a few healthy cuttings from your String of Hearts. Once again, make sure the pieces have some roots to them. Remove any leaves nearby the roots as well as unhealthy leaves.
2) Put clean water into a glass and add your cuttings to it so that their roots are covered with water and the rest of the plant can freely hang outside of the glass.
3) Place the glass in an area with indirect sunlight to help the plants grow.
4) Again, you will see new growth starting from around 3 – 4 weeks, when new roots and leaves will form.
5) Once established roots have grown, you can repot the cuttings in succulent mix and mist them when watering to prevent overwatering.
If you’re enjoying this article, check out our article on what are string of hearts orange river.
How to Properly Water a String of Hearts
There are a few factors to keep in mind when figuring out a watering schedule for a String of Hearts to make sure they are not overwatered.
As each plant is different and has different needs, you will have to monitor your plant with these guidelines as a start and create a watering schedule from there:
As the String of Hearts is a succulent, it can thrive on very little water for a long time but will not survive if you water too seldom.
Similarly, overwatering can cause major problems (as you now know). Do the finger test to determine if your plant needs watering.
A good place to start is watering your plant once every two weeks during the summer. Once a month during the winter, then adjusting according to your plant’s needs.
3) How to water
Some people pour water into the top of the pot, whereas others let the pot stand in water and absorb it.
Either way, make sure to only do a small amount or even mist the soil to avoid overwatering. The best thing to do is to water from below as you can prevent excess watering.
4) Water quality
Succulents are generally neverminded when it comes to the type of water they like, as they are accustomed to desert climates and will take any moisture they can get.
However, if you want your String of Hearts to thrive, it’s best to use filtered water or rainwater.
Other Problems to Look Out for
Overwatering isn’t your only concern. Look out for:
As mentioned before, it’s best to start small with watering, but make sure to do the finger test to constantly monitor your plant as underwatering will leave the plant dried up and dead.
2) Inconsistent schedule
You can’t water your plant at random. If you decide to water once every two weeks on a Saturday, then that is the schedule your plant will be used to and will want water.
Not sticking to this will mean an over- or underwatered and dead plant. Further, make sure to stick to a time of day, too.
Early mornings are best to help the plant stay hydrated during the day. The middle of the day will only result in evaporated water, and at night may lead to waterlogging.
3) Waterlogged soil
You guessed it – the finger test is back in play!
As your quickest and cheapest method of determining how wet or dry your soil is.
Making sure the soil isn’t waterlogged will help your plant stay protected against root rot and the effects of overwatering.
4) Water types
Tap water will do, but only when your water is clean and free of chemicals like fluoride and chlorine that will hurt the plant. Instead, use filtered water and rainwater.
Final Thoughts: How to Save your Overwatered String of Hearts
With all this in mind, saving an overwatered String of Hearts isn’t an impossible task.
While caring for one is a little effort, the fruits of your labor are worth it. When you can grow a long, strong, healthy vine of little heart-shaped leaves.
Your plant will love you for it!
If you enjoyed this article, check our our article on the top 5 plants for very small pots & can you keep plants small.