Red Polka Dot Plants
(Image credit: skymoon13)

Polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya), also known as freckle face plant, is a popular indoor plant (though it can be grown outdoors in warmer climates) grown for its attractive foliage. In fact, this is where the plant's name is derived, as its leaves are dotted with splotches of color—from white to green, pink, or red. Being so popular, many people find themselves curious about propagating polka dot plants.

Polka Dot Plant Propagation Tips

Starting polka dot plants isn't difficult. In fact, these plants can be easily propagated by seed or cuttings. Both methods can be performed in spring or summer. Whether started by seed or through polka dot plant cuttings, however, you'll want to keep your new plants evenly moist in well-draining potting soil and provide them with medium light (indirect sunlight) conditions. These plants also prefer temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees F. (18-27 C.), along with plenty of humidity. Keeping young polka-dot plants pinched will produce bushier growth as well.

How to Propagate Polka Dot Plant by Seed

When you are propagating polka dot plants by seed, if you don't already have them on hand, allow the seedheads to dry on the plant and then remove them. Once you have collected the seeds and stored them until planting time, sow them in a tray or pot filled with damp peat moss and perlite or a well-draining potting mix. This should be done prior to the last expected frost in spring or sometime in summer. The polka dot plant seeds require warm temperatures to germinate, around 70 to 75 degrees F. (21-24 C.), and will do so within about two weeks given adequate conditions. It usually helps to add a clear plastic covering over the tray or pot to hold in both heat and moisture. This should be placed in indirect sunlight. Once established and strong enough, they can be repotted or planted outdoors in a partially shaded area with well-draining soil.

Polka Dot Plant Cuttings

Cuttings may be taken nearly anytime; however, sometime between spring and summer is preferable and usually yields the greatest results. Polka dot plant cuttings can be taken from any part of the plant but should be at least 2 inches (5 cm.) long. After placing them in damp peat moss or potting mix, you should cover the cuttings with clear plastic to maintain heat and humidity, much like you would with seed propagation. Avoid direct sunlight and repot or plant outdoors once established.

Nikki Tilley
Senior Editor

Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.