Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Polka Dot Plant, Polka-Dot Plant, Freckle Face
Hypoestes phyllostachya

Family: Acanthaceae (ah-kanth-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Hypoestes (hy-poh-ES-teez) (Info)
Species: phyllostachya (fy-lo-STAK-ee-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Hypoestes sanguinolenta

18 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Tropicals and Tender Perennials

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade


Bloom Color:
Pale Pink
Magenta (Pink-Purple)
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year
Blooms repeatedly

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 34 photos.
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21 positives
4 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive creash On Jun 9, 2013, creash from Logansport, IN wrote:

Adorable little plant! However, here of late, mine has gotten quite leggy. Anyone know how to deal with this?

Positive amansker On Jun 28, 2010, amansker from Escondido, CA wrote:

My girlfriend makes fun of me for loving these plants, but sa la vie. They look great from about April through August or so in Vista, CA (Zone 9). Then they get leggy with small leaves and I haven't found a way to prevent that. They have survived 3 winters now and keep coming back. Mine haven't seeded out (though they do flower), but very easy to propagate. Grown in shade with bright light, but can tolerate some direct sun here.

Positive DracoVolans On Aug 17, 2009, DracoVolans from Crestline, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I'm "plant-sitting" one of these pretty little things, and I've always liked them for their colour. I had one for a very short while back in my hometown of Winnipeg, but I had no idea how to care for it and it came with no instructions (bought from a Safeway flowershop- don't get anything there) and it died. It's one of the few plants I've never had thrive, but armed with new info, I hope to do better!

Anyway, I'm SO gonna snip a cutting of this. If the comments about it being easily propagated are true, I'm on it!

Positive hollyjadams12 On Apr 22, 2008, hollyjadams12 from Seekonk, MA wrote:

I purchased my plant in a tiny pot. I thought the coloring was very pretty. I got it in the middle of winter and was unsure if it would make it but it did. I have since planted it in an indoor window box and it has done very well. I have many tall plants with hand-sized leaves and it continues to grow.

Negative LarissaH On Oct 3, 2007, LarissaH from Denton, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

They looked cute enough in the pot, full leaves, good color. Then I planted 'em and they got tall and spindly with much smaller leaves.

Positive aspenbooboo41 On Jun 21, 2007, aspenbooboo41 from Whitehall, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

I got one of these a little over a month ago and planted it outside in a container. The leaves are a dark, almost reddish, color and the speckles are bright pink. It's been in full sun ever since I planted it and it's doing great! It has maintained its color, grown to about 5 times bigger, and has already flowered. An outstanding foliage plant!

I was happy to read that someone has had success with cuttings rooted in water.. great news!

Positive mspitalnik On Apr 13, 2007, mspitalnik from Newport, RI wrote:

I've loved this plant since my roommate dropped one off for me in the basement of the IT building in college. It lived quite happily there in its pink plastic pot for over a year, never seeing sunlight. It nearly died when flooding shut of electricity to the building and access to water it for a week, but when I brought it out and watered it, it mostly perked back up, though it had lost a lot of leaves. It did quite as well, though, after the flourescent lights were shut off in favor of incandescent desk lamps , though, and eventually passed on.

I got another one about three years ago, however. It loves office buildings, because of the flourescent lights, although it does just fine with an hour of morning light on my home office desk now.

If you're a forgetful waterer, like me (this plant will wilt when it needs water, and perk up within an hour), get a self-watering pot and give it the occaisional splash on top (it seems to like it when its leaves get wet, too.)

Now that I have my house, I think I'm going to try planting a few of these outside (in coastal RI) and see how they do. We don't mind cute little splashes of color in our lawn :)

Positive Angel_D On Sep 1, 2006, Angel_D from Quincy, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

According to "All About Houseplants" (Ortho Books) this plant will get spindly and weak if light is too low.

The book recommends at least 4 hrs of curtained filtered sunlight in a bright south, east, or west window.

The book also says to prune it frequently to keep it at 12" of height, otherwise it will get leggy.

