Polka Dot Plant Care and Growing Instructions
Polka dot plant (Hypoestes Phyllostachys) is a striking little plant that stands out from other leaves. Most polka dots plants have leaves with pink bases and green spots. There are many spotted and mottled options with deeper colors and brighter contrasts, such as purple, white and red.
Although they are easy to grow, these plants can be difficult to maintain. Many gardeners treat them like annuals and replace them each year with newer plants. They are best planted in spring. You can also grow them in pots as houseplants.
They grow at a moderate rate and are relatively small once they reach maturity, especially if grown indoors. They aren’t considered invasive, but they can grow rapidly in Australia, where they are considered a weed and are now invasive.
Polka Dot Plant Care
Growing polka dots plants requires high humidity and warm temperatures. If you don’t get enough rainfall, it is important to water the plants regularly. The plant needs to be fed regularly throughout the spring and fall seasons.
The polka dot plant blooms sporadically during the summer with small, pink-coloured, spiked lilac or pink flowers. To keep the plant’s energy focused, pinch off the spikes.
If polka dots plants are to be grown outside, they need some shade. Avoid planting too brightly, as polka dots plants can easily lose their ornamental value. Indoors, bright indirect light is best, such as from east or south-facing window.
Polka dots prefer soil that is rich in organic matter and has good drainage. These plants can be grown in an all-purpose organic pot mix. To improve soil drainage, add some perlite or pumice.
These plants need a steady amount of moisture in their soil. The soil should not be completely dried out. This can cause the leaves to wilt and the plant to struggle to survive. Avoid letting the soil get too wet. This can lead to root rot and even death. The top half inch of soil should be dry before watering the plant. Water the soil well enough to moisten it evenly. Container plants will require more water than those in the ground. Reduce the amount of water you give your plants in winter, and then increase the frequency when the growth starts to pick up in spring.
Humidity and Temperature
The USDA zones 10 and 11 are the only ones that can grow polka dots. They prefer temperatures between 70-80 F and should be brought in if they are overwintered. They prefer humid conditions and a minimum humidity of 50%. You can raise humidity by misting the plant’s leaves, or placing the pot on a tray with water and pebbles.
Use an organic fertilizer for houseplants to feed container plants once a month during warm growing seasons. These plants require heavy feeding. Mix a layer of compost each spring if you are planting in-ground.
Different types of Polka Dot Plants
There are many varieties of Hypoestes Phyllostachys (the main species), and all are bred to their leaf colour. These include:
‘Camina: Has dark green and red-spotted foliage
‘Confetti: Offers green leaves with spots of pink, rose or red.
“Pink Brocade”: Features green leaves with pink spots.
The ‘Splash Series’: Features leaves in a variety of greens and splotches or pinks of reds, whites, or both
The polka dot plant tends to become leggy. To prevent the plant’s growth of long, lanky branches, you will need to use a pair of pruning shears. You can encourage bushier growth by trimming or pinching back the top two stem leaves each week. The plant will grow stronger and healthier if it is actively trimmed. Flowers can be beautiful, but it is best to cut them as soon as they begin to appear to prolong the life of your polka dots plant. The flowers are not as ornamental as their leaves. Once it is done flowering, the plant will either die or go into dormancy.
Propagating Polka Dot Plants
You can either grow polka dots plants from stem cuttings or seeds. Start seeds in the spring. Although you can grow plants from cuttings at any time, the spring and summer are best for your chances of growing healthy plants. A good way to keep your polka dots plant bushier and healthier is to trim them. Your polka dots plants will die if you live in an area that is not tropical. Stem cutting can be a great way for your plant to liven up indoors if it is starting to die outdoors. Let’s look at propagating your polka dots plant using a stem cut rooted in water and moist soil.
You will need sterilized scissors or shears to propagate the polka dots plant from stem cuttings. A clean container with water, well-draining peat moss or potting mix will be needed. Clear plastic wrap is required for rooting in the soil. You can also use a rooting hormone.
