Steps For Polka Dot Plant Propagation

Steps For Polka Dot Plant Propagation

By: Nikki Tilley, Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden

Polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya), also known as freckle face plant, is a popular indoor plant (though it can be grown outdoors in warmer climates) grown for its attractive foliage. In fact, this is where the plant’s name derived, as its leaves are dotted with splotches of color—from white to green, pink, or red. Being so popular, many people find themselves curious about propagating polka dot plants.

Polka Dot Plant Propagation Tips

Starting polka dot plants isn’t difficult. In fact, these plants can be easily propagated by seed or cuttings. Both methods can be performed in spring or summer. Whether started by seed or through polka dot plant cuttings, however, you’ll want to keep your new plants evenly moist in well-draining potting soil and provide them with medium light (indirect sunlight) conditions.

These plants also prefer temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees F. (18 and 27 C.), along with plenty of humidity. Keeping young polka dot plants pinched will produce bushier growth as well.

How to Propagate Polka Dot Plant by Seed

When you are propagating polka dot plants by seed, if you don’t already have them on hand, allow the seedheads to dry on the plant and then remove. Once you have collected the seeds and stored them until planting time, sow them in a tray or pot filled with damp peat moss and perlite or a well-draining potting mix. This should be done prior to the last expected frost in spring or sometime in summer.

The polka dot plant seeds require warm temperatures to germinate (around 70-75 F. or 21-24 C.) and will do so within about two weeks given adequate conditions. It usually helps to add a clear plastic covering over the tray or pot to hold in both heat and moisture. This should be placed in indirect sunlight.

Once established and strong enough, they can be repotted or planted outdoors in a partially shaded area with well-draining soil.

Polka Dot Plant Cuttings

Cuttings may be taken nearly anytime; however, sometime between spring and summer is preferable and usually yields the greatest results. Polka dot plant cuttings can be taken from any part of the plant, but should be at least 2 inches (5 cm.) long.

After placing them in damp peat moss or potting mix, you should cover the cuttings with clear plastic to maintain heat and humidity, much like you would with seed propagation. Avoid direct sunlight and repot or plant outdoors once established.

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Everything You Need to Know About Hypoestes Phyllostachya, Otherwise Known as the Polka Dot Plant

These colorful plants make for a lovely addition to an indoor garden.

Colorful Hypoestes phyllostachya—also known as the polka dot plant—is a petite, low-maintenance houseplant that adds a bright burst of color to shaded container gardens and indoor pots. The cheery plant is known for its brightly patterned leaves, which show off splashy red, pink, and white tones against a deep green background. "[The] polka dot plant is a cute little plant that is best used as a houseplant or a low growing accent in a part sun container outdoors," says Marshall Green, nursery buyer and manager at Primex Garden Center in Pennsylvania.

Houseplants forum→Polka Dot Plant Propagation

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You might try shortening the stem so it has just the top 6-8 leaves remaining with a couple of bare nodes below that. Insert it into a very small 2-inch pot filled with a damp porous potting mix. Then enclose the whole thing in a clear plastic baggy that you blow up with your carbon dioxide and then seal it tight so no water can escape. That will keep the soil damp and also maintain the humidity around the leaves like a mini-greenhouse.

Keep it away from any direct sunlight when it is bagged otherwise it will cook inside!

Seed propagation of polka dot plants

  • If you do not already have seeds, then let the seed dry on the plant, then remove it.
  • When you have seeds, fill in the commercial potting mixture in the planting tray by mixing damp peat moss and perlite.
  • The best time to plant by seed in spring. It requires 21-24 C warm temperatures for germination. If there is enough circumstance then plant it within two weeks.
  • Cover the tray with a clear plastic sheet to maintain moisture in the soil. After this keep it indirectly in the sun, when the plant is established and strong enough, you can put it out in partial shadow area. Read also .

MASTER GARDENER: Propagating the polka-dot plant is easy

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Q: I bought a plant called the polka-dot plant at a garden center. It’s done so well for me that I’d like to propagate it so I can share with friends. Would this be easy to do?

A: Your polka-dot plant, Hypoestes phyllostachya, is easily propagated at any time of the year. For those readers unfamiliar with it, the polka-dot plant’s leaves are generously sprinkled with either pink or white spots on a dark green background. To propagate additional plants, simply take tip cuttings about four inches long and remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem. Insert the cuttings into a coarse potting soil such as cactus mix and keep it moist.

The cuttings root very easily, so no rooting hormone is needed. After four weeks, carefully check for roots and plant rooted cuttings in a conventional potting soil such as African violet mix. You may want to add to the soil mix one of the new polymers designed to reduce watering. Feed and water as needed and pinch back young plants regularly to encourage a dense, well-shaped plant.

