5 Tips for Caring for Your Polka Dot Plant - Backyard Boss
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5 Tips for Caring for Your Polka Dot Plant

Want a houseplant that offers color, pattern, and flair to your home? Meet the polka dot plant!

The polka dot plant, or Hypoestes phyllostachya, is known for its unique leaves of diverse colors with a freckled pattern. This plant has many varieties, each featuring a slightly different array of colors and speckles. Choose from shades and combinations of pink, green, or red!

This tropical plant is a fantastic choice for the home due to its easy-to-care-for nature. Even still, there are things to do that will improve the growth of your plant baby. These five tips for caring for your polka dot plant will result in success!

Give It the Correct Soil

close up image of pink and green polka dot plant
Image credits: jesus solis via Unsplash

The first tip for caring for your polka dot plant is good soil. Specifically, soil that is well-draining and rich in nutrients.

The polka dot plant is tropical and enjoys consistently damp soil — simulating the moisture levels of its origin in Madagascar. With this in mind, it is necessary to offer well-draining soil. The reason for this is that when water lingers around the roots, root rot forms. Though root rot is possible to fix, it will kill the plant if left untended.

When potting your polka dot plant, use a soil mixture that contains organic matter. Polka dot plants prefer soil that is abundant in nutrients. The potting mix must include compostpeatand perlite to achieve better drainage.

Finally, use a pot with drainage holes to ensure that any excess water can leave it, reducing the likelihood of disease and root rot.

Find the Right Light

Polka dot plant in a pink pot sitting on a counter near a window
Image credits: Tara Winstead via Pexels

Where some houseplants prefer to bathe in the sun, the polka dot plant is more fickle about where it resides.

The polka dot plant prefers indirect light with partial shade. If your plant receives too much light, it reduces the vibrancy of your plant’s leaves, and too little light reduces the variegations of your cute, spotty plant.

Not sure where to put your polka dot plant? South or east-facing windows are good options, but the best spot for your plant is one with partial shade. Always avoid direct sunlight, as this scorches the leaves and damages the plant.

Humidity, Humidity, Humidity!

Spray Bottle For Misting Plants With a Green Backdrop
Image credits: Lucas van Oort via Unsplash

To truly give your polka dot plant what it wants, humidity is the key! Polka dot plants are tropical plants; therefore, the more humidity they receive, the happier they are. 

These plants thrive in high humidity (relative humidity of 50 percent or higher), which is much higher than the average home. To accomplish greater humidity in your home, offer regular misting. Misting increases humidity for the plant without overwatering the soil. Mist your polka dot plant once a day in the growing season (or more, depending on your climate) for best results. 

Another way to boost the humidity in your home is by adding a pebble tray! To make one, all you need is a tray, rocks/pebbles, and water. Fill your tray with pebbles, then pour in water until just the tops of the stones are exposed. Once made, place this near your plant. As the sun warms the rocks and the water, water evaporates into the air, increasing the humidity around your plant!

Pro Tip: Lack of humidity is another culprit for a loss of color in the leaves. If the leaves of your polka dot plant are dull, assess the amount of sunlight or try increasing the humidity.

Regular Watering

Woman watering newly transplanted hypoestes in pot on the white wooden table. Home gardening concept. Springtime. Stylish interior with a lot of plants.
Image credits: Cem Selvi via Shutterstock

While moist soil is fine for a polka dot plant, soggy or dry soil is problematic. A good rule to follow is to use caution when watering.

Before each watering, assess whether the soil is moist by sticking your finger into the dirt. If the soil is still moist an inch down, do not water the plant; if it is dry, offer water. Keep the soil moist while preventing overwatering and underwatering. Overwatering leads to root rot, and underwatering leads to growth issues.

Trying to determine if you are overwatering or underwatering? Take a look at the leaves! Are they falling off, wilting, or not growing? These are signs to check your soil and adjust watering amounts.

Pro Tip: The amount you need to water will vary depending on where it (and you) lives. Consider the location of your plant, the amount of sunlight it receives, and the humidity levels in your home.

Fix Leggy Plants

Stem of a polka dot plant stretching out and becoming leggy
Image credits: Eduardo Soares via Unsplash

As time goes on, your polka dot plant grows, expands, and tries to reach new heights. When the stems of your plant begin to stretch too high, this is when plants get leggy.

A leggy plant is not only less attractive to look at, but it also increases the risk of heavy stems snapping. To fix the leggy parts of your plant, all you need to do is pinch them off.

When stems become leggy, gently break off the top with your fingers or a clean pair of scissors. Regularly cutting back these high-reaching stems encourages your plant to grow bushier instead of taller.

Pro Tip: Instead of tossing your clippings, try using one of the cuttings to propagate a new polka dot plant!

Love on Your Polka Dot Plant!

Caring and loving on your polka dot plant is achievable with these five tips!
All your polka dot plant wants is good soil, placement, humidity, watering, and for you to fix those leggy stems. When these components are considered, your plant thrives!

Now go give your polka dot plant some extra special love and show off its stunning colors and patterns!
What color are the leaves of your polka dot plant? Comment below and share your plant’s colors and your favorite place to keep your spotted beauty!