Monday, February 13, 2012

Specimen Hunting... In February?

Dumb Cane Dieffenbachia seguine. Detail leaves. © Dan Porter

I don't care if that pesky groundhog saw its shadow, I am ready for spring! Spring is my favorite time to go on the hunt for flowering trees, take some photos, and learn new things about those trees, or discover new plants or animals I never knew existed before. Winter is full of discoveries as well, but the darn cold just makes it such a brisk task some times.

So today I discovered a few thriving specimens... indoors! Lately I have been getting a lot of e-mails and phone calls about house plants.  "What kind of plant is this?" or "What is wrong with my plant?" To be honest I know very little about house plants, so in normal Dan fashion, I scoured the corners of the Internet, I flipped through books at the library, I went head first into the wonderful world of houseplants, and let me tell you, it is almost as expansive as the outdoor profession.

Then it hit me, I usually do a "Tree of the Month" Blog through the warmer months, why not do a "House Plant of the Month Blog!" So I went out on campus to find specimens, camera in hand. To my surprise I have found many plants around campus, so I have a lot of research to do! I hope I can take what I learn, and discuss it here so we can enjoy the journey and conversation together.

One great specimen I found was this Dumb Cane, or Dieffenbachia seguine. This particular specimen was in a medium light location with little foot traffic, but seemed to be very healthy. Although I think the owner talks to this plant a little more often than most people would have time for. Yes, that is right, there have been studies on plant growth and sound pollution! Books have even been written how rock music makes plants unhealthy!

Dumb Cane is native to South America, so it wouldn't tolerate our Missouri Winters, but does well indoors. They prefer to dry out a little between watering, and will benefit from a little humidity as well, although not entirely dependent upon it. These plants can reach upwards of ten feet tall and almost as wide, so give them plenty of room. They typically grow pretty slow, and every specimen I have seen thus far is in the three to six foot range.

Another point to keep in mind is this plant is slightly toxic. It has been known to cause skin irritation and should not be kept where small children or pets may ingest this plant. I have not found much or witnessed any insect or disease issues as of yet, but like all house plants, they could benefit from a shower from time to time, as the leaves collect dust. Many houseplants are native to rain forest conditions and are used to shallow roots and rain, so a bath every so often will make them... "happy."

Stay rooted, there are many indoor specimens around campus to explore! Let me know if you see any beautiful specimens around campus to discover.

1 comment:

  1. Dan,
    Thought you might like this article I found through a Facebook friend: