Polka Dot Plants Add Interest and Colour
By Jos Van Hage
Saturday, March 17, 2012 03:45 AM
The Hypoestes phyllostachya commonly known as 'Freckle Face' or 'Pink Polka Dot plant' is one of those plants that catch your eye. It is grown indoors as a houseplant but it can also be grown outdoors as an annual.
What makes this plant so unique is the showy foliage. The dark green leaves are splattered with hot pink dots, or other types have red or white dots which is how the plant got its name.
Grown primarily for its foliage, the Polka Dot plant can produce purple spike like flowers but these are pinched out as they are unattractive and take away from the plant. The plant itself is a delicate looking plant with slender stems and the 5 cm leaves are oval shaped. It grows 20-30 cm tall and 15-30 cm wide.
Native to Madagascar this attractive looking plant is easy to grow, as it is rarely bothered by pests or disease.
When grown indoors as a houseplant place it in a brightly lit area away from direct sun. A filtered south or west window works best. If there is not enough light the foliage could loose its colours.
Keep the plant slightly moist. When the soil feels dry to the touch give it a thorough watering, draining off any excess water. Don't keep the plant too soggy as it will cause the leaves to yellow due to a root rot. If the plant becomes too dry it will wilt, but it is forgiving if you catch it early enough. Give it a good thorough watering and it should perk back up again. You don't want to do this too often as it will harm the plants health eventually.
Polka dot plants enjoy a high humidity. Placing the plants on water filled pebble trays or having a group of plants together increases the humidity around the plant.
Polka dot plants work well in dish gardens or terrariums. During the spring/summer when the plant is actively growing, fertilize monthly with an all purpose 20-20-20.
Over the winter months cut back on the fertilizer to once every 8-10 weeks.
These plants can grow quite quickly and can become spindly. If it does become spindly a good pruning will help keep the plant full and compact. Pinching out the new growth will cause it to branch out.
Don't throw out the pinched off stems as these root quite easily and will make new plants. To make cuttings remove the bottom leaves from the stem, then dip it in a rooting hormone, and place it in soil.
You can also try just placing the stems in water after removing the bottom leaves as they do root easily.
Polka dot plants can also be started by seed but seeds are not always available and it takes 10-12 weeks to get a plant.
When planting it outside, choose a shady spot. It grows well with other shade loving plants such as tuberous begonias, impatiens, torenia, etc. It can be used as a border or planted in a container mixed with other plants.
Treat the Polka Dot plant the same way you would treat any other tender annual.
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Garden Centres in Prince George
- Highway 16 west at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road
Previous Story - Next Story
Return to Home