Plant Journal: Polka dot Plant
Polka dot plant is one of the cutest houseplants I have at the moment. It kind of looks like a fittonia, small and with multi-coloured foliage but with thinner leaves. The binomial name of polka dot plant is Hypoestes spp. This genus includes 100 of species and cultivars and was originally from Madagascar but is now available in Europe and is commonly grown as a houseplant. It produces small purple flowers but is not as attractive as the foliage and growers usually cut them off to focus its energy for growth.
comes from the Greek word 'hypo' meaning under and 'estia' meaning house/fireplace.
Soil. The plant thrives in well-draining soil. I used houseplant potting mix with bark and seramis and then I mix a cup of perlite in to improve drainage.
Light. Bright indirect light is perfect too much direct sun will burn the leaves into crispy brown. Move the plant in a shady position.
Watering. Water the plant regularly. The soil should at least be dry on the top before watering again. With the substrate I used for my plant, I only water my plant 2-3 times in the summer, once a week during the fall and then lesser during the winter.
Humidity. Polka dot plant loves humidity. It thrives at 70% and above.
I haven’t really tried propagating my own hypoestes but while writing this blog I stumbled upon some growers who had done it. They have tried using a leaf cutting dipped ingrowth hormone and is kept in a sealed bag with moist moss. I haven’t encountered water propagation attempts on this plant online. Might try that when I get a chance and I will then update this blog.
I have my polka dot plant for 4 months now and so far the most annoying problem that I have to deal with is fungus gnats infestations. I noticed that the fungus gnats love my hypoestes. I used neem oil both as a foliage spray and as a irrigation to kill the larvae in the soil.
Another common problem with hypoestes is the dry brown leaves caused by problems with humidity and exposure to bright light. To solve this I moved my plant in the bathroom where it won’t get too much light plus the humidity is high enough.
Another problem I encountered online while reading about this plant is root rot. Fortunately, I haven’t encountered it yet because I make sure to check the soil immediately when I bought the plants and change it to the substrate I prefer, which is a mixture of commercially available potting mix plus perlite. But if you notice that your plant is not thriving, check the roots. If the roots are black and mushy cut it off and clean the roots by putting under running tap water. Cut the damaged roots and repot it on fresh, clean substrate mixture.