Polka dot plants were first brought to England from Malagasy. For a time the plant was unfashionable but is once more popular, probably because of new varieties with even dottier.
The polka dot plant is an upright sub-shrub with a woody base, soft upperand spear-shaped leaves noted for their mauve dots. Its other common name is Freckle Face.
Its small pinkish-mauveappear in summer. They are, however, fairly insignificant: the main reason for growing the plant is for its attractive foliage.
Commercially produced plants are usually treated with a growth retardant to make them compact and bushy. Don’t be surprised if, once at home, your plant may start to grow taller. To keep it compact pinch out the growing tips of eachfrequently.
1. Takein spring and late summer. Use tip shoots only. Take 5-10cm (2— 4in) tip shoot with about 3-4 leaves.
2. Remove the lowest pair of leaves and dip cuttings in. Plant them in just moist rooting mixture. Keep from drying out by covering with a plastic bag.
3. Place in a bright and warm. When some growth has been made, pinch out the tips to make plants bushy.
Plant 4-5in in March—April. Cover with plastic and pinch out new plants when they are about 10-15cm (5-6in) tall to encourage growth.
Pests And Diseases
Leaves turn brown, wither at edges. This occurs if plant is too dry. Prevention: Water the plant regularly and mist daily.
Greyin form of grey or brown spots on leaves. This may occur if plant is not getting enough light or is too cold or wet.
Prevention: Move the plant to a warmer and brighter place and allow it to dry out beforeagain.
Brownsometimes appear under the leaves.
Treatment: Carefully remove the brownwith cotton swab dipped in diluted methylated spirits.
Red spider mites will make leaves look dull. Prevention: Regular misting will discourage.
Easy to look after, but cut back regularly so that it does not exceed 40cm (16in). Pinch out young plants grown from seed or cuttings to make them bushy. Also pinch out flowers.
- : Repot each year in spring using a standard soil-based and relatively small pots.
- If possible use soft water, and water frequently. Mist the plant often and ensure that it has high by setting it on a bed of damp peat or on wet gravel.
- Feeding: Feed it every 3 weeks from March—August. Use a standard liquid fertilizer according to pack instructions.
BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT
- Light: Ideally place it in a position where it will get equal amounts of sun and shade. Control the light with a blind or curtain, if necessary. If too shady, spots will disappear. Bright light will bring out the best of colour.
- Temperature: Normal room temperatures suit it best but not below 13°C (55°F) in winter.
- They can be bought at any time of the year.
- Choose small, compact plants with fresh and well-coloured foliage. Remember commercially produced plants are small.
- They will last for many years, but are at their best when young. Older plants tend to become straggly and unattractive. It is best to replace them annually from cuttings.
An old favourite, the Polka Dot Plant is much in demand today.
Its jaunty dots will brighten any room: keep it in the sun to bring out its own colours more fully.