If you’re a houseplant enthusiast, you’ve probably seen or even owned a Hypoestes Phyllostachya or Sanguinolenta, or Polka Dot Plant, at some point. Their popularity is no surprise! Not only do they have unique, beautiful and colorful foliage, but they’re also rather easy to care for. What’s more, but you can grow them from seed in 3 different main color morphs: white, pink and red!
These plants are native to Madagascar, South Africa and East Asia where they can grow up to 3 feet in diameter. Indoors they likely won’t grow as big, which makes for an adorable little freckled plant :)
To grow them from seed:
Sow the seeds at least 1-2” apart in moist well-draining potting mix. Add plastic covering to up the humidity and warmth(70-75F) and improve germination success, and make sure to place them in a bright spot. It’s best to keep them away from direct sunlight so that they don’t overheat, so a grow light or a bright windowsill is best. Monitor the seeds to make sure the soil remains moist but not soggy, misting or watering the soil when needed.
The seeds germinate quickly, usually within a week or so. The first set of leaves has no polka dots but the second set(or the adult leaves) start to show some patterning. The more light you can offer the seedlings, the more colorful they’ll be! As the seedlings grow older, start allowing the soil to dry out more between waterings. These plants grow quickly, so soon enough you should have some lovely, speckled little plants!
Care tips to grow healthy and happy polka dot plants:
As I mentioned before, caring for these plants is a relatively simple task. Still, you need to get the basics right to have success. Here’s the breakdown.
Light: Hypoestes need bright, indirect light. The more light they get, the more exciting the pattern on the foliage! When the lighting is too low, the plants start to turn more green to increase the chlorophyll content so that the plant can produce all the energy it needs to grow properly, so just make sure they’re under a grow light or in a bright spot in your home! They can also be grown outdoors out of direct sunlight.
Water: Polka Dot plants need a lot of moisture and humidity. Don’t let the soil dry out too much between waterings and you certainly don’t want to miss waterings with these plants!
Humidity: Hypoestes need a consistent humidity level above 50%.
Fertilizer: Polka Dot plants can benefit from some fertilizing, you can use liquid fertilizer during every other watering or so(at least once a month).
Temperature: Being tropical plants, polka dot plants need higher temperatures to thrive. Try to keep them above 70F, around 75F is best, making sure that they never end up being in temperatures below 60F.
Polka Dot plants can die off or go into their dormant phase relatively quickly if you let the plant flower, which is how it gets its reputation as an annual plant. However, you can grow Hypoestes as a perennial just by making sure you don’t let the plant get too leggy and flower. Trimming the plant is important so that it keeps a more even, bushy shape and you can propagate the cuttings if you’d like. If you are propagating the plant, use rooting hormone to have a bit more success.
Furthermore, you’ll likely need to repot your polka dot plant mid growing season if it’s become root bound. Not only will it be drying out too quickly, but it also won’t keep growing for you if it does become root bound.
Pests these plants are susceptible to include scale and whitefly, and if grown outdoors, aphids can be relatively common as well. Using warm, soapy water to help curb these infestations.
That just about covers it for Hypoestes Care! If there’s anything else that isn’t clear, don’t hesitate to reach out to me @plantflix :) And send/tag me in your pictures of your seedlings and plants! It always makes my day seeing other enjoying the hobby <3
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