Is My Polka Dot Plant Dying?

Polka dots (hypoestes) can be described as a relatively robust indoor plant, however it could die in the blue.

It is prone to sunburn, cold injuries, malnutrition, root rot insects, and many other diseases. The leaves tend to wilt and turn yellow, then shrink, and then disappear with gorgeous pinkish patterns.

The overwatering (which can cause roots to rot) is the most common reason for polka dot plant death. Take the affected roots off and treat the rest with fungicide. After that, plant it with a new batch of all-purpose gardening mix. Make sure it’s healthy and organically rich, as well as having excellent drainage.

The issue of overwatering isn’t all to be concerned about when it comes to your polka dot plant.

Be on the lookout for signs of infestations and issues with culture. They could trigger an unintended chain reaction that could lead to deadly signs.

How to Know If a Polka Dot Plant Is Dying

Polka dots don’t need anything more than a warm, humid climate. In bloom, it’s an abundance of green leaves that are adorned with a mix of red, pink, as well as white freckles.

This gorgeously beautiful and vigorous plant is susceptible to the effects of adversity. A stressed and unhappy plant with a polka dot pattern will usually display a range of symptoms that include:

[1] Loss of Variegation

Did you know that there are more than 100 varieties of polka dots? They are easy to spot by their vibrant foliage, which is freckled scattered or seen. The patterns are more apparent when the plant is in full bloom.

They’re also often the first ones to leave when something’s not right.

If your plant is sagging and is losing variegation, it might need more sunlight. In order to maximize photosynthesis, all leaves can change color to green. This is a way to guarantee the survival of a person.

The bleaching of foliage can also be caused by excess sunlight and water. The gorgeous colors of leaves fade away and turn dull. In the same way they’ll begin to turn yellow, then brown around the edges, and then droop.

[2] Brown Crispy Leaves

Polka dots have the appearance of a red, pink, or white flush. But, they shouldn’t contain streaks of brown, spots, or edges. The leaves of brown are usually dry, brittle, and crisped.

Another thing to be aware of is the appearance of browning on leaves’ edges. This is especially true when you see spots of water-soaked growths on the leaves.

[3] Soft Sick-looking Foliage

The soft yellowed leaves are often an indication of a crucial nutritional deficiency. It can be caused by the use of potting mixes or root damage or excessive watering.

More troubling are the soggy leaves that appear to be blotched or blackened. It’s a sign that they’re dying and sick. Fungal rot or blight of the bacillus illnesses are often the cause.

[4] Soft, Swollen, or Weak Stems

It’s a concern to see the stems of your plant are weakening. If handled, they must be sturdy, solid and able to withstand the stress.

Soft or swollen stems are typical of the overwatered polka dots. They can become rotten, soggy and can even smell in extreme instances. It is difficult to revive them in this stage.

[5] Leaves Falling Off

Another sign that an ailing, damaged, or sick plant is the drop of leaves. The plant you have chosen to polka dot is taking steps to improve the chances of being able to survive.

The dropping of leaves helps in conserving as much water and energy as is possible.

Defoliation is often employed as an option last resort. Other signs like the appearance of wilting, yellowing, or the appearance of drooping are usually first noticed.

[6]Curling and Shriveling

A dying leaf of a polka dot plant might dry out or shrivel and then curl up. This happens most often when the plant is extremely thirsty. Extreme dehydration, temperature stress and drafts may all trigger similar symptoms.

Reasons for Polka Dot Plants Dying

Hypoestes bright leaves close up

[1] Overwatering Is the Most Common Cause of Polka Dot Plant Dying

Polka dots thrive in humid conditions. They’re indigenous of Madagascar’s climate that is humid shouldn’t be surprise, considering their dimensions and shapes.

If you give excessive amounts of water to them On the other hand it can do more harm than good.

If you notice the soil is damp or spongy it is a sign that the soil is overwatered. The excess water will quickly drip out of the drainage holes once you remove the pot.

Roots require air in order to breathe and function to live. In the end, water-logged conditions can be detrimental to the health of roots.

The excess irrigation water not only removes oxygen from the soil and nutrient, but also reduces the amount of nutrients in soil. The fungal pathogens responsible for root rot flourish in humid conditions, making them an ideal candidate to spread.

Due to these causes, your roots are prone to drowning in the process, dieback, and eventually decline. In the end, the plant’s capacity to absorb water and nutrients is greatly diminished.

The growth medium is prone to overwatering and can cause it to deplete the growth medium of vital minerals and nutrients as a consequence of frequent watering.

A polka dot plant that has been overwatered typically exhibits the following signs:

  • Yellowed leaves
  • Leaves drooping
  • Blisters or bumps that are soaked in water on the leaves
  • Edges of leaves that are brown or tips
  • The sudden and rapid shedding of leaves
  • Sodden, weak, or swollen stems
  • Growth stunted (smaller leaves)

A polka dot plant that has been overwatered is also weak and vulnerable. Therefore, it may not be able to ward off diseases and pests.

