Polka dot plants provide a splash of color in winter without the worry of flowers; flowers tend to be fussier than foliage.

The botanical name is Hypoestes phyllostachya, and the one I have on the window sill in my office (are regular readers detecting a theme here?) is the cultivar ‘Pink Splash Select.’

My wife, Nancy, first bought this as an outdoor annual, and she liked it so much she brought it indoors as a houseplant. It wouldn’t survive a Maine winter outside.

They are small plants with pink and sometimes white (though not on mine) splashes of color on thin leaves, adornments that explain the common name for the houseplant. Because the leaves are thin, the plants require fairly high humidity, so if your house is a little dry, they could sit on a pebble tray or work in a terrarium. Polka dot plants like evenly moist soil and react poorly to going dry. If left alone they could grow a foot tall but would look leggy. Trimming or pinching them makes them look lush and bushier.

They like medium light, so an east-facing window is perfect, but a west-facing one would work, too.

Polka dot plants can flower, but the flowers are tiny. You can create new plants by putting tip cuttings in moist potting mix.


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