Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) Indoor Care, Propagation and Problems


Polka Dot Plant, Hypoestes phyllostachya

Botanical name: Hypoestes phyllostachya
Synonym: Hypoestes sanguinolenta
Family: Acanthaceae
Common names: Polka Dot Plant, Freckle Face

Description

Hypoestes phyllostachya commonly called Polka Dot Plant or Freckle Face is a popular plant that is grown for the beauty of its spotted leaves whose coloring is vivid in bright light.

In a well-lit spot with some direct sunlight, the leaf coloring will be vivid while in a shady place the foliage will be all-green.

The basic variety has pink coloring but newer hybrids are available with red or white coloring.

Varieties

There are many varieties of Freckle Face available like Pink splash which is green and pale pink. Red splash which is green and red. White splash which is green and white.

Other varieties are Camina with dark-green leaves spotted with camine-red. Confetti Blush which has white-veined olive green leaves.

Size

The Polka Dot Plant can grow to a height of 1-2 ft, forming bushy and compact tufts. The leaves are opposite, oval and pointed. These characteristics qualify Freckle Face Plant for the limited spaces.

Flower

Polka Dot Plant may produce small, solitary pink or purplish flowers. After flowering the plant may become dormant therefore reduce watering until new growth starts.

Origin

Hypoestes phyllostachya is native to South Africa, Madagascar and South East Asia.

Toxicity

Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) is non-toxic to humans and pets as indicated by ASPCA. The plants are safe to grow indoors.

Where to Buy

Polka Dot Plants are readily available online at Etsy. Check out this Link to Etsy Shops.

Polka Dot Plant, Hypoestes phyllostachya

Hypoestes phyllostachya Care Indoors

Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) flourishes in bright light with some direct sunlight, warm and humid conditions and consistently moist, fertile, well-drained soils coupled with fortnightly feeding during the growing season.

Hypoestes phyllostachya requires regular pruning to keep it neat as well as encourage a bushy growth. Repotting is only necessary when the plant becomes pot-bound. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to provide them.

Watering

Water Polka Dot Plant liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to keep the soil moist at all times.

Reduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal at this time but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot and death of the plant.

Light Requirements

Polka Dot Plant requires bright light with some direct sunlight to enhance the leaf color and promote lush growth.

If the light is too little, Freckle Face Plant will turn all-green abd lose the beautiful vivid leaf colors.

Where the natural lighting is inadequate instal a grow light to supplement it.

Temperature and Humidity

Average warmth with a minimum of 180C is ideal for Polka Dot Plant. Keep it away from cold draughts as they can cause leaf drop.

Freckle Face thrives in a humid environment. Set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

You can also grow Polka Dot in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained inside a terrarium.

Freckle Face Plant can also be grown in a bathroom or other moist areas in the home where humidity is constantly high.

Potting Soil

The best soil for Polka Dot Plant should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients. Buy multi-purpose potting mixes on Amazon.

Fertilizer

Feed Polka Dot Plant with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks during the growing period.

Stop feeding the plant in the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time may lead to fertilizer burn and death of the plant.

Repotting

Repot Polka Dot Plant during the growing season only when the plant becomes pot-bound. Use a pot one size larger than the current one to avoid over potting which can result in the soil remaining too wet for a long period of time.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole and that the soil is well-draining to prevent it from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot and eventual death of the plant.

Pruning

Pruning Polka Dot Plant involves regular removal of dead foliage to maintain the plant neat and tidy. To encourage a bushy, compact growth, regularly pinch off the growing tips. Cut back tall stems to prevent the plant from becoming leggy.

Propagation

Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from seeds or from stem cuttings.

How to propagate Polka Dot Plant from stem cuttings

Take stem cuttings of about 4-5 in. length from a healthy Polka Dot Plant. Strip off the lower leaves.

Dip the lower cut end cuttings in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting.

Insert the cuttings in moist rooting soil and place the set up in warm, well-lit place away from direct sunlight.

Maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges and substantial growth has been observed.

Transfer the rooted Freckle Face cuttings to individual pots and begin routine care. For a fuller plant, transfer several cuttings into one pot.

How to propagate Polka Dot Plant from seeds

Sow the Polka Dot Plant seeds at the beginning of the growing season in moist, free-draining soil.

Place the set up in a warm, well-lit place away from direct sunlight and maintain the soil moist until the seed have germinated.

Once germinated, move the set up to a warm, shaded place and maintain the soil moist until the Polka Dot Plants are well established after which routine care can begin.

Polka Dot Plant, Hypoestes phyllostachya

Hypoestes phyllostachya Problems

Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) problems include brown leaf tips, loss of leaf color, wilting, drooping leaves, yellow leaves, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for a detailed account on these problems and how to fix them.

Wilting and drooping leaves

Polka Dot Plant wilting and drooping leaves are due to underwatering. Water the plant liberally during the growing season and maintain the soil consistently moist.

Decrease watering in the cold period to keep the soil slightly moist but never allow the soil to dry out completely.

Loss of leaf color

Polka Dot Plant loss of leaf color (leaves are all green) is due to too little light as it grows best in bright light with some direct sunshine.

Move the Freckle Face Plant to a brighter spot where it will receive bright light with some direct sunshine inorder to enhance leaf color or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is not sufficient.

Brown leaf tips and edges

Polka Dot Plant brown leaf tips and edges are due to dry air (low humidity). To increase humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier or grow the plant in a terrarium.

Yellow leaves

Polka Dot Plant yellow leaves are an indication of root-rot disease which is brought about by soggy soil. Ensure that there is proper drainage of both the pot and the soil and never allow the plant to sit in soggy soil.

Pests

Polka Dot Plant is prone to Aphids, Scale Insects, Whiteflies and Mealy Bugs. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests. Check out this post on how to identify and control pests in houseplants.

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