The Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) is best known for its adorable freckled leaves, but what about its flowers?
They sometimes surprise their growers by sending up delicate purple or blue blossoms spikes.
Be careful, though, they may be cute, but they mean the end for the poor Polka Dot Plant.
Polka Dot Plants will bloom in hot weather and warm growing conditions. Flowers are part of the plant’s natural life cycle, but if they are allowed to mature into seeds, they will cause the plant to wither and die. Remove them to help your Polka Dot Plant live longer.
Are Polka Dot Plants Supposed To Flower?
Polka Dot Plants bloom as a natural part of their life cycle. They have bloom in their DNA, just like all other flowering plants. To produce new Polka Dot Plants, they use this method to create new seeds.
Having spikey towers of dainty flowers on your Polka Dot Plant is a sure sign your plant is in its prime.
They only bloom when the conditions are right, with the right temperature and light levels.
You’ve provided it with the proper amount of water and nutrition, and now it’s ready to put some of that bounty toward seeds.
However, a Polka Dot Plant in a pot wouldn’t stand a chance against those flowers. When they begin to wilt, the plant’s focus shifts to producing as many viable seeds as possible.
It doesn’t take care of its leaves or roots, and once the seeds are spread, potted Polka Dot Plants usually die back.
You can prevent the Polka Dot Plant from dying out by restricting its resources and controlling its environment.
Let’s look at what you can do to keep your Polka Dot Plant from flowering and dying.
Hot Weather Effect on Polka Dot
Polka Dot Plants thrive in hot climates. However, they ramp up their growth to significantly take advantage of the heat if they’re well watered and kept in a humid environment.
Doesn’t that sound fantastic? The catch is that a hot Polka Dot Plant will sprout flower spikes rather than leaves.
They grow leggy at an alarming rate, with larger-than-average but sparsely positioned leaves.
This is known as bolting, resulting in early seeding and the plant’s death.
Their character transformation is dramatic. You’ll get a tall barbarian bristling with spikes instead of a compact, sweet little polka dot princess.
Those spikes will eventually sprout a sprinkling of dainty purple or blue flowers.
Tips for Growing Polka Dot Plant in Hot Weather
Relocate to a Cooler Part of the Growing Environment
Your Polka Dot Plant is best served by simply moving it to a cooler part of your growing environment if it is in a pot. This will prevent it from bolting and the formation of flower spikes.
However, keep an eye on the light. Polka Dot Plants will also send up tall, leggy growth if they are deprived of light, and those branches may occasionally develop flowers as a side effect.
Here’s how to treat leggy Polka Dot Plant.
Pinch and Prune
When the Polka Dot Plant sends up long stems, they’re always possible to turn into a flower spike. As soon as you see it, pinch it off.
Polka Dot Plants are such happy growers that they will not notice the loss and instead refocus their energy on their leaves and roots.
Those who have chosen to grow their Polka Dot Plants in beds outdoors should mulch deeply as the weather warms.
This helps to conserve water, but it also keeps your Polka Dot Plant cool.
Plants sense temperature changes through their roots, and by mulching, you provide plenty of insulation to protect them from the warmer weather.
Polka Dot Plants aren’t particularly thirsty, but it’s essential to watch them when the temperature rises. Watering the plant thoroughly will prevent dehydration as well as wild growth.
Keep an eye on the leaves of bedded plants. As they dry, they will curl and become floppy. Spray them in the early morning before the heat of the day sets in.
If at all possible, aim for the ground rather than the leaf. When wet leaves are exposed to the sun, they can scorch.
Potted Polka Dot Plants must allow their growing medium to dry out slightly between waterings.
They may develop root rot if the soil becomes too wet—water when the top quarter-inch of soil is dry during the growing season.
When the weather cools, you can allow it to dry out further and water when the top half-inch is dry.
Polka Dot Plants will survive in direct sunlight, but their leaves will suffer greatly.
However, they are also more likely to grow quickly and send up those spikey top growths that usually turn into flowers.
Consider providing some shade for your bedded Polka Dot Plants as the seasons change.
I recommend planting them as an edging plant around other, taller garden vegetation to provide a natural shade.
If your garden does not allow for this, consider installing shade cloth to provide some shade. (Check out the Amazon prices here)
Indoor Polka Dot Plants benefit from being kept out of direct sunlight. However, keep an eye out for sunbeams as the seasons change, and keep them well lit regardless.
Even though it goes against common sense, a plant’s tendency to flower can be triggered by a period of extreme stress.
The Polka Dot plant may produce spikes in response to a rough repotting procedure.
If a plant is in trouble, saving seeds can be a lifesaver, especially when the weather is warm.
The Polka Dot will shift its focus to the future in the face of adversity. The plant must first flower to produce seeds.
If you must repot your Polka Dot Plant in the summer, do so gently to avoid damaging the roots.
Keep the Polka Dot at a constant temperature and avoid trimming the roots. It’s always a good idea to cut off any unexpected growth.
The Polka Dot Plant will instead focus on producing seeds to repair its roots.
Poor soil fertility, like transplant shock, will activate the Polka Dot Plant’s insurance policy. It can’t walk away from an infertile pot of soil, so it invests in the next generation.
If you apply too much fertilizer, they will take advantage of the extra nutrition and bolt. Tall growth is expensive, as are seeds.
If there is extra nutrition nearby, the Polka Dot Plant will use it whether you like it.
Add a half-dose of liquid fertilizer to your watering can during the growing season.
This will provide the Polka Dot plant with the nutrients it requires without overburdening the roots.
Day Length Increases
The Polka Dot Plant shifts from growth to flowering as the days lengthen. It’s a natural part of their life cycle, and it’s unavoidable for outdoor plants.
It’s common to see outdoor Polka Dots bloom from late spring to the middle of summer.
It is the best time to gather resources and secure the services of bees and other pollinating insects. An indoor Polka Dot will still detect and respond to these changes.
As the days lengthen, be more aware of the other triggers that set flowers in motion. Keep an eye on growing temperatures, fertility, and flower spikes as they emerge.
Polka Dot Plant Flower Spikes
The flower spikes of the Polka Dot Plant are delicate and lovely structures. While many growers prefer the bright speckling of the leaves, I find the flower spikes equally appealing.
They each make an impression in their way.
I let my outdoor Polka Dots bloom at their leisure. The tiny flowers provide food for bees and other beneficial insects, and once they seed, they replenish the planting.
If you’re lucky enough to live in US Hardiness Zones 10 or 11, you might never have to replant them.
The ballet of blossom and seed will most likely keep your beds stocked with Polka Dot Plants, regardless of how many are lost after seeding.
On the other hand, flowers on indoor potted Polka Dot Plants give you a choice.
Allow them to bloom, enjoy their beauty, and then accept the Polka Dot Plant’s death.
While this may appear harsh, they only live a year or two as indoor plants.
Because of their shorter lives, it’s sometimes worth accepting death and enjoying the blooms when they arrive.
However, if you prefer the speckled leaves and don’t want to let go of the Polka Dot Plant, you must not allow it to flower.
The best defense is prevention, and when flower spikes appear, they are easily removed. Therefore, pruning the plant will not harm it and give it a longer life.
How to Prevent Polka Dot Plants from Flowering
- Keep the Polka Dot Plant between 65–80°F (18 – 26°C), with a humidity level of at least 50%
- Pinch or prune flower spikes as they emerge
- Ensure outdoor Polka Dot Plants are well mulched
- Water appropriately
- Fertilize properly