The polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) is a cute, easy care house plant and an attractive outdoor bush.
This plant is native to Madagascar. It thrives in tropical and sub tropical plant zones. Polka dot plant can become invasive if planted in warm climates outdoors. But it makes a beautiful patio bush planted in containers.
Freckle face plants are versatile. They can be happy in moderate or dappled low light conditions. The foliage will fade in high direct light.
Indoors they are easy to manage with frequent pruning to whatever size you desire. With proper pruning they will be an adorable bushy plant you will enjoy.
Our care guide will give you all the tips for success with this pretty plant. We also cover polka dot plant propagation.
This popular plant is available in several hybridized looks. And there are more being developed all the time. Keep an eye out for the color and leaf patterns you love.
The polka plant has spotted foliage available in many colors and forms.
More Easy Care House Plants:
As bushes outdoors they can grow to three feet around and tall. In climates with winter temperatures that drop below freezing grow Hypoestes as an annual. They will be much smaller patio plants.
Outdoor freckle face plants and bushes can flower and reseed themselves. Be careful where you grow these in warm climates. Naturalizing can become a problem.
Non Toxic to cats and dogs and Humans:
Fortunately, Hypoestes phyllostachya is pet safe and non toxic to humans as well. You still want to keep your pets and kids out of the plant. No telling what is in the plant soil.
But they will not get sick from eating the stems, flowers and leaves.
Polka Dot Plant Care Guide:
If you print out this plant care guide the pictures will not print. This is to save you paper and ink.
Please also watch our video at the bottom of this care card.
Stem cutting propagation is the same in polka dots as it is for the Pothos N Joy and Jade Plant. Watch our propagation videos on these two plants for a complete discussion of the stem propagation process.
- Polka dot plants prefer a rich well draining soil. The roots will rot if they sit in moist compacted soil for extended periods. Wet soils also encourage fungus gnats.
- A good potting soil and perlite mix will keep the roots happiest.
- Make sure your pot has drainage at the bottom. Do not use a pot with no drainage holes for this plant.
Pot Size and Type:
- The polka dot plant can grow in many different kinds of pots, I like to plant mine in ceramic pots with a drainage hole.
- Repot every second year or when the soil breaks down or roots come out the drainage holes on the pot bottom To the next pot size up. Don't jump to a huge pot from a small one. Just go to the next size up pot.
- Polka dot plants will grow well in moderate or bright indirect light.
- It will also grow in lower light conditions. The coloring on polka dots is more intense in lower light but the growth will be leggier as the plant seeks the light.
- Make sure the polka dot plant isn't sitting in constant direct sunlight. Polka dot plants will fade in intense direct light.
- Some filtered sunlight from a window will be fine with periods of direct light. Just watch the leaves. If they fade move your plant.
- Water your polka dot plant when the soil is dry an inch down.
- Polka dots do enjoy humidity. They will benefit from sitting on a wet pebble tray, bottom watering and occasional misting.
- Watering is best done on a regular schedule so the plant is not over or under watered. Both can cause stress on the plant.
- The recommendation for watering is every 2-3 weeks.
- Brown tips may indicate watering problems.
- Never let this plant get wet feet. Heavy wet soils cause root rot and attract Fungus Gnats.
How to Fertilize:
- Apply a good quality fertilizer (linked in materials) monthly through Spring and summer.
- Decrease feedings by late Fall and allow the polka dot plant to rest through the winter months.
- Brown tips may indicate too much fertilizer. Freckle face plant is not a heavy feeder.
- It does enjoy the occasional feeding but keep the dose light. Try diluting the fertilizer by 50% for this plant.
- The Polka dot plant will do best in temperatures between 60-80 degrees F.
The polka dot plant needs frequent pinching back to keep it in good shape. This plant tends to grow leggy. Especially in lower light conditions.
- Check the plant Weekly when you water for long stems.
- Snip or pinch back any long stems down to the next set of leaves.
- Do NOT leave long empty stems. The stems have no way to grow leaves. Leaves grow from the nodes only. Also long empty stems can open the plant to disease.
- Regular light pruning or pinching is preferable to occasional intense pruning of several branches. Over pruning of a leggy plant will not give you the best shape.
- Pruning over 1/3 of the top growth at once can stunt the plant and cripple the root structure since it cannot be properly fed. This can lead to root rot and an unhappy plant.
- Polka dots are hardy resilient plants. However all plants can get attacked by pests.
- Stress by longterm overwatering, poor light, extreme temperatures and soil conditions are contributors to plant stress..
- Polka dot plants are most susceptible to mealy bugs.
- If you see a white cottony mass on the leaves or the white fuzzy mealy bug dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and touch the bug to make it fall of the plant.
- Spider mites, mealy bugs, scale, thrips and whitefly are the most common houseplant pests you will see on all plants.
- Read our post on How to get rid of aphids and other pests with our homemade pesticide soap recipe or neems oil.
- To minimize the possibility of pests be sure to check all nursery plants before bringing them home.
- Quarantine all new plants until you are sure no pests live in them.
Non Toxic to cats and dogs and Humans:
Fortunately, Hypoestes phyllostachya is pet safe and non toxic to humans. You still want to keep your pets and kids out of the plant. No telling what is in the plant soil.
But they will not get sick from eating the stems and leaves.
How to Propagate:
- Propagation is by stem cuttings (it naturalizes outdoors by seed as well).
- Cut a long stem and strip off all but the two top leaf groups.
- Set the cuttings into water or wet soil.
- In several weeks it will root.
- Plant the water cuttings when the roots are an inch long or so.
- Pothos N Joy by stem cutting. The Process is the same for the freckle face plants.
The Polka Dot Plant is a rewarding plant. This plant will grow cute and bushy with just a little bit of care. Perfect for houseplant beginners
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