Polka Dot Plants are also known as Hypoestes phyllostachya. They are best known for their beautiful colors and lovely leaf patterns. Just as importantly, they are easy to care for and propagate. In this article, I’ll discuss in detail the different ways you can propagate your Polka Dot Plant.
How do you propagate Polka Dot Plant? The most common way to propagate the Polka Dot Plant is through stem cuttings then rooting them in water.
Although you can also root the cuttings in soil or sphagnum moss. Additionally, the plant can be propagated by division or from seeds.
How to Propagate Polka Dot Plant
Polka dot plants can be propagated in many ways. Although each of these methods have their own pros and cons. Below I’ll go through the different methods for propagating Polka Dot Plants step by step.
What Do You Need to Propagate a Polka Dot Plant?
Before you begin propagating your Polka Dot Plant, it is a good idea to have a few things prepared so you can keep them close by during the process.
This makes things more efficient and prevents you having o look around the house or shed for items you need later on.
Here are the most important tools:
- Make sure your Polka dot is healthy (it also needs to be mature)
- Sharp scissors or pruning shears
- Rubbing alcohol
- A pot or pots with drainage holes
- Fresh potting mix
- Newspaper or plastic to cover your working surface
- Rooting hormone
How to Propagate a Polka Dot Plant from Stem Cuttings
The most popular method of propagating Polka Dot Plant is by using stem cuttings. It is very efficient, simple to do at home and has very high success rates.
This is why many home growers use this method.
Just as importantly, you can root the stem cuttings in a number of ways. The most common are via water propagation and soil propagation. Both of which I’ll show you below in detail.
Take Healthy Stem Cuttings
The first step in propagating Polka Dot Plants via stem cuttings is to take a few stem cuttings.
When you’re starting out, you can use a few stem cuttings to help you in the learning process. This way you get to see a few of them grow.
And in case a few don’t root or fail, you still have a few more stems that will end up successful.
Once you gain more experience, you’ll only need one stem cutting and you’ll be almost always be able to successfully grow it.
Like all things it just takes some practice and experience.
Cut the Stem
When taking a stem cutting from your Polka Dot Plant, choose a healthy stem. You also want to get a stem that is at least 4 to 6 inches long. But avoid something too long.
Choose stems with at least one node and a few leaves (ideally 2 or 3).
You can go with a stem without leaves but not having at least one node means that stem will never root. Therefore, it won’t have a chance of propagating successfully.
To cut the stem, sterilize your scissors or pruning shears with rubbing alcohol. Then snip the stem at a 45 degrees angle about an inch under a node.
This ensures that the node in included with the stem cutting.
Propagating Polka Dot Plants in Water
Once you have the stem cutting, you have a couple of choices.
You can root the cutting in water or in soil. Simply put, you can choose to put he stem cutting in water or soil. Both of these mediums are very efficient in allowing the cutting to grow roots.
The roots will grow out from the nodes.
This is why having at least one node is very important. Otherwise, there is no place where roots can emerge for your new plant. And without roots, the new plant won’t be able to survive because the roots are what absorb water and nutrients to sustain the plant.
To propagate the stem cutting in water
- Fill a glass container with water. You can use any container. Glass is a good choice because it allows you to see the roots as they grow. It also lets you see when the water gets murky so you can change it.
- Place the cutting in the water. You want to submerge the nodes in water. And remove any leaves that end up touching or going into the liquid. Leave the upper leaves that don’t get into the water.
- Place your cutting in bright, indirect light. Choose a moderate to warm spot with good humidity as this will speed up the initial process.
- Change the water every week or before it gets murky.
- It will take about 3 to 4 weeks for the roots to reach about 1 to 2 inches long.
- Once the roots are 1 to 2 inches or longer, you can transfer the cuttings from water into potting mix.
Propagating Polka Dot Plants in Soil
Another option to propagating the cuttings in water is to plant them directly into soil.
This method yields similar results because it roots fast and has high success rates.
The difference is you skip placing the cuttings in water. Instead, go directly into soil. This lets you save the extra work.
However, on the downside, you won’t be able to monitor how the roots are developing since they’re buried under the soil.
As such, choosing between water propagation and directly planting into soil depends more on your preference.
To Propagate Polka Dot Plants in Soil
- Once you have the cuttings, dip the cut end of the stem into rooting hormone. This is an optional step. But it helps sped up root development. I’ve also noticed it increases propagation success rates.
- Prepare a pot (or pots if you have many cuttings) and fill them with fresh, well-draining potting mix.
- Use your finger to make a small hole in the soil to insert the cutting.
- Plant the cutting into the soil. Again, make sure the nodes are buried under the medium (this time the soil). Remove any leaves that end up beneath the soil and keep the leaves that are above the potting mix.
- Water the soil and keep it moist.
- Place the cutting in bright, indirect light. Keep it in a warm spot. If you don’t have somewhere warm in your home, you can get a heat mat and place it under the pot.
- It takes around a month for the roots to grow. You can check by lightly tugging on the cutting. It should resist your light pull. This means that the roots have taken hold of the ground.
So, there you have it, Polka Dot Propagation from stem cuttings.
