Dumb cane or dieffenbachia

Contents

Dieffenbachia

Dieffenbachia ‘Tropic Honey’, developed at the University of Florida

Dieffenbachia, also known as dumb cane, is an incredibly easy-to-grow houseplant.

Popular since the Victorian era, dieffenbachia is an attractive, tropical indoor plant. The common name dumb cane refers to the plant’s sap, which can cause swelling of the mouth if the leaves or stems are chewed, leaving one unable to speak, or “dumb.”

Characteristics

Depending on the cultivar, the thick, large leaves are usually some mixture of green, white, and yellow. Dieffenbachias come in a number of cultivars with different sizes, colors, and variegation patterns.

There are many compact forms that rarely need to be cut back, growing to only 12 inches tall; they make wonderful accent plants and some are low-growing enough to be used as tall groundcovers.

Other cultivars can grow to be quite large, reaching 6 to 8 feet or more in height. The taller varieties should be pruned back occasionally to encourage a fuller form.

Dieffenbachias produce flowers seasonally, though they seldom flower indoors, and the blooms are not showy.

Planting and Care

Dieffenbachia prefers diffused sunlight or partial shade, but will tolerate full shade, which is why it is well-suited as a houseplant. It thrives in temperatures between 60 and 75°F.

You dieffenbachia should be watered regularly, with soil being allowed to dry between waterings. It can be planted in any good quality, well-drained potting media and should be repotted as needed to allow for best growth. Dieffenbachia’s preference for relatively high humidity makes it a great option for Florida. To encourage even growth, turn your plant often.

It can also be grown outdoors in a shady location, but must be protected from the cold.

Use caution with this plant if you have small children or curious pets, as its sap has toxic qualities which can cause tongue and throat swelling when ingested.

Troubleshooting

If your dieffenbachia isn’t looking as healthy as it once did, there are some easy ways to troubleshoot your problems.

Leaf Problems

  • Leaves are droopy — Droopy leaves can by caused by too little water. When the soil surface is dry to the touch, water your plant well, water again when the soil surface becomes dry. If the leaves droop and fall without yellowing first, your plant may be too cold. Move your plant to an area where the temperature will not fall below 55 degrees. The lowest leaves may turn yellow and begin to droop as part of the plant’s normal growth pattern. Simply remove the drooping leaves as part of your regular up-keep.
  • Leaves have brown tips — Brown tips on your dieffenbachia’s leaves could be caused by uneven watering. Keep your watering practices a little more regular and never let your plant sit in water.
  • Leaves are curled with brown edges — Curled, browning leaves could be caused by excessive fertilizer application. Flush away accumulated salts and fertilizer with clean water. Follow label instructions for correct fertilizer application rates.

Growth issues

  • Uneven growth — Uneven growth occurs when dieffenbachia stretches toward a light source. To even out the growth of your dieffenbachia, turn your plant a quarter turn every few days.
  • Little new growth — If the growth of your dieffenbachia has slowed or stopped it is likely not receiving enough light. Move your plant to a brighter location and consider feeding your plant a high-nitrogen foliage plant food as recommended.

Pests

  • Cottony masses on your plant — Cottony masses on stems and the undersides of leaves signify the presence of mealybugs. To treat your dieffenbachia, apply a labeled product at the recommended rates. Be sure to follow all label instructions.
  • Pale leaves and a webby material on leaf undersides — Spider mites may be the cause of your plant’s troubles. The first course of action is to isolate your dieffenbachia to prevent the spider mites from spreading to other plants. Mite populations can be reduced by taking the plant outside and spraying it with a forceful spray of water. Labeled pesticides may be needed for best control. Contact your local county Extension Agent for recommendations.

UF/IFAS Sites

  • Dieffenbachia Cultivars Developed at the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
  • Florida Plant ID: Dieffenbachia

UF/IFAS Publications

  • Cultural Guidelines for Commercial Production of Interiorscape Dieffenbachia
  • New Florida Foliage Plant Cultivar: Dieffenbachia ‘Sparkles’

Dieffenbachia ‘Starry Nights’, also developed at UF

Caring for Dieffenbachia Plants

Dieffenbachia plants are beautiful and many home gardeners choose them for their homes. These plants are often grown because of their unique, striking foliage. If you wish to grow these plants for the first time, here’s a good news: it’s easy to learn all the basics pretty quickly so you can start growing your Dieffenbachia plants very quickly.

This plant is also known as “dumb cane” on the market. The name comes from the plant’s toxic sap. Keep in mind that ingesting it can cause a temporary inability to speak. Another, shorter name for a Dieffenbachia plant is “Dieff”, and it’s often used because it’s easier to spell.

Before you start, you need to know that there are many varieties of the “dumbcane” plants on the market. Some varieties are very small, almost dwarf. On the other hand, there are also very large varieties you can find, such as Dieffenbachia amoena. The choice is all yours and it depends on your preferences. Both varieties can easily be grown indoors.

One great news about all home gardeners is that “Dieffs” can easily be grown indoors for years. They can easily reach a height of about 4 to 5 feet (if you don’t choose the dwarf variety).

Dieffenbachia Plant Care Requirements

Here are some basic requirements Dieffenbachia plants need to thrive.

Temperatures and Lighting. The Dieffenbachia plant can do well outdoors, but it’s also easily grown indoors. It generally thrives on year-round temperatures around 65 to 75 degrees F. Keep in mind that this plant is not a fan of low temperatures and it shouldn’t be kept on temperatures below 60 degrees F. When it comes to light, it’s important to remember that it can’t handle full sun but it does thrive in good lighting. It will do well on a kitchen window, for example. Make sure to never expose it to very bright light. It can make it sickly and weak.

