How to propagate the polka dot plant – best care guide

The Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes Phyllostachys), commonly known as the Freckle Face Plant, is a popular indoor plant with lovely foliage (but it may also be grown outside in warmer areas). It’s also one of the easiest plants to grow and maintain. In truth, the plant’s name comes from the splotches of color on its leaves, which range from white to green, pink, or red. Due to its widespread popularity, many people are interested in learning how to propagate the polka dot plant.

If your polka dot plant isn’t getting enough light, or if you have numerous polka dot plants and want to make sure your present plant is propagating properly, it’s time to divide it.

You’re in luck if you want to add some polka-dot plants to your home. In this article, we’ll show you how to propagate the polka dot plant and what you’ll need to do to grow it successfully.

About the polka dot plant

propagate the polka dot plant with pink sheds

Hypoestes Phyllostachys is the botanical name for the plant. Measles plant, freckle face, flamingo plant, and pink dot plant are among the more common (and easy-to-pronounce) names. However, pink isn’t the only color used to decorate the leaves. Polka-dot plants with white, rose, crimson, burgundy, purple, lavender, and yellow leaves are also available. The polka-dot plant comes in over a hundred different types!

The polka-dot plant is a perennial that grows up to a couple of feet in height and width in warm climates. It is endemic to Madagascar, South Africa, and East Asia. It can be cultivated as an annual in zones 10 and 11 in the United States, as well as in other zones. And, of course, as a houseplant, it can be enjoyed all year round.

The polka-dot plant looks great on its own, but it also looks great in a pot with other plants if all of the plants have similar light and hydration requirements.

Common NamesPolka dot plant, flamingo plant, freckle face, measles plant, pink dot
Botanical NameHypoestes phyllostachya
Plant TypeHerbaceous, perennial
Mature Size1-2 ft. tall, about 1 ft. wide
Sun ExposurePartial
Soil TypeMoist, well-drained
Soil pHAcidic (5.6 to 6.5)
Bloom TimeSummer or early fall
Flower ColorLilac or pink
Hardiness Zones10 to 11, USDANative

Purifying Properties of the Air

The air-purifying properties of the Polka Dot plant are one of its best features. The plant does an excellent job of purifying and cleaning the air. As a result, the air in the surrounding area is kept clean and pure. At low concentrations, the plant is known to be effective in removing toxins and other potentially harmful gases that cause allergies. Not only does the plant absorb the gases, but it also releases oxygen and moisture into the air in your home. The Polka Dot plant is an excellent choice for this purpose if you are putting together a plant collection. It will assist in keeping the air in your home clean and pure.

Types of Polka Dot Plants

There are various variants of the main species, Hypoestes phyllostachya, which are all developed for their leaf coloring. They are as follows:

Polka-Dots-Plants indoor
  • Camina has the most vibrant and large red spots, as well as the darkest green leaves.
  • Confetti has a high proportion of red and green, with spots of white, pink, rose, red, or burgundy.
  • Pink Brocade has solid green leaves with burgundy spots in the shape of fans, whereas “Dorothy Young” has a pink-red border around solid green leaves that turn attractive in the fall.
  • The Splash series has Young’s Splash, Splash of Red, and “Splash of Rose”. All have solid dark green leaves variegated with streaks and spots in red, rose, and maroon.

Polka Dot Plant Lifespan 

In reality, most hypoestes will not live much beyond a year or two before they flower. Many plants die off after they have flowered, and many people don’t bother to keep the plants after they’ve bloomed and slipped into their dormant phase. However, depending on the growing climate, this plant can display annual or perennial tendencies. If the plant stops growing in mid-summer, it’s probably rootbound, so you can go ahead and repot it.

When to Propagate the Polka Dot Plant Propagation Tips

It’s not difficult to grow polka-dot plants. In fact, seeds or cuttings are an easy way to grow these plants. Both of these strategies can be used in the spring or summer. Whether you start your new plants from seed or polka-dot plant cuttings, you’ll need to keep them equally moist in well-draining potting soil and give them medium-light (indirect sunlight) conditions. The optimum time to propagate the Polka Dot plants is in the spring or early summer when the temperature is 70°F to 80°F (20°C), which is ideal for new plant growth.

Cutting propagation may usually be done at any time during the year at optimum temperatures, but the success rate is highest during the growing season. Choose a beautiful morning to propagate during the summer. In the fall, you can reproduce the polka-dot plants indoors, but not in the winter. Young polka-dot plants can be clipped to encourage bushier growth.

