The Plant That Does Nothing

by Barbara-

Happy Family Day to my fellow Ontarians!! Since yesterday was Valentine’s day, I thought I would keep with the theme and post about my Valentine Hoya also known as Sweetheart Hoya. The title of this post may be confusing to some, but please bear with me. You will understand why as you read along.

Hoya obovata var. kerrii, (scientific name), a climbing plant with thick, succulent, perfectly heart-shaped leaves which obviously makes it very popular around this time of year. It comes in all green or variegated. I think even people who do not care much for plants will love this as a gift for valentine’s day. Oscar, the Monkey sure loves them.


The sweetheart Hoya is commonly sold as a single leaf in a pot and I am yet to see it sold as a whole plant around my parts anyway. Although the single leaf in a pot is so adorable and something of a novelty, it sort of gets a bit boring after a while. I classify it under “The plants That Don’t Really Do Anything”. You know what I am talking about – That plant you have that you wouldn’t be so sure it was alive except for the fact that it is still green. You haven’t seen it grow a new leaf in a long while and it seems to have just given up on life. The one you look at and want to donate, only if you knew someone who would take it off your hands so you could make room for more livelier plants. You know that plant, right? Well, the singled leaf version of the lovely Sweetheart Hoya is one of them. If you don’t have a plant that fits any of the above description, or have no idea what I’m talking about, then Bravo! You must be choosing your plants very wisely, unlike some of us.  For those readers who may have such a plant, you can get bored pretty quickly with such a plant right? At least with this single leaf Hoya, you can show it off to visitors, who will be impressed that such a thing is found in nature and that you, have this in your collection. Don’t get me wrong, the Sweetheart Hoya plant with more than 1 leaf is actually very very beautiful and far from boring. I mean, it is literally giving you love 🙂 with every new leaf. Anyway, as I was saying, I found my super cute singled-leaf plant to be a bit boring until Oscar offered to take a few photos with it. I couldn’t help laughing when I took these photographs. I guess you can have some fun with this plant after all.


The plus side about the single leaf or full-fledged plant is, you barely have to do anything to it. I water it about twice a month and it takes care of itself. Just like any succulent, make sure the soil is not soggy and let it dry out in between watering. It is pretty hardy as far as succulents go. I am not clear on how long it takes to grow more leaves or if it will at all from a single leaf. Apparently they are very slow-growing by most houseplant standards so I guess I may have to wait a while. Hopefully I’ll see some action come spring (fingers crossed).  If I remember correctly, I purchased this sometime in the fall last year. If any of you lovely readers  have been able to get a whole plant from the single leaf, please share how you did it! It really is a big accomplishment as it means you did not give up from the boredom!

IMG_2947This plant will tolerate direct sunlight or even a brightly lit room with no direct sunlight. A low-lit area may not promote much growth although it will probably thrive. As with most succulents, I don’t bother to fertilize. However, a mature plant with many leaves would benefit from some feeding. I think the singled-leaf version will do just fine without it. The flowers it produces are beautiful, of course, as with Hoyas. But for a single leaf, you may have to wait for a long while before you see any flowers. Take a look at the photos of the porcelain, candy/pastry-like flowers below.

“Evolution of Hoya” by Merce is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (photo modified from original)
Hoya flower
Hoya Flower by 澎湖小雲雀 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Just look at this beauty. It looks like decoration on a cupcake!

The leaves grow on vines which you can train to climb a trellis when they are young. Once the vines matures, it is hard, but not impossible, to get them to bend to your liking. Propagation can be done by seedlings or stem cuttings (and very humid environment). Since I don’t have much plant to start with, I have not tried  either method so any input on how the feasibility and success of either method is gladly welcome. What about a single leaf? Will it eventually grow vines?


Any one who knows whether or not a new plant can come out of a single leafed-plant is also welcome to impart some knowledge by commenting below!



Hi, I’m Barbara and I’m a little obsessed with house plants. I share my house plant adventures in the hopes of inspiring you to continue to enjoy the greens in your home. And if you have no plants (yet!) I hope this blog inspires you to add some green to your home. So go on! Try it! I think you might quite like it. And who knows? You may end up being … obsessed too.


