Hypoestes phyllostachya Polka Dot Plants are common houseplants with colorful foliage. They are highly hybridized to produce a variety of colors and types of leaf spotting. Leaves are brightly dotted in pink, purple, red, or white. The most common polka dot plant on the market features leaves with a pink base color and green spots.
Polka dot plants grow best in medium or bright light. Although, they tolerate low light if you don’t mind it getting a bit leggy. A quick trim will keep it more tidy. The best color will be produced in lower light situations. It also thrives outdoors in a spot shielded from the hot direct sun.
Outdoors, polka dot plants prefer a location with some shade. In fact, a planting site that’s too bright can fade the foliage colors and lessen the ornamental value of the plant. The best color will be produced in lower light situations. Bright, indirect light is ideal indoors.
Polka Dot Plants enjoy a moderate amount of moisture in the soil at all times. Avoid letting the soil dry out, which can cause the foliage to wilt and the plant to struggle. Never let the soil become soggy, as this can cause root rot and kill your plant. A good rule of thumb is to water when the top half-inch of soil has dried out; keep in mind that container plants will generally need more frequent watering than those planted in the ground. Reduce watering in winter dormancy.
Hypoestes phyllostachya plants are only hardy in USDA growing zones 10 and 11, preferring temperatures between 70-80°F (21-26°C). If planting outdoors, do so in spring after the threat of frost has passed. Be sure to bring inside if you plan to overwinter them well before the first frost of the fall. Polka Dot Plants prefer humid conditions, enjoying a minimum humidity level of 50%. If you need to raise humidity, you can mist your plant’s leaves or place its pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water as long as the bottom of the pot isn’t touching the water.
Hypoestes phyllostachya prefer organically rich soil that is well-draining. An all-purpose organic potting mix will typically suit these plants just fine. Mix in some pumice or perlite if you need to improve the soil drainage.
Polka Dot Plants are generally pretty heavy feeders. Outdoors in garden soil, they’ll appreciate a layer of compost mixed into the soil each spring. Feed container plants with an organic fertilizer designed for houseplants once a month during the growing season.
Polka dot plants can be grown either from seeds or stem cuttings. If you are starting from seeds, sow them in the early spring, placing them on the surface of warm, moist soil. They should sprout in a few days, and the seedlings should be ready for transplanting in a couple weeks. For cuttings, trim roughly a 5-inch stem length from an established plant, and dip the end in rooting hormone. Then, plant the cutting in warm, moist soil; roots should start to grow in about a week.
Susceptible to scale, whiteflies, mealy bugs, and aphids. If you notice foliage that is discolored, has holes, or otherwise appears unhealthy, along with small bugs moving on the plants, then you have a pest problem. Plants grown indoors under suboptimal conditions generally have more problems with pests and diseases than those grown outside in the correct environment.
Within the main species, Hypoestes phyllostachya, there are many varieties; all are bred for their leaf coloration. Here are a few varieties:
‘Camina’: Dark green and red-spotted leaves
‘Confetti’: Leaves in green and spots of white, pink, rose, red, or burgundy
‘Pink Brocade’: Green leaves with mottled pink spots
‘Pink Splash’: Leaves in mixes of greens with splotches of pinks
‘Red Splash’: Leaves in mixes of greens with splotches of reds
‘White Splash’: Leaves in mixes of greens with splotches of whites
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