How Long Does It Take to Grow a New Polka Dot Plant?

It takes at least 10–15 days for polka-dot plant cuttings to display new root growth. The roots of the Polka Dot Plant can take two weeks to a month to grow to around two inches in length. It germinates in 5–10 days and takes root in 3–4 weeks when it comes to seed propagation. With enough sunlight and nutrients, a full-size Polka Dot Plant could be grown in as little as 1–2 months.

Polka Dot Plant Propagation Preparations

It’s easy to grow a Polka Dot Plant. Whatever method you select, make sure you have these basic items on hand before you begin.

  • Healthy Parts or a Healthy Polka Dot Plant
  • Clean Pot of the Right Size with Drainage Holes
  • a pair of sterile pruners or scissors
  • The Right Soil Mixture (Best Soil for String of Turtles)
  • Clean Water
  • Proper environment
  • Rooting hormone (usually available at garden stores).

If propagating polka-dot plants in water or from seed, prepare a clean, clear container or plump seeds.

For cuttings, look for some healthy Polka Dot Plant stems.

While cuttings can be taken at any time of year, the best results are typically obtained in the spring and summer months. Inspect the Polka Dot plant and the pieces you’re using for health. After all, a healthy plant can only be replicated using its healthy components. Any signs of illness or pests should be avoided, as they will be transferred to your fresh cuttings, making them less likely to grow into suitable plants.

Cuttings from the polka-dot plant can be taken from any part of the plant as long as they are at least 2 inches (5 cm) long. Cover the cuttings with clear plastic after placing them in damp peat moss or potting mix to maintain heat and humidity just as you would with seed propagation. When repotting or planting outdoors, avoid direct sunlight.

Polka Dot Plant Propagation from Cuttings in the Soil

The simplest and quickest way to propagate the Polka Dot Plant is by stem cutting. It is the best way to work with either soil or water if you are new to propagation.

• Perform the cuttings

Cut one or more stems with your clean scissors. Make sure your cutting has at least 2-3 leaves, as this will ensure you have a few good nodes from which to grow roots. Remove some of the leaves that are close to the cutting’s base, leaving only 2 or 3 leaves.

Plant the cutting in the soil.

Insert the base of the Polka Dot Plant cutting into a moist soil mix-filled pot. Not all cuttings should be buried, but at least one node should be in the soil. (Continue reading: How to Create Polka Dot Plant Soil)

Place the pot in the proper location.

Place the pot in front of a bright, indirect light source. Maintain a moist top layer of potting mix, but do not overwater. You don’t need to water the soil again if it was moist before. To keep heat and moisture in, a clear plastic covering over the tray or pot is usually helpful. Please read “How Much Light Does a Polka Dot Plant Require?” for more information on lighting.

• Observe for new growth and take normal care of it.

In most cases, the cutting will take root in two to three weeks. You can propagate the Polka Dot Plants from cuttings, which have a high success rate. Don’t water too much at this time. It is sufficient to keep the soil moist. You can care for the new plant normally once it appears to be reasonably strong. (Learn more about the Polke Dot Plant here.)

Polka Dot Plant Propagation from Cutting in Water

Polka-Dots-Plants in water

The first two steps of making healthy cuttings in water for propagating Polka Dot Plants are the same as in soil. The following are the next steps.

Fill a transparent container halfway full of water.

After you’ve taken your cuttings, place them in a clean, transparent container so you can see how the roots are growing. Fill your container with warm water until the cutting’s base is covered by water, about 3-5 cm. Make sure that none of the leaves are submerged in the water; otherwise, they will begin to rot after a few days.

Pot it in the right place.

Place the pot in front of a bright, indirect light source. Maintain a temperature range of 70 °F to 80 °F (20 °C to 27 °C) for optimal root growth. It’s best to put it near a well-ventilated window.

Replace the water on a regular basis.

Replace the water on a regular basis (every 2-3 days is optimal). This keeps the water clean and prevents it from stagnating, which is bad for your cut. When the water level drops, fill it up.

Looking to take root

Polka Dot Plant cuttings in water grow roots pretty quickly. In a few days, you will see small roots pop out. After 3 weeks, the roots will have grown pretty well, and you can transplant the cutting into soil. The benefit of propagating the Polka Dot Plant in water is that you can observe how the roots grow and avoid the risk of root rot.

