Polka Dot Plant Dying [Problems & How to Save]

As breathtaking as the pink-leaf plant is, improper care can quickly lead to a polka dot plant dying. If you feel that your plant is losing its health, it’s best to review how you care for it.

There are several known causes of a polka dot plant dying, and you can remedy most problems if you catch them in time. Proving the right combination and quality of light, water, environment, and food is critical to keeping polka dot plants healthy. 

In this article, I’ll explore the various causes of polka dot plants dying, offering you simple solutions to detect and remedy the situation early on. You can revive the plant most of the time if you pay close attention to the symptoms and act appropriately. 

Jmbamboo - Fairy Garden Hypoestes Phyllostachya, Confetti, Polka Dot Plant

1. Your Polka Dot Plants Require More Light

As the polka dot plant is variegated, those freckled leaves are fussy when it comes to sunlight. It needs sunlight to grow, but too much can dry it out. The key is to find a balance by providing ample sunlight but only indirectly. 

The polka dot plant can’t handle too much direct sunlight because it tends to burn the leaves. Also, direct sunlight is likely to cause dehydration in your plant. You may already know that polka don’t plants do not have a high tolerance for dehydration and, as such, may die when placed in the sun for too long without water.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that indoor light is not usually fatal in polka dot plants. Your plant will be fine unless you keep it in total darkness and deprive the plant of its essential energy source. Otherwise, low-light situations tend to cause polka dot plants to grow taller and less bushy.

If you notice brown spots or faded colors on the leaves, you can assume that the plant is getting too much direct sunlight. Moving it to a more appropriate place should fix things quickly. Curling leaves are also a sign of dehydration from excess sunlight.

Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) Live Indoor Houseplant, 4 Inch Nursery Pot (Diameter)

2. Your Polka Dot Plants Require More or Less Water

Both overwatering and underwatering are common causes of concern in polka dot plants. On the one hand, offering your plant too little water will lead to dehydration. As I’ve mentioned earlier, this is a severe issue with polka dot plants, and they easily die when deprived of water. 

Remember that this ornamental plant is native to a very humid environment, where rainfall is plenty. The weather they prefer is very much like that of the Florida Keys. However, do not assume that overwatering will keep the plant healthy. Overwatered polka dot plants usually present with swollen or soft stems. 

Firstly, overwatering suffocates the plant, causing dehydration and nutrient deficiency. Also, polka dot plants kept in very wet soil are prone to getting a disease known as root rot. If you wait too long to treat root rot, the entire root system might get infected, and there’s no turning back. 

If you think that your plant is suffering from root rot, you must carefully examine the roots. Infected roots will be mushy and might even be black. If the entire root system is black, you might try propagating the plant, but there is no hope of reviving it. 

Otherwise, you can repot the plant after cutting the infected parts if you pull out the roots and find a few white ones. 

Be extra vigilant in cutting out the infected parts because even a small infected root can quickly rot the rest of the plant. Keep only the healthy, white roots, and prune the leaves to avoid putting too much strain on the root system. 

Also, you can grow the root system in water containers as if you were propagating the plant. This transparency allows you to monitor the roots more closely. 

Jmbamboo - Fairy Garden Hypoestes Phyllostachya, Confetti, Polka Dot Plant

Read Polka Dot Plant Leaves Turning Brown

3. Diseases May Cause a Polka Dot Plant To Die

Diseases could be the reason why your gorgeous spotted plant looks like it’s withering or dying. Diseases are often difficult to diagnose without carefully examining your polka plants. The most common diseases behind an ailing plant are the following. 

Root Rot 

I’ve already mentioned root rot, a disease caused by prolonged overwatering or keeping the plant in wet soil for too long. Root rot is a condition with many contributing factors such as:

  • Fungi—such as  Armillaria mellea, Clitocybe tabescens, and Fusarium).
  • Oomycetes—such as  Pythium, Phytophthora, and Aphanomyces).

You will notice your polka plant losing its vigor and becoming wilted and stunted in growth. It is a good sign that root rot is the culprit if the polka plant does not respond to water or fertilizer. 

