HYPOESTES PHYLLOSTACHYA (syn. It. sanguinolenta) (polka dot plant)

10 deg C/50 deg F

Lately, this has become an extremely popular houseplant, probably because it can be easily raised from seed on window-sills. Seed sown in spring will give nicely shaped plants by summer, and indeed this is really the best way to acquire plants other than to buy them. Old plants may become untidy and straggly and look anything but attractive. Moreover, to keep the plants in good condition during winter requires the maintenance of moderate warmth. They will survive a considerable chill, but then deteriorate miserably. They then have to be cut back severely in spring for the production of new growth. The leaves are oval, olive-green and smothered with small, white to pinkish spots. The quality of colouring varies in a batch of seedlings, pink being the most desirable. Good colours can be propagated from cuttings taken in spring, but both saved plants and those from cuttings should have their growing tips removed

Hypocyrta glabra.

several times to produce branching growth. If left to grow normally, they can reach 60cm (2ft). In favourable conditions, this plant -which is from Madagascar- will flower. However, the purple and white blooms are not particularly interesting. This species is useful for a shaded position, but in summer likes moderate humidity. To keep the leaves in good condition. spray them with water from time to time. For short-term plants. 13cm (5 in.) pots can be used as the final size for seedlings or rooted cuttings. Aphids and whitcfly may attack, but the plants are not especially susceptible to pests or diseases. Chill causes leaf yellowing and fall.

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