Watering. When deciding on how much to water your “Dieffs”, it’s important to keep in mind that they are from the aroid family. Their cousins are Aglaonema, Spathiphyllum and Philodendron. It means that Dieffenbachias like himidity a lot. During the summer, it’s also importnat to provide a lot of water. Soil has to stay moist but never fully wet – being wet can promote the root rot. During the winter, all the watering should be reduced.

Feeding. This also depends on the growing season. During the growing season, meaning, March to October, you should feed it every other week, when watering. It’s best to use a complete liquid food. During the winter months you should not fertilize at all – this is when you should water only, and make sure to reduce even that one.

Soil Requirements. The Dieffenbachia plant likes a well-draining soil. It’s best to use 2 parts peat moss and 1 part perlite. Another good choice is to use an African violet mix.

Potting. Even a large variety such as “Tropic Snow”, capable of growing 4-5 feet in height can be grown in a relatively small pot. What can often make a problem is not the pot size itself but the plant size making the plant top heavy. If this is the case for your Dieffenbachia, make sure to use a cachepot to stabilize the top heavy plant.

Repotting. Potting and repotting are best done in spring, just before the start of the growing season. Make sure to never overpot your Dieffenbachia plant!

Image by Starr Environmental

Propagation

Propagation with Dieffenbachia is usually done when a plant gets too big and leggy. You will know that it’s leggy due to the stems becoming “naked”. The plant will look like a bunch of stems with foliage up top. It’s not a pretty sight in any case, shape or form. This is when you should do the propagation.

To propagate, cut off the topshoot. Root it by placing it in a pot with moist, well draining soil. It’s good to use 50% peat moss with 50% perlite.

It’s also possible to use stem cuttings for propagating your Dieffenbachia plant. These can easily be rooted. To use them for propagation, stems must have an “eye” from wish new leaves and stems will emerge, so keep this in mind when choosing stems for propagation.

To propagate, place stem cuttings on their side, wish about half of the stem buried in the soil. Make sure that the “eye” points upwards. It’s best to use some type of a “mini greenhouse” for rooting. Soda bottle planters are a good choice here. They will speed up the rooting process.

Typically, roots will start forming in about 2 to 4 weeks. You should keep the temperatures around 72 degree range, to accommodate the cuttings.

When taking cuttings, it’s best to use a razor blade because Dieffenbachia plants are very sensitive to bacteria.

Pest and Problems

As mentioned above, Dieffenbachia plants are very sensitive to bacteria. This is one of the main reasons for your plant not growing as much as it should. Bacterial infections can pose a serious issue for your plant, and they can even make it rot. You will see the leaves becoming smelly and steamy and stems becoming soft. Keep in mind that bacteria can spread quickly across the stems and leaves.

Bacteria grow well in humid, wet conditions. This is why it’s always important to monitor your plant for any sign of infection. Unfortunately, if your plant does get bacteria, there is no much that can be done. Such plant should be thrown away before it infects other plants. The only thing you can do is to take a cutting, but only if you are sure that said part of the plant is healthy. You can use this cutting to start a new plant. The good news when it comes to bacteria is that it rarely occurs indoors.

Another common problem are winter brown spots. There are several things that can cause them. One of the most common cause is over-fertilizing. Another problem is the plant drying out too much between waterings. If you notice brown spots, make sure to stop fertilizing for a while or increase watering (depending on the problem causing brown spots).

Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell a difference between brown spots and problems caused by bacteria. There is one easy way to tell: with bacteria, the spots will be “wet” but with brown spots condition, the spotting will be dry.

Image by Starr Environmental

Pest pose another problem. They can often be found during dry, hot conditions indoors, particularly during the winter months. Red spider mites can often be found on the undersides of leaves during this period. Mealybugs and aphids may also pose a problem. They suck juices from the plant. To get rid of pests, use sprays and other insecticidal products specially formulated for these pests.

Dieffenbachia Varieties

There are many varieties of Dieffenbachia commonly found on the market. Probably the most popular of them all is “Tropic Snow” variety. Other common ones are “Compacta”, “Splash”, and “Topic Honey”, though there are others you can find on the market.

Health Warning: Dieffenbachia is Poisonous!

The Dieffenbachia is a very beautiful plant but it comes with one downside: it’s poisonous! You need to understand this and to use all precautions if you wish to grow this beautiful plant in your home.

First of all: what parts of the plant are poisonous? Dieffenbachia leaves and stems are poisonous if eaten. If ingested, it can paralyze the voice, and larger quantities can paralyze the whole body or to even be fatal. Therefore, it’s important not to play with this plant!

The sap from this plant is toxic and it can cause allergic reactions, painful rashes, numbness and other problems. When handling the plant, avoid getting any of the sap in your eyes or mouth. It’s always best to wear gloves when working on this plant.

It’s also vital to keep it away from children and pets. Never put your Dieffenbachia somewhere where a child or a pet can reach it (and never underestimate kids and pets – they are curious and can reach places you wouldn’t think they can).

Never allow your animal to chew on Dieffenbachia leaves! For some reason, cats like them, but you should never allow them to eat the leaves.

However, even with this downside, the Dieffenbachia is a very beautiful plant you will love to grown in your home. As long as you stick to warnings and don’t allow anyone to ingest any part of this plant, it will bring beauty and happiness to your home. Seriously: it’s not so difficult to stick to the warning; it’s just important to make sure children and pets can’t reach your Dieffenbachia to “try it”.

Dieffenbachia, also known as dumb cane, is one of the most common houseplants since it’s easy to take care of. However, the leaves of this plant can turn yellow in color if it is not being taken care of properly.

Most of the time, you can easily tell what’s wrong and fix it before things get worse but sometimes, it is harder to tell where the problem lies. If your dieffenbachia plant has yellowing leaves, no need to panic.

Read more to find out why your plant has yellow leaves and what you can do to fix it.

