The polka dot (Hypoestes phyllostachya) is a tropical foliage plant known for its colorful and variegated foliage. It has many colloquial names like baby’s tears, measles plant, and freckle face. The plant is immensely popular as an indoor favorite and has also found itself in outdoor gardens. The plant is an annual subshrub with a maximum height of about 3 feet and a width around 1 foot.
The polka dot now has many hybrid species in various colors instead of the earlier singular color combination. Generally, the plant leaves are a deep green with patches of color which can be pink, bright red, white, or rose. Certain varieties even have pink leaves with green splashes, and some have leaves that look almost purplish. Here are four polka dot plant varieties you’ll adore in your home.
A Little Info
The polka dot plant leaves range from 2 to 4 inches in length. The top is dark green with splashes of color and a light green underside. The shape of the leaf is ovate, with tiny hair-like growths giving it a fuzzy appearance when it’s young; This feature will reduce as they grow older. But, there are several types to consider.
The plant is a seasonal bloomer with tiny purple flowers that grow at the end of the stems. The blooming season is generally in summer. Although the flowers are not fragrant, the brilliance of the foliage overshadows them. The plant also bears fruit, which is inedible. Polka dot plants can be grown in a container or as bedding plants so be sure to select a home that provides them the correct growing conditions.
The Splash Select Series
The polka dot cultivars are mostly classified based on how the spots of color appear on the leaves and the size of these splotches. The ‘Splash Select’ series is so named because the colored spots on the leaves are large and cover a bigger area of leaves. They resemble huge splotches rather than spots.
The Confetti Series
The ‘Confetti’ series spots are smaller, and the spotting across the leaves is less. This series is smaller than the other cultivars, only about 8 inches in height but grows much faster. Different colored plants in the Confetti series are usually kept together for a more colorful look.
The color and vibrancy of these plants will liven up any home, so without further ado, here are a list of the most beautiful cultivars.
Image credits: Karl Thomas Moore via Wikimedia Commons
One of the most common and popular cultivars is the Carmina. It is a vibrant green with red splotches on the leaves. It is part of the splash select series. The bright red hides most of the green on the leaves giving the foliage a bright crimson glow.
2. Pink Brocade
The pink brocade is part of the confetti series. The vibrant green leaves are mottled with pink spots. Pair it with other colors in the series to create a bouquet.
The purpuriana is a cultivar that is known for its dark leaves that appear almost purple. Depending on the size of the spots, it can be considered part of the splash or confetti series.
The wit cultivar is a part of the splash series with green leaves that appear mostly white. The splotches of color on this plant are so large the foliage almost appears completely white. The combination gives the foliage its stereotypical marbled look.
Some Tender Loving Care
When it comes to caring for your precious polka dot plants here are some general rules to follow so you can enjoy their beauty longer!
Soil Condition And Fertilizer
Polka dot plants prefer organic, loamy, and rich but well-draining soils. The soil moisture should be medium; that is, the soil should be moist but not dripping wet. When preparing the soil ensure the pH levels are between neutral to acidic.
Fertilize once a month with a balanced all-purpose fertilizer when kept in containers, especially during summer and the growing season. Make sure to dilute the formula.
Light And Water
They grow best in bright filtered light (six hours daily), which really brings out the colors in the leaves. While they do tolerate direct sun, the best color appears under partial shade. However, too little light can cause the leaf colors to appear too faded.
The plant is drought-tolerant but will grow better when pampered with plenty of water. Water when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch. Water more during the growing season and then cut back during winters.
Temperature And Humidity
Being tropical plants, polka dot plants are not very winter-hardy. They prefer warm temperatures over 60 degrees Fahrenheit and a lot of humidity, at least over 50 percent. Polka dot plants require much higher temperatures and humidity levels while germinating. So, before planting, ensure temperatures are over 75 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity is over 60 percent.
If your container plant is outside during summer, don’t forget to bring it in to overwinter when temperatures start dropping! If kept indoors, frequently mist it or place it on a pebble tray with water to keep it at its desired humidity levels.
The polka dot has a rather bushy shape but grows upright. Pinch back the stem tips to maintain the bushy shape.
A Colorful Surprise
Easy on the eyes and easy to look after, the polka dot plants are a good choice, even if you’re a novice gardener. Place them in various south or west-facing spots across your home to add a little dash of color to every room.
What do you think? Any thoughts or suggestions? Leave them in the comments section below. As always, don’t forget to share! Happy gardening!