Transplant polka-dot plant cuttings directly into the soil.

Plant the Polka Dot Plant cuttings in a suitable pot filled with soil mix, taking care not to overwater them. Maintain a moist top layer of potting mix, but do not overwater.

Polka Dot Plant Propagation via Soil Division

The Polka Dot Plant has a unique characteristic. If the polka-dot plant flowers wither, there will be a lot of small buds growing from the bottom of the main stem if it is in a place with scattered light. You can now cover the small buds with soil to encourage them to grow small roots.

These small buds will continue to grow into plants once the root system is established. Then you’ll have a cluster of polka-dot plants that look great and can be used to divide and propagate new independent plants. The following are the steps for propagating the Polka Dot plant from Division.

  • Before division propagation, stop watering for a few days so that you can clean the soil more easily.
  • Remove your Polka Dot Plant from its container. Clean the soil thoroughly to remove any roots. Then, to detangle the plant, cut off the odd root.
  • Keep an eye on the root system. Break off the small buds with some roots with care, or cut the small buds from the mother plant with a sterilized knife. It’s entirely up to you how many new plants you want to grow, and it’s entirely dependent on your mother plant.
  • Place the newly potted Polka Dot Plants in a location with bright, indirect light after planting each new plant in a pot with soil mix.
  • Take normal care of these plants.

How to Propagate the Polka Dot Plant by Seed in Soil


When propagating polka-dot plants by seed, if you don’t already have them, allow the seedheads to dry on the plant before removing them. Sow the seeds in a tray or pot filled with damp peat moss, perlite, or a well-draining potting mix once you’ve collected them and stored them until planting time. Keep the containers in a warm, indirect light location until the seeds germinate, then transplant them into individual pots and place them in a sunny spot outside. Ideally, you should do this before the last expected frost, during the spring or summer. Polka dot plants require warm temperatures (around 70-75 F or 21-24 C) to germinate from the seed, and they will do so if the conditions are right in about two weeks.

Once the seedlings appear, stop watering them and let their soil dry out for about a week to help them develop a stronger root system. To keep heat and moisture in, a clear plastic covering over the tray or pot is usually helpful. This will aid in the rapid germination of seeds. This should be placed in a location that receives only indirect sunlight. They can be repotted or planted outdoors in a partially shaded area with well-draining soil once they are established and strong enough. It will be necessary to keep the soil moist at all times, but only lightly fertilized.

How to Care for Polka Dot Plants After Propagation

Good lighting is required to keep the colors of the Polka Dot plant leaves bright and vibrant. The best lighting is bright, indirect light. Nutrient-rich, well-draining, and moist but not soggy soil is ideal. Please see “How to Care for the Polka Dot Plant” for more information on how to care for your Polka Dot plant.

How to Care for Polka Dot Plants

The first time I saw a polka-dot plant, I wondered if it was real. I thought it looked like something a child might draw if you asked her to design plant leaves, seemingly spattered with splotches of pink paint. It’s so much fun. And delicate, too. I’ve known polka-dot plant owners to protect their plants with wards against hail when a storm was approaching, much as you might do for an infant. It is just delightful!

The polka-dot plant is often described as being simple to grow but to be honest, I haven’t given it much attention, and it still looks fantastic. I’m not sure if there are any specific conditions that my plant prefers, or if the biggest issue is that I’m just too nice. I can see this being a great addition to someone’s garden or patio who enjoys cute and whimsy, but I haven’t found it to be entirely true. I’ve experimented with lighting to prevent legginess on the one hand and fading on the other, and I came dangerously close to ruining my first polka dot by overwatering it after the leaves appeared shriveled.

I’ve come to believe that too much water causes the leaves to respond quickly, so I’d recommend watering sparingly for the first year or two until you get a feel for things. I’m not trying to discourage you; with just a few guidelines, you can master polka-dot plant care. And she’ll be well worth the effort!

Light Requirements

The beautiful variegated leaves of polka-dot plants are well-known. In bright, indirect light, your polka-dot plant will thrive. If you can’t get enough of the lovely pink, silver, or red patches, make sure your plants are getting enough light. Mine is on my desk, in front of a window with a sheer linen curtain that faces south. A bright east-or west-facing window will suffice as well.

