Dieffenbachia, commonly called dumb Cane, includes several species that are frequently grown as houseplants. They have ovate, pointed leaves that are a variety of shades of green, cream, and white. The height of a large, with leaves 20 inches long, can reach 10 feet. The plants won’t typically grow to this size indoors, where the average height is closer to 3 to 5 feet.
If given enough light, dieffenbachia grows quickly and can reach a height of 2 feet in just a year after being planted as a rooted cutting. Though the name “dumb cane” has fallen out of favor as a derogatory term, it was called that because the plant contains toxins that can inhibit speech.
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Why It’s Called Dumb Cane
Dieffenbachia contains needle-like crystals known as raphides in all of its parts, including the leaves, stems, and roots. The mouth and throat are affected by ingesting these crystals, which results in numbness, burning, and swelling, temporarily impairing speech. It is known as a “dumb cane” for this reason. Sap from dumb cane plants can also result in a rash for some people. Consider the potential risk to kids or pets before adding this plant to your collection. At the National Capital Poison Center, you can learn more about dumb cane’s lethal effects.
Indoors, bright, indirect sunlight is the best environment for growing dieffenbachia. It should be planted in potting soil with a high peat content that is fertile and well-drained. Being a tropical plant, it thrives in conditions of high humidity. A pebble tray with water in it and the pot on top of it are two ways to accomplish this. During the dry winter months, misting the leaves can be helpful.
Similar to other indoor houseplants, this one is susceptible to overwatering. Before giving the plant a thorough watering so that moisture can drain out the bottom of the pot, let the top 2 inches of the potting soil completely dry out. As the plant develops, lower, weaker leaves can be cut off if you’d like to have a specimen that looks like a small palm tree with an arched canopy.
Dieffenbachia plants thrive in shade, which makes them popular indoor plants. However, during the winter, these plants benefit from bright light. The plant favors dappled shade or indirect light during the growing season. Rotate the plant occasionally to maintain a balanced growth pattern because the plant will favor the side facing the light.
Use a potting mix that is well-aerated and quick to drain. The roots shouldn’t ever be left in soggy soil; instead, make sure there is good drainage to prevent damage.
Dieffenbachias don’t want to dry out during the growing season because they prefer consistent moisture. Two times per week may be sufficient for watering a large dieffenbachia. You can use less water in the winter. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to avoid overwatering a dieffenbachia, as this can result in rot issues. Before watering, make certain that the soil’s surface has completely dried out.
Feed your plants regularly (every four to six weeks) with a balanced fertilizer that has been diluted, like a 20-20-20, for the best results. Follow the directions on the product label for the recommended amount. However, some growers firmly believe in the practice of applying a weak, diluted fertilizer at each watering.
Dieffenbachia plants generally don’t cause problems, but they can get spider mites, like many indoor plants. Horticultural oil can be used to treat these.
Other Care Tips For Dieffenbachia
- Temperature. Because this houseplant is native to a warm environment, try to keep the temperature in the home between 60 and 75 degrees.
- Relative humidity. High humidity is what Dieffenbachia prefers. To help meet these requirements, put it in a bathroom or another area that naturally has higher humidity. Dieffenbachia pots may also be placed on a humidity tray, which is a water-filled tray with pebbles. The humidity level around the plant increases as the water evaporates from the tray. You don’t want the plant’s roots to be submerged in water, so keep the water level below the bottom edge of the pot.
- Cleaning. A soft cloth, microfiber duster, or cotton pad can be used to remove dust from leaves. If you see a film or stubborn dust on your leaves, put a drop of castile soap in a bowl of water, dip a cloth or cotton pad into the mixture, and wipe the leaves twice or three times while moving in the same direction. If you wipe different plants with the same cloth, you risk spreading pests or disease spores from one plant to the next. Never use leaf-shine products sold in stores.
- Remove dead leaves. Lower leaves that turn brown can be clipped or gently pulled away. When dead leaves fall to the ground, always remove them.
There are three simple methods for growing dieffenbachia plants.
To divide by root division:
- Offsets can be divided (while still keeping some roots in place) and planted in separate pots during the spring repotting process.
