Polkadot Plant Care: How to Grow Hypoestes phyllostachya

Have you ever wondered about Polkadot plant care (Hypoestes phyllostachya)? It isn’t always easy to keep one of these beautiful plants alive, but today, we are going to cover every aspect of how to care for one so that you can grow one successfully in your home.

Polkadot plants are very striking, with colorful foliage and shapely, elegant leaves. They are popular all over the world, and while they will grow outdoors, we are going to focus on the techniques for successfully growing them as houseplants. Fortunately, with a bit of help, this is straightforward and anyone can do it!

Light Requirements

These plants like bright but indirect light, so you shouldn’t place your plant on a very sunny windowsill. You will either need to choose a winter windowsill (one that gets more sun in winter than in summer), or put your plant a little way back from the window.

However, it won’t thrive in the dark, so make sure you put it somewhere bright enough that it can grow. If it develops leggy stems and starts straining toward the light, move it a bit closer to the window.

You can also use a net curtain or thin curtain to make a sunny windowsill suitable for this plant. Just make sure its leaves do not get burnt even through the fabric.

Temperature Requirements

Originally from Madagascar, Polkadot plants are not suitable for growing in cold parts of your home like porches or conservatories. They need temperatures between 65 and 80oF (18-27oC), and if they drop much below this, they will not thrive.

Protect your plant from sudden drafts and cold breezes, but don’t place it above a heater either. They like warmth, but not heat, and being too close to a radiator could kill them.

Watering Requirements

A Polkadot plant likes to be kept damp pretty much all the time. However do not overwater them, because soggy soil will cause the roots of the plant to rot, which could kill the plant.

You should allow about half an inch of the soil to dry out before you water it, so gently push your finger into the surface to see how wet it is. When it is dry, give it a good drink and remove any excess water from the tray beneath it, rather than leaving it to stand in water.

In general, Polkadot plants need more water in spring and summer than in winter.

Soil Requirements

Although not enormously fussy about their soil, Polkadot plants do prefer to have good drainage and rich compost. When you are potting one, make sure that you mix a bit of perlite into the soil to improve the drainage and keep the plant from getting waterlogged.

Use a high quality compost so that your plant gets a good burst of food when it is first potted up.

Special Care

Polkadot plants are prone to being somewhat leggy, so you will need to keep them in check. Sterilize some pruning shears and cut back the top two leaves on every stem once a week. This should help to encourage the plant to grow bushy and thick, and also makes it healthier. You may notice more vigorous growth when you prune it regularly.

These plants do enjoy being kept humid, too, so ensure that you are able to provide some additional humidity. Houses tend to be too dry for rainforest plants, and your Polkadot plant might need to be misted more than once per day in summer.

Set your plant up on a humidity tray if you haven’t got time to mist it, but make sure it does not get a fungal infection. It does need to dry out every now and again!

You can easily make a humidity tray at home by pouring some water into the bottom of a tray, and standing your plant on a layer of pebbles. The bottom of the pot should not touch the water.

You can also buy a humidifier and plug it in nearby if you don’t want to use a humidity tray, but remember to switch it off occasionally.


Polkadot plants propagate very readily, which is great. You simply need to cut about four to five inches of a stem off the main plant, and take the leaves off the bottom end of this cutting.

Next, place the cutting in a glass of clean water, and then allow it a few days to start rooting.

It should do so quite quickly. Keep changing the water regularly, and wait until the roots are around four inches long, and then transplant the cutting into well-draining potting mix, and you have a new Polkadot plant!

Pests & Problems

Unfortunately, like all plants, Polkadot plants do sometimes suffer from pests. You might see aphids, mealybugs, or whitefly, and all of these will damage the beautiful leaves and make your plant sick and unhappy.

They could also spread to other plants, so it’s important to act quickly when you notice them. Isolate the sick plant and wipe its leaves down with soapy water every day until you are sure that the pests are gone. Wait a few more days, and then put it back in its usual spot.


These plants are not toxic to people or pets, so you do not need to worry about growing them. It is always best to keep plants away from young children and animals anyway, but the Polkadot plant is harmless.

Common Questions About Polkadot Plant Care

Q: How many varieties of Polkadot plants are there?

A: There are over 100 different types of Polkadot plants.

Q: How often should I fertilize my Polkadot plant?

A: About once a month during the growing season should be fine. These plants are heavy feeders, so don’t neglect them.

Q: Why doesn’t my Polkadot plant have very variegated leaves?

A: The variegation is dependent on the light. If your plant is not getting enough light, it will start to lose its fantastic colors, so move it closer to a window or install a grow bulb to give it some extra light each day.

About the author 

Paul - Better Houseplants

Loves orchids and foliage houseplants. Always trying to be a better plant parent. Let's get growing!

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