The plant will tell you whether or not the light is right. For example, if it doesn’t get enough light, it will get leggy, meaning your plant will start growing leggy (long-stemmed, with fewer leaves) and the variegation will gradually fade away or turn uniformly green rather than colorful. On the other hand, if the leaves are curling or drying up, or if the color seems to be fading, it’s getting too much light. If the light isn’t right, the plant will tell you. If your plant doesn’t get enough light, for example, it will become leggy (long-stemmed, with fewer leaves) and the variegation will gradually fade away or turn uniformly green rather than colorful. It’s getting too much light if the leaves are curling or drying up, or if the color appears to be fading.

It’s ideal to have strong but indirect light, such as on a windowsill that doesn’t get direct sunlight. Polka dot plants thrive under full-spectrum lighting as well.

Soil and pots

Polka_Dot_Plant in pot

As previously stated, polka-dot plants aren’t fussy about their soil. Plant your polka dot plant in a rich, well-draining, medium-moisture soil. Because the plant is susceptible to root rot, lighten the soil with peat moss or perlite if it is too heavy. You want the roots to have access to oxygen and the soil to drain well, but you also don’t want it to dry out too quickly.

A combination of standard potting soil and a handful of perlite should suffice. You can add a handful of compost or worm castings to any mix for an extra nutritional boost that your plants will appreciate. You need a nutrient-dense, well-drained mixture. You should choose a pot with adequate drainage so the roots do not become submerged in water.

Temperature and climate

Your polka-dot plant thrives in a temperature range of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. (If grown outside, it is sensitive to the cold.) When the weather turns cold, it’s a good idea to bring your polka-dot plant inside. Late September or early October is the best time to bring in your mature polka-dot plant for the winter. The leaves will have turned yellow/red and will need to protect from any hard freezes.

Humidity Requirements

Although polka dot plants do not require a humid environment, they do prefer a humidity level of 50% or higher. This may not always be possible depending on where you live, but there are some small things you can do to assist your plants. You could also try growing polka-dot plants in areas with a lot of rain.

You can put your plants in the bathroom, for example, where the humidity is naturally higher. Of course, this will only work if you have a window in your bathroom! A humidifier can also use.

Here are some suggestions for increasing humidity for your plants:

  • Every day or so, spray it with water.
  • plant in the terrarium.
  • Put it in a humid environment, like a bathroom with a shower.
  • Pour water into the tray after placing the pot on a tray of pebbles or stones. Remember that you don’t want the water to soak into the bottom of the pot (root rot!) so keep the level in the tray below the bottom of the pot.
  • Gather all of the plants together.

Watering Needs

When it comes to watering polka-dot plants, keep the soil lightly moist but not soggy at all times. Really, it’s just like most tropical houseplants! It dries out quickly at the same time; if it doesn’t get enough moisture, the leaves may curl and shrivel (as they do if it gets too much sun).

In most cases, you may need to water your plants once or twice a week. This, however, varies greatly depending on how dry or warm your house is at different times of the year.

So I water mine when the top half-inch of soil is dry, rather than waiting for the top inch to dry, as I do with most other plants. That means twice-weekly watering for my plant in its terra-cotta pot. Your plant may require more or less watering depending on the size of your pot and the size of your plant. Poking your finger an inch or so into the soil is the easiest way to check. You can skip watering that day if the soil feels moist.

Tending and pruning

Whenever I water my polka-dot plants, I pinch or cut them back. To keep the plant from growing long, lanky branches, you’ll need a pair of clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears. Cut or pinch back the top two leaves on each stem once a week to promote a bushier growth habit. Otherwise, they can quickly become very leggy. As an added bonus, all of the pinchings allow the polka dots to develop mature leaves rather than pretty new growth (which is much more “eatable” for slugs). To encourage bushier growth, simply cut or pinch back any leggy-looking stems. Within a few days of trimming, you’ll notice that the stems thicken and your plant’s “bushiness” emerges.


If your plant begins to bloom, I also recommend cutting off any flower spikes. Although the flowers are attractive and they are small, lilac blooms that are barely noticeable, they aren’t nearly as attractive as the leaves. The plant usually dies after flowering. By removing the flower spikes, the plant can focus its blooming energy on its lovely foliage instead.


Polka dot plants are voracious eaters who enjoy being fertilized. Polka-dot plants, like many other houseplants, benefit from extra nutrients during the growing season (spring and summer). From early spring to fall, use a diluted general fertilizer once a month to help promote new growth with a basic organic houseplant fertilizer.

