Why is my String of Hearts losing leaves?

Last Updated: April 1, 2022

We don’t tend to recommend the String of Hearts plants to beginner plant parents as they can be quite a sensitive plant. Their delicate leaves and vines are easily damaged and diagnosing the right issue can sometimes be challenging so it’s important to keep a close eye on your plant if you think something may be wrong. There are a few reasons why your String of Hearts may be losing leaves so before you start changing anything about your plant’s environment or how you care for it, try to figure out what the cause is. 

In this post, we will cover off all the various reasons why your String of Hearts may be losing leaves, as well as how to figure out which is the cause and fix it before the problem progresses too far.

Overwatering is the most common reason String of Hearts plants lose leaves

If your String of Hearts’ leaves turn yellow before they fall off then overwatering is most likely to blame. It can be really easy to accidentally overwater your plant because the roots on a String of Hearts are very very delicate and short. Too much water in the soil will quickly lead to root rot which will mean the leaves and vines slowly start to die before falling off the plant. This is because your String of Hearts is unable to take up nutrients if the roots are mushy. 

Rotting and mushy roots mean that your String of Hearts is unable to take up nutrients and the vines will often fall out of the pot. Waterlogged soil also gives off quite a damp and musty smell so get up close to your plants every so often to check for any smells.

There are a few simple ways to find out if your String of Hearts’ soil is waterlogged and causing your plant to lose leaves:

Take your String of Hearts out of its pot

If your String of Hearts plant is losing a lot of leaves then you need to inspect the potting mix immediately. You’ll be able to tell very quickly if the soil is waterlogged and clumpy.

Finger/Chopstick Method

Another way to tell if your potting mix is waterlogged is by putting a finger or chopstick into the soil and seeing if it comes out clean. If there is soil stuck then there is still moisture in the soil. But if the soil is bone dry then it will just be like dust which will fall off your finger. 

Do I risk damaging the root system if I stick my finger in the soil?

As long as you are careful and don’t prod around too much, then you shouldn’t cause too many issues. String of Hearts plants have very delicate roots so try not to do this too often. 

Picking up your String of Hearts Plant

Another way you can check the moisture levels in the soil is by regularly picking up your plant. This is a great method to get to know your plants and soon you’ll have a really clear gauge as to when they need watering. The lighter the plant is, the less moisture there is in the soil. String of Hearts plants are one of the lightest houseplants as their leaves and vines are very thin but don’t try this method for any of your larger plants as it can cause injury. 

Use a moisture meter

If you aren’t sure exactly how to figure out if the potting mix has too much moisture causing your String of Hearts to lose leaves, then invest in a moisture meter. They are great for all plant parents as you just pop it into the soil and it’ll tell you how soggy or dry it is. Plus, they are really affordable little gadgets! 

How do I fix a waterlogged String of Hearts?

So if you figure out that overwatering and waterlogged soil is causing your String of Hearts to lose leaves, then you must act quickly to fix the problem. Root rot can be really damaging to your String of Hearts due to their short and delicate roots. We always recommend replacing the potting mix straight away instead of letting it dry out naturally. You don’t want to cause any more damage to the roots and this will help stop any more leaves from falling off your plant and encourage new healthy growth. 

In future, to prevent any more leaves from falling off your plant, try to hold off watering your String of Hearts as much. Make sure that the potting mix has fully dried out before watering again. During the growth period of spring and summer your String of Hearts will require water about every 10 days. During autumn and winter, cut back watering to about once every month or two. Your plant will be dormant and there won’t be any new growth meaning that overwatering is much easier to do during this time. 

It may take a little longer for your String of Hearts to recover from overwatering than some other issues due to the damage to the root system. As long as you have replaced the potting mix and the environment is right, there is a good chance your plant will come back to full health.

Drainage issues can also cause leaf drop

Sometimes it may not be your watering schedule that is causing your String of Hearts to lose leaves, but poor (or a lack of) drainage in the pot. But don’t worry, this is a really simple problem to fix and there are a few great ways to do it:

Add perlite into the potting mix

You can very easily increase the amount of drainage for your String of Hearts by mixing in a small amount of perlite, this will make it far easier for water to flow through and out of the drainage holes of your pots. Perlite is a light-weight, white material that not only helps drainage but also allows for more aeration in the soil which delivers more oxygen to your plants and will help prevent more leaves from falling off your String of Hearts. 

Ensure your pot has drainage holes

It’s very important that all of your plant pots have drainage holes so that any excess water can flow out of the pot into either the planter or onto the saucer. This is a great step to preventing root rot and leaves falling off your String of Hearts as your plant won’t be sat in waterlogged soil. 