Q: A friend gave me seeds of five different South American heirloom bean seeds. I only have a small garden area and will have to plant them in adjacent rows. Will I be able to save seed from them that is true or will they cross-pollinate and produce hybrid seed?

A: Whenever different varieties of a crop are planted near each other it is reasonable to question whether the seed produced will be true to type or hybrid due to cross-pollination. In the case of your beans, the key to your question lies in the form of the bean blossoms.

If you look closely at the way the bean flowers are shaped, you will notice that the pistil (female flower part) and the stamens (male flower part) are well enclosed within the flower. This flower form virtually eliminates the possibility of wind-borne pollination, and greatly reduces the likelihood of insect pollination. Self-pollination is most likely to occur, so it is reasonable to expect the beans you collect to remain true to type.

Be sure to wait until the bean pods are dry before harvesting and shelling. When collecting seeds from multiple varieties, I like to collect one variety, package the seed and label the envelope before collecting the next variety to ensure no mistakes are made. Once packaged, your bean seeds should be stored in a cool dry place until planting next spring.

Bean seeds remain viable for several years when they are stored properly, so you could plant some of the seeds this year and save some for next year. After this year’s harvest, compare your newly-harvested seeds to the saved seeds. If they look the same, you can feel fairly certain that no hybridization has taken place. If they look different, you still have some of the original seeds to replant next year. If replanting is necessary, you could try to space the variety plantings by time. Because we have a very long growing season, you could plant a different variety every three to four weeks so that flowering is less likely occur at the same time. Whether hybrid or true to type, heirloom beans can provide interesting diversity in the kitchen.

Ottillia “Toots” Bier has been a master gardener since 1980. Send comments and questions to [email protected]

How to Care for Polka Dot Plants

The polka dot plant is pleasingly easy to grow. The plant’s main drawback is its relatively short lifespan. Often, after flowering, the plants will become dormant. In some cases they may die away completely. Picking off the buds before the plants can flower helps to prolong lifespan. This is a common action if you are growing the polka dot plant as a houseplant.

Outside, either in containers or beds, the plants are commonly grown as annuals in temperate to warm USDA zones.

The plant’s relatively short lifespan should not put you off adding one to your collection. Both houseplants and those growing in gardens are also easily propagated. This means that if the plants do die away you can continue to enjoy the foliage of the polka dot plant for many years to come.

The Ideal Position

The polka dot plant produces its best color when placed in a low light position. However, this can cause the plants to become leggy. Ideally you should try to position your polka dot plant in a location where it can access bright, indirect light. This position helps to keep your plants healthy and vibrant.

Placing a polka dot plant in a position that is either too bright, or not bright enough, will cause the plants colors to fade. If you are growing these plants as houseplants, try placing them several feet from a south or east facing window. Removing plants from windowsills and placing them slightly further back into a room allows them to enjoy lots of light without the potentially harmful heat.

Ideally, the temperature should average around 75 ℉. While the plant’s can cope with minor fluctuations in temperature, they should never be exposed to temperatures below 60 ℉.

These plants thrive in humidity. To help keep conditions humid, regularly mist the plants foliage. A gentle spray is enough to raise humidity levels without damaging the foliage.

Finally, polka dot plants thrive in humid conditions. Relative humidity shouldn’t drop below 50%. Placing your plants on a tray filled with pebbles and water will help to raise humidity levels. The plants also benefit from regular misting with water through a spray such as the Yebeauty Plant Mister.


The polka dot plant thrives in moist soil. If the soil is allowed to dry out plants will begin to wilt. Plants can usually be revived by watering but it is best not to let them dry out in the first place.

Placing a layer of organic mulch, such as homemade compost, around the plant’s base can help to keep the soil moist. Additionally, as the mulch breaks down it gives your polka dot plants a nutritional boost.

Don’t allow the soil to become overly soggy. Allowing plants to sit in wet soil for a prolonged period can cause root rot.

If you are unsure when to water, wait until the top inch of soil is dry. The easiest way to gauge this is to stick your finger into the soil. A soil moisture measure, such as the Bearbro 3-in-1 meter, will provide a more accurate reading.

Remember small, or terracotta pots, will dry out quicker than larger or plastic containers.

When watering, water only the soil around the plant. Damp leaves can become damaged or diseased.

If you choose to allow your plants to flower, reduce water as the flowers fade. After flowering the plants will either become dormant or die away. Should new growth begin to emerge, resume your watering routine.

Feeding Your Plants

Particularly when growing in containers, polka dot plants are heavy feeders. A general purpose indoor plant food, such as the Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food is ideal. It is also water soluble, meaning that it is easily incorporated into your watering routine.

To use the water soluble feed, dilute it to at least half its strength. Apply the plant food solution once a fortnight during the growing season. Vigorous growing plants may require feeding once a week.

If you don’t want to use a commercial plant feed, liquid plant feeds and fertilizers are easily made at home. These are more affordable and just as effective as mass produced products.

