Hypoestes phyllostachya

Though this versatile, perky plant is most often grown as an outdoor annual, it does quite nicely as a houseplant, too.

The polka-dot plant is admired for its showy foliage -- deep green leaves splashed with white, pink or rose. (Look for selections such as Splash and Confetti for especially colorful foliage.) This rounded, branching plant typically reaches about a foot tall when grown as an annual. (Houseplants need to be pruned regularly to keep them from getting lanky.)

In the garden, place polka-dot plant in a partly shaded site with moderately moist soil. Whether grown in the ground or in a container, polka-dot plant makes a great companion to shade-tolerant flowers such as impatiens, wax and tuberous begonias and wishbone flower (Torenia). Polka-dot plant also can be tucked into shady perennial gardens for a splash of summerlong color.

When grown indoors, polka-dot plant needs plenty of bright, filtered light (a south window with sheer curtains is ideal). It can get leggy in low light, so use supplemental lights if you don't have a sunny spot. If your home is dry, its thin leaves can get crispy edges. So you may need to consider running a humidifier. You -- and your other plants -- will appreciate the extra moisture.

Plant type: Tropical perennial subshrub.

Hardiness: All zones when grown as an annual or houseplant. Hardy outdoors only in frost-free zones (10+).

Season: Attractive foliage all year.

Size: 1 to 2 feet tall.

Available as: Seeds or plants.

Fun fact: Another common name for this plant is Freckle Face.