Polka Dot Plant - the Next Big Houseplant Trend

Whether it is the result of our fatigue with last year's on-screen lifestyle, or simply our desire to reconnect with nature, gardening has become the comforting trend of the moment.



How to Grow and Care for Polka Dot Plants


About the Houseplant Trend

The market for houseplants continues to grow as new-generation houseplant hobbyists green up their homes and claim the title "plant parents". Consumers, especially Millennials, enjoy houseplants so much that over the last three years, sales have risen 50 percent to $1.7 billion according to the National Gardening Association, and the fact that market research consistently shows a continual increase in the number of services and products related to this industry in 2022 is not surprising. This trend’s economy is a never-ending festival of innovation, from home-growing stands and natural light accessories in an endless Amazon category to natural light detector apps indicating how much light is available in your house for your specific plant.


Polka Dot Plant – the Trendy Addition to Your Home

Why Polka Dot?

This pink plant often has some kind of psychedelic pattern, and its leaves are especially eye-catching. If you search the hashtag #plantsofinstagram, you'll find almost three million posts featuring all kinds of polka flora - so it is no surprise that this eye-catching plant is gaining popularity, and it is safe to say that Polka-leaved houseplants are the new cool kids on the block.


About the Polka Dot Plant

As their name suggests, polka dot plants have spotted, mottled leaves that are white, pink or red. In their natural habitat, these plants can grow up to 3 feet tall; when grown indoors, they tend to stay smaller and more compact so they can fit comfortably in urban environments. Polka dot plants are not particularly difficult to grow, but because they are only native to warm climates, many gardeners treat them as annuals and replace them every year. They can be grown in containers and as houseplants. The plants perform best as spring plantings, since their growth rate is moderate and they remain relatively small once they reach maturity, especially if grown indoors.


Polka Dot Plant Care

Growing polka dot plants requires warm temperatures and high humidity. In the absence of sufficient rainfall, you should water them often. They also need regular feedings throughout the growing season (from spring to fall). The plants do tend to get leggy, so to promote a bushier growth habit, pinch back the top two leaves on each stem on a weekly basis. This can also help the plant grow healthier and more vigorously. Moreover, polka dot plants bloom sporadically, typically during the summer, with insignificant lilac flowers on spikes. You can pinch off these flower spikes to keep the plant’s energy focused on growing its vibrant foliage.


How to Water a Polka Dot Plant?

Polka dot plants need moist, but not soggy soil. If the soil becomes too dry, they will wilt, then die. They will usually spring right back with a quick watering. Avoid allowing your polka dot plant to sit in water as it will cause root rot. Water them well when the top ½ to 1 inch of soil has dried out. Also remember that smaller-sized planters will dry out more quickly than larger-sized planters. Make sure you’re watering the plant from the soil level and not from the top, as water on the foliage may cause water spots and damage to the tender leaves and flowers.


What Soil Do Polka Dot Plant Need?

The polka dot plant likes rich, moist soil. Well-draining organic potting soil is ideal. If the potting soil isn’t rich, make sure you incorporate some compost materials into the soil prior to planting your polka dot plant.


Lighting for Polka Dot Plant

Bright, indirect light is ideal for polka dot plant care. This will keep the colors vibrant in the plant, while at the same time prevent the plant from becoming lanky. If you grow the polka dot plant in a low-light location, it will grow leggy quickly and fade in color. A location with overly-bright light will also fade the foliage colors. If you’re seeking a brightly colored plant, you’ll want to place your plant in a low-lit area of your home. Keep in mind, however, that when placed in low light the plant may become leggy and spindly, so you’ll have to pinch it back frequently to ensure that it remains strong, robust and healthy. For best results, place your polka dot plant several feet from windows with southern or eastern exposure. You can also grow your polka dot plant using grow lights that offer a full spectrum.


Types of Polka Dot Plant

There are over 100 varieties of the polka dot plant. The more common ones are listed here and explained in detail.


Carmina

This is a perennial herb that belongs to the Acanthaceae family. The ideal growing temperature for this variety is 30 degrees F to 35 degrees F. The foliage color in this variety is unusual, and the method best suited for the cultivation of this variety is stem cuttings. It has average water requirements. The bloom color of this variety is medium purple and the blooming season is mid-summer, late summer or early fall. Soil with a pH of 5.1 to 6 is ideal for this plant. This means the soil can be strongly acidic or slightly acidic. It is said that this plant grows in regions like Castro Valley, California and Elk Grove, California.


Confetti

This variety is smaller in size and grows 12 to 24 inches in height, spreading across 12 to 18 inches. These plants have a relatively faster growth rate and come in various colors like white, red, pink, and rose. It is a relatively popular variety that can grow well in full sunlight, partial shade or dappled shade. This plant is mostly used as a houseplant and is suitable as an annual, and can also be used as ground cover. Adding to that, it can tolerate humidity and drought. The best propagation method for this variety is through stem cuttings. The spotting on this variety is more sparsely scattered than other varieties.



Pink Brocade

This variety has mottled pink spots on the green foliage of the plant. It has a fast growth rate and grows 6 to 12 inches tall. Some plants of this variety that have the ideal growth conditions in terms of light and soil requirements can even grow to be 2 feet tall.

This variety is different from the rest in terms it having many more spots than other varieties. It needs full sunlight or partial shade to grow. Fertile soil that is slightly acidic or neutral is ideal for the growth of this plant. In addition to that, this plant does not have any serious insect or disease problems.


Red Splash: a Variety of the Polka Dot Plant

This variety grows to a height of 12 inches and spreads the same too. It is a hardy annual plant that falls under the ‘splash series’ of the polka dot plant. This variety of polka dot plant has red, pointy leaves with dark green spots on them all year round. The flowers and fruit of this variety are not ornamentally significant, and this plant is mainly grown for its foliage. It grows in mounded form and has a medium texture that blends into the garden.

It is a low-maintenance plant that does not really require pruning. Pruning is only required in some cases where dieback needs to be removed. It is mainly used for mass planting, border edging, general garden use, ground cover, hanging baskets and as a container plant.

Full sunlight and partial shade are both ideal for the growth of this plant. It grows best in average and evenly moist soils, but care should be taken to prevent overwatering. Standing water can cause this plant to rot. This variety can do well in urban pollution and inner-city environments.


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