Polka Dot Plant Care Guide

T​he House Plant with Pink and Green Leaves: Everything You Need to Know

Hypoestes Phyllostachys, popularly known as polka dot or flamingo, belongs to the Acanthaceae family and originates from Madagascar. It is a bushy, herbaceous house plant with pink and green leaves, that can also be grown in gardens. As an indoor plant, it is perennial, while as an exterior, it is a seasonal, annual plant that is exceptional in borders and a group with other plants.

Polka dot plant is grown for its dynamic and colorful leaves, while the flowers are unsightly, and you should remove them after they appear. The leaves are elongated lanceolate, green with pink, purple, and whitish spots. Depending on the environmental conditions in which the hypoestes leaves are grown, they will be more or less attractive. You will find out the details in the rest of the text.

Quick Facts

Name: Hypoestes

Common Name: Polka dot, Freckle face plant

Type: houseplant

Region of Origin: Madagascar, South Africa, South East Asia

How to care for the Polka Dot Plant

The Houseplant with pink and green leaves

How much light does the Polka Dot plant need?

This delicate herbaceous plant needs a lot of indirect light to develop properly and give its full color. Direct sunlight can “fry” their leaves. If it is grown in the shade, it loses its bright color and spots on the leaves.

How often do you water Polka Dot plants?

Too much or not enough water can cause the polka dot plant to wilt or even die. Water your plant only when the top layer of the soil feels dry. You might have to water it more often if you live in an arid climate. 

The best way to water your polka dot plant is to get a spray bottle and lightly mist the soil every few days. If you notice that the top layer of soil feels dry, you should water it thoroughly. Plants are sensitive to chlorine, so you should use non-chlorinated and soft water.

What is the best soil for the Polka Dot Plant?

The Polka dot plant likes acidic soil, a mixture of peat and sand.

It is a plant that grows on soil rich in organic matter and well-drained, so if you are going to grow it in a pot, you will put light and fertile soil, such as the universal substrate for indoor plants.

Is the Polka Dot Plant Toxic?

Is the Polka Dot Plant toxic to humans?

Polka dot plant is not toxic to humans, but it can cause mild digestive problems.

Is the Polka Dot Plant toxic to cats?

It’s not toxic to cats, but it can cause mild problems like vomiting and diarrhea

Is the Polka Dot Plant toxic to dogs?

Polka dot plant is not toxic to dogs, but it can cause digestive problems.

Is the Polka Dot Plant toxic to rabbits?

It’s a non-toxic plant to rabbits, but they shouldn’t eat it.

Is Polka Dot Plant toxic to guinea pigs?

Polka dot plant isn’t toxic to guinea pigs, but similar to other pets they shouldn’t eat it.

How to pot and repot the Polka Dot Plant

red and white flower in tilt shift lens

The best time for potting your polka dot plant is during spring when the weather outside is warm enough to thrive in its new container without the danger of freezing temperatures damaging its roots. Containers should have plenty of drainage holes so that excess water will drain out without causing root rot or making the soil soggy. You’ll also want to ensure enough space between the walls and bottom of the container so that your plant’s long stems have enough room to grow.

As with most plants, polka dot plants prefer well-drained soil rich in organic matter. You can improve the drainage by mixing in sand or perlite and adding more organic matter such as compost or peat moss. 

You can repot polka dot plants in spring every year. A container for transplantation should be around 2 inches bigger than the previous one.

Light, loose, slightly acidic soil is most suitable for repoting. Containers should have holes in the bottom, and you can cover it with gravel or pebbles to ensure good drainage.

The best pots for polka dot plants would be plastic pots with lots of drainage holes. Plastic pots are also lightweight, so they’re easier to move around when you need to repot them or transfer them to a different location.

How to prune the Polka Dot Plant

Cutting back the polka dot plant’s long stems allows it to grow bushier, fuller, and healthier. You’ll also be able to propagate more plants from your cuttings if you prune them regularly.

To remove a stem, cut it with a sharp pair of scissors just above where it meets the main section of the plant. Cut back to one-third of each, depending on how much growth you want to stimulate. 

The best time to prune your Polka Dot plant is during spring or summer when it is actively growing. Pruning should be done when new leaves are sprouting so that the pruned cuttings can grow new roots before winter. You shouldn’t allow your Polka Dot plant to flower because it will die after flowering. It’s better to cut off flowers as soon as you notice they appear.

Common Problems

Polka Dot plant is prone to mealybugs and spider mites. 

The best way to prevent infestations is by removing dead or dying leaves from the plant. You can also spray them with soapy water.

They are also prone to root rot caused by overwatering, planting them in poorly drained soil, or keeping them in humid conditions for an extended time. If your plant’s roots are brown and mushy, and you notice black spots on the stems and undersides of its leaves,  you should get rid of it before it spreads any further.

The best way to prevent this problem is to water your plant early in the morning so that the foliage has time to dry off before nightfall and make sure not to over-water it or allow the soil to stay soggy for long periods. If you’re growing your plant indoors, ensure plenty of air circulation around them so that this disease doesn’t spread to other plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my polka dot plant growing tall and leggy?

If your polka dot plant is tall and spindly with long stems, it’s probably not getting enough light. This plant grows best in bright, indirect sunlight like the kind you might get from a south-facing window. If it’s not getting direct sunlight, its stems will grow taller to try and reach the light. 

You can help this plant grow bushier by moving it to a sunnier location or supplementing its light with artificial lightings such as fluorescent bulbs or a grow light.

What is the polka dot plant life span?

Polka dot plant usually lives only for one year. It dies off after flowering, but if you pinch off flowers as soon as they appear, you can extend the plant’s lifespan. However, it rarely lives more than two years, but it’s easy to propagate and replace with a new plant.


Polka-dot plants are low maintenance and thrive in warm and humid environments. While they can be grown outdoors, they are most successful if planted indoors in a sunny location with good soil. As a house plant, they add beautiful color with their pink and green leaves. Polka-dot plants can be propagated from cuttings or rooting the stem in water. They do best when kept in an area with good airflow. Polka-dot plants make great houseplants and are easy to care for.

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