Positive Pashta On Jun 16, 2006, Pashta from Moncks Corner, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

Bought as a small nearly dead plant. under grow lights it has done very well. Gets plenty of water and light. Is getting kind of leggy, but I thihnk thats because its young. I dont know whether or not to trim it down a little bit or just to let it go. I like this plant though, its very sweet and easy to maintain.

Positive deefilly On Oct 10, 2005, deefilly from Esko, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

I enjoy the unusual color variability of this plant. It does well in shade in our zone 4. Mine did not get leggy.

Positive mkirkwag On Oct 10, 2005, mkirkwag from Bellevue, WA wrote:

I grow it as a house plant. It puts up with a lot (I've let my smallest one faint a couple of times, and it has perked right back up when watered), and thrives indoors. However, I've never been able to convince them to keep their vivid color, even with a southern exposure. It's pretty gray where I live, and that might account for it. I'm going to try moving them to the plant room under a 600w HPS lamp for awhile and see if that helps.

Neutral Happy_1 On Jul 4, 2005, Happy_1 from Chicago, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

It came with the label "Polka Dot Plant"...but has a different name than the other...Only growing about 2 months and getting tall, 12" and leaves are getting very small and stem getting bigger...Will cut back and maybe it will get bushy again....No the pretty little big leaf plant that I purchased..

Positive mike3k On Mar 10, 2005, mike3k from Fort Lauderdale, FL (Zone 11) wrote:

I have a few growing in a shady spot and they're doing great. One of them is flowering, and I never knew they flowered.

Positive NativePlantFan9 On Nov 12, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Polka-dot Plant is a very beautiful excellent plant as a shrub along a fence or as a border! It is also a great houseplant that can be stored in a pot as a somewhat bushy shrub - very beautiful pink dots on the leaves that hence the plant's name!

MORE FACTS - Hardy here in zone 10, south Florida. Most often seen in pots.

Positive julie88 On Sep 18, 2004, julie88 from Muscoda, WI (Zone 4b) wrote:

In zone 4b, obviously this plant is not hardy. However, it is one of the nicest additions I've found for my shade borders. My love affair with the Polk Dot plant begun innocently enough with tiny little "houseplant" given to me for a wintertime 'pick-me-up' gift. It sat in my kitchen window growing happily for several months...even put up with several lapses of my watering memory. When I saw a Hypoestes plant offered in a gardening catalog for the "Shady border" I thought it might be 'similar' to my houseplant so I ordered it.

I was very surprised to find that I could actually plant my little Polka Dot plant outdoors for the summer. Not only did it survive flourished!

I found the best part of growing this plant is that I don't need to start it from seed. It produces roots when cuttings are placed in water...I've even made several 'new' plants by pinching a couple of inches from the growing tips and sticking those "pinchings" into the pot next to the mother plant.

As long as I don't kill them with neglect, the Hypoestes - Polka Dot plant will be a permanent and delightful resident in my shade gardens.


Positive gailfus On Aug 2, 2004, gailfus from Milwaukee, WI wrote:

I planted two very small plants in a too-big pot in April and they have flourished beyond belief. They are in a moderately screened west window (occasional full sun) with an orchid and a Christmas cactus (don't ask...). What gets me is that they have already bloomed!!! The blooms are tiny, but very cute and a very bright fushia. This plant is very tolerant of a mild amount of carelessness and looks so nice in an office on a large desk or shelf.

Neutral Khyssa On Jul 13, 2004, Khyssa from Inverness, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

The name I'm familiar with for this plant id Pink Splash. I like this plant when it stays fairly small and compact. I have it planted under a 20 foot crape myrtle and it is thriving. It dies back in the winter and reappears each spring, basically requiring little to no care. The main problem I have had with the plant is that here in zone 9 it is a very aggresive spreader. If I don't keep a close eye on it it'll take over the whole flower bed chocking everything else out. Also, when the plant has to compete with tall, somewhat dense plants it can reach a height of 5-6 feet and take on a rather leggy appearance.

Positive htop On Aug 21, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, TX
Super plant for a shady area. They have more variegation in a partial shade or filtered sun situation in my zone. I cut them back in July because they become leggy. They are root hardy here, at least for the last 5 years, and reseed even in my St. Augustine grass! They are easy to relocate in another spot or share with someone. They are not what one would describe as invasive.

