The Polka Dot Plant or Freckle Face is a compact shrubby perennial bearing pointed oval leaves which are awash with coloured speckles - as if paint-splashed with red , pink or cream paint. The natural habitat of Hypoestes is spread from south Africa thrrugh to most SE Asian countries, where is appears in open woodland area.
They have the added advantage of being suitable for use as tall bedding plant or patio container small shrubs. Normal height is an erect 12 - 14in with a similar spread. If used in this manner they can be produced from cuttings and overwintered or started off in early spring.
The flowers are produced later in the year, in spiked racemes some 6in long - clothed in insignificant purplish blooms. Far better removed the flower sike and allow the foliage to develop.
It got its common name from the original species on which the leaves with simply dotted. Nowadays there are many different hybrids ranging from the polka dots though to broad coloured markings on the foliage.
Its needs: Hypoestes enjoys good light even a little morning sun; If placed in too dark a spot the colouring fades and the Polka Dot Plant becomes too leggy, (tall and straggly). The potting mix should allow good drainage. Winter temperature should not be allowed to fall below 13 C. Warmth promotes healthy growth.
Reduce water to a bare minimum over winter. Mist foliage in very hot weather. If plant becomes straggly trim back hard, almost to the base. Pinch out growing tips and flowers to maintain a neat appearance.
The younger leaves have the brightest colours, so nipping out of the tips ensures a good supply of new stems and foliage whilst also keeping the plant compact.
Good for: Excellent foliage plant, easy to maintain, bright and colourful. Hypoestes can be grown individually, or with a mixture of other suitable houseplants, or even in a shallow container with a variety of shades of Polka Dot Plants. Good for brightening up a quiet corner.
Rarely troubled by any insect pest - though aphids might pay a visit.
The foliage can be affected with powdery mildew - especially in areas where there is lack of ventilation and air flow.