How to plant and care for polka dot plants

How to plant and care for polka dot plants

Common name Polka dot plant, flamingo plant, freckle face plant, measles plant, pink dot plant
You can live the life of the zoya Hypoestes phyllostachya
family thorns
Plant type Annual, houseplant
Mature size 1-2 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
Sun exposure Partial, filtered, shadow
Soil type Organically rich, well-drained but moist, loamy and cultivated soil
Soil pH Slightly acidic (5.8 – 6.2)
Hardiness zones 10-11 (USDA)
Original area Africa

Polka dot plant care

Polka dot plants can be easily grown in containers as houseplants. When grown indoors, it needs bright, indirect light and moderate water. Under these conditions, they will remain relatively compact and will grow to about a foot or two tall and wide. They can also be grown outdoors as annuals, where they will need partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. Keep it constantly moist and try to prevent the soil from drying out too much. The polka dot plant is grown for its sparse leaves rather than its insignificant purple or pink flowers; Pinch plants when they grow too tall for bushy growth and to prevent flowering.

a light

When it comes to growing polka dot plants in the South, you're looking for enough light. Do not place the polka dot plant in full sun, which may cause foliage burn. At the same time, deep shade may result in plants that are leggier and less colorful. Polka dot plants do well in dappled shade or with a little morning sun. The amount of sunlight this plant will thrive in also depends on where you live. The further north you are, the more likely you are to be exposed to direct sunlight.

If you are growing a potted plant indoors, place it in bright, indirect light a couple of feet from a window or near an east-facing window to get some morning sun.


Polka dot plants prefer organically rich, well-drained and slightly acidic soil. For containers, choose a potting soil that contains peat or compost for organic matter as well as perlite or pumice for good drainage. In a flower bed, polka dot plants like fertile, crumbly soil. Mix in peat to lighten heavy soil and add compost for nutrients.


Keep the soil of this tropical plant moderately moist to prevent wilting and leaf drop. If they wilt, potted plants will usually bounce back with good watering. Container plants do best when they are slightly damp, but not waterlogged, at all times. Water when a half inch of soil dries. For houseplants, reduce watering slightly in winter.

Temperature and humidity

Polka dot plants adapt well to summer outdoors because they thrive in humidity. Plants can survive 50 degrees Fahrenheit but will not begin to grow until outside temperatures remain at 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. As an annual plant, the polka dot plant naturally blooms and blooms in late summer or fall to complete its life cycle. But pinching the stems back will extend their life, and they can survive winters in a frost-free climate or indoors. If the humidity in your home is low, mist your plant occasionally with a spray bottle.


Feed container plants with a water-soluble fertilizer for houseplants once a month during the warm growing season. Give bedding plants a fresh layer of compost each spring.

Types of Polka Dot Plants

The most popular polka dot plants have pink and green spotted leaves. Other types of polka dot plants have green leaves speckled with dark red or cream.

  • 'Purpuriana' has bright lavender leaves with bright green veins.
  • 'Carmina' leaves have bright red spots.
  • 'Confetti' comes in white, red, pink, burgundy and pink, and is the smallest at 8 inches tall.
  • The Splash Select™ series has leaves that appear dipped in rose red, white or bright pink.
  • The Proven Wins Hippo® Series comes in rose-dappled green (deep pink), crimson red, and white foliage.
Sky Moon 13/Getty Images


Prune potted plants in the spring after their dormant period has ended and before new growth appears. Cut the stems back, leaving some knots on each stem. The new growth should be more compact. To maintain the plant's shape and prevent it from becoming leggy, use shears to trim long branches. Pinch out the long new shoots growing at the tips of the stems to keep the plant compact and promote denser growth from the sides rather than the top.

Propagating Polka Dot Plants

Spotted plants may not be long-lived, but they are very easy to propagate and produce a new generation of plants for your garden. Propagation of patented plants is prohibited, so if you want another Splash Select Pink, pick one up from the garden center instead. Here's how to propagate a polka dot plant from cuttings:

  1. Cut off a 4-inch section of the stem using sharp, sterile shears from shears or flower snips.
  2. Remove leaves from the bottom half.
  3. Optional: Place the lower end of the stem in a cup of water. Make sure at least one node on the trunk is submerged. Place the glass near a window but not in direct light. Change the water at least once a week to keep it clean. Roots should begin to form in about a week and the plant can be transplanted after the roots are about two inches long.
  4. Plant the cutting in a pot filled with moist, light, high-quality potting soil, potting it about two inches deep. Some gardeners skip straight to this step and find that cuttings grow just as easily.
  5. Keep the soil moist and continue to provide bright, indirect light until the plant is well rooted and grows. Pinch any leggy stems.

