Houseplant Care Tips

Various Houseplant Care Tips Including Watering and Lighting Requirements.

Houseplant Care Tips

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Polka Dot (Freckle Face) Plant Care

Common Name: Polka Dot Plant, Freckle Face
Scientific Name: Hypoestes phyllostachya
Lighting: Moderate to Low
Watering: Moderate

Polka Dot plants are really neat little houseplants. Their red, pink and white dotted foliage add character to any space. Plus they are a small, delicate looking houseplant. Polka Dot (Freckle Face) plants can also be placed in your outside garden as an annual. The distinct colors make a great contrast next to other outdoor plants.

The Polka Dot plant requires moderate light. Keeping the plant within 2 feet of a window is perfect as long as it doesn't receive much more than 5 hours of direct sunlight. Correct lighting will help keep the plant maintaining its spots.

For this houseplant, you should keep the soil moist at all times, however do not over water the plants so that the soil becomes soggy. Make sure you do not allow the soil to dry out in-between watering. If the foliage begins to wilt, you are probably under watering the plant. After watering, the houseplant will usually spark back up, similar to what a Peace Lily will do, however do not make a practice of waiting until it starts to drop before watering. If you continually under water the plant, overtime it will drop the lower leaves and continue dropping. This houseplant also prefers higher humidity levels, so a daily misting will provide additional results.

Polka Dot plants are very easy to start from seed. You can then move them to their own pots. You can also easily take cuttings from the plant. Put them in water to root and now you have even more Polka Dot plants. Giving your Polka Dot plant a little haircut as I call them, will not harm the plant, it will actually help it to retain its compact shape and become more full and lush.

As a little extra tip, if your pinch out the new growth, most of the time this will also encourage the plant to be more compact and full.

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Blogger Lulu said...

i just got one of these..I love it..
thanks for all the info...I love house plants..

12:24 PM  
Blogger yh said...

I got one a month ago... and it's flourishing! Though, I think it's not getting enough light as the spots are fading on the tops....

1:13 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

I love mine but the leaves are now covered with fuzz and the smaller ones are turning yellow and falling off. What am I doing wrong?

5:29 PM  
Blogger drayas said...


It sounds like some kind of pests has attacked your Polka Dot Plant. Spray the plant with a soapy dishwater mixture twice a day for about a week. If there's no improvement, you may need to go to your local garden center for a more direct spray.

Is the white fuzz sticky? It could be mealy bugs. If it's sticky you may also want to wipe the leaves with the fuzz with rubbing alcohol.

Keep me posted.


1:49 PM  
Blogger Erica said...

My little polka plant looks healthy but as it is growing tall, it is beginning to look like it's having trouble holding itself up.
Any thoughts?

10:52 AM  
Blogger drayas said...


You can pinch out the new growth. This should help to keep the plant more compact.

Otherwise somehow stake the plant.


12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought my polka dot plant for my office, figuring that the flourescent lighting would be just enough for it. It was doing fine for months until I went away on vacation. Someone was watering it for me, but I'm afraid that she may have either under or over watered it. Right now, the leaves are all crinkly and curling in at the edges. Some of them are yellowing and the stems are having trouble holding themselves up. How do I save my plant?

5:18 PM  
Blogger drayas said...


The foliage crinkling sounds like they underwatered the plant. Is the soil dry to touch? Now if the soil is moist, then don't water it anymore. The person taking care of it may have underwatered it and then seeing it not look good, overwatered it. Get your plant back on a normal watering schedule.

Also, I'd give it a dose of houseplant food to give it some extra spark.

Keep us posted.


9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like this plant wants a lot of water! I got mine to get its lower foliage fall off because I didn't water it enough.

Now the problem is that this plant is potted together with a ZZ plant, which doesn't want much water at all. However, I heard of people watering ZZ plants often and as long as there is drainage at the bottom of the pot, there should not be big problems.

We will see though!

