P&PDL Picture of the Week for
September 5, 2005

Polka-dot plant

Mike Dana, Extension Landscape Horticulture Specialist, Purdue University

When it comes to flowers in the landscape and especially in containers, color is everything.  Tasteful, subtle color usage in plant combinations in pots is at the peak of fashion. 

A plant that may be forgotten by many, because its been around a long time, is the polka-dot plant, or Hypoestes phyllostachya

Picture one shows it in combination with a pink geranium.  Here, the pink of the leaf mottling not only compliments the pink of the geranium flowers, but the dark background foliage and stem color provides striking contrast.  The smaller leaves of the Hypoestes also provides textural contrast.

The polka-dot plant is sometimes used for creating pictures and sculptures with plants.  Picture two is of a free-form sculpture in a plant display at a major hotel atrium.  Here, regular shearing keeps the plant from becoming open in habit, and the high light level results in a stronger pink/red appearance.

Hypoestes phyllostachya, polka-dot plant is available with leaf blotches in pink, red, and creamy white. It is a member of the mint family of plants.  Its true flowers are small, blue, and not of interest ornamentally.  The leaves provide the show!

Click image to enlarge

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service