Skip to main content

A polka dot plant adds color and life to your home – here’s how to care for it

Your lovely polka dot plant can thrive indoors with these plant care and maintenance tips

Top view of a polka dot plant
Iwan Widiyatno/Shutterstock

Houseplants have a lot of benefits, like elevating your mood and purifying the air. Arguably their best benefit, though, is that they liven up a room with style and color. That’s why the polka dot plant is so popular. It has bright, colorful foliage that comes in a variety of shades, like pink, white, green, and red. That’s how this lovely plant adds a splash of color to match any decor.

While they certainly brighten up the room, polka dot plants can be finicky, and they do have a strict care routine. We’ll discuss what you need to do to help your polka dot plant thrive indoors.

Polka dot plant among other indoor plants in terra cotta pots
cottonbro studio / Pexels

Are they high-maintenance plants?

Also known as Hypoestes phyllostachya, the polka dot plant requires some attention to its watering and humidity needs. However, these plants are generally considered low-maintenance plants. With general care and a proper growing environment, they can thrive and add a vibrant touch to your indoor space.

White watering can
Teona Swift/Pexels

How do you care for a polka dot plant when it’s indoors?

If you want to enjoy that colorful foliage of these beautiful plants inside your home, you’ll just need to pay close attention to your polka dot plant and give it the care it needs, when it needs it.

Recommended Videos

How often should I water my polka dot plant?

Root rot is a common concern with houseplants and it occurs when the roots are sitting for too long in water. Polka dot plants don’t like to be over- or under-watered, as they’ll either get root rot or they’ll dry up if they are watered improperly. They do need to be watered fairly frequently, but watering on a strict schedule can lead to too much or too little water. It’s better to let the plant tell you when it needs water. Polka dot plants don’t like to dry out completely, so water yours when only the top half-inch of the pot’s soil is completely dry.

How much light do polka dot plants need?

These beauties love bright, indirect sunlight, but they don’t fare well in either extreme, like low-light conditions or long hours of direct sunlight. The best place to set up your polka dot plant is near an east- or south-facing window so it can soak up as much natural light as possible without being in the sun’s direct rays for too long.

How and when to fertilize a polka dot plant

Polka dot plants are known to be heavy feeders, and they need regular fertilizing during their growing period between spring and fall. Use an organic plant fertilizer once a month during the warmer season to promote new growth and keep your polka dot plant well-fed.

Temperature and humidity levels for your polka dot plant

Since it’s native to Madagascar, the polka dot plant prefers high temperatures and humidity. A temperature above 70 degrees F should be sufficient, but polka dot plants prefer humidity levels around 50%, which is on the high end of the average home’s humidity.

Consider running a humidifier in the room or misting the leaves occasionally. You can also set the plant on a tray filled with water and pebbles to boost the humidity around the plant. Just be sure the water isn’t touching the bottom of the planter, so root rot is avoided.

Prune for a bushier polka dot plant

Polka dot plants easily become leggy when growing conditions aren’t perfect, so you may need to do some pruning to make your plant a bit bushier. Cut or pinch off the top two leaves every week to promote growth and make your plant fuller. If you start to see blooms, make sure you prune them off right away. Flowers are nice, but once flowering is finished, the plant will start to die or go dormant.

Polka dot plant, also known as Hypoestes phyllostachya, has green leaves with a little bit of pink
Cathy Php/Shutterstock

What are some common issues with polka dot plants?

Since it’s a finicky plant, you may see signs of distress at some point in the life of your polka dot plant. You don’t have to panic as long as you address the issues right away. That’s why it’s important to pay regular attention to the needs of your polka dot plant. Here are some common issues you might see.

The plant gets leggy

As mentioned, polka dot plants get leggy quickly when conditions aren’t premium, and the culprit is usually that it’s not getting enough light. Move your plant to a brighter location, and keep to a tight schedule of pruning to promote new growth.

