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Plant Profile: Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)

Native to the tropics of Madagascar, this tender herbaceous perennial or evergreen subshrub is a member of the acanthus family, Acanthaceaea, that also includes bear’s breeches, shrimp plant, and Thunbergia. Plants grow 1-2′ tall and have 2″ long, oval leaves that are green with purple-pink or white spots. Sporadically throughout the summer terminal, 6″ long spike-like racemes appear bearing small pink, blue or lavender flowers. The spikes are not considered ornamental and some gardeners remove them so as not to detract from the foliage. Although considered a houseplant in the past, polka dot plant is increasingly used in borders and containers. The genus name, Hypoestes, comes from the Greek words hypo, meaning under, and estia, meaning house, and refers to the fact that the calyxes are covered by bracts. The specific epithet, phyllostachya comes from the Greek words φύλλον (phúllon ) meaning leaf, and στάχυς (stákhus) meaning ear of grain, referring to the spike like inflorescence. Photo Credit Forest & Kim Starr Wikipedia

Flower of polka dot plant

Type: Tender herbaceous perennial or evergreen subshrub often grown as an annual or houseplant

Bloom: Terminal, 6″ long spike-like racemes of small, tubular pink, blue or lavender flowers sporadically all summer
Size: 1-2′ H x 8-12″ W

Light: Partial sun

Soil: Fertile, consistently moist, well-drained; likes high humidity

Hardiness: Zones 10-11

Care: Pinch tips to promote bushiness

Pests and Diseases: Powdery mildew, root rot; aphids, white flies, mealy bugs when grown inside


Companion Plants: Impatients, caladium, New Guinea impatients

Outstanding Selections:

‘Confetti Blush’ (white veined olive green leaves)

‘Hippo’ (dark green and red leaves)

‘Pink Splash’ (green and pale pink leaves)

‘White Splash’ (green and white leaves)

Photo Credit: The Titou Wikipedia