Known for their foliage, polka dot plants are available in many different colors with a wide variety of patterns. Their beautiful leaves make them among the most popular houseplants around.
If that’s not enough, you’ll be happy to know that they also come in many hybrid varieties so you can choose from even more bright options.
To learn more about the polka dot plant, read on.
About the Polka Dot Plant
Polka dot plants are common houseplants that are revered for their colorful leaves. Also called the freckled face plant, they’re short in stature. But, they more than make up for it with their vibrancy.
Their brightly colored spotted leaves with different patterned splotches easily make them stand out among other plants. This also allows them to add color to different areas of your home.
The most popular polka dot plant varieties have pink spots. But, you’ll also see white, purple, lavender and many other colors as they have been hybridized. So, don’t be surprised to see all kinds of foliage patterns and colors.
These perennial shrubs trace their roots from Madagascar. As such, they enjoy the tropical climate of their native land, where they grow up to 2 or 3 feet tall.
However, they’re often smaller as houseplants. But, you’ll also want to keep them within 15 inches or so, as this makes them keep their shape and looks.
Polka Dot Plant Care
Polka Dot Plant Light
Sunlight is very important for your polka dot plant as it directly affects how much color its foliage has. This makes it the first thing you want to consider since its colorful patches are what make the plant very attractive.
Given too little light, you’ll notice it lose its color. And soon enough, all you end up with are solid, dark green leaves, which make the plant uneventful.
Similarly, too little light also causes it to stretch out towards where the illuminated area is. When this happens, you end up with a lanky, leggy looking plant.
That said, there’s a limit to how much light it can tolerate before it starts losing its foliage colors too.
Thus, to get the most out of your polka dot plant, placing it near an east-facing window where it gets morning sun is best. Likewise, you can put it a few feet away from the south or west-facing windows, which tend to have more intense sunlight exposure.
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Polka Dot Plant Temperature & Humidity
Polka dot plants enjoy fairly moderate temperatures that run between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is one reason why they do well as houseplants. Since most homes have thermostats set to this range, there’s no need to change your home’s conditions to accommodate it.
However, it is key to keep it away from places where the temperature can drop under 60 degrees. This can happen in some cold spots of your home, especially during the winter.
Also, places where there are cold drafts or windows where cool gusts of wind can come in are problematic for it.
Since it hails from a tropical region, your polka dot plant likes high humidity. So, it’s a good idea to keep relative humidity at 50 percent or above.
You can do so by misting regularly. Or, if you don’t have the time to be consistent with this, place it over some stones that are on a water tray. As the water on the tray evaporates, it increases the humidity above and around the plant.
Watering Polka Dot Plant
Polka dot plants need a balance of just the right amount of water. This is one area that needs your attention.
Just like too much or too little sunlight isn’t good for it, the same is true for water.
During its growing season, it thrives on soil that’s kept moist. But, wet or soggy soil won’t help. So, don’t be overly generous with moisture.
If you let your polka dot plant get too dry, it will wilt and you’ll see its leaves drop. Similarly, overwatering will make its foliage turn yellow. And, if you let it sit in water for prolonged periods of time, you put it at risk of root rot.
Thus, it’s a good idea to wait until the top 1 to 2 inches of the soil dry out before watering again. And when you do, make sure to water the soil not the plant.
All too often, people like watering plants from above because it’s much easier to do. And, it looks like you’re getting more coverage.
But, plants don’t like getting a water shower, especially their leaves, which when kept wet become prone to disease.
Come wintertime, you can scale back on watering.
Since it doesn’t like wet feet, placing your polka dot plant in fast-draining water is key. This allows excess moisture to drain.
Similarly, make sure that the container you use has a drainage hole to allow the extra water to escape from the container. Otherwise, it will pool in the bottom of the pot causing your plant to “sit” on stagnant water.
Polka dot plants are somewhat heavy feeders.
During its growing season (spring to fall), you’ll need to feed it every 2 weeks with a weak liquid fertilizer that contains micronutrients.
This is less of a problem outdoors if your plant is grown on well-draining soil that’s rich in organic matter. If that’s the case, then it will require less supplemental feeding.
Polka dot plants grow to about 2 or so feet tall. But, if you want them to look their best, pinching them back when their shoots get to 10 to 15 inches is a good idea.
That’s because pruning helps promote new growth. And, consistently doing this gives you a bushier, more vibrant plant.
On the other hand, allowing it to keep growing leaves you with a loose-looking shrub.
Similarly, you want to watch out when it starts flowering. Since you’re growing your polka dot plant for its foliage, its blooms aren’t your focus of attention. Thus, pinching them off is a good idea.
Besides, these plants don’t have the most stunning blooms either.
That said, the most important reason to do so is that flowering is often a sign that the plant is near its end. By pinching it, you increase your odds of rejuvenation.
Polka Dot Plant Propagation
Polka dot plants are easy to propagate. And, that’s a good thing considering its limited lifespan.
This lets you keep on growing them.
Two of the most common ways to propagate these plants are through seed and cuttings.
To start polka dot plants from seed:
- Start indoors during early spring
- Keep the seeds in moist soil with temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep them under brightly lit conditions. You can use artificial lights or the sun.
- As then start growing, pinch off the weaker seedlings.
To propagate polka dot plants from cuttings:
Stem cuttings are much easier than growing them from seeds.
- Choose a stem that’s fairly prolific (with at least 2-3 leaves)
- Dip the cuttings in rooting hormone
- Then insert them into the potting mix
- Like above, keep the soil moist
- After a while, it will start rooting
Repotting Polka Dot Plant
Repotting may or may not be an issue for you. The reason being that polka dot plants have a relatively short lifespan. Some just get to 1-2 years before flowering. After that, they decline.
As such, repotting isn’t often at the top of the list of things to do.
The only time to do so is when they get rootbound. If this happens, the best time to move them is during the spring.
And, while you’re at it, propagate them as well. Propagating allows you to keep a polka dot plant indefinitely as the new ones replace the ones that are declining.