6 Reasons for Yellowing Leaves on Dumbcane

Keep a watchful eye for yellow leaves on your dumbcane. Source: narin

Moisture Stress

The leaves may change color because of underwatering or overwatering your plant. Since dieffenbachia is a potted plant, it is vital to give your plant the amount of water it needs because it’s not getting it from rain, in-ground soil, etc.

If the leaves are not green anymore, check the pot to see if the soil is soaked or dry:

  • If the soil is wet, reduce the number of times you are watering your plant since too much water can cause the roots to drown and leaves to yellow.
  • If the soil is dry, start watering it more regularly or your plant will die, leaves turning yellow and then brown.

Aging

Dieffenbachia is one of the most popular houseplants because it lives for a long time. But like all living things, it eventually starts aging. The green leaves turn to yellow leaves…this process is completely normal. Eventually, the leaves will simply fall off when the time comes. When all the leaves fall off, it is a good idea to trim the stems and cut back foliage to spur new growth.

Weather

Another common reason why your dumb cane houseplant might be turning yellow is the weather. Houseplants prefer warm temperature and if it gets really cold, the leaves of the plant are affected. If your houseplant is on a window ledge or near an air conditioner during the winter season, make sure to place it somewhere where it gets bright light but doesn’t get too cold or drafty.

Insufficient Sunlight

Unlike plants in your garden, a houseplant does not get the same amount of sun during the day, even if exposed to bright indirect light. Exposure to too much sun can cause a plant leaf to turn yellow and droop. Before you know it, all the leaves will turn yellow.

If your plant is placed in the middle of the room away from a light source, it’s best to move it to the window sill, where it can get direct sunlight during the day. If it is already on the sill, check if something is blocking the light. During the winter season, you can give addtional artificial light to make sure your plant leaves don’t change color.

Infection

Yellow patches on the leaves can also be a result of an infection. An infection will not only make the leaves yellow, but it will also discolor the flowers and deform the stem. If the infection has spread throughout the plant, it is best to move the plant container away from other plants or change the pot entirely. Make sure to cut the leaves that have turned yellow and sterilize the tools before using them on other plants.

Nutrient Deficiency

This one may be a little hard to crack since you might not even realize this is happening. Your dumb cane plant may be changing color because it is not getting enough nutrients, especially nitrogen. Make sure to fertilize your plants with a diluted houseplant fertilizer regularly to prevent the leaves from yellowing.

FAQs

Does overwatering affect dieffenbachia?

If you water the plant too much, your plant can suffer. It may become hard for the roots to absorb all of the water, which can lead to the death of your plant via root rot.

Can brown or yellow-ish leaves turn green again?

Once your dieffenbachia plant is dry and the leaves change color, they will not turn to their original color again. Simply cut them off so they don’t affect others.

If you don’t give your plant immediate attention when the leaves start changing color, you will stunt the growth and health of your dumbcane plant, so keep an eye on it!

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Kevin Espiritu
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Hi,

Dieffenbachia Turning Yellow

Your plant is called a dieffenbachia. The bottom leaves on a dieffenbachia plant can turn yellow for a number of reasons: the plant is near a cold draft or an air conditioning vent. The bottom leaves are not getting enough light. The soil has gotten too dry. The plant is over watered and is dying.

Your plants looks like it is an over- watering issue. It looks like you moved it to a pot that is too large. When a pot is too large, the soil does not have a chance to dry out quickly. The roots stay wet too long and begin to rot; this causes the plant to eventually die. Your plant container should only be 1″-2″ wider and 1″-2″ deeper than the root ball of the plant. There must be drip holes in the bottom of the pot to allow excess water to drain out. You need to take the plant out of its pot, get rid of all the wet soil, remove all of the dead or dying leaves, and allow the plant to lay out, bare rooted for 24 hours. Hopefully the roots will dry out. Re-pot into the proper size container and don’t water for at least 7-10 days. When you water, water well and then allow the top 2″-3″ of soil to dry out before watering again (usually takes a week or more).

You can read all of my care tips for a dieffenbachia in the Popular Houseplant section of the website. The picture is of a different variety, but the care is the same.

These plants are considered very poisonous and should be kept away from pets and children. Read more about common houseplants that are poisonous in my book Don’t Feed Me To Your Cat! A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants

Dieffenbachia Leaves Yellow – Knowledgebase Question

Sometimes new plants take a while to acclimate to new conditions. Often, the oldest leaves (at the base of the plant) are the first to go, since the plant directs its energy to its new growth. Dieffenbachia likes medium light. A good place would be in front of an east window, where it would get a little morning sun, then light but no direct sun for the rest of the day. The plant can adapt to lower light levels, like in a north window or in a bright room but away from the windows. It will also tolerate brighter light, though full sun in a south window might be too much for it.
I can think of two things causing your “crispy edges”. One is low humidity. The plant likely came from a greenhouse, where it was used to fairly bright light and high humidity so it may take some time to adjust. Be sure the plant is not near heat ducts.
Often, overwatering can cause brown leaf margins. The best way to water is to let the plant dry out so the top inch or two of soil is dry. Then water thoroughly (until water just begins to drain out the bottom). Allow it to drain well, (don’t let it sit in water) and don’t water again until the top inch or two is dry again. How much you water really depends on where the plant is. The brighter the light, warmer the room, and lower the humidity, the more you will need to water. What you don’t want to do is water with just a little water every few days. You want to water thoroughly, then wait a while to water again. You might need to water once a week, once every other week, or even once a month!
I would not bring the plant in and out of the house. First of all, the plant needs to adapt to its growing environment. If you bring a plant adapted to the low light indoors out into direct sunlight, it will suffer sunburn! Plants acclimated to outdoor growing develop tougher leaves to withstand harsh sun and wind. If you would like to put it outdoors for the summer, choose a somewhat shaded, protected spot, and move it outdoors gradually, a few hours a day at first, to give it time to adjust. When you return it to the indoors in the fall, you’ll want to inspect it carefully for insect pests first.
Hope this helps!

