Hypoestes : Greenhouse Plants
W – warm, minimum of 13°C (55°F)
Most people will automatically think of the popular Polka Dot Plant which is Hypoestes sanguinolenta grown for the pink dots and splashes on the green leaves which are delightfully furry when young. There is now a form with creamy white dots but I shall always like the pink one best. Occasionally, especially during winter, small purple flowers will be produced and for a while the leaves will be smaller and less showy. Some may say that the flower stems should be cut off but I think they are all part of the character of the plant. After a while a new crop of furry shoots and leaves will appear at the base of the plant. As these grow this is the time to cut down old stems to let the plant regenerate itself. Cuttings can be taken but seed is easily obtained and extremely easy to germinate. There is a lesser known species, H. aristata from Natal, which is grown for its flowers which are mauve and white. These are produced in February and are very useful for brightening up the greenhouse. After flowering I would cut the plants back hard but continue to keep warm and water carefully, so that new growth is produced from which 8-cm (3-in) longcan be taken. These can then be grown on. It is necessary to stop these plants at least twice by pinching out the tips to get bushier plants. As they have a long time to wait before flowering they often get too big; striking a later batch of cuttings around June is the answer.