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Nicknamed the sweetheart plant, the hoya is as easy to grow as a succulent.

This story was originally published in November 2019. The information on where to find hoya kerrii was updated on Feb. 12, 2021.

There’s one cluster of plants that Stephanie Kochenour absolutely knows will be a huge hit come Valentine’s Day.

But she can’t wait that long, so she’s taken a few of the green heart-shaped hoya kerrii home from the greenhouse she manages.

These little green hearts now decorate her dining room table. Soon they will go home with her Thanksgiving dinner guests.

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Kochenour is on to something. This heart-shaped hoya variety is having a moment. Nicknamed the sweetheart plant, the hoya is as easy to grow as a succulent. However, don’t expect this heart to grow fast. It’s also rare for this plant, usually of just a single leaf, to sprout a stem with new hearts.

The heart hoya is one of more than 600 species of this trailing vine, writes Summer Rayne Oakes, author of “How to Make a Plant Love You.” Hoya have thick leaves that are waxy, so they’re sometimes called a wax plant.

When Kochenour started running the greenhouse at Longenecker’s Hardware in Manheim a few years ago, there was a large hoya “exotica” hanging basket brimming with long trailing vines. Kochenour and her staff have nurtured the plant through the years. At times it’s sprouted more than 20 big white blooms. The waxy flowers last about a month, as long as customers keep their hands off.

“They’ll grab them and ask if it’s real,” Kochenour says.

That hoya is real, and it’s for sale.

Kochenour added a hoya variety with silvery leaves that is a climbing plant. A few months ago, she added mini hoya hindu rope with thick, curly leaves. And she learned one of her growers was offering heart hoyas. In the past six months, they’ve become one of the greenhouse’s most popular plants, trailing behind succulents, snake plants and aloe.

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Other Lancaster County greenhouses also are selling the plants. Ken’s Gardens’ Smoketown and Ronks greenhouses have them (and the Ronks site has green and white variagated hoya). People like them because they’re not difficult to keep, says co-owner Kathy Trout.

Stauffers of Kissel Hill’s Home and Garden stores on Lititz Pike and Rohrerstown Road have some as well.

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Outside of Lancaster County, hoya hearts were named one of the chicest houseplants by Domino magazine. They’re also on the short list of plants sold by The Sill, a trendy New York houseplant seller. One word comes up time and again: cute.

One gripe, however, is the plants’ slow growth.

It’s rare, but Kochenour was pleasantly surprised to see one of her hoya hearts sprout a vine.

She might keep that one.

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