Dieffenbachia plant pronounced (deef-en-BOK-ee-uh) known also as the “Dumb Cane” makes an excellent tropical houseplant. “Dieffs” tolerance of shade makes them a good plant to begin learning the basics of indoor houseplant care.

In this article, we share tips on common indoor Dieffenbachia plant care along with, answers to some of the most common questions on “dumb cane” regarding:

  • How poisonous is the dumb cane plant for cats, dogs, and children?
  • How to on propagation
  • What to do when plants get too tall
  • Leaves turning yellow
  • and much more

Let’s get started!

Why Is The Dieffenbachia Plant Called “Dumb Cane”?

The common name for Dieffenbachia is “dumb cane.”

Through the years the plant has also been known as the mother-in-law tongue (the common name used for Sansevieria aka “snake plant”) referring to the toxic sap with calcium oxalate crystals, which inflame the tongue and throat causing temporary loss of speech if ingested.

It’s been reported that slaves were given “dumb cane” as a form of punishment (more below).

Where Did The Name “Dieffenbachia” Come From?

The name Dieffenbachia was given to the genus by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott the director of the Botanical Gardens in Vienna to honor the head gardener Joseph Dieffenbach (1796–1863).

Schott was a botanist well known for his extensive work on the aroids (Family: Araceae).

The herbaceous perennial amoena plant originates from the New World tropics rainforests of Mexico to Argentina and the West Indies.

The plant has alternate simple leaves with white flecks or spots attached to straight stems. The native origin provides some idea of the type of care and conditions the plant likes.

This is a question many ask. Yes the dumb cane is poisonous and toxic, causing swelling of the throat and skin irritation, and more.

For details read our article – Is The Dieffenbachia Plant Poisonous?

Does The Dieffenbachia Flower?

The dumb cane plant does flower and has no real smell or fragrance. The flowers (inflorescence) looks like flowers on a calla lily or Monstera deliciosa.

After flowering, the center of the Dumb Canes stem “dies” but side shoots usually form, and the plant continues to grow. As the side shoots mature they can be removed, propagated and planted to produce new plants.

What Is Dieffenbachia Amoena?

Dieffenbachia Amoena is the plant most people commonly know of all Dieffenbachia plant varieties.

It is one of the taller Dieffenbachia varieties growing to heights of around 4 or 5 feet as large single stem specimens and floor plants.

Mottled leaves of Dieffenbachia amoena – image viawikimedia.orgCC4.0

The thick-stems support long, dark green mottled foliage, pointed oblong leaves which ascend spirally around the canes.

A sport known as Dieffenbachia ‘Tropic Snow’ has been grown and sold as a common indoor house plant for decades.

The World Checklist Of Selected Plant Families at Kew Gardens currently lists 56 “accepted names” dating all the way back to Dieffenbachia seguine in 1832. There have been additions and Dieffenbachia discoveries in the last 30 years by Croat at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and others.

Interestingly, as popular as Dieffenbachia Amoena is, the plant IS NOT an “accepted” species.

How Do You Care For A Dieffenbachia Plant?

The Dieffenbachia is a hardy plant and will reward you with a long lifespan if properly cared for.

In terms of difficulty and its requirements, it is one of the easiest indoor houseplants you’ll ever have the pleasure of caring for and maintaining. It grows no matter the month or season.

How Big Does Dieffenbachia Get?

The answer to plant size depends on the variety.

Dieffenbachia has given us a long list of handsome available foliage plants with dozens of named species, variants, and hybrids. The list grows as more varieties appear each year.

The larger varieties like Dieffenbachia amoena ‘Tropic Snow” grow 4 – 5 feet tall and can easily be 48” inches in width. This requires the plant be planted in larger pots (14” inches or more) for the plant to not become too top heavy.

The large varieties make perfect additions for indoor spaces with lots of room.

The smaller almost dwarf Dieffenbachia varieties like ‘Compacta’ as the name implies grows to only 24” – 28” when mature.

The one difference is the smaller varieties have a tendency to sucker heavily producing a very bushy plant. They also have a much more natural mottling of white or yellow colors present in the leaves.

The smaller varieties are often times sports or variants. For example, Dieffenbachia Camille comes off a ‘Compacta’ variant, with cream-colored or white leaves that exhibit thin, green strips on its borders.

Some of the smaller varieties to look for at the garden center include:

  • Dieffenbachia Camille
  • Dieffenbachia Compacta
  • Dieffenbachia Delilah
  • Dieffenbachia Exotica
  • Dieffenbachia Sparkles
  • Dieffenbachia Star Bright
  • Dieffenbachia Tiki

Dieffenbachia care is the same for both large and small varieties.

How Much Light Does The Dieffenbachia Plant Need?

Dieffenbachia does well in a semi-sunny to a shady location and does not need much sunlight.

The plant will, however, thrive in bright light conditions. Dumbcanes do well when grown under artificial plant lights.

Bright light does make the ordinarily dark lush growth and color; the Dieffenbachia is known for to become dull.

Dieffenbachia can grow outdoors with lots of sunlight but needs protection from wind and the hot noon sun of summer or plants begin to look sickly.

Too much sun will burn the leaves, but too much shade on the heavy white/yellow varieties will cause them to be poorly colored.

What Is The Best Temperature For Dumb Cane Plants?

The Dieffenbachia plant does well as a houseplant, thriving with year-round average room temperatures of 65° – 75° degrees Fahrenheit. Dieffenbachias will not tolerate low temperatures.

Anything below 60° degrees Fahrenheit and growth begins to slow. Some varieties start to show cold damage when temperatures fall below 55° degrees Fahrenheit.

