Polka Dot Plant

If you’re looking for a small, brightly colored, cheery plant, a polka dot plant is the right one for you. A polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya), also called a Pink Splash plant, is a beautiful plant native to Madagascar, Southeast Asia, and South Africa. When planted outdoors, a polka dot plant can grow as tall as 12” (30c) and become a short, bushy shrub. It is usually grown as an annual in warm, temperate regions.

Indoors, as a houseplant, a polka dot plant usually comes in a 4″ or a 6″ pot and looks beautiful in dish gardens or in small, decorative containers. The oval, pointed, delicate, green leaves are covered in spots and splashes of red, rose, white, or light green which give the plant its nicknames – Pink Splash, Red Splash, or White Splash. Some new varieties of the polka dot plant have pink leaves with green patches. The brighter the light, the more vivid the colors in the leaves; but avoid putting the plant in direct afternoon sun. Other nicknames for a polka dot plant are Freckle Face plant, Measles plant, and Flamingo plant. A polka dot plant is a close relative of the Fittonia plant (Mosaic plant or Nerve plant), another houseplant with beautifully patterned leaves.

Polka dot plants need to be aggressively pruned and the growing tips frequently pinched; otherwise, the plant becomes thin and leggy looking. You can use the stem cuttings to propagate a new plant. Polka dot plants sometimes flower during the summer months. The small pale purple or pink flowers are insignificant in comparison to the brightly colored plant leaves. The flowers tend to slow down plant growth, so I recommend removing the blooms and their stems as soon as they appear.

A polka dot plant is not a poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched, immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222.  More poisonous houseplant information and pictures of common plants that are dangerous to children and pets can be found in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants plant and is not toxic to cats, dogs, or children. However, the attractive leaves are a temptation and often end up in mouths where they don’t belong. If possible, try to keep a polka dot plant out of reach.

 

FAQ

The Soil of My Polka Dot Plant Is Moist, but the Leaves Are All Droopy.

It sounds like you have over- watered your polka dot plant, and the plant has developed root rot. You can try cutting the plant all the way back, placing the plant in bright, indirect light, and letting the soil dry out thoroughly; a few roots may still be alive.

Whenever I Touch the Leaves of My Polka Dot Plant, Little Tiny Bugs Start Flying Around.

Sounds like your polka dot plant has whiteflies. Get some yellow sticky cards (you can read about these in the Glossary of the website) at your local plant shop or home improvement store. Put a small piece in each of your plants. The card will catch the adult insects that are flying around. Also, spray your plant with the ” green solution” at 1/2 strength to get the nymphs that are feeding on the leaves.

I Have My Polka Dot Plant in a South Facing Window. The New Leaves Are Not Nearly as Brightly Colored as the Old Leaves. What Should I Do?

Your polka dot plants getting too much light and it’s causing the leaf color to fade. Move the plant than area with less light and the new leaves should be brightly covered again.

My Polka Dot Plant Has Gotten Thin and Straggly Looking. Can I Fix It or Should I Just Throw It Out?

Thin and straggly polka dot plants should be pruned aggressively and placed in a bright area. Once new leaves start to appear, feed the plant monthly with a balanced plant food.