2:26 AM  
Anonymous Danielle said...

I love my little Polka plant (which i named Cecil). Unfortunately, due to too much love, i think i have overwatered it and its dying :-(
The tips of the leaves are brown and crinkly, and the leaves have lost their coloured spots and feel damp. The stems were still strong and new shoots were coming through, but even they seem to get damp & brown up. Soil didnt seem to be dying out so i repotted it. Not sure if that was right? Havent watered it yet - too scared to now!!

11:28 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I remember when I first had this plant and I hated them because I kept killing them lol.

I have a new one now, I have pinched off the new growth and it has gone crazy! In a good way. It totally works. I am always afraid to pinch anything off of plants but it works magic for them because it forces the plants to produce new leaves elsewhere.

These plants can be a bit finicky but when you learn to know what they need, they are really simple to care for.

5:09 AM  
Blogger Adam and Kym said...

I have had one of these for a year and it has done really well in my kitchen window. However, I went on vacation and when I returned my plant was in poor shape. It was completely wilted and all of the leaves had dried. I watered the plant and it slowly perked up. I pinched off all of the dead leaves and trimmed the dead off the 'branches.' My plant started to come back a little bit and sprouted 2 new tiny leaves. I thought it was on it's way back, but this morning I'm not so sure. The new little sprouts are droopy. The soil is moist, so I know it's not water related. Any ideas? Thanks!!

11:41 AM  
Blogger danice said...

Could you post a link to see a pic of this plant?I have never heard of it and am curious to see what it looks like.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have one of these plants i had it in my yard under the carport as i dont have a car and it was doing poorly i moved it onto my verander and like magic its going berserk its growing so well but have just realiesed that something is eating all my leaves what once was a full plant is now half a plant as all its leaves are being eaten by these tiny little mite sort of creature dont know what to do to save my baby please help

2:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mine is actually flowering! its the first time i have ever- ever seen this plant flower!

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My plant has only white polka dots isn't it supposed to have all the shades of red white and pink? How do you get the other colors or is this just the variety I got?

2:43 PM  
Blogger Morellocherry said...

hi, i bought one of these a few weeks ago and it was very compact and polka dotted. Now its kept by my kitchen and i had been underwatering it, i started to keep up with it and now its growing really well but its VERY sparse, also, the polka dots are nearly gone, its just nearly all green leaves...what do i do???

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Cathy vB said...

Mines flowering too!! I’ve never seen these before and they are the most exquisite little darlings. Mine, however, is doing the leaf curling up thing. I’ll try pinching and feeding with a bit of a regular misting.

10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anthony said...

are the plants poisenious to cats?

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nope! I just looked at the ASPCA site and they said it would just make them vomit or cause diarrhea. I had to look or my cat cause I don't want him to die D:

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love my polka dot plant i just recently planted a few cuttings and i hope they will root soon. My original plant though is very leggy and it does not seem to want to get bushier. I have three colors in the same pot but the red color is not doing as well as the others. Its red color is turning lighter and i has had hardly any new growth since i got it. I dont know what to do!

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you find you have overwatered I would suggest putting the plant outside for a day if weather permits. I find it pulls the moisture out quicker. I actually keep mine outside all year and they do very well, but we live in FL.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous leah said...

I tried to take some cuttings of my polka dot plant and they didn't do so well. Any tips on making these work?

3:28 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

. . . Do you have a picture of the Polka Dot plant . .

maybe you can put a picture of one inside your article so that we could see what your describing.


11:39 AM  
Blogger Melanie said...

I have had one of these for years, and it's never seemed to do very well when I try to prune it back at all. Currently, however, it's about 6 inches tall with about 6 leaves at the very top and nothing else. Any advice on how to encourage it to get shorter and fuller at this point without traumatizing it by taking off a good three inches with all its leaves? THanks.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous jamila said...

is it ok if i use only light such as a flash light ?