In fact, high temperatures and bright light can make Dieffenbachia weak and sickly.

How Often Do You Water Dieffenbachia Plants?

Being from the aroid family Araceae – with cousins like the “Chinese Evergreen” (Aglaonema), “Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)” and Philodendron – lets us know dieffenbachia likes humidity.

As for watering, we recommend to water your dumb cane thoroughly and allow the soil to thoroughly “approach dryness” between waterings.

Watering Dieffenbachia indoors is somewhat of an art form. There is no exact schedule. You need to consider the location, time of year, soil type, lighting and humidity which all contributes to – How often you should water any dumb cane houseplant.

Plants often need more water during the summer seasons and less during winter time. The growth cycle of this plant starts in March and ends in October.

Too much water (overwatering) may drown the fleshy roots, or cause rank, weak growth, and stems to become mushy.

How Do You Fertilize Dieffenbachia?

The easiest way to Fertilize a dumb cane plant is to add a bit of liquid-plant food every other time you water the plants. Apply NO plant food during the winter months only water.

Use a balanced water-soluble liquid plant fertilizer at ½ strength when watering. For most common liquid houseplant fertilizers like Miracle-Gro expect to mix a ½ tablespoon per gallon of water.

When repotting or transplanting add a small amount of a solid time-release fertilizer to the soil. Always follow the recommended fertilizer rates you find on the fertilizer packaging.

What Is The Best Soil For Growing Dieffenbachia Plants?

A soil mix used to in African violets care would be fine.

You’ll often find recommendations such as:

  • One part all-purpose loam
  • One part peat moss
  • One part sharp sand, perlite or vermiculite.

Growing Dieffenbachia outdoors on an open shaded patio the above soil mix may work well.

When growing indoors as a houseplant, purchase a houseplant potting mix or make your own with two parts peat moss and 1 part perlite. Keep it simple.

Potting Tips: When potting or repotting plants, springtime is best just before the growing season begins. Do not overpot!

Dieffenbachia Pruning and Grooming

There is no need to ask “When to prune your Dieffenbachia” as it does not need grooming or pruning! Older leaves will yellow and need removing, but other than that little “grooming” is required.

How To Propagate Dieffenbachia Plants

Propagating plants gives the homeowner a simple way to increase their collection. If your dumb cane has grown too tall, why not try propagating your Dieffenbachia.

Learn more in our article on Dieffenbachia Propagation.

Dieffenbachia Pests and Diseases

One of the most common questions asked in caring for Dieffenbachia is:

Why Is My Dieffenbachia Leaves Turning Yellow?

Yellowing leaves come with several possibilities.

If your plant has is healthy and one or two dieffenbachia yellow leaves show up throughout the course of the year it is most likely an old leaf.

Older leaves naturally die once they reach about one year old. If the plant is experiencing more than the occasional leaf dying off, a more serious problem may be starting to show.

Massive yellowing and dropping of leaves including:

  • Curled leaves curl
  • Leaf tips turning brown and dying back
  • Plant rotting, wilting and bleached foliage
  • Weak new growth

Overwatering usually causes these conditions. Follow these steps to try and help the plant recover.

  • Remove the plant from the pot
  • Make sure the drainage holes are not clogged
  • Check the roots for health.
  • Roots should be white and free from any disease or rot.
  • Remove any damaged roots
  • Make sure the plant has the right soil
  • If the root system looks good, and only a few roots need removing put the plant back into the pot, add new soil if required or repot using fresh soil.
  • Remove all bad or damaged leaves
  • Place plant in a well-ventilated area

If after removing the plant from the pot the roots are mushy and soft the plant will likely not survive. Take any tip and stem cuttings possible and follow the propagation tips above.

Throw the old plant out including the soil.

Dieffenbachia Bacteria

The Dieffenbachia is a tough plant whose one weakness is bacteria (Erwinia). The plant will exhibit rotting leaf joints that will spread throughout once it’s infected. Rotting can also start on the stem.

Once infected there’s very little you can do to save the plant. Pots can be reused, but make sure to take the proper steps to disinfect it before reuse.

What Causes A Dieffenbachia To Have Brown Spots On Leaves?

The Dieffenbachia does like humidity and does not like cool temperatures. When plants experience a sudden chill and too much humidity a fungal disease known as anthracnose can develop.

The leaves will have black or dark tan spots in the center and dark, narrow margins. Leaf tips or margins become brown and die back.

  • Remove and destroy these fungal infested leaves
  • Keep plants on the dry side
  • Keep plants in a well-ventilated area
  • Spray healthy plants with a fungicide (neem oil) to stop the spread of the disease

NOTE: Most homeowners will never experience the anthracnose problem with their plants indoors.

Brown Spots On White-Patterned Dieffenbachia Varieties

During the winter months, plants are not in an active growth phase and the need for water and fertilizer is lower.

Leaves on white-patterned Dieffenbachia varieties – Compacta, Camille, Exotica, etc. – can exhibit dry brown spots during the winter caused by the soil staying too dry or too much fertilizer.

During winter months – DO NOT allow the soil to dry out completely and DO NOT fertilize!

Why Are The Stems and Roots Rotting On My Dieffenbachia?

When plant stems and roots turn soft and mushy at the base it’s known as – stem rot and root rot.

This is a fungus disease (Fusarium) caused by several conditions:

  • Too much humidity
  • Overwatering
  • Temperatures too high
  • Temperatures too low

Take the following steps to rescue the plant:

  • Remove the plant from the pot
  • Remove all soil
  • Remove all infected areas – leaves, roots, and stems
  • Treat all wounds with a fungicide
  • Repot in fresh soil and a new pot (recommended)
  • Allow soil to dry well before rewatering
  • Keep the plant the proper growing conditions.