How to fix the Polka Dot Plant Dying from overwatering (and root rot)

The first step is to examine the extent of damage to the root. Based on the severity of the root rot, or whether it’s present the best method of revival will be selected.

If not you’re lucky. There’s a good possibility that the majority root systems are still healthy and well-maintained.

Transfer your plant to an area that is warmer to assist in the swift removal of moisture from the soil that is wet.

Make sure that the mixture has dried to a thickness of one inch prior to watering. The root ball can be removed ball out of the container and set it on top of magazines that are dry.

This can aid in speeding up the process of drying soil.

Repotting is a must to revive a completely drowned polka dots plant. It’s the same if you have root decay (mild or not). Follow these steps to fix it:

  1. Take your polka dot flower from the pot.
  2. To let soil out by gently teasing your root ball. Make use of a gentle stream of water to wash dirt off the root.
  3. Take out any roots that appear be damaged, dead, or soft. Healthy roots are hard and white, in contrast to those that are rotten, which appear black or brown.
  4. Apply a fungicide solution treat the root.
  5. Choose a pot that has numerous drainage holes. A clay or terracotta container is the best choice.
  6. I usually make use of a potting mix that is all-purpose. You can make your own, but make sure it’s well-drained and full of organic matter. It is possible to add pumice or perlite.
  7. Make sure that the potting mix is moist enough prior to making the change. It should be at the same level it was in the previous pot.
  8. Filter bright or indirect light

Limit the amount of watering to prevent the possibility of a repeating problem. When a half-inch of topsoil is dry then water it once more.

What happens if the rot-related disease has severed all the roots? The only remaining option is to propagate. Make use of healthy cuttings to propagate the plant.

[2] Underwatering

The polka dot plant is not fond of being thirsty. If you let the soil to completely dry it will begin to react violently. The most frequent cause of the death of a polka dot plant is water deficiency.

A plant’s leaves which is submerged will change brown, but not go through the phase of yellowing. Browning usually begins near the leaf’s edges and ends.

If the plant isn’t kept moist, it will dry out, turn into a crunchy and then curl up. This happens most often in the summer heat. It’s more difficult if the air surrounding you is windy, dry or cold.

A few drooping stems as well as small brown spots on the foliage could also be a possibility. The pot is lighter. Put your fingers into the soil and you’ll find an extremely dry growing medium.

How to Save an Underwatered Polka Dot Plant

It’s much easier to save a plant that has been underwater than dealing the root-rot. The first step is to ensure that the mix you use for potting has sufficient drainage.

It is important to note that soil that is completely dry has lower capacity for water retention. The liquid will pass through when you water it from above.

The watering method from below can help:

  • Fill a basin or sink with about 4″ of water that is room temperature. I strongly recommend using rainwater that has been filtered or distillate water.
  • Then, let the pot rest (without any saucer) in the bath. The level of water should be about halfway up the height of the pot.
  • The level of water in the sink will decrease while it is being soaked. You can add a bit more water over the course of 45 minutes or more.
  • The sink should be cleaned after the top inch of mix has been soaked with water.
  • Let the liquid excess run off for about 30 minutes. After that, you can replace the saucer, and then return the plant to its original place.

Maintain a consistent schedule of irrigation to avoid making the same mistake again. Make sure to check the potting mix using your index finger each and every so often. Give half to one inch of soil to dry out between waterings.

[3] Improper Lighting

Lighting is vital to the development and strength that your plant will have. Browning of leaves is a typical sign of inadequate lighting. The browned edges of leaves that are scorched result from exposure to too much sunlight, particularly if it is under direct sun.

A polka dot-colored plant that has been subjected to intense sunlight can become bleached. The leaves will turn brittle or crunchy when they are crisped up. If nothing changes, the leaves will begin to fade and then fall.

But, the majority of indoor polka dots will suffer from lack of sunlight. They’ll become sluggish or floppy, and eventually end up dying. This is usually the case during winter months, because the sun is weaker and it shines less every day.

The yellowing leaves are also evident. It begins with lower and older foliage and then progresses to the other leaves.

The overall growth rate of the plant is slowed or even slowed. This is due to the fact that it doesn’t receive enough sunlight to create the energy and food it needs.

A few, if not all, of the leaves may begin to fade or lose their vivid color. The ailing polka dot plant will shed the majority of its leaves as a last resort.

The overwatering process is often associated with a lack of sunlight. This means that your plant will be more susceptible to rot, pests and other diseases.

How to Fix

It is crucial to take down and get rid of any dead or damaged foliage as quickly as you can.

Be sure that you keep it away from direct sunlight. It is most at home in dappled sunlight.

If your plant is receiving inadequate light The solution is simple. Move your polka dot plant to an area that has lots of bright, well-filtered light. The ideal location is near an east-facing window.