Add pebbles to the bottom of your pot

Another easy step to help with drainage is to add a few small stones or pebbles to the bottom of your pots, this helps to make sure that the drainage holes are never blocked by soil or any loose debris which may stop excess water flowing out.

Use clay/ terracotta pots

Although clay or terracotta pots can be a little bit more expensive and breakable, their upsides are much more than just the aesthetic. The clay they’re made of is permeable which means that some of the water in your soil can evaporate through the sides of the pot. This isn’t the case for the plastic pots that most use, which just hold in all of that moisture. So sometimes it is worth investing a little more to make sure that the roots of your String of Hearts aren’t sitting in too much moisture as this will help avoid leaves dropping off.

Underwatering can also cause String of Hearts plants to lose leaves

Funnily enough both over- and underwatering can lead to your String of Hearts losing leaves. So it’s really important you figure out which is the cause as you don’t want to be adjusting your watering schedule in the wrong way. 

Here’s how to spot if your String of Hearts is underwatered:

Leaves are dry and crispy

If the leaves that are falling off are very dry, crispy, shrivelled and look dehydrated, then the problem is probably consistent underwatering. 

The potting mix is dry

An easy way to see if your String of Hearts is losing leaves due to a lack of water is by taking the plant out of its pot and inspecting the potting mix. If the soil feels very dry to touch, almost like dust, then your plant needs more water. 

The soil is coming away from the sides of the pot

This is a great method to be able to tell if your String of Hearts is being underwatered just by looking at it. If you notice that the soil has compacted and is actually coming away from the sides of your pot, then it indicates that you need to increase watering and this may be the cause of your String of Hearts losing leaves. 

Use a moisture meter

Just like with overwatering above, using a moisture meter will help figure out how dry the potting mix is and if you need to water more to stop your plant losing any more leaves. 

How do I fix an underwatered String of Hearts?

Now that you’ve established that your String of Hearts is losing leaves due to a consistent lack of water, you need to make sure to reverse the issue in the right way. Your first instinct may be to drown your plant in water but this can actually cause your String of Hearts to go into shock due to a sudden change of environment. To prevent this from happening, we recommend slowly reintroducing water by giving it a little bit once a day for a week. This will slowly dampen the potting mix and hopefully, stop any more leaves from falling off your String of Hearts. 

A lack of sunlight can cause your String of Hearts to lose leaves

Although watering issues tend to be the most common reason why String of Hearts plants lose their leaves, there are other possibilities. String of Hearts plants don’t mind a slightly shady corner but will struggle if the light levels become really low. Their vines will start to become leggy and they will lose some of their older leaves. 

The only way to fix this is to move your String of Hearts into an area of your home with more sunlight. Somewhere with bright, indirect light or medium light levels is ideal to stop your String of Hearts plant from losing any more leaves. Just make sure to keep them away from direct sunlight as this can scorch the leaves and cause a range of different problems! 

In order to figure out how much light your String of Hearts plant is getting in its current spot, we recommend using a light meter. These are great to monitor how much light your plant gets throughout the day and also how it changes throughout the seasons. Somewhere with great light levels in summer, may not be suitable in winter. 

Cold temperatures can cause leaf drop

Cool temperatures may also be causing your String of Hearts to lose leaves. Cold air coming in through air conditioning vents or drafty windows can shock your plant and result in your plant shedding some of its leaves. It can be difficult to notice drafts so it’s best to pick up a digital thermometer so you can keep an eye on the temperature. They’ll also help you detect hotspots that are damaging to plants, so a great investment all around! 

The best way to stop your String of Hearts from being exposed to cold drafts is to move them away from any AC vents and draft proof any doors or windows which they are near to. You may also want to move your plant to a warmer room in your home and this should stop your String of Hearts from losing any more leaves. 

Environment shock will cause the odd leaf to fall off

It’s not just cold temperatures that can shock your String of Hearts. If you have recently moved house or moved your String of Hearts to a new spot in your home this may also be the cause of your plant dropping leaves. The initial shock should wear off over a few days so make sure your String of Hearts is getting enough light and water and things should improve. Your String of Hearts will also only ever lose a few leaves due to environmental shock so keep an eye on the number and rate of leaves falling off. 

If the problem persists for a few weeks after moving your String of Hearts then you may need to check the soil for any damaged roots and monitor how much light it is getting throughout the day to find another reason. 

Those are the main reasons why your String of Hearts plant is losing leaves. There are quite a few different causes so it may take a little bit of investigating to figure out which one you need to fix. But hopefully, if you have caught the problem fairly early, your String of Hearts should recover with a little bit of love. If you want to find out more about how to best care for your plant check out our complete String of Hearts Care Guide

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