Top Down Stem Rot

Stems can also rot from the top down. What are the signs?

  • Curled leaves
  • Discolored foliage
  • Soft foliage
  • Leaves with brown edges

These “plant alerts” are caused by cold drafts and cold temperatures.

To combat top down stem rot take the following steps:

  • Remove all infected areas
  • Treat all wounds with a fungicide
  • Move the plant a warmer location

NOTE: These spots aren’t caused by bacteria and will appear withered as compared to a rotten and smelly when they are infected.

Why Is My Dieffenbachia Having Distorted Leaves? (Dasheen Mosaic Virus)

Distorted leaves are often caused by the Dasheen mosaic virus. The virus is more common on select Dieffenbachia cultivars.

Symptoms include distorted leaves and stunted plants. Aphids and man commonly help spread Dasheen mosaic virus. Today most pathogen-free Dieffenbachia stock is produced my tissue cultured micro-cuttings.

No chemicals can control this virus disease. Monitor other plants such as Aglaonema, Spathiphyllum, and Philodendron for symptoms, as they can act as a host and reservoir for the virus.

How To Control Mealy Bugs, Spider Mites, And Aphids On Dieffenbachia

The indoor conditions – warm and dry – during winter months make a perfect place for spider mites to set up shop on the underside of leaves and feed – sucking the juices out of your plants.

Any time of the year those cottony, sticky looking pests mealybugs hiding in clusters in leaf axils and on stems, even venturing to the root area. They also enjoy feeding on your Dieffenbachia.

Aphids enjoy sucking the juices and feeding on new growth during the active growing season.

To control these Dieffenbachia pests:

  • Examine your plants weekly – all the way down to where the leaf meets the stem
  • Clean and wipe the tops and bottoms of leaves
  • Use sprays designed to control the insect pests such as Malathion or garden safe Neem oil for plants. – mealybugs, spider mites, aphids (homemade control) and other pests.

What Are The Most Popular Dieffenbachia Varieties?

The Dieffenbachia aka Dumb Cane plant – has been grown and available as a houseplant for decades. Over that time many varieties have come and gone.

The varieties available break down into two groups based on their size – large floor plants and smaller “table top” selections.

Large Dieffenbachias – Floor Plants

These large varieties make striking individual specimens indoors if you have the real estate or outdoors on a covered patio for example.

The plants can reach heights of 4 – 5 feet if allowed. However, indoors a plant 30” – 42” is more the norm.

The most popular large varieties are:

Dieffenbachia Amoena as discussed above. There are also various sports of “Amoena” available. The most popular or well known patented variety is “Tropic Snow” PP 2,869.

“Tropic Snow” was discovered in the 1960’s as a sport in a block of Dieffenbachia amoena growing at Chaplin’s Nursery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to US Patent Office records. I actually visited the nursery many years ago.

Attractive Dieffenbachia Tropic Snow

A patent for the plant Dieffenbachia amoena cv. Tropic Snow Plant Patent 2,869 was issued on February 25, 1969. It was the first Dieffenbachia to receive a patent.

The “discovery” document filed at The United States Patent Office August 14, 1967:

“The present invention relates to a new and distinct variety of Dieffenbachia plant which was discovered by me in a shade house on my nursery property located at Davie, Fla., as a sport of the unpatented Dieffenbachia amoena.

My attention was attracted to one particular plant in this block which bore some variegated leaves quite different in appearance from the other leaves on this plant and different from those of all other plants in this block, as well as strikingly different from the leaves of all other Dieffenbachia varieties previously known to me.

Upon close inspection of this particular plant, I found that it had sported from a stem near the ground, and I accordingly took immediate steps to preserve the sport and keep it under close observation. Shortly thereafter, I took tip and cane cuttings from the sport to propagate the same, as performed by me in my nursery aforementioned.

Continued observations and tests of the sport and the progeny thereof derived from the cuttings aforesaid, have convinced me that it represents a new and improved variety which is distinctly different from the parent variety, as well as from all other Dieffenbachia varieties of which I am aware, as evidenced from the following unique combination of characteristics…”

Small Dieffenbachias – Tabletop Plants

There are many more smaller varieties available on the market and many are produced from tissue culture microcuttings. Below are several well known varieties growing in size from 18” – 30” inches.

Well-grown plants have stout stems, completely hidden by the bases of the leaf petioles where they clasp, but exposed below, where older leaves have fallen.

Dieffenbachia ‘Alix’ is a sport of ‘Tropic Snow’ with white and green variegated leaves but smaller and suckers well.

Dieffenbachia ‘Camille’ – bushy grower reaching 20 inches tall, creamy white leaves with green midrib and borders. more

Dieffenbachia ‘Camouflage’ pp#12275 – A plant mutation of the not patented Dieffenbachia sp. cultivar ‘Panther’ (Dieffenbachia Panther). Characterized by large leaves with unique and attractive variegation pattern. Freely clumping, full, dense plants with an upright growth with an outwardly arching growth habit.

Dieffenbachia ‘Compacta’ – like ‘Camille’ growing to 22 inches tall with green spots.

Dieffenbachia ‘Memorii Corsii’ – carries Silver-like marking with a moderate branching habit. Memoria Corsi has been around for almost 150 years.

As described in the 1871 The Garden: an illustrated weekly journal of gardening in all its branches

Found in the Spring Flower Show In Paris. The show of the Paris Horticultural Society

“M. Dalliere, of Ghent, the only foreign exhibitor, showed a small group of new plants, including Dieffenbachia memoria Corsi.”

Dieffenbachia ‘Nelly’ – small, well branching, compact slow growing with cream and green leaf variegation. Often used in dish gardens or small 6-inch pots.

