We independently select everything we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

Hypoestes phyllostachya

Polka Dot Plant: Small, Vibrant Houseplant

An adorable little plant with bright, variegated leaves, the polka dot plant is an excellent addition to any home. Some people label them an easy-care plant, but they can be finicky to grow initially. Once you get them figured out, they are a plant you will love.

Other names for this plant...

Baby's Tears Flamingo Plant Freckle Face Measles Plant Pink Splash Hypoestes

About Polka Dot Plant

Plant growers enjoy these plants because they are pretty and come in varying foliage colors. These beauties filter the air, and their lovely aesthetics are sure to brighten your mood.

With a moderate growth rate, the polka dots stay small when kept as indoor plants. They are also flowering plants as if they are not pretty enough with their polka dot leaves.

Botanical Name

Hypoestes phyllostachya

Plant Type

Polka dot plants are herbaceous perennials. This means their roots remain alive and produce new growth each year, while the plant part dies back to the ground. When grown as a houseplant, polka dot plants survive year-round, simply going dormant and not producing new growth during the winter.


The polka dot plant originates from Madagascar, South Africa.


Polka dot houseplants often have red, pink, or white leaves with green spots. Interestingly, they can also appear to have green leaves with different colored leaf spotting. They grow in low-mound foliage and can be displayed alone or with other plants. They are sporadic bloomers with beautiful, small flowers.

Spots can be pink, red, white, or a combination of these colors, resembling polka dots.

Types Of Polka Dot Plants

  • Carmina

  • Confetti Series

  • Pink Brocade

  • Pink Dot (or Pink Spot)

  • Purparina

  • Red Splash

  • White Splash

Polka Dot Plant Styling 

The polka dot plant is a mounding houseplant that looks great in a pot or hanging planter. Group them with other tropical plants for a pop of color amid a sea of greenery.

In a larger pot, you can plant several different varieties of polka dot plants together for an explosion of red, pink, and green!

Polka dot plants add a splash of color to any space.


The polka dot plant prefers bright and filtered light, although it can handle some full sun. However, more heat and direct sun equate to more frequent watering. Keep an eye on your plant for signs of under-watering or too much sun.


Water this plant when the top half-inch of soil is dry to the touch. Any drier than that and the leaves will quickly begin to droop.

This is where polka dot plants can be a bit finicky until you identify an ideal watering schedule.


This plant grows best in temperatures between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. They can tolerate as low as 50 degrees for short amounts of time, but they will not thrive in cool temperatures.


Polka dot plants like humidy levels above 50%. Their leaves will dry out in low humidity, especially in the winter. Mist your plants between waterings or use a humidifier or pebble tray to increase humidity.


The best potting soil for a polka dot is organically rich soil mixed with peat moss with excellent drainage. All-purpose organic potting mix mixed with perlite can improve soil drainage while maintaining moisture.


Pruning your plant to eliminate dead or overgrown branches will help it stay healthy and extend the growing season. Sometimes the polka-dot plant gets leggy, and pruning can help with legginess.

Because polka dot plants are a mounding plant, pruning longer stems both prevents the plant from getting leggy and promotes a full, bushier appearance.


Feed your polka dot plant with a balanced houseplant fertilizer. A 20-20-20 at half-strength twice a month from spring through fall will keep your plant happy and promote new growth.

Height & Growth

These plants are relatively small and tend to grow no higher than 12-18 inches tall, with a similar width.


These plants are non-toxic and safe for homes with pets and small children.


Polka dot plants are not toxic to animals.

Common Problems 

  • Under-Watering: If your plant has insufficient water or humidity, it can lead to the leaves very quickly drooping or turning brown.

  • Over-Watering: Too much water can lead to root rot, which can kill the plant. Yellowing leaves and mushy stems are a sign your plant is getting too much water.

  • Insufficient Light: Poor light conditions can make a plant leggy and stunt growth. Even if the best you can do is indirect light, ensure the plant gets at least six hours daily.

  • Pests: Many pests, such as aphids, whiteflies, and mealybugs, can adversely impact the plant's growth.

Lack of sun can cause polka dot plants to grow long and leggy instead of bushy.

How To Propagate Polka Dot Plant

Propagating a polka dot plant is relatively easy. You just cut off a plant stem with at least two leaves at the top with a couple of visible nodes. Make sure your piece is at least two inches long, and remove any leaves from the bottom of the stem.

You can use water to propagate this type of plant. Just submerge the bottom of the stem, ensuring at least one node is underwater. Place the plant in a well-lit spot, where it will get indirect sunlight, and wait. You may need to change the water once a week if it gets murky.

Once you have at least two inches of root, plant it in soil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a polka dot plant easy to care for?

Polka dot plants are considered easy-care plants, but they can be finicky about water and sun until you figure out a schedule and good location for them.

Is the polka dot plant an indoor plant?

These plants thrive indoors and are popular indoor plants. They also grow outside in warm climates.

Do polka dot plants need sun or shade?

These plants need plenty of sunlight to grow properly.

Articles about this plant