Everything about the dumb cane, or dieffenbachia, is dramatic. Native to the tropics of Central and South America, it has huge variegated leaves. Even the way it grows is showy, new leaves curling up from the central stem before they unfurl. The dieffenbachia ‘White Etna’ is a particularly rare and unusual plant.
The diefenbacchia’s common name, dumb cane, comes from the fact that the liquid that drips from its leaves can cause a temporary loss of speech if eaten. For that reason this plant is not recommended for homes with small children. This is a grown up plant for grown up homes.
It’s used to growing in humid conditions in dappled forests, so it loves lots of moisture in the air and a lot of bright, indirect light. It will also appreciate a feed with liquid fertiliser once per month in spring and summer. With the right conditions, it will grow quickly to become a really impressive houseplant.
Did you know?
The dumb cane was given its scientific name, dieffenbachia, in the 1800s by Heinrich Wilhelm Scott, director of the Viennese Botanical Gardens, to honour his head gardener, Joseph Dieffenbach.