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a pink polka dot plant around last year or so but i didnt take very good care of it, so i bought ANOTHER one the other day which i have named Sprout and I promised that i would water him when he needed watering, talk when needed, and on the occasion sing (i hear plants like singing and talking) and i pledged i would NOT let him diee!!!! <3 love you sprout lol

4:07 PM  
Blogger The Caged Bird said...

I'm going into my third summer with my polka dot plants(I have two pink, two red and two white)! It is exciting to see them flourish all year round. Hopefully by pinching back they won't get as leggy this year.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Couponsforme2 said...

How do you pinch balk the plant?

7:29 AM  
Blogger vp said...

Hi What is the maximum height of the polka dot plants?

5:42 PM  
Anonymous R said...

My polka dot plant has some hairy growth on its stems at the very bottom... Any suggestions?

Also, the soon of the root seems I have come out on top of the soil .. Is that normal?

9:52 AM  
Blogger janetplanet said...

my polka dot plant is very long and leggy, only leaves at the very top. looks very sad. it is in a window that recieves light, i am not overwatering. should i try and start over by rooting them? If so, how does this work?

12:04 PM  
Blogger KT said...

I have one stem left and don't know if I should toss it or keep it. It has a little green leaf coming out. I usually get the brown leaf and crinkle.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Jim Stapleton said...

How do you pinch out the new growth? Mone seems to be loosing all its leaves and growing taller. Whats happening?

4:46 PM  
Blogger Jim Stapleton said...

My plant just seems to be getting taller, and not bushy. What do i do? And what do you mean by pinch back the plant? How do you do that? Help!

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think mine is getting too much light but I only have one window i can put it in. The spot look perfectly fine but the plant is almost over a foot tall :/

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim Stapleton I have the exact same problem...

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I started my polka dot plants from seeds. They are about 2 inches tall. At what point should I start to pinch back new growth to make them bushy, as opposed to tall? I don't want to kill them. Thanks!

9:48 AM  
Blogger NS said...

I have the same problem. Leaves at the bottom are drying and falling off. The plant is no longer bushy. What to do??

10:45 PM  
Blogger Emily Jessie said...

My plant is really tall and it hangs over the edge of the pot its in but I want it to be more full. If I just cut them shorter will it continue to grow and become more full or will it just kill the plant?

9:51 PM  
Blogger Emily Jessie said...

My plant has become very tall. I want it to be more bushy. Is it ok if I pinch off the ends completely to shorten the plant to make it more bushy or will that just kill the plant?

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have mine at work, its doing great but it does seem to have alot of white fuzz on the bottom of the stems. Is that normal?

1:35 PM  
Blogger Philipp Ershov said...

I have the same problem with many fellow commenters. I love the plant too much and water it a lot, and now it seems that the leaves of one of the stems of a three stem polka dot plant are drying out and becoming black at the edges. Is that a sign of the plant being overwatered? That would be weird because this is the stem that gets the most sunlight, with the ones in the shade looking extremely healthy. It wouldn't really make sensit if it is overwaterd, seeing as they grow from the same pot, so is it actually dehydrated? That would also weir because it is not wilting. Please help.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Jazzily G said...

Each plant has only one color. If you want the others, go buy new plants and you can put them all in the same pot :)

5:18 PM  
Blogger Jazzily G said...

My plant seems healthy but some of the top leaves are slightly folded. Is this normal or should I be worried? I don't remember this happening before

5:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I bought this plant and I love it and want it to live. It was on sale as well and it looked lovely when I bought it. It has grown a little and I read it's good to trim it or as you said give it a hair cut. Do I cut the actual leaves off? Or how does it work? Also, I water it daily just enough to keep the soil moist and give the leaved a sprinkle of water. Also, I want to get a bigger pot for it, how do I transfer the plant safely?


9:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

My polka dot plant looks healthy, but it's completely covered in like fuzzy little hairs. Is this the same thing?

10:52 AM  

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