Colors on leaves fade

Another issue with too little light is that a polka dot plant may start to fade in color. If its location is shady or doesn’t have bright light, move it to a brighter location. If it’s been in direct sunlight, however, the culprit may be that it’s getting too much sun. If that’s the case, move the plant to a location with a bit less light.

Brown or dry, curling leaves

Unfortunately, polka dot plant leaves go straight from colorful to brown without the warning signs of yellowing first. A brown leaf (or several) could be the result of many different culprits, including:

  • Too little water
  • Hard water
  • Too little light
  • Too much fertilizer
  • Not enough humidity
  • Too much direct sunlight

In order to find the culprit, start by checking the soil’s moisture and adjusting your watering and misting schedule if it’s too dry. Try using distilled or filtered water for a while as well. Then, examine the light conditions in the room and make adjustments to your polka dot’s placement. If more leaves continue to brown, skip the next fertilizing session and give the soil a good soak to remove some of the excess fertilizer.

Polka dot plants are a beautiful addition to any indoor space, particularly because of their colorful foliage. While they’re gorgeous, these plants tend to be demanding, and diligence is needed when caring for them. As long as you’re keeping an eye on your polka dot plant and adjusting your care routine based on its needs, it will flourish indoors like a champ.

Editors' Recommendations

Veronica Sparks
Veronica Sparks is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who loves writing about gardening, home décor, and DIY life. She’s…
Why your home should have an areca palm (and how to care for it)
Tips for properly caring for an indoor areca palm plant
Decorative areca palm

Your aesthetic indoor plants should reflect your unique style, and they should integrate seamlessly with your home's decor. Indoor palms are a joy for anyone wanting to bring a piece of the greenery from warmer climates into their interior design. If you're looking for a bold, tropical addition to your indoor space, an areca palm is a perfect choice. With their substantial height and sharp, feathery foliage, these palms add a fresh and bright statement to any room. Let's talk about the benefits of growing an areca palm in your home and how to care for this gorgeous plant properly.
Can an areca palm grow indoors?
While they can get substantially taller when planted outdoors, areca palms can still grow pretty well and actually make for fantastic indoor plants, reaching heights between six and seven feet tall. They'll grow between six to ten inches every year until they reach their mature height. Then these plants can last up to a decade indoors. You can limit the size of your areca palm by housing it in a planter that keeps it root-bound.

Benefits of having an areca palm indoors
Not only does this tall indoor plant bring aesthetic design and a mood-lifting splash of the tropics into your home, but it also offers numerous health benefits. This attractive palm can improve indoor air quality by removing toxins and adding humidity to the air, which is great if your indoor air tends to be a bit dry. Caring for a living thing like this palm is also a mood booster in itself.

Read more
Buying a forever home? This site shows how future flooding could affect your neighborhood
This research shows the real impact of being cut off from rising sea levels
best netflix ocean documentary woman

Buying a new home is one of the biggest decisions you'll make in your life. It can be stressful, and in addition to all the considerations like schools, location, neighborhood, and home type, you also need to plan for emergencies. For those looking to buy on one of the coasts, flooding can be one of those risks you need to think about when finding your forever home. But not just flooding of your home; what will happen if that flooding results in your home being displaced from essential services like grocery stores, hospitals, and schools? It's not something we think about every day, but for some, that possibility is closer than you may think.

A group of researchers from the University of Maryland and University of Canterbury showed that "targeted, effective, and timely climate change adaptation planning relies on estimates of how many people may be forced from their homes by sea-level rise and when this displacement will start to occur." Simply put, they measured the possible isolation driven by sea level rise due to climate change.

Read more
The best tall indoor plants to liven up your living room
Give your living room some natural vibes with a tall indoor plant
Living room with plants

When your living room needs some lively changes, tall indoor plants certainly do the trick. Tall indoor plants can act as both stylish decor for your living room and your personal connection to nature from within your home, which can boost your mood and health.

Still, the living room is your place to sit back and relax, and the vibe of the space should be conducive to that. If the design of this space is feeling dull, living room plants are a simple and effective solution to bring calming life back into the room. Here are five tall indoor plants that can enhance the energy of any living room.

Read more