When houseplants like the polka-dot plant aren’t actively growing in the fall and winter, you shouldn’t fertilize them.

Common plant diseases and pests:

Common pests that enjoy polka dot plants are mealybugs, aphids, spider mites, thrips, and blackflies. These pests aren’t normally harmful to the plant itself, but they can be unsightly and may need to have the pests removed before they spread. Typical diseases associated with polka dot plants are root rot, leaf-spot diseases, rust, southern blight, and powdery mildew. 

It’s important to have well-drained soil to avoid these diseases from entering and flourishing. Symptoms of these insects or diseases include discolored foliage, leaves with holes or otherwise appearing unhealthy, and small bugs moving on the leaves. As bugs on polka dot plant infestations are usually dealt with by applications of pesticides, foliar sprays should be applied directly and for only as long as the time specified.

Common Polka Dot Plant Problems 

Once you have the right growing conditions, polka-dot plants are relatively easy to grow. Here are some of the most common issues and their possible solutions.

Curling Leaves or Color Loss in Leaves

Overexposure to the sun is the most common cause of curling leaves and fading leaf color. To keep its color, Hypoestes phyllostachya requires bright, indirect light. It must, however, be kept out of direct sunlight. If it’s in a container, relocate it to a more shady location. Consider putting some cover over it if it’s in the ground.

Leaves are browning or drooping.

The polka-dot plant’s leaves can turn brown or droop due to a lack of water and humidity. In addition, too much sun can cause the leaves to burn. The leaves of a polka dot plant can also turn brown due to hard water or over-fertilization. To see if you can revive the plant, adjust the humidity or watering habits.

Leaves turning yellow or dropping off

Overwatering causes yellowing of the plant’s leaves. Soggy soil causes the yellowing of the leaves and leaf drop. Over-watering can also lead to other severe problems, like root rot and powdery mildew. If you notice leaves yellowing, reduce the amount of water you give the plant and make sure you’re using potting soil with good drainage.

Are polka-dot plants harmful to cats and dogs?

Fortunately, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, polka-dot plants are not toxic to cats and dogs. Some cats, on the other hand, appear to have a general dislike for them (after all, what’s not to like about polka-dots, right?). In fact, they are not toxic to humans and are only mildly irritating when they are touched.

While this is fantastic news for any pet owner, it is important to remember to keep the plants out of harm’s way at all times. Those brightly colored leaves can be almost too tempting to resist! Simply contemplating the possibility of your beloved cat chomping on an unfamiliar houseplant can be a frightening prospect. However, your feline may experience some discomfort as a result of this, so pay close attention. To avoid this, you should look for a space-saving solution that can be used indoors or outdoors. Visit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) for more information.


In my opinion, Polka Dot Plants are the best choice for displaying or decorating your room with natural organic plants. They’re simple to care for and propagate (awesome). If you’re looking for something unique, I think these are fantastic! By choosing this polka-dot plant, you can enhance the beauty of your surroundings.

The polka-dot plant is very popular among houseplant collectors because of its spotted, colorful leaves. This unusual houseplant doesn’t require much care and can be kept in small spaces. Your polka-dot plant’s color will gradually change as it is exposed to natural sunlight. Growing your own can be difficult, but with this guide, you’ll have everything you need to succeed.

People also ask

Do polka-dot plants come back every year?

You can extend the life of Hypoestes Sanguinolenta by growing it indoors. The Polka dot plant, on the other hand, will complete its life cycle in a year if grown outdoors. If you want this lovely plant to be a year-round addition to your garden, try propagating new plants every year.

Should I trim my polka-dot plant?

Polka dot plant can tolerate low light, but we don’t recommend growing it in low light for long periods of time because it can become tall and lanky. You can prune the polka-dot plant back at any time if it becomes too tall. The Polka Dot Plant can be kept small and bushy by giving it a haircut.

Is the polka-dot plant a perennial?

Madagascar is home to polka-dot plants. They are perennial herbaceous shrubs with woody stems that mature over time. The plant can grow up to 3 feet tall in its natural habitat, but pot-grown specimens are usually smaller. The main reason for growing this plant is the foliage.

Why is my polka dot plant flowering?

I agree that blooms do not necessarily indicate that your Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) is dying, but most people grow these small plants for their attractive foliage rather than their inconspicuous blooms. The older, gangly bloom stems are discarded after the blooms fade, and new growth emerges in late winter or early spring.