  1. nikki wallis

    Eugene I would love to know some Hoya vendors I have a few species and love them plz

    20 . Jan . 2021
  2. Jenn

    I too bought a single leave heart hoya more then 6 years ago as a cute Valentine’s day present for my daughter. I have long since acquired it and tried many things in the hopes that he may grow, including fertilizer, knicking it, extra sun, less sun…you name it….and still he remains content in his single status…. Happy to have looked it up to find this post of other single hoyas 🙂

    31 . Dec . 2017
  3. Green Obsessions » Blog Archive » Meet Our New Plant Enthusiast in the Making

    […] I kept this sweetheart Hoya to see if it would grow any new leaves. If you remember I featured this plant with Oscar the monkey in a blog post last year and it still hasn’t changed an inch. One reader commented that hers […]

    15 . Feb . 2017
  4. Rowena Axford

    This plant does eventually get more leaves and it starts to vine at a very slow pace. I think mine took about a year after purchase. At the time I bought it, I had no clue what it was called and I had no idea how to take care of it. I think because it was so dry in my house, I killed it. It got bone dry, and I think I overwatered it. Up until the middle of winter was when it started dying, I hope I can find another one soon now that I know what it is and how to take better care of it. Thank you for the information!!

    15 . Feb . 2016
    • Barbara

      Thanks Rowena for the info. I guess I will just have to wait and see. As Eugene said, if the leaf luckily has some meristem tissue attached it will grow me some vines 🙂

      16 . Feb . 2016
  5. Eugene

    Sorry, I have bad news. With Hoyas, at least a tiny bit of stem has to be attached to the leaf in order for it to grow into a plant. Otherwise the leaf will just grow roots and nothing else. The cells that can be transformed into a growing stem are in the part of the plant called meristem. They are basically like stem cells – they can grow to be any part of the plant. If that meristematic tissue is missing from the potted leaf cutting, it means that there is no stem and no cells present in there that could ever become stem. The plant only knows how to grow roots, no matter how well you care for it.
    Sometimes these single leaf cuttings do grow a stem – but that happens only if you got some meristem tissue in there by accident (if a tiny bit of stem broke off with your lucky leaf). The chances of that happening are pretty low, and even when it does happen, it takes many months to see a growing stem tip poking out.

    15 . Feb . 2016
    • Barbara

      Ohh such sad news! Thank you so much for clarifying that for me Eugene. Hopefully, I will find the actual plant some day.

      16 . Feb . 2016
      • Eugene

        Would you like a short list of Hoya vendors I know of? Can I post it here? There are so many Hoyas to love! I grow ~140 different species and cultivars of it. Hoya kerrii is pretty common (among these online vendors, not in local stores), so there will be no problem finding it, I think.

        16 . Feb . 2016
  6. Marc Foley

    One of my all time favorite plants
    I love Hoya and have 17 or 18 different ones. I have 2 different of the large Heart leaf Hoya, both vining and blooming regular. Messy too. I purchased just a single leaf 4 or 5 years ago because it was different that what I had and have yet to see it do anything. Lots of roots the last transplant. Have it in a bright window. I will let you know if I see any activity on the leaf…
    BTW… the sap is sweet and very sticky…….and comes in many colors. Drips everywhere… 🙂

    15 . Feb . 2016
    • Barbara

      Hi Marc, thanks for the info. You still have the single leaf after 5 years? I guess i should probably accept it will stay a single leaf forever. Thanks for sharing.

      16 . Feb . 2016
  7. Rebecca

    Love this Hoya..I have about 8 different types. Six of them from cuttings and there in 3in pots..I don’t have the ❤ one..Will keep my eyes open for this one..Thanks for sharing all your knowledge and Adventures..

    15 . Feb . 2016
    • Barbara

      Rebecca, do yours flower? I am so mesmerized by the flowers. They look like something you could eat and would taste so sweet and sticky. lol. Thanks for reading.

      15 . Feb . 2016
  8. Darryl Cheng

    Haha, your title sums up exactly what I felt when I saw this plant. The presentation is meant to appeal to the “aww, it’s so cute” buyer instead of the “what a fascinating plant” buyer. I Googled “Hoya obovata var. kerrii” and, just as I suspected, the actual plant is leaves-on-vine, which means that all these Valentine’s products are just contrived decor. It’s just like the braided Sansevieria cylindrica – I much prefer my unbraided version so when new stems emerge, the whole plant still looks aesthetically pleasing. Sorry, just my opinion 🙂

    15 . Feb . 2016
    • Barbara

      Darryl, that is it exactly. I would much rather prefer the whole plant. Unfortunately, I am yet to come across one so this will have to do for now. I guess growers make more money by removing the leaves from the vines and selling them individually. That makes me sad though because I would love to have the whole plant that grows hearts on vines 🙂 For now, I will see if a vine will somehow emerge from these 2 solo leaves. Thanks for stopping by.

      15 . Feb . 2016

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