The polka dot plant is an evergreen shrub that is native to South Africa, East Asia, and Madagascar. It is a member of the Hypoestes species. The scientific name for this plant is Hypoestes Phyllostachya. Other common names for this plant include polka dot plant and freckle face plant. This plant originates from Madagascar, which is a country in Africa. It is mainly used as a common houseplant.
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Features of the Polka Dot Plant
This plant grows to a height of 10 to 50 cm and spreads 40 to 50 cm. It has unique foliage. The polka dot plant sports spots of many different colors on the leaves like white, yellow, green, and pink depending on the variety of the plant. Some varieties of the plant also have multiple shades of dots on their leaves. The flowers of this variety are brightly colored. The plant has a low mound of foliage that looks good on its own or when it is mixed with other plants that also have pretty foliage. The blooms are mostly lilac in color, and there is no specific blooming season for this plant as it blooms in different seasons.
Cultivation of the Polka Dot Plant
The USDA hardiness zones for this plant are 10 and 11. This plant needs bright light to grow, which means that it needs to be placed in full sun for it to grow properly. Plants that have been exposed to partial shade have green leaves without any blotches of color on them. This actually defeats the purpose of this plant as the blotches are what adds to its beauty. More direct sunlight can deepen the colors of this plant, making it look more beautiful. This plant also needs light and fast-draining soil to grow properly. The soil should be kept moist in the growing season, and in the winter, the amount of water given to the plant should be reduced significantly. If the plant goes into a dormant phase, then the amount of water given to the plant should be reduced. Regular watering should only start again once the new growth of the plant comes around.
Liquid fertilizer should be used on this plant once a week. This will ensure that the plant gets all the micronutrients it needs to grow into a healthy plant and have colorful blooms. This plant can be grown from seeds or cuttings. If seeds are being used, then they should be sown indoors in early spring. As mentioned earlier, stem tip cuttings can also be used, but this is a slower method of growing and usually needs additional help from the rooting hormone. Hence, the seeds method is preferred.
This is a medium maintenance plant and needs a medium amount of water to grow. This plant does not have any serious insect or disease problems. However, powdery mildew can sometimes prove to be a problem. Whiteflies and aphids can also affect the plant sometimes. This can be taken care of by making use of soapy water to wipe off the leaves. Care should be taken not to use soap water extensively as it can sometimes be the main cause of powdery mildew.
It is mainly used as an annual bedding plant or in containers as a houseplant. Generally, this plant is not toxic. It is very safe to grow in homes without any additional precautions being needed.
Types of the Polka Dot Plant
There are over 100 varieties of the polka dot plant. The more common ones are listed here and explained in detail.
This is a perennial herb that is hardy in USDA zone 10. It belongs to the Acanthaceae family. The ideal growing temperature for this variety is 30 degrees F to 35 degrees F. The foliage color of this variety is unusual, and the method best suited for the cultivation of this variety is stem cuttings. It has average water requirements.
Care should be taken to ensure that there is no overwatering as that can spoil the plant. This variety can grow well in full sun or partial shade. It is mainly grown for its foliage that is textured and veined. Adding to that, this variety can grow to a height ranging between 12 to 36 inches. It is spaced 12 to 15 inches, and it is best grown in containers.
The bloom color of this variety is medium purple and the blooming season is mid-summer, late summer or early fall. Soil with a pH of 5.1 to 6 is ideal for this plant. This means that the soil can be strongly acidic or slightly acidic. It is said that this plant grows in regions like Castro Valley, California and Elk Grove, California.
This variety is smaller and size and grows 12 to 24 inches in height and spreads 12 to 18 inches. These plants have a relatively faster growth rate and come in various different colors like white, red, pink, and rose. It is a relatively popular variety that can grow well in full sun, partial shade or dappled shade. It has mesic water preferences and prefers soil that is slightly acidic or neutral with a soil pH of between 6.1 and 7.3. It is hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11.
The foliage color of this variety is very unusual, and the flowers are inconspicuous and lavender in color. The flower size is less than 1 inch, and they bloom in late spring, early summer or summer, which are the typical blooming seasons for this plant.
This plant is mostly used as a houseplant and is suitable as an annual and can also be used as ground cover. Adding to that, it can tolerate humidity and drought. The best propagation method for this variety is through stem cuttings. The spotting on this variety is more sparsely scattered than that of the other varieties.
This variety has mottled pink spots on the green foliage of the plant. It has a fast growth rate and grows to 6 to 12 inches tall. Mimicking its height, it grows to become 6 to 12 inches wide, too. Some plants of this variety that have the ideal growing conditions in terms of light requirements and soil can even grow to be 2 feet in height. The leaves are very hairy and are densely set and grow to an approximate height of 1.5 to 2.5 inches.
This variety is different from the rest in terms of the fact that it has a lot more spots than the other varieties. It needs full sun or partial shade to grow. Fertile soil that is slightly acidic or neutral is ideal for the growth of this plant. In addition to that, this plant does not have any serious insect or disease problems.
This variety also has pink dots on the leaves, and it is very similar to the above-mentioned variety. The only difference lies in the fact that this variety has fewer spots than Pink Brocade. The spots are also larger in size as compared to Pink Brocade.
This variety has leaves that are a shade of purple. It is also a very pretty variety that needs full sun to grow. The soil should be fertile and should be well-drained. Care should be taken when watering this particular variety of polka dot plant as overwatering can cause the plant to wither and get spoilt.
This variety grows to a height of 12 inches and spreads the same, too. It is a hardy annual plant that comes under the ‘splash series’ of the polka dot plant. This variety of polka dot plant has red, pointy leaves that have dark green spots on them all year round. The flowers and the fruit of this variety are not ornamentally significant, and this plant is mainly grown for its foliage. It grows in mounded form and has a medium texture that blends into the garden.
It is a low maintenance plant that does not really require pruning. Pruning is only required in some cases where dieback needs to be removed. In addition to that, this plant is deer resistant and does not have any significant negative characteristics. It is mainly used for mass planting, border edging, general garden use, ground cover, hanging baskets and as a container plant.
Full sun and partial shade are both ideal for the growth of this plant. It grows best in average and evenly moist soils, but care should be taken to ensure that overwatering is not done. Standing water can cause this plant to rot. This variety can do well in urban pollution and inner-city environments. It is best propagated through cuttings. It is a selected variety that is not originally from North America.
This variety grows to be about 12 inches approximately and spreads 12 inches as well. It grows well in full sun or partial shade and belongs to the Splash Select Series. It is characterized by pointy leaves that are white in color and have green spots on them. The flowers and the fruit of this variety are not ornamentally significant.
It has a mounded growth habit and the medium texture of its leaves blends well in the garden and can be balanced by plants that are coarser. In addition to that, this is a low maintenance plant that does not require a lot of pruning. It is deer resistant and drought tolerant. It can best be put to use for mass planting, border edging, general garden use, ground cover, container planting, and hanging baskets.
It grows best in average and evenly moist soils, but special care should be taken not to overwater this particular variety of polka dot plant as standing water can cause this plant to rot, just like its red splash counterpart. It does not have any significant negative characteristics.
This plant is a unique one and can add a lot of color to any garden. It is also a popular plant choice for many and is always in high demand.