You can cut a piece of stem from any area of the plant, but you should have at most a 2-inch section. The ideal is a 4-inch section.
Keep the water level constant even if you add water to it as it evaporates. To stop bacterial and algae growth, you should change the water every week until the root grows to 2 inches in length. Sometimes it takes two weeks to grow the root about 2 inches. Other times, it may take several months.
For rooting in the soil, you can place the cut end of the cutting into the potting mixture or peat moss. Keep it moistened. To aid rooting, you may also place some rooting hormones onto the freshly cut end.
Clear plastic wrap should be used to cover the cut until it develops leaves. This can take from a few weeks to several months.
To check if the cutting is rooted, tug gently at it to determine if it is giving or if roots are keeping the stem rooted in soil.
Once the cutting has grown several inches, it is ready for reporting. Once frost has passed, you can only transplant the cutting outside.
How to grow Polka Dot plants from seeds
Place seeds on a layer of moist, warm soil. Place the plant in a sunny spot. In a matter of days, the seeds will begin to sprout. After the seedling grows several inches, which is usually within a few weeks, it can be transplanted into a larger container. After the frost threat has passed, do not plant outside.
Repotting and Potting Polka Dot Plants
A plant that outgrows its container becomes pot-bound or root-bound. Its roots are unable to grow. The roots that grow out of the drainage holes signify that your plant has outgrown the pot. After the plant has been dormant, it is best to report it in spring.
Gradually increase your plant’s pot size. The new pot should be no wider than 2 inches and no deeper than the previous one. A pot that is too large encourages roots to grow below the soil line and can hinder upward growth.
This plant is tropical and will not tolerate frosty conditions. You can remove the stems and plant them indoors. These plants can be brought indoors to a partly sunny spot if kept outside in a container. After the danger of frost has passed, you can plant it again in the garden.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Meat bugs, spider mites and thrips are all common pests of polka dots plants. Root rot, leaf spot diseases, powdery mildew, southern blight and rust are all diseases that polka dots plants can be susceptible to. These signs include leaves that are discoloured or have holes, or otherwise, look unhealthy and small insects moving around the plants.
How to get Polka Dot plants to bloom
This plant blooms in the late summer or early autumn. The plant is encouraged to flower when the daylight hours are shorter. The plant’s tiny, pink-coloured, or lilac-coloured flower stalks or racemes are insignificant. They are not well-known for their smell or appearance. The moment flowers appear, the plant goes dormant. If you want your plants to last longer, cut the flowers when they start to form.
Common Problems with Polka Dot Plants
Once you have the right growing conditions, polka dots plants can be grown easily. These are some of the problems that can be faced and possible solutions.
Curling leaves or losing their colour.
Too much sun can cause curled leaves and faded leaf colour. To maintain its colour, Hypoestes Phyllostachys requires bright indirect light. It should be kept away from direct sunlight and hot temperatures. It can be moved to a more shaded spot if it is in a container. You might consider giving it cover if it is in the ground.
Leaves turning brown or drooping
The polka dots plant can become brownish or droopy if there is not enough water. The leaves can also be burned by too much sunlight. The leaves of a polka dots plant can turn brown from hard water or overfertilization. To revive the plant, adjust your humidity and watering habits.
Leaves turning yellow or falling off.
Overwatering can cause yellowing of the leaves. The yellowing of leaves and leaf fall can be caused by soggy soil. Overwatering can cause other serious problems such as root rot or powdery mildew. If your plants are yellowing, decrease the amount of water you give them and use potting soil with good drainage.
Are polka dots easy to maintain?
It is easy to propagate and maintain polka dots plants. Although it can be challenging to get the right growing conditions, they are usually ready to go once they are established.
How fast does the polka dot plant grow?
They have a moderate growth rate, but they can be picky about their growing conditions and slow down their growth rate when they aren’t perfect.
How long can a polka dot flower live?
The life cycle of a polka dot plant usually ends in one year. However, stem cuttings can be propagated to extend their lives at the end of the growing seasons.