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Polka Dot Plant
Polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachy) is a gorgeous species that can be grown indoors or outdoors. It is also known as flamingo plant, baby’s tears, and freckle face. It is a member of the Acanthus family.
Although this is grown as a house plant and as an outdoor container plant, it was originally a shrub that was native to warm climates. Typically when cultivated, polka dot plant reaches around 1˝ feet in height.
Quite charming, polka dot plant is a very bushy, the very leafy species with crowded side shoots. It adds a punch of color without being showy and flamboyant like coleus.
The species plant bears oval, pointed leaves, up to 2˝ inches in length and 1˝ inch across. Largely deep green, the foliage is adorned with contrasting pink or white dots or blotches. Borne on 1˝ inch long leaf stalks, the leaves form opposite pairs. The blooms that appear in the spring are considered rather inconspicuous.
Polka dot plants are available in the indoor plant section of garden centers. During the growing seasons, these are also sold with the outdoor pot plants. They can be grown in all regions of the country as annuals.
There are a number of improved cultivars of polka dot plant with very showy pink or reddish markings on the foliage. When growing polka dot plant indoors, keep it bushy by pinching the tips.
Several varieties are available in the Proven Winners line-up, which are available at garden centers and nurseries. These are sold in distinctive pots.
As a house plant, polka dot plant needs a sunny window with a thin curtain to filter the light. To retain their distinct coloring, the plants do require good light. Outdoors, it grows well in light shade and full sun. Average indoor temperatures are generally satisfactory so long as they remain above 60 degrees F.
When the plant is actively growing, allow the very top of the potting soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Then, water enough to get the potting soil moist. In the winter, reduce water so the soil is kept barely moist.
When growing polka dot plant outdoors, I like to mix and match it with other colorful plants that require the same kinds of growing conditions and care.
During the growing season, use a soluble fertilizer every two weeks or so. Polka dot plants rarely need repotting. The plants can be propagated by seeds and cuttings.
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