How to grow polka dot plants from seeds

Polka dot plants can be grown from seed any time of year as a houseplant; Start seeds eight to 10 weeks before the last frost date if you are taking them outside. Seeds can germinate in less than a week in room temperature soil:

  1. Fill a small pot with moist potting mix. Use a potting mix that is well-drained, porous and contains organic matter such as peat moss.
  2. Gently press several seeds into the potting mixture, spacing them out and leaving them exposed to light. You can use five seeds in a four-inch diameter pot or eight seeds in a five-inch diameter pot.
  3. Cover the pot with clear plastic and place it in bright, indirect light. Mist the potting mixture with water as often as needed to keep it moist.
  4. After the seeds sprout, remove the plastic. Water to keep the soil moderately moist.
  5. If you plan to move your polka dot plants outside, wait until temperatures remain above 50 degrees Fahrenheit before you begin hardening off your plant. Start by placing the pot in a shady spot for an hour on a warm day, then gradually increase the time outside and begin exposing it to morning sun or filtered sunlight.

Potting and replanting polka dot plants

Polka dot plants are often grown in a container, where they thrive with the perfect soil mix and consistent moisture. Choose a potting mix that contains peat or compost for organic matter as well as perlite or pumice for good drainage. You can always mix compost and perlite yourself to create a light, porous and fertile mixture.

Use a container with drainage holes that are a few inches larger in diameter than the original nursery pot. Partially fill the container and adjust the plant so that the soil line is at the same level as in the original nursery pot. If you want to combine your potted plant with other flowers, you can place the plants more tightly together than you would in a garden bed, about six inches apart. Water well.

You'll know that your potted plant has outgrown its container once roots begin to emerge from the bottom. Select a new container about 2 inches wide and repot your plant.


If you want to bring your polka dot plant indoors for the winter, move it before nighttime temperatures drop into the 40s. Start by placing the pot in a shadier location for a few days until it begins to adjust to the low light. Spray the plant with insecticidal soap to prevent insects from reaching your home. Then bring the plant indoors and place it near a bright window but out of direct light. Allow the soil surface to dry out slightly between waterings in the winter, but do not let the soil dry out completely. You can move the pot back outside in the spring once temperatures remain above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Common plant pests and diseases

While potted plants are relatively easy to grow, gardeners may encounter some problems when growing them. Unfortunately, they can fall prey to insects, flies and aphids. Obvious signs of pests include discolored foliage or leaves with holes. Keep a close eye on the foliage, and spray the plant with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to get rid of unwelcome visitors.

Root rot can kill plants that are overwatered or planted in heavy soil. Signs include wilted stems and leaves, yellow leaves, and stunted plants. If the damage is minor, you can remove the affected stems and roots and replant the healthy part of the plant in fresh, well-drained soil. Allow the top half of the soil to dry between waterings and do not allow the pot to sit in a saucer of water.

Spotted plants can become infected with powdery mildew, especially in low light and excess humidity. Increase airflow around the plant and do not overwater or get the foliage wet. Pick infected leaves. If you catch the problem early, spraying foliage with neem oil can help control powdery mildew.

How to make a polka dot plant bloom

The purple daisies bloom in late summer or fall, then become dormant or die. As indoor plants, they can bloom intermittently. Polka dot plants are grown for their showy leaves rather than these tiny flowers. Squeezing the spikes as they appear allows the plant to direct its energy to the foliage and keeps the plant blooming longer.

Common problems with polka dot plants

If the interesting color on your spotted plant has faded, there are a number of possible reasons. It's common to have problems with polka dot plant leaves, but we have some tips on how to fix them.

Color fading or disappearance

If your leaves are starting to lose their splotchy color, light exposure is the most likely culprit. With less sunlight, the leaves turn green for better photosynthesis. Plants usually grow leggy as well. If your plant is in a very shady location, move it to a location that can catch a little dim light or morning sun. On the other hand, if the leaves appear bleached and begin to turn brown around the edges, this could be the result of too much sun. Move the plants to a location that provides more shade, especially during the hottest hours of the day.

Leaves fall

It's normal for your plant to lose a few leaves here and there as it ages, but more leaf loss is a sign of a problem. If the fallen leaves are crispy, dry and turning brown, this is an indication of waterlogging. Give your plant a good soaking, then follow a consistent watering schedule. If fallen leaves are soft, yellow, or look diseased, this is a sign of overwatering or disease. Remove unhealthy stems and roots, and replant in fresh, rich, well-drained soil, making sure not to over-water.

Frequently asked questions

  • How do I make a polka dot plant more pink?

    To help the plant maintain its vibrant color, give it bright, indirect light. In places with low light, the plant may become leggy and the colors may fade. Too much sun can also cause the color to fade. Place it a few feet from a sunny window, out of full sun, or in an east-facing window where it gets morning light.

  • What should I plant with a polka dot plant?

    As a houseplant, polka dot plants are good in their own right. Pair the polka dot plant with other plants with bold foliage or bright flowers, such as coleus, caladiums, begonias, impatiens or calibrachoa.

  • How long do polka dot plants live?

    These cheerful plants live for one to two years. They complete their life cycle after flowering. To prolong the life of the plant, pinch off flower thorns and do not allow them to form flowers.

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