Plant ID Polka dot plant

(Question)

Hi
I was gifted this plant last year and I’m trying to identify what it is and if I can plant it in the garden and have it survive the winter. In the summer outdoors it turns a bright pink but in winter indoors it’s colour becomes very muted. I’ve enclosed a photo to help with identification
Thanks

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(Answer)

The plant in your photo looks very much like the Polka-dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya). This plant originates from Madagascar. It is considered to be a foliage house plant in our climate and is grown especially for its spotted leaves. For it to grow successfully and maintain its vivid pink speckles it requires bright light but not direct sunlight. It enjoys temperatures between 18-27C.

Leaves revert to solid-green in low light. When indoors  filtered light from a south- or west-facing window will give it the light it needs. If you move your plant outdoors for the summer, keep it fully shaded from hot sun, which can cause leaves to curl up and develop brown scorch marks. These plants like high humidity, so mist leaves occasionally . Water regularly and keep the soil lightly moist, but take care not to overwater. Too-dry soil will cause leaves to wilt and drop off. Revive a wilted plant with a thorough watering. Overwatering will cause leaves to turn yellow and drop off. Pinch off tall stems to prevent the plant from getting too leggy. Insignificant purple flowers may appear. If so, pinch them off because they detract from the foliage and can cause the plant to deteriorate after blooming.

There are no known serious insect or disease problems but watch for powdery mildew. Remember to bring in your plant as soon as the temperature begins to dip. This is a tropical plant. Newer hybrids are available with red or white spotted leaves if you feel like expanding your collection. For further reading check out the following article:

http://wimastergardener.org/files/2015/12/Hypoestes_phyllostachya.pdf