Dieffenbachia ‘Panther’ – A fast-growing plant, large dark green leaves with wide silver streaks etched down the mid-rib. Additional lighter green random “spots” decorate the leaf blade. Leaves can reach lengths of 24” long and 10″ wide.

Dieffenbachia ‘Parachute’ – Medium sized plant, with white creamy variegation sitting atop dark green foliage. Beautiful green with yellow speckled leaves.

Dieffenbachia ‘Perfection’ – a variety like ‘Compacta’ with cream and green variegation and larger leaves.

Dieffenbachia ‘Rudolf Roehrs’ – holds leaves are gold-green with white blotches, dark green leaf edges, and midvein.

Dieffenbachia ‘Splash’ PPAF – A hybrid from Oglesby. An upright, fast grower with a good branching habit.

Dieffenbachia ‘Star Bright’ – Dark green margins on cream-white foliage with speckles dark green speckles. Long, narrow leaves, unlike most other Dieffenbachia varieties on the market.

Dieffenbachia ‘Sterling’ pp #14762P2 – Compact, well-branched plants with averaging 4-8 basal shoots per plant. Very deep green leaves highlighted with dramatic white midrib extending from the leaf base to the leaf tip creating a herring-bone pattern.

Dieffenbachia ‘Tiki’ pp #7298 (expired) – Deep green margins on the leaf edge with light green venation fading to dark with bright white spots. This sport or cultivar was discovered at Vanderlaan’s Nursery, Inc., Lake Worth, Fla. from a population of asexually propagated Dieffenbachia memoria Corsii plants.

Dieffenbachia ‘Triumph’ – creamy white leaves with green border and a pink cast at the petiole base. Grows to 22 inches tall.

Dieffenbachia ‘Tropic Marianne’ pp #8832 – characterized by a dense upright branched habit and yellow-green oblong leaves bordered with green.

Dieffenbachia ‘Wilson’s Delight’ – large solid-green leaves with a white mid-vein.

Learn about dieffenbachia hybridization at the University of Florida.

What Are The Best Uses For The Dieffenbachia Plant?

The larger Dieffenbachia varieties make excellent floor plants. Make sure to place them in locations where people traffic is low. Also large plants can topple over if they get top heavy or dry out when placed in areas where they may experience drafts.

Smaller varieties which reach 24” to 30” inches tall can also can also function as floor plants. Other can make great additions as single specimens in an attractive decorative pot on a desk or credenza.

Smaller Dieffenbachia varieties make good bathroom plants with the high humidity found in bathrooms.

Wrapping Up Dumb Cane Plant Care

For the best look, thriving Dieffenbachia plants should have a bushy shape with a compact frame, full, glossy leaves and a healthy and succulent appearance.

Even with the “downside” the Dieffenbachia plant is a wonderful addition for indoor use and brings a real tropical look to any interior.

The 56 Dieffenbachia Species listed at The World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Maintained by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

  • Dieffenbachia aglaonematifolia – Brazil, Paraguay; Corrientes + Misiones Provinces of Argentina
  • Dieffenbachia antioquensis – Colombia
  • Dieffenbachia aurantiaca – Costa Rica, Panama
  • Dieffenbachia beachiana – Costa Rica, Panama
  • Dieffenbachia bowmannii – Colombia, northwestern Brazil
  • Dieffenbachia brittonii – Colombia
  • Dieffenbachia burgeri – Costa Rica
  • Dieffenbachia cannifolia – Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
  • Dieffenbachia concinna – Costa Rica, Nicaragua
  • Dieffenbachia copensis – Panama
  • Dieffenbachia cordata – Peru
  • Dieffenbachia costata Klotzsch – Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
  • Dieffenbachia crebripistillata – Panama
  • Dieffenbachia daguensis – Colombia, Ecuador
  • Dieffenbachia davidsei – Costa Rica
  • Dieffenbachia duidae – Venezuela, Guyana
  • Dieffenbachia elegans – Bolivia, northwestern Brazil, the Guianas
  • Dieffenbachia enderi – Colombia
  • Dieffenbachia fortunensis – Panama
  • Dieffenbachia fosteri – Panama
  • Dieffenbachia fournieri – Colombia
  • Dieffenbachia galdamesiae – Panama
  • Dieffenbachia gracilis – Peru, northwestern Brazil
  • Dieffenbachia grayumiana – Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia
  • Dieffenbachia hammelii – Costa Rica, Nicaragua
  • Dieffenbachia herthae – Ecuador
  • Dieffenbachia horichii – Costa Rica
  • Dieffenbachia humilis – Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, northwestern Brazil, the Guianas
  • Dieffenbachia imperialis – Peru
  • Dieffenbachia isthmia – Panama
  • Dieffenbachia killipii – Panama
  • Dieffenbachia lancifolia – Colombia
  • Dieffenbachia leopoldii – Colombia
  • Dieffenbachia longispatha – Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela
  • Dieffenbachia lutheri – Panama
  • Dieffenbachia macrophylla – Peru
  • Dieffenbachia meleagris – Ecuador
  • Dieffenbachia nitidipetiolata – Panama
  • Dieffenbachia obliqua – Peru
  • Dieffenbachia obscurinervia – Panama
  • Dieffenbachia oerstedii – southern Mexico (Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Oaxaca, Chiapas), Central America (all 7 countries), Colombia
  • Dieffenbachia olbia – Peru
  • Dieffenbachia paludicola – northwestern Brazil, the Guianas, Venezuela
  • Dieffenbachia panamensis – Panama
  • Dieffenbachia parlatorei – Colombia, Venezuela
  • Dieffenbachia parvifolia – northwestern Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela
  • Dieffenbachia pittieri – Panama
  • Dieffenbachia seguine – West Indies, south to Brazil and Bolivia
  • Dieffenbachia shuttleworthiana – Colombia
  • Dieffenbachia standleyi – Honduras
  • Dieffenbachia tonduzii – Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador
  • Dieffenbachia weberbaueri – Peru
  • Dieffenbachia weirii – Colombia
  • Dieffenbachia wendlandii – southern Mexico (Querétaro, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas) south to Panama
  • Dieffenbachia williamsii – Bolivia
  • Dieffenbachia wurdackii – Peru

Dieffenbachia Amoena

Dieffenbachia amoena is a very popular house plant due to its easy going nature. Plants that receive too little light or too little water will simply not grow as quickly as plants that are given proper care.