- If you choose to go this route, be careful not to disrupt the parent plant’s root systems and use a sterilized tool to prevent the spread of disease.
To propagate a stump:
- The top can be removed from older, leggy dieffenbachias and potted into new potting soil with a rooting hormone.
- The stump will begin to produce fresh leaves.
- Take off the old leaves once the new ones come out.
To propagate with cane cuttings:
- By placing the cane fragments horizontally in moist potting soil, you can sprout them.
- Leaves will begin to sprout as the pieces reattach.
- Each rooted piece should be planted in a separate pot with new potting soil.
Potting And Repotting Dieffenbachia
Dieffenbachias frequently require replanting every year. Keep an eye out for any signs of stress on the plant, such as roots poking through the soil, crowding, or dropping leaves, which could indicate that it needs to be repotted. Repotting involves simply lifting the plant as a whole, removing any old soil and dead material from the roots, and setting it in a larger container with some additional fresh soil. Give a dieffenbachia some time to adapt to its new environment after repotting. Avoid touching the sap by donning gloves.
Types Of Dieffenbachia
The Dieffenbachia genus includes a large group of beautiful tropical perennials, but the ones most commonly grown in cultivation are D. sequine, D. oerstedii, D. maculata, and D. amoena. Several Dieffenbachia species have recently been reassigned with different names, so you may run into confusion on the precise naming of different varieties. They are frequently referred to as dieffenbachias or dumb canes as a group.
Of the many species of Dieffenbachia, only a few are commonly sold commercially:
- D. seguine, the most popular Dieffenbachia species, is a native of Large ovate leaves with green margins that are spotted with yellow or cream grouped together in Brazil. It can reach a height of 10 feet.
- D. maculata (formerly known as D. picta), offers good cultivars that include ‘Perfection, with its intensely variegated 8-inch leaves; Rudolph Roehrs, with its fully yellow leaves and ivory splotches; and Superba, with its thicker leaves and white variegation. ‘Camille grows to a height of about 3 feet and has pale yellow leaves with white margins.
- D. amoena is a large, 6-foot plant with 20-inch leaves. The cultivar “Tropic Snow” is noteworthy because it has more variegation and smaller leaves.
Common Problems With Dieffenbachia
Your dieffenbachia’s leaves will reveal a lot about it. To know what to do to change circumstances, keep an eye out for specific leaf colorations.
Leaves Turning Yellow
Your plant’s leaves may turn yellow if you overwater or underwater it. They frequently tumble off the plant as well. A finger inserted into the ground up to the first knuckle can be used to inspect the soil. Wait about a week before watering if it is wet. If the soil is too dry, you might need to dig a little deeper to determine whether you should give the plant more water. Regardless of the cause, remove the yellow leaves.
Insufficient nutrients, such as nitrogen, may also cause the plant’s leaves to turn yellow. Despite the difficulty in diagnosing the problem, it won’t harm to use a plant fertilizer to see if it revives your plant.
Dieffenbachia favors light shade. Your plant may be receiving too much sunlight if it droops. Place the plant in a location that receives some shade. The leaves could, however, droop and turn yellow if it doesn’t receive enough light. To solve this issue, relocate it to a location with a little more illumination.
Because it is cold or close to a draft, the plant might droop. Keep your plant in a consistently warm space that is between 65 and 75 degrees.
Can You Easily Grow Dieffenbachia?
Dieffenbachia is a relatively simple indoor plant to grow, but for best results, it needs the right lighting, a reasonable amount of humidity, and a regular watering schedule.
What Is The Dieffenbachia Growth Rate?
Dieffenbachia grows quickly and can reach a height of 2 feet in just one year.
A Dieffenbachia Houseplant Has A Lifespan Of How Long?
Dieffenbachia houseplants can live for years if they are periodically potted up and refreshed as their leaves fall off.
Is the Dieffenbachia Houseplant Toxic?
Your dumb cane plant is indeed poisonous because it contains calcium oxalate, which can briefly impair speech. It shouldn’t be permitted near animals or children. Additionally, we suggest washing your hands thoroughly after pruning.