Positive blumzalot On Aug 21, 2003, blumzalot from Trussville, AL wrote:

This is my first season with this plant. I love it! The pink variety mixes beautifully with different shades of periwinkle in full sun, and also with impatiens in partial shade. I have it in the ground and also in containers, mixed with caladiums and ipomea. I am trying all of the different varieties this summer and love them all. I am in zone 7 (right on the border of zone 8). I wouldn't mind little reseeding, but don't know at this point if that will be the case.

Positive Cajun2 On Jul 23, 2003, Cajun2 from (Carole) Cleveland, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I LOVE this plant! I have only gardened for two years, but after seeing this beauty survive the Texas sun and heat, I'll never be without it again!

However, not being winter hardy here, and since I've never seen seeds packaged in the store, and since I've never seen seeds on my plant, I'm hopeful I can collect seeds myself. If not, I'll no doubt be buying it in the plant nursery next spring.


Positive Monocromatico On Apr 28, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

I had a dwarf plant, with dark green leaves and red spots, the cuttest thing ever. It died after an attack from aphids

Positive vroomp On Apr 28, 2003, vroomp from Marietta, GA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I find this plant to be relatively carefree. Outside in spring and summer in my zone, it thrives. In winter I keep indoors where it blooms with small blue flowers. A great addition to a shady spot in your garden.

Positive smiln32 On Aug 8, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

I love these things, but am not a little worried about the whole reseeding situation. :) I have them in several areas. I have to pinch them back from time to time as they grow quite tall (3 ft). The flowers are very small, but cute.

Positive talinum On May 6, 2002, talinum from Kearney, NE (Zone 5a) wrote:

I started these from seed in spring of 2001. It was easy to germinate. At the end of the season I potted up one plant and put it in a greenhouse for the winter. It bloomed mid-winter and reseeded all around the pot. The blooms are not attractive. I have repotted the seedlings for this year. I like them grouped several to a pot or outside in a shady bed. I can see they might reseed extensively in a warmer climate. These were easy to pull up.

Neutral BotanyBob On Aug 9, 2001, BotanyBob from Thousand Oaks, CA wrote:

Grown in warmer climates, but not zone 11, this plant is still a perenial, in that it will defoliate, but come back in the spring. However, it also is a prolific seed producer in the fall and the spring may reveal hundreds of little pink polka dot plants all over the yard. They are easy to weed out, but a warning must be made about invasiveness. It tolerates some sun, but does best in filtered light. It is somewhat drought tolerant in Southern California, but does grow better with plenty of water.

Neutral killerdaisy On Aug 8, 2001, killerdaisy from Dallas, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Small green foliage with splashes of pink, white, or lighter green. Warm-season annual in zones 3-10, perennial in zone 11. Provide plentiful water.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Jones, Alabama
Trussville, Alabama
Castro Valley, California
Elk Grove, California
Fremont, California
Merced, California
Sacramento, California
San Mateo, California
Tarzana, California
Valley Village, California
Van Nuys, California
Vista, California
Yorba Linda, California
Apopka, Florida
Bartow, Florida
Brooksville, Florida (2 reports)
Delray Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Mc Coy, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Inverness, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (3 reports)
Keystone Heights, Florida
Ocala, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida (2 reports)
Saint Cloud, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii
Jacksonville, Illinois
New Iberia, Louisiana
Zachary, Louisiana
Cumberland, Maryland
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Esko, Minnesota
Middlesex, New Jersey
Edgewood, New Mexico
Poughkeepsie, New York
Brevard, North Carolina
Burgaw, North Carolina
Rocky Mount, North Carolina
Rowland, North Carolina
Mustang, Oklahoma
Talihina, Oklahoma
Catasauqua, Pennsylvania
Vieques, Puerto Rico
North Augusta, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Hendersonville, Tennessee
Arlington, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Denton, Texas
Desoto, Texas
Houston, Texas (2 reports)
Lubbock, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Sugar Land, Texas
Richlands, Virginia
Muscoda, Wisconsin

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