Hypoestes phyllostachya
Common Name: polka dot plant 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Acanthaceae
Native Range: Madagascar
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Lilac
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11. In St. Louis, plants are grown as bedding annuals or in containers. Bedding plants are best grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade. Pinch tips to promote bushiness. Some gardeners remove flower spikes because they are somewhat inconspicuous and tend to detract from the attractive foliage. Overwinter containers and grow houseplants in bright indoor light, but not direct sun. Although bedding plants can be dug and potted up in fall for overwintering, it may be easier to simply purchase new plants each spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Hypoestes phyllostachya, commonly called polka dot plant, is native to Madagascar. It is an evergreen tropical subshrub that is noted for its ovate green leaves (to 2” long) which are spotted with rose, pink or lavender. As a bedding plan or houseplant, it typically grows like an herbaceous perennial to 12-20” tall. Tiny lilac flowers in racemes to 6” long bloom sporadically in the summer.

Genus name comes from the Greek hypo meaning under and estia meaning a house for the calyxes being covered by bracts.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for powdery mildew. For more information see: Problems Common to Many Indoor Plants

Garden Uses

Annual bedding plant. Containers. Houseplant.