Pruning and Flowering

Regular pruning helps to keep the polka dot plant neat and healthy. Pinch out any off-shoots once they reach 15 inches in length. Pinching out helps to encourage a neat, bushy growth habit. Without regular care and attention the plants can grow large and shrub-like.

While some growers like the flowers of the polka dot plant, others regard them as insignificant, especially when compared to the foliage. For this reason, many people choose to remove the flower buds as soon as they appear. Pinching off the plant’s flowers also helps to prolong its lifespan.

Common Pests and Problems

The polka dot plant can fall victim to aphid, mealy bug and whitefly infestations. An application of warm soapy water will cure plants of most infestations. Alternatively you can also make your own insecticidal soap. Applying this to the foliage of the plant will cure infestations without damaging the appearance of the plant.

Powdery mildew may appear on the plant’s foliage. This is a sign that you are over watering the plant. Reduce the amount you water and frequency with which you water to resolve this issue. Severely affected leaves will struggle to recover and are best trimmed away to help improve the appearance of the plant. A healthy plant will soon produce new foliage to fill the gaps.

Polka Dot plant looks like it’s dying??

I got my polka dot plant a few months ago and it was perfectly pink, bushy and healthy. I love in Australia and I’ve been keeping the soil consistently wet, but now all the bottom leaves have gone crispy and wilted off while the ones on the top look perfectly healthy, and some of the stems are turning brown but keep growing taller. It also went from pink and green to just bright green. Please help??

This message was edited Apr 1, 2019 10:05 PM

Hypoestes - polka dot plants - are pretty easy to grow, but they do require a bit of special care. Without seeing your plant, i can only guess at its issues, but here are some possibilities:
First, to keep hypoestes looking good, it needs to be pinched back on a regular basis. This is what keeps it from developing those long, leggy stems it sounds like you’re struggling with. Once they’ve gone leggy, though, you’ll probably need to try a different tack to get yours back in shape - more on that in a moment.
Another possible cause of legginess is lack of light, which also could cause the problems you’re having with fading. Hypoestes needs bright light to keep its color - bright indirect light is best. It will tolerate some direct sun, but too much can both burn the leaves - and again, lead to fading, along with crispy leaf edges, which were part of your problem list. .
Watering is also key to keeping hypoestes looking its best. As you probably know, they are sensitive to drought, and can droop significantly if allowed to dry out. While they will largely bounce back after being allowed to go dry, often leaves - especially lower leaves - are lost on the aftermath, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
However, you say you’re keeping your plant “consistently wet,” and just FYI, overwatering causes its own problems for polka dot plants. They do want an environment with good humidity, and misting or a humidity tray may be of help. As for conditions inside the pot, though, the best option is to use a well-drained & good quality soil, and to keep it consistently moist - possibly letting it dry VERY slightly between waterings. Did your lower leaves turn yellow before dropping? If so, overwatering was likely the culprit. Too much water also leaves hypoestes susceptible to powdery mildew and root rot. Finally, it also encourages pests, and there are several that like the polka dot plant.
With your lower leaves being lost, take a hard look to make sure that your plant is not suffering from any of the following: mealy bugs, white flies, aphids, scale and even thrips. The brown stems are a possible red flag in this regard. A good green solution can usually help in these cases, along with the removal of the affected foliage.
And lastly, there is the truly sad news: that adorable hypoestes just isn’t that long-lived. As opposed to that African violet you grew up with, still going strong after 20 years on the sill, or Granny’s immortal and indestructible heart-leaf philodendron, hypoestes will generally live a year or two at best indoors, and will almost certainly be just an annual if grown outdoors. Most often, flowering spells the beginning of the end, after which the plant begins to decline or become dormant. Blooming generally consists of a spike of small lavender flowers, which some growers pinch off as soon as they recognize it. If flowering has occurred and the plant has gone dormant - also a seasonal possibility in winter - reducing water may help, but many folks give up during this period. In any case, hypoestes will eventually give up on you on the end, and generally sooner than later.
However, here is the really, really good news: hypoestes is incredibly easy to propagate! If grown out of doors, it will readily self-seed it can also be grown from seed indoors, but is a bit of a slow grower. Polka dot plants, though, can also be started very easily from stem-tip cuttings, either rooted in water or even just placed in moist soil. In fact, that’s the perfect application for much of that foliage that you pinch back along the way! And it’s the classic fix for leggy plants with bald stems and vigorous tips (hint, hint).
I hope this gives you some information to go on in finding out what is ailing your polka dot plant. And I hope it gives you some directions to go in for finding solutions for the future. Hypoestes is really and truly one of my very favorite plants of all time – I have grown them for years and years. Great to find someone else who loves them as well. Wishing you good luck with yours – and happy gardening!

Watch the video: Grow Polka Dot Plant From Seeds. Hypoestes Phyllostachya From Seeds