But, I’ve discovered that placing my polka dots plants about 2 to 3 feet from a west or south-facing window is ideal for me. The windows let in plenty of natural light.

[4] Polka Dot Plant Leaves Turning Yellow

In the majority of indoor plants, the yellow leaves can be a sign of decline. The polka dot plant isn’t an exception. Most of the time the leaves that are closest to the soil are the first ones to die.

It’s important to note that older leaves may turn yellow and then fall off naturally. They allow room for growth. This improves aesthetics of the plant, and permits you to get the most effective utilization of the resources it has.

If all your leaves have turned yellow, you are in trouble. It could be that you have overwatered your plant. Other causes include deficiencies in nutrient as well as pests and bacteria-related diseases.

The leaves that are yellowed often wilt and turn brown or even blacken. If they’re not taken care of and treated properly, they can drop and cause your plant to die.

How to Revivify the look of a Polka Dot Plant with Yellow Leaves

Take off any leaves that are yellowed or have been severely damaged.

A polka dot-like plant that has yellow leaves often requires more lighting. It should be placed in a place that will get both indirect and direct light.

Find signs of excessive watering on the ground. Follow the steps I mentioned in the previous paragraph if your soil is being overwatered.

[5] Pest Infestation

Although it’s hardy, your polka dot plant can be susceptible to insects. Massive infestations of sap suckers such as mealybugs could cause severe harm to the plant.

How to Get Rid of Polka Dot Plant Pests

The first step is to isolate the affected plant.

If the number of bugs is low It’s simple. Just wipe them clean with alcohol-dipped cotton balls or swabs.

It is also possible to hose down your polka dot plants. A powerful water jet can aid in eliminating mealybugs, whiteflies, aphids and spider mites.

For larger invasions, you can apply horticultural oil as well as an insecticidal spray. I like the oil of neem (Check the most recent prices at Amazon right here). It’s safe for indoor use, organic and effective against the majority of bugs.

Spray your plant with polka dots each week during the month. It will take about around a month to completely eliminate the pest.

[6] Lack of Nutrients

The polka dot plant needs an ongoing supply of potassium, nitrogen as well as other nutrients. The yellowing of leaves is a certain indicator of a deficiency in nutrients.

In the absence of nutrients, the plant won’t develop correctly. It will begin to deteriorate and becomes susceptible to pests and diseases. It will not be long before it’s gone.


Avoid excessive watering as it is a way of washing soil minerals and nutrients away.

Polka dots are prolific producers. Organic fertilizer in dilute form is recommended to be applied every month.

Think about repotting your plant using an organically rich growth medium.

[7] Southern Blight

A polka dot overwater plant can also be affected by the southern blight. Powdery mildew as well as fungal leaf spots, and root rot are all possible causes.

It’s a serious disease that is that is caused by Sclerotium Rolfsii fungus. It thrives in humid, warm conditions. The symptoms and signs include:

  • Lesions soaked in water on leaves and stems close to soil
  • Leaves are yellowed and dying.
  • Lower leaves tend to be discolored and lose the variegation
  • Mycelia or hyphae, as well as small circular forms (called sclerotia) in the soil or in affected areas. They may be reddish-brown, brown, or black.

Control and Management

Polka dots plants that have the widespread southern blight disease should be destroyed as soon as possible.

Increase aeration in order to stop the spread of the disease.

It is possible to treat an infection that is mild — especially if it is caught early. Make use of a fungicide based on mancozeb (Check the most current cost at Amazon right here).

[8] Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is often seen on polka dots that have been overwatered plants. It appears as tiny, circular white powdery spots. They’re usually located on the upper edges of the older leaves.

They eventually grow and take over the entire leaf, and possibly some even cover the entire stem. The leaves often lose their color, becomes brown and then droops. The plant is likely to begin to fade away.


Be sure that your polka dot flower isn’t placed in a shaded or dark space. Also, stop overwatering.

Powdery mildew thrives in moist and aerated areas. Therefore, in order to increase circulation of air, spread out your plants and trim them.

All leaves that are heavily affected must be removed and disposed of.

Powdery mildew is also managed with neem oil or a fungicide based on copper.

How Not to Kill Your Polka Dot Plant?

I have to admit that polka dots plants are a favorite of our family. They add an element of color to our house. Also, they’re not blurry in regards to taking care for them.

Here are the most important tips I employ to ensure they are healthy:

  • I plant my plants in well-drained mix of potting soil with lots of pumice
  • I only water only when 1/2-inch of topsoil is slightly dried out
  • I trim or pinch back the top of my leaves frequently to encourage a bushier growth. This can also increase air circulation and wards off illnesses.
  • I provide them with lots of indirect, bright light.
  • I fertilize every month during the spring and summer. It encourages healthy growth. I suggest diluting normal houseplant fertilizer by half.


Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)