Again, you can choose between rooting the cutting in water or soil. I urge you to try both methods since most people will end up preferring one over the other.
And the one you like or are more proficient in doing is the method you use.
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How to Propagate Polka Dot Plant via Division
Besides propagating Polka Dot Plants from stem cuttings, you can also divide them. This gives you more plants. But in a very different way.
The reason is that with division, you’re splitting up a bigger parent plant into 2 or more smaller plants.
As such, it is very different from propagating from stem cuttings. But you end up with a similar result in that you’re making the plant reproduce.
Because you’re dividing the parent plant, you need a large enough Polka Dot Plant. This means it needs to be mature before you propagate using this method.
The advantage with division is that you get a semi-grown new plant. Plus, if you don’t like a very big houseplant, you can use it to reduce or limit the size of your original plant.
The downside is that unlike stem cuttings, you won’t be able to keep dividing the plant. At least not whenever you want to.
That’s because after propagating by division, you need to let it grow again before being able to divide again. In contrast, stems grow much faster. And Polka Dot Plants have many stems.
As such, you need to decide which method to go with depending on your needs.
To divide a Polka Dot Plant by division following these steps.
Unpot Your Polka Dot Plant
To divide your Polka Dot Plant, begin by unpotting the mother plant.
Carefully take it out but avoid pulling it or just jarring it out of its pot. If it does not slide out easily, tip the pot over to its side and coax the root ball out slowly.
once you have the root ball out of the pot, brush off excess soil so you can see the roots.
Untangle any roots that are tied up or tangled together.
Divide the Plant
Once you can see the roots, it is time to select the section or sections you want. You can divide the plant into 2 or more sections. It is really up to you and the size of the plant.
The bigger the plant, the more sections you may be able to divide it to. However, avoid splitting the plant into very small sections as these will have a harder time surviving on their own.
A very important thing to make sure of is that each section has roots that correspond to stems above the soil. And you want that section to have at least a few leaves as well.
If a section does not have roots, it won’t be able to survive.
In some cases, you can easily divide the plant with your hands. If not, use a knife to cut it apart. Make sure to wipe down the blade with rubbing alcohol before making any cut.
Pot Up Both Plants
Once you have your divided sections, it is time to plant each one into their own respective pots.
Repot the parent plant. You can use its original pot or a smaller pot (since it sizes has decreased). Next, do the same for the new plant.
To pot up the plant, fill the pot with fresh, well-draining potting soil until about a third or 40% of the way. Then put the new plant in the soil and backfill the rest of the space with more potting mix.
Finally water the soil to keep it moist.
Place both plants in bright, indirect light.
Taking Care of Your New Polka Dot Plants
Once you’ve propagated your new plants be it via stem cuttings or division, the next step is after care.
It is important to know how to care for your Polka Dot Plants after you propagate them. Otherwise, your efforts will be wasted as the plant won’t grow or deteriorate over time.
Here’s how to take care of your new Polka Dot Plants
Your new polka dot plant needs bright, indirect light to grow optimally. It needs this for photosynthesis.
Therefore, light is very important if you want your plant to get bigger and produce more leaves. It also ensures that they maintain their vibrant colors.
Avoid too much light as it can burn your plant’s leaves. Similarly, avoid too little light as this will slow down growth.
Keep your Polka Dot Plant in temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It will do well in warmer conditions but avoid leaving in areas hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit for long periods of time.
Similarly, keep it away from anywhere below 50 degrees.
Polka Dot Plants prefer humidity of 50% and higher. Therefore, try to keep room humidity around this range. You can use a humidifier, place the plant on a humidity tray or mist it regularly.
That said, be careful with misting as too much moisture can increase the risk of leaf infections.
Polka Dot Plants are not picky when it comes to potting soil. You can use an all-purpose potting mix to keep it healthy.
Allow the surface of the soil to dry between waterings. Polka Dot Plants enjoy slightly moist soil and it does not like to go dry as its leaves will turn crispy and brown at the tips and edges.
However, wait until the surface of the soil or about half inch of soil from the top to dry before adding more water.
Too much water will cause problems for the plant’s roots.
Apply a diluted balanced water-soluble fertilizer once a month during spring and summer. Stop feeding once fall comes around. The plant does not need fertilizer during winter either.
Are Polka Dot Plants Safe for Cats and Dogs?
Fortunately, Polka Dot Plants are pet-friendly and are not toxic to dogs or cats. So, you can keep them around the home even in you have your furry ones running around.
How to Propagate Polka Dot Plant by Seed
The last way to propagate your Polka Dot Plant is by seed.
This is my least favorite method because it is less practical for home growers. The reason being that it takes much longer to grow from seed, and it requires more effort and care on you pat.
Additionally, the success rate is not as high as propagating from stem cuttings or division.
That said, it is a great way to learn how to propagate your plant from start to finish. You’ll be able to see how it grows from seed, goes through germination, become a seedling and eventually a mature plant.
Another thing worth noting is that most commercial operations propagate from seed simply because it allows them to grow many plants at the same time.
If you try to do this from stem cuttings, you’ll leave the parent bare. And it will take a while before it grows again.
With seeds, you can just buy seeds and grow all of them at the same time. This makes it ideal for mass production.