Pink Polka Dot Plant and Balcony Gardening

Screen Shot 2017-02-15 at 13.07.24Balcony gardening combines the best of both worlds!

The vivid colours of shade-loving outdoor plants add brilliant bright colour to patios, balconies and atriums. Apartments, townhouses and smaller homes may often not include a traditional garden – but almost all homes have a sunny windowsill, balcony or alcove.

Balcony gardening takes many shapes and forms. Your personal taste will dictate whether you opt for functional edibles (ie. herbs and veggies) or brightly coloured flowering plants.

If you are new to balcony gardening, it’s a good idea to start small. Observe the light conditions you have to work with – most balconies have either morning or afternoon sun but there are often areas that have full sun or full shade. Choose plants accordingly.

Hypoestes phyllostachya (more commonly known as the “polka dot plant”) is a versatile, small balcony plant well suited to ½ sun positions. Polka dot plants are colourful, delicate indoor plants, grown for their decorative foliage. The polka dot plant is an ideal ‘filler’ plant and is particularly useful in mixed plantings. The soft, intricate blotched markings on the small leaves come in 3 different colour shades of red, pink or white.

Mixed planting refers to planting a selection of different plants in one container ie. a windowsill, feature planter or large bowl. Typically the plant mix combines flowering (seasonal) plants and perennial foliage plants to ensure a consistently full effect. Polka dot plants offers a long-lasting foliage option that also includes colour.

Polka dot plants thrive in bright light conditions. More direct sunlight will produce brighter colour foliage and if the light is too low, the leaves become mostly green and start stretching. One of the many benefits of balcony (and container) plants is that you can move the container around to find the best position.

The more sun, the more water is required. Polka dot plants have thin leaves and it’s important not to let the plant dry out as the leaves will wilt and ultimately the leaf tips will curl. Keep the soil moist at all times and be particularly attentive when on sunny windowsills. Reduce watering during the winter months and fertilise monthly with a liquid fertiliser to promote and enhance continued growth.

When growing conditions are favourable, small purple flowers will be produced on the upper leaves. It would be wise to pinch off these flowers to encourage foliar growth; regular pruning of over shoot growth will also help keep the plant compact and full, and will bring out the coloration on the leaves.

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