How to Care for the HYPOESTES Plant
JAlso known as the polka dot plant, Hypoestes have quite the personality due to their bold, eye-catching foliage. The variegated leaves come in a pink base with green spots, with other varieties sporting purple, white, and red colorways. They do well in warm spots, are easy to grow and maintain. They remain relatively small in size, making them ideal for indoor spaces, or for the inside of a terrarium.
There are over 100 species within this genus, which derives its name from the Greek words “hypo” (under) and “estia” (hearth). Native to South Africa, Madagascar, and Southeast Asia, they are partial to humid conditions and bright, indirect light. They have a moderate growth rate—which slows when the environment is not up to par with their needs—and reach up to 1-2 feet tall and wide under ideal conditions. Hypoestes have a relatively short lifespan, though; they last for about only a year and begin to deteriorate shortly after producing blooms.
You can prolong their lifespans by propagating stem cuttings at the end of the growing season. Cut a 4-inch piece of stem from the parent plant, and root in either a jar of water, in potting mix, or in peat moss. If using the water method, keep the water level even by changing the water weekly.
Hypoestes require relatively frequent pruning as they tend to grow out and develop long, leggy branches. Use pruning shears or a pair of sharp scissors to trim the top two leaves on each stem once, or every other week. If you want your plant to last longer, make sure to cut away the flowers as the Hypoestes will either die, or enter a dormant period once they finish blooming.
You don’t need to worry about this plant causing harm to your pets as the Hypoestes is safe to keep around both humans and animals.
When grown indoors, Hypoestes do best in bright, indirect light. Lower light can cause it to grow slower, and leggier, while direct light will burn its leaves and cause the foliage colors to fade. If planting them outdoors, pick a spot with some shade. These plants grow well in higher humidity levels, and temperatures between 65-80°F. They’re averse to the cold, so avoid drafts and direct airflow from heaters should you care for these plants during winter.
Plant them in an organically rich soil with good drainage, and water thoroughly with rainwater or filtered water when the top 10% of the soil is dry. When the roots start growing out of the drainage holes, you’ll know it’s time to repot. When repotting, get a pot that is 2 to 3 inches larger than the previous size to accommodate proper root growth.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
When should I prune my Hypoestes?
Pruning is necessary when your plant starts to become leggy, or for aesthetic reasons. You can maintain your desired shape by pinching the top leaves off of the plant to encourage it to grow horizontally and look bushier. You may also prune the unruly stems to keep it compact.
How can I prolong the lifespan of my Hypoestes?
This plant’s natural cycle ends after it has fully flowered. Trimming the flowers can extend your Hypoestes’ life, as well as propagating healthy stems.