Also known as the “Pink Splash” or “Polka Dot Plant,” the Hypoestes Phyllostachya is a highly variegated plant with bright pink leaves. As a popular gift, this plant’s unique appearance and fast-growing nature make it a fantastic evergreen for any kind of plant-lover. To learn more about making your Polka Dot Plant thrive, read on:
In terms of general care, the Hypoestes Phyllostachya requires tropical environments to grow to their fullest. Most hardcore gardeners keep this plant in a greenhouse to achieve the ideal humidity. Recreating this environment can be a challenge for some, but most homes or apartments can mimic ideal conditions pretty well.
It’s also important to note that while the Polka Dot Plant does well outdoors, it is invasive to Australia and must stay in a pot. In the United States, this plant is not invasive.
For light, the Polka Dot Plant prefers bright, indirect sunlight with a little shade. If you plan on growing this plant indoors, south or east-facing windows will provide adequate sunlight, given you don’t let this plant sit in the bright afternoon sun. All varieties of the Polka Dot Plant have sensitive leaves and will burn quickly under the harsh sun.
Soil requirements for the Hypoestes Phyllostachya tend to vary but, in general, require two things: good drainage and lots of nutrients. When mixing your soil, the best way to achieve this is by using mixtures similar to succulent soil. A mix made with lots of peat and compost will provide high nutrient content without sacrificing drainage.
The Hypoestes Phyllostachya needs moist soil, so frequent waterings will help keep this plant happy in its environment. When you water your Polka Dot Plant, do so only when the top inch of soil has dried completely– that way, you’ll avoid overwatering the plant. Typically, your top inch of soil will dry about once a week.
4. Temperature and Humidity
Ideally grown in USDA zones 10-11, the Polka Dot Plant prefers temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Best for growing indoors, this evergreen needs at least 50% humidity at all times. To keep humidity consistent, keep a humidifier near the plant. Extra moisture in the air will keep your soil moist too!
Since this plant needs nutrient-rich soil, using common houseplant fertilizer at the beginning of the spring and summer is best to achieve proper growth. Whenever you choose to repot this plant, adding a bit of fertilizer or compost to the soil will also help.
Potting and Repotting
The best time to repot your Polka Dot Plant is at the beginning of its growing season in the late spring and early summer. Repotting during the growing season helps prevent transplant shock and allows your plants plenty of time and energy to recover from any damage. When you do repot, make sure you choose a pot at least 10% larger than the previous pot. Stay aware of your pot's material. Pots made from materials like metal and glass retain more water than pots made from concrete, terracotta, or ceramic.
All variations of the Polka Dot Plant are monocarpic, meaning that they’ll flower once before they die. Outdoors, this plant lasts about one year, but your Hypoestes Phyllostachya can live for many years when kept inside. When you see this plant’s small lilac or pink flowers, trim them to extend its life for a little longer.
You won’t need to prune your Polka Dot Plant often unless it flowers or starts to grow leggy from uneven sunlight. To prune, use a pair of clean, sharp scissors to cut away at the bottom of any stems you wish to remove. Pruned leaves make for excellent cuttings to propagate, so be sure to save them if you wish to propagate your plant. Like repotting, the best time to prune your plant is at the beginning of the growing season.
With your stem cuttings, it’s best to propagate using a natural rooting hormone like honey to ensure your cuttings develop into full plants. To propagate, take your cutting and dip the bottom of the stem in your rooting hormone, or roll the stem in a damp paper towel with the rooting hormone inside. Then, plant your cutting into a fresh pot of soil. Spray the soil to keep it moist, and cover with plastic wrap to create a mini-greenhouse for extra humidity. After about two weeks, try tugging at your cutting– if you feel resistance, there are roots! Once the roots develop, transplant your cutting to a larger pot so it can grow.
Pest-wise, the Polka Dot Plant has a lot of overlap with succulents regarding pests, the most common pests being whiteflies, aphids, and mealybugs. In addition, fungal gnats may make their home in your Hypoestes’ soil if it’s too soggy. To treat for pests, we recommend using a diluted mixture of hydrogen peroxide to spray over the leaves and soil, which will kill off any bug larvae living on the plant.
Another common complication with the Polka Dot plant is leaf color. If your leaves turn yellow, you’re watering too much, while black leaves are a sure sign of low humidity or underwatering. To ensure your Hypoestes Phyllostachya receives enough water, consider monitoring your soil’s moisture levels using a moisture meter. Curling leaves, on the other hand, indicate too much sunlight.
Overall, this plant is non-toxic to humans or animals. But just because a plant is safe to eat doesn’t mean you should! Keep this houseplant away from curious pets and children to avoid any accidents!
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