Wilson WongWearing your heart on your leaves

Cut rose flowers are almost indispensable for Valentine’s Day. Couples often pay a hefty sum for floral presents like these where its beauty is transient. Since hearts are also synonymous with love, perhaps you may want to consider gifting a plant with heart-shaped leaves for this important day on the calendar. Giving a suitable plant which will thrive and continue to grow can be likened to everlasting love for someone who is dear to you.

Hoya kerrii

Hoya kerrii

In Singapore, the Sweetheart Hoya (Hoya kerrii) has become quite popular in recent years. For use as a gift on Valentine’s Day, the plant is sold in the form of single leaves that have been planted in a small pot. More commonly, the all green version is sold as the plain background serves as a good canvas for painting on it. The single leaves take up very little space and can be displayed on a work desk and require little maintenance, at most, an occasional watering to keep the media moist and is best placed in a brightly lit place. With time, a new shoot may emerge from the base of the leaf.

Dischidia ruscifolia

Dischidia ruscifolia

Dischidia ruscifolia

Dischidia ruscifolia

Another plant from the same family as the Sweetheart Hoya is the Million Hearts Dischidia. Botanically known as Dischidia ruscifolia, this plant has numerous small, green, heart-shaped leaves that line its wiry stems. In past years, heart-shaped wreaths made from this plant were available for sale during this time of the year. They were made by lining a heart-shaped wire frame with coconut husk strips as a growing media where stem sections of the Million Hearts Dischidia were grown on. This year, a growing frame that is fashioned with the letters that make up the word ‘LOVE’ was seen on sale in the market. This plant thrives under semi-shade and a moist, aerated substrate.

Philodendron

Philodendron

By far, the above two plants have somehow attracted the people’s attention who accepted them as alternative gifts for Valentine’s Day. As keen gardeners, most of us would be aware that there are more plants out there with heart-shaped leaves. These include the very common houseplant, Heart Philodendron, botanically known as Philodendron hederaceum var. hederaceum. Locally, we now can find three forms, namely, the green, chartreuse and variegated versions. It is a beginner’s plant that can tolerate low light and have become a popular candidate for indoor green walls.

Although the plants described so far may not be as colourful as rose flowers, they can be creatively dressed up to become an appropriate gift for the occasion. I have described just a handful of plants that will grow in Singapore’s lowland tropical climate. What are the plants that you can think of that can be alternative Valentine’s Day gift plants in the area where you live?

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Wilson Wong

About Wilson Wong

Dr Wilson Wong resides in Singapore and gardening has been his hobby since young. Although he is trained in herbal drug discovery as in his PhD research work, he has chosen to pursue his passion in horticulture. He currently works for the National Parks Board of Singapore (NParks) and has spent several years in the business of connecting people and plants through active gardening outreach programmes. Previously in HortPark, he is now based in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Outside of his core job, he is also the Gardening Consultant for NParks’ My Green Space e-newsletter, Founder of Green Culture Singapore (a Singapore gardening discussion forum), and Vice President of the Singapore Gardening Society. He is also a garden writer and the resident contributor for ‘Root Awakening’, a gardening Q&A column, in the local newspaper.

4 thoughts on “Wearing your heart on your leaves

  1. Helen on said:

    Lovely article. I wonder what my chances would be of finding the Sweetheart Hoya in a Plant Nursery in Australia. I would love to grow them.

  2. Kerry on said:

    I know it’s after the event but last year there was a stall at Carindale shopping centre just before Valentines day. They were in red pots. Maybe keep a look out next year the week leading up to Valentines Day.
    Kerry

  3. Those sweet little hoya are delightful .. must keep an eye out for them. Not sure I agree with painting on their foliage, but got to acknowledge the artfulness of the idea. I had never considered the philodendron leaves as heart shaped; always considered them teardrop, so just goes to show how Valentines Day can change your perspective. Very clever and informative post. Thanks Wilson. Julie

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