Another plant that can bring in great visual contrast to your garden is the “Polka dot Plant.” Its scientific name is Hypoestes Phyllostachys. Polka dot plant is native to Madagascar, South Africa, and Southeast Asia. It is characterized by spots that often merge into large patches of color. Hence, it is called “Polka dot plant.” It is also referred to as “freckle face.”
The Polka dot plant is an ornamental plant that forms an integral part of landscaping design. You can also grow it as a houseplant to spruce up the interior of your homes. In cooler climates, this plant is grown as an annual. Yet, in subtropics or tropics, it is grown as a perennial.
How to Propagate Polka Dot Plants?
Polka dot plant can grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) high. Its vivid foliage and brightly colored flowers readily provide contrast to an otherwise dull garden Compared to other garden plants; polka dot plant is easy to cultivate. Its USDA hardiness zones are 10 and 11. So, if you live in such zones, you can easily grow your polka dot plants.
The polka dot plant likes moist soil. It also thrives best in temperatures that range from 70°F to 75°F. It has seeds that quickly germinate within four days, given the optimum condition.
You can also propagate it by the plant-cutting method. This method is more straightforward than cultivating the plant from seeds. You simply need to cut a part of the plant at least 2 inches in length. Then, you remove the leaves at its ends. Afterward, you dip the cuttings in damp peat moss or potting mix. You should cover the cuttings with clear plastic to retain heat and humidity.
How to Nurture Your Polka Dot Plants?
There are around 100 varieties of polka dot plant. The most common types are the Carmina, Confetti, Pink brocade, Pink dot, Purpariana, Red splash, and White splash polka dot plants. Once you’ve successfully propagated your polka dot plants, you must nurture them. You can do this by providing them with the right conditions for their optimum growth. Here are some of the few tips on how to ensure that they grow well:
1) Water Them Regularly!
Polka dot plants need regular watering. The soil should be moist more often with an average amount of water to make these plants thrive. The trick is—you should keep evenly moist in the soil. If they lack water, chances are, their leaves will wilt and fall.
Nevertheless, you should refrain from overwatering them. If water sits long in the soil, the plant’s leaves will turn yellow. Moreover, their roots may become susceptible to diseases. Yet, you should water the plants when you notice that one half to one inch of the soil has already dried out.
Avoid watering the plants from the top. Otherwise, damage and water spots may develop in their tender flowers and foliage.
2) Place Them Under Indirect Sunlight!
Polka dot plants, of course, need bright light to grow. They develop great colors once exposed to direct sunlight. But if you keep them away from the sun or in indirect sunlight, their leaves don’t develop blotches of colors. This is not good because you usually plant them for their great blotches of colors.
Polka dot plants thrive best under bright light. So, you should place them in places where there is direct sunlight. However, if their leaves begin to curl in and crinkle at the edges, you should remove them from direct sunlight. Put them instead under indirect sunlight.
You can also keep them indoors with 60°F temperature. Under this ideal condition, the colors of their leaves will become vibrant. But indoors, their canes tend to stretch and lengthen in search of light.
Remember that this plant is also very sensitive to very bright light. Exposed to very bright light, the colors of its foliage will crinkle and fade. Its leaves likewise will curl and have brown spots if exposed to very bright light.
The polka dot plant also thrives in a humid environment. So, if you keep them indoors during winter, spray them occasionally with mist. You can also use artificial light indoors to encourage photosynthesis.
3) Prepare a fast-draining rich organic soil
The polka dot plant doesn’t like sitting in soggy soil. So, you should ensure that you plant them in fast-draining soil. You should also ensure that the soil is rich in organic matter. Remember, it prefers organic potting soil. You should add compost materials into the soil before planting polka dot plants in that soil.
4) The Ideal Temperature for Polka Dot Plants
Polka dot plants thrive best in temperatures of 75°F. Exposed to below 55°F, these plants will not thrive. It is very sensitive to cold and will not grow in cold regions. Hence, you should keep them in a humid and warm area. You should also group them together while spraying them with mist.
5) You should fertilize it.
One obvious characteristic of the polka dot plant is that it seems to be always hungry. This means it is a heavy feeder. If you plant them outdoors, they will survive without much fertilizer. Yet, if you keep them indoors, you need to supplement them with fertilizer once a month. You can use organic fertilizer to fertilize them.
Spring and summer are the hungriest seasons for these plants. They grow fast during this season. So, you should feed them with organic fertilizer once a month during these seasons. During winter or fall, you can feed them with fertilizer every other month.
6) Look out for pest or disease!
This plant is susceptible to root rot. You can prevent the onset of this disease by not overwatering it. Powdery mildew, as a fungal disease, can also affect the leaves and stems of this plant. If you see some white or grey coatings on its stem, then, your plant is infected with this disease.
These white and grey coatings appear like powder-like substance. These coatings start small and then spread to the other parts. This makes it difficult for your plant to engage in photosynthesis. This disease can be fatal to your plant. You can control this disease by spraying your plants with a concoction of baking soda, water, and liquid soap.
Pests like mealy bugs, aphids, and whiteflies may also infest polka dot plants. You can remove these pests from the stems of your plant by plucking them off the stems.
Polka dot plants can enhance the appearance of your backyard garden. They can provide a contrast of colors to your garden that you would love to behold. Yet, many people are asking whether polka dot plants are poisonous.
Well, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has stated that it is safe for pets. But you should take extra precaution not to let your pets feast on the leaves of polka dot plants. It may cause reactions in your pets if they ingest any part of this plant.