Seeing this interesting houseplant in a flower shop window or in a photo, it is impossible not to keep your eyes on it. This multicolored “polka dot miracle” looks absolutely charming, though not for long. Because of this, Hypoestes often causes a negative attitude on the part of flower growers, which is intensified by his “bad habit” of littering seeds around him and in neighboring flower pots. But optimists can be glad that they will not have any problems with the reproduction of this very unpretentious perennial, the rules for caring for which at home are quite simple.
General information about the origin
Hypoestes is a plant from the island of Madagascar, from where it spread very quickly throughout the belt of tropical latitudes around the world. Its invasive distribution is not always a reason for the joy of local residents, since it captures new territories and displaces some indigenous plant cultures. Some species of insects, for example, Costa Rican butterflies, laying eggs on their leaves, are not happy with it either. The plant turns out to be unsuitable for feeding the hatched caterpillars, because of which they die.
Biological description with photo
The overseas plant belongs to the Acanthus family and exists in two plant forms: as a compact herbaceous perennial and as a branched shrub or shrub. However, good branching is inherent in all varieties of this culture. Petiole leaves are ovoid with slight waviness along the edge and pronounced venation, located opposite. The main color of the leaf plate is green (less often purple); light spots are scattered over it in a multitude, which can be white, beige, pink, carmine and deep red.
The root system is predominantly superficial, softly fibrous, branched.
The flowers are half-umbels covered with bracts, which is what gave rise to the name of the flower (hypoestes literally means “under the house”). From one to three buds can be located under the base of the bracts.
Flowering is not one of the main advantages of culture, since it passes quickly, and its consequences are not very favorable. In addition to the fact that weed seeds quickly and regularly germinate in pots of a wide variety of flowers, the plant itself suffers. After flowering, it stretches, becomes smaller in leaves, and loses its spotted decorative effect. Its long, half-naked branches look very unattractive. The flowers themselves, crumbling, give a lot of garbage.
Once the specimen is about to bud, the smartest solution is to remove the flower arrow to avoid the “catastrophe” described above.
The main varieties with a photo
Botanists have officially described more than 1.5 hundred varieties of hypoestes, but the vast majority of them are not suitable for home breeding. In culture, there are only a few of them.
Hypoestes blood red
Semi-shrub evergreen species with strongly branching shoots. It can grow in height up to half a meter. The leaf plates are dark green with purple-red medium-sized peas. Their shape is narrowed, ovoid with solid, not dissected, wavy edges. The venation of the same red color is well expressed. The flower has a white throat and a light red bract.
Leaf grate hypoestes
It is very similar to the previous species in shape and size, but differs in a purple tint of the leaves. The spots are light pink, pronounced, occupy a large area of the leaf plate. Many varieties of this species have been bred, the shape of which may differ from the original variety.
On sale you can find seeds of Hypoestes mix – this is a set of varieties of different shapes and colors. When creating a plant group, such a planting looks very impressive.
The cultivation of Hypoestes is not at all difficult if you monitor its reproductive activity.
Southern exot is picky about light, but does not like direct sun. If it lacks light, it will immediately affect its shape and color. It will lose its nice compactness and bright spotting, the branches will begin to stretch and thin out. In winter, it can be safely placed on the south window; in summer, an east or west orientation is preferable.
The plant is thermophilic due to its tropical origin, but it does not require any greenhouse conditions. It is advisable to keep it in slightly cooler conditions in winter than in summer, but not to allow temperature drops below + 17C.
Hypoestes does not like drafts and sudden temperature changes.
The requirements are dictated by the wilderness conditions in the tropics. The plant is very fond of high humidity, but also tolerates short periods with dry air. Nevertheless, each spraying will be expected and joyful for him, at least several times a day. To make it easier for yourself, you can put a container of water next to it. It is convenient to collect all moisture-loving indoor plants around it.
Abundant watering during the period of active growth is one of the points of care for Hypoestes that cannot be neglected. Drying out of only the uppermost layer of the soil is permissible. If the ground dries out even half on a hot day in summer, the plant will begin to shed its leaves. With the arrival of cold weather, watering begins to be reduced. In winter, after the top layer is dry, you can wait another day or two until the next watering.
The approach to fertilizing is standard. Starting from March and before the onset of stable cold weather, mineral complexes are applied every 2-4 weeks. The rest of the time, the plant does not need to be fed. The complexes must be selected taking into account the low nitrogen content and the predominance of potassium, this is necessary to maintain the decorative color of the foliage.
This point of care is also very important, and not only from the point of view of the weediness of the plant, but also its decorative effect. In addition to the timely removal of flower buds (and preferably at the stage of flower arrow release, if there is no goal to collect seeds), radical spring pruning is recommended and maintenance throughout the growing season. The compactness of the bush is well regulated by radical spring pruning, when only stumps of 3-4 cm are left from the specimen. After that, you need to greatly reduce watering before the start of a new period of active growth. Occasional warm showers are also beneficial.
In the interior, Hypoestes is perfectly combined with non-flowering green-leafed crops with an even monochromatic foliage color.
Produced at intervals of 2-3 years if the same specimen is grown. Many people prefer to replace the plant with a new one with the same frequency, especially since this does not present any difficulties and hassle. Transplanting should not be combined with pruning, as this will be too stressful. Part of the earthy coma can be saved and drainage must be provided.
Hypoestes does not make great demands on the soil; any ready-made composition for flowering indoor crops is suitable for it. When self-preparing the substrate, it is worth considering the desired pH at the level of 5-6 units. As components, you can take humus, high peat, leafy soil and add a little sand to them.
There are two ways to obtain young seedlings – seeds and cuttings. The first option is readily available if there is a flowering specimen; it is enough to wait for new shoots to appear in the same or in a neighboring pot. If you wish, you can collect the seeds after the bud has flowered and plant them on purpose. It will take only 3-4 months to get an almost adult copy.
The method is available almost all year round. The size of the cutting does not matter, the main thing is that it has at least a couple of internodes. For rooting, just put it in a glass of water or dig it into the ground. If you cover the cutting with a jar or plastic bottle, things will happen even faster.
Leaving home on vacation, you need to take care of regular watering of Hypoestes, because this is not a plant that can “tolerate”. It will most likely be impossible to restore its decorative appearance after a drought.
Insects practically do not infect this culture, there is no information about the diseases to which it is susceptible. All problems happen only due to improper care.
Possible growing problems
- Leaf plates wrinkle – too dry air or too much direct illumination.
- The specimen sheds foliage – placed in a draft, lack of watering, a sharp drop in temperature, or too cold content.
- The tips of the leaves dry out – it is necessary to increase the humidity of the room.
- Withering of leaves and their yellowing – the plant is overflowed, especially against the background of cold temperatures.
- The leaves lose their mottling, turn pale – there is little light or there is an excess of soil nitrogen.
- Brown spots on the leaves are the result of sunburn.
Despite the bright alarming color of the foliage, the plant is not at all poisonous.