How to Care for a Dumb Cane Houseplant

When I was a child, we weren’t allowed to say words like Dumb.

If we did, we had to look it up in the dictionary and then feel the guilt of what we had done.

But Dumb Cane isn’t named after that kind of dumb. It’s called a Dumb Cane because if you chew on one of it’s leaves, you can lose the ability to speak! You could literally be struck dumb!


But still. Don’t chew the leaves, ok?

Leaf chewing aside, the Dumb Cane is a really pretty houseplant and provided you don’t have any little creatures in your home (human or otherwise) that might like to chew on plants, then you should consider bringing one home!

Let’s Learn About the Dumb Cane

The Dumb Cane shows up on a lot of “Easy Care” plant lists. I don’t really like to fall into the trap of calling plants “Easy”, but the Dumb Cane is pretty straightforward when it comes to care.

That’s definitely a plus for any beginner houseplant collector.

But what I really love about the Dumb Cane is the shape and color it brings into your home.

It’s got really bright green variegated leaves and it also grows fairly tall and straight up which differentiates it from some of the other “easy” “green” “variegated” plants like Pothos.

Dumb Cane is native to tropical areas in South America and the Caribbean so you can start to guess some of the things it might like in its environment.

How to Care for a Dumb Cane Houseplant

Ok, here are the essentials: water, light, soil and fertilizer so that you can make it just right for your new Hoya Heart.


Dumb Cane is used to fairly wet and humid environments, so you can water it when the top inch of soil is dry.

You’ll probably notice that you can water less in the winter, but if your home tends to be drier in the winter, you might want to consider ways to keep the humidity up near the Dumb Cane. A pebble tray of water nearby will probably do the trick.

Because Dumb Cane grows pretty straight up, it’s a good idea to give it a quarter turn every time you water. It will help it keep growing straight!


I love a plant like the Dumb Cane that will be happy in Medium to Bright Indirect Light, but it will do just fine in Low Light, too.

It takes the stress out of the hardest part of plant care which is figuring out the right light for your plant.

When you pick a spot for your Dumb Cane, get at the level of where the plant will be and look at the nearest window. If it can see the sky, you should be just fine.

If it can see the Sun itself, you might want to use a sheer curtain to diffuse the light a bit.


Dumb Cane is not picky about soil. An all purpose potting soil will do just fine. As with any plant, you will want a pot that allows for drainage because no plant wants to sit on soggy roots.

Otherwise as long as it’s a decently well draining soil, you should be all good!


Dumb Cane like to be fed. They can be fertilized once or twice a month with a 20-20-20 fertilizer in its growing season (spring/summer).

You can stop in the fall/winter when the Dumb Cane isn’t doing a lot of growing.

Things to Watch Out for With Your Hoya Heart Plant

Really there isn’t too much to worry about with caring for this easy plant, but there are a couple of things to be aware of.

#1. The sap of the Dumb Cane can irritate your skin.

So maybe wear some gloves when you’re handling it, ok? And don’t forget the leaves can strike you dumb if you chew them. Temporarily, but still. That would be weird.

Don’t chew the leaves and wear gloves. Not too hard to follow, right

#2. Brown tips on the leaves might mean you overfertilized.

If you went a little heavy on the fertilizer, you’ll know by the brown tipped leaves.

Over fertilizing leaves salts behind in the soil. Take the plant to the sink and let the water run through the potting mix to rinse away some of that salt.

Then lay off the fertilizer!

Now You Can Care for A Dumb Cane Plant

If you aren’t too scared of getting irritated skin or being struck dumb by your own plant, then maybe this is the next beautiful plant to take home!

Or, at least, you can show off your Dumb Cane plant care skills to your friend who has one.