Powdery Mildew

The polka plant can also suffer from a few other potentially serious diseases. Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that the polka dot plant gets if its environment is too humid or if it comes in contact with other plants with the same condition.

You can easily spot powdery mildew from the fuzzy white spots that grow on the leaves of plants. However, you will need to examine your polka dot plant thoroughly, as it can be challenging to spot powdery mildew on the variegated patterns of the polka plants.

Although it sounds serious, the treatment for powdery mildew is straightforward. Mix up a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a gallon of water, and spray your plant’s leaves every day. Soon, the fungal infection will subside, and you’ll have your plant back. 

White Polka Dot Plant - 3'' from California Tropicals

4. Too Much Fertilizer Can Kill Polka Dot Plants

Most people think of fertilizer as food for their house plants. However, too much of a good thing can be bad for your plant. Adding too much fertilizer to your polka dot plant’s soil may drastically change the composition of the soil. This over-fertilization could lead to:

  • Killing beneficial microorganisms in the soil.
  • Increasing the salt levels of the soil.
  • Changing the pH levels of the soil.

Over-fertilizing a polka dot plant causes nutrient deficiency and dehydration, leading to death. This condition occurs because the plant grows above the soil faster than the roots can grow, so they can’t absorb enough water and nutrients to keep up.

If you’ve just added fertilizer to your potting mix and noticed that your plant isn’t as healthy as usual, consider repotting. After about a week with the new soil, you should be able to see improvement in your plant. 

Two Fairy Garden Hypoestes Confetti, Red Polka Dot Plant Only From Jm Bamboo

5. Other Environmental Factors That Kill Polka Dot Plants

Even after you’ve provided the right combination of light, soil, water, and other care to your polka dot plant, it still may show signs of dying. Environment factors such as the humidity and the threat of infestation are common causes of death in polka dot plants. 

Humidity Affects Polka Dot Plants

The polka dot plant is not likely to survive outdoors in dry California summers and may even show signs of dying if the indoor humidity levels are deficient.

Typically, you can tell that your plant suffers from low humidity because the leaves are curled up and shriveling despite adequate watering. 

A quick and easy solution to improve indoor humidity levels is to place a bowl of water near the plant and refill it. If that isn’t an option, or your polka dots are outside, there’s another solution. Mist the leaves of your plants once a day, using clean distilled water in a spray bottle. 

Infestations May Kill Your Polka Dot Plant

Even if you keep your polka dot plant indoors, they are still susceptible to infestation by insects. Aphids are probably the most common pest that polka dot plants suffer from, but they can also suffer from whiteflies and mealybugs. 

Insects suck the sap of plants, taking away valuable nutrients that the plant needs to grow and stay healthy. 

If you do not want to use a pesticide on your plants, there are a few natural ways you can keep pests at bay. Here are a few tricks to have up your sleeve:

  • Use a spray bottle with a dish soap solution. Using a diluted solution of regular dish soap, spray your plants once every couple of days. This spray makes the surfaces of the plant too slippery for most insects.
  • Place cinnamon in the soil. Brew a cinnamon tea and spray the plant and soil once a week. Many pests have an aversion to cinnamon oil, so gardeners commonly use it as an organic pesticide.
  • Garlic cloves in the soil. Many home gardeners place whole garlic cloves in the pots of their indoor and outdoor plants because it is a powerful pesticide. It’s a relatively cheap option, even though it might smell off. 

Pink Polka Dot Plant - 3'' from California Tropicals

Keep in mind that even if you use a store-bought pesticide, it takes time for you to observe the effects. You may revive your plant slowly but still notice a few pests. 

Keep using the pest-control method of your choice long after you’ve seen the last pest. You never know how many eggs the pests laid in and around your plant. It’s also good to use organic pesticides before detecting any pests as a preventative measure.

Final Thoughts

Taking good care of your polka dot plant can seem like a full-time job, but it’s relatively straightforward if you know how. Your plant can be dying for several reasons, so it’s always best to keep an eye out for any changes. If you want to keep those speckled leaves around, you need to do that.

Once you diagnose the problems your polka dot plant has, you can save the dying plant if you’re determined. You can always start a new plant from stem cuttings if all else fails.

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