This native to the West Indies will flower in the right conditions, but these flowers are unimpressive. The beauty of the dumb cane plant comes from the unique pattern found on every leaf.

How it looks: Each plant features leaves which are yellow near their vein, abruptly turning a dark green toward the edge of the leaf. This transition is random, even within the same leaf, creating ribbons and spots of yellow and green along the leaf’s body.

These leaves grow out of a central stem system. Each leaf will ultimately reach around 20 inches (47 cm) long, and 10 inches (25 cm) wide.

Flowering: Although this plant will occasionally produce buds that are 5 inches (12 cm) long, they will only bloom in perfect conditions. These blooms are green and rather unimpressive.

Most plant owners remove the buds when they appear, as they are a waste of the plant’s energy. Always wash your hands thoroughly after removing buds, due to the sap’s toxic nature.

Poisonous: This plant is poisonous, and should not be permitted near children or pets (cats & dogs). The sap of the plant is acrid, and when ingested can numb the throat and vocal cords, rendering the victim mute for up to two weeks until the poison wears off. The sap is highly irritating to the skin, and any interactions with the plant which result in sap exposure should be washed thoroughly.

Dieffenbachia Care

The showy, speckled leaves of Dieffenbachia or Dumbcane have made it one of America’s favorite houseplants for decades.

Dieffenbachias are easy care houseplants, requiring only moderate light and water. If you have small children or nibbly pets you should take note that the common name “dumbcane” comes from the fact that it can cause very painful swelling of the mouth and throat if eaten, resulting in an inability to speak. While painful, there are very few records of people actually dying from eating Dieffenbachia (as it reportedly tastes awful). The sap can also cause irritation of the skin so be cautious if pruning these plants. Casual contact with unbroken leaves is harmless.

Light
Moderate to low light, though in low light the plant will eventually become lanky and the attractive patterns on the leaves will become dull. Avoid direct sun as it can cause leaf scorch or bleaching. Like many houseplants, Dieffenbachia do well when summered outdoors in bright shade.

Temperature
Regular home temperatures are fine. Dieffenbachias do not like to be chilled so be careful they are not exposed to cold drafts in winter. Like all tropical plants that prefer higher humidity, be careful not to place them too near a radiator or air vent as this can dry the leaves too much.

Water
Water thoroughly when dry, then allow to dry fully before watering again. Fertilize monthly in summer with any balanced houseplant fertilizer mixed at half strength, or apply Osmocote in late spring.

Flowers
Greenish-white flowers may develop but are not particularly showy. Feel free to snip them off (avoiding contacting any sap, of course).

Repotting
Repot any time if necessary, but preferably in early summer as new growth begins. If you want to keep the plant close to its current size for a s long as possible, just replace the soil with fresh rather than increasing pot size- Dieffenbachias will grow larger in a larger pot. Any good-quality potting soil can be used.

Refreshing a lanky plant
If your Dieffenbachia is lanky with lots of bare stem, the plant can be refreshed by lopping the tops off-even to the point of removing all the leaves. (Again, watch out for the sap.) Do this in late spring and make sure the Dieffenbachia is in a bright area to encourage growth. In a few weeks, new buds will form at the bamboo-like “joints” of the stem. These will eventually develop into new leaves and your Dieffenbachia will regain its bushy form.

Pests
Dieffenbachias may develop spider mites in very dry environments. Mealybugs seem to be attracted to Dieffenbachias and can become a problem. Be sure to check your plants regularly, particularly in winter. Catching a pest problem early can mean the difference between easy treatment and throwing the plant on the compost pile.

Other problems
Leaf edges turn brown-This is usually a watering issue…unfortunately both too much and too little water can produce the same symptoms. Recall your watering habits to determine which the likely culprit is. Remember to water once the soil is dry, but don’t allow to wilt, and never leave the plant sitting in a saucer of water.

Lower leaves yellow-Lower leaves will naturally yellow and drop as the plant ages. If many yellow at the same time the environment may be at fault, or your watering is off-this can happen after the plant gets dry enough to wilt badly.

Dieffenbachia Stock Photos and Images

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  • Dieffenbachia plant.
  • Dieffenbachia in door house plant.
  • Green Leaves Of Dieffenbachia Oerstedii In Botanical Garden.
  • Dieffenbachia House Plant on interior window sill
  • Green Dieffenbachia Leaf
  • Indoor house dumb cane or Dieffenbachia green plant in pot on window sill, front view
  • Window plant ‘Dieffenbachia picta Marianne’ isolated on white background.
  • Houseplants Dieffenbachia in a garden center Riudoms, Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain
  • Close-up of a Dieffenbachia
  • Dieffenbachia Planted in Outdoor Flower Bed
  • Tropical Dieffenbachia plant in pot. © Myrleen Pearson
  • Dumb Cane, Dieffenbachia sp.
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Leaf of Dieffenbachia closeup
  • Dieffenbachia ‘Reflector’ leaves growing in a protected environment.
  • Houseplant Care – Removing dead leaves of Dieffenbachia – (Note use of gloves due to label warning poisonous sap) TA
  • Dieffenbachia, a garden and potted ornamental plant on coast of Nicoya Peninsula; Santa Teresa, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
  • Dieffenbachia or dumbcane isolated on white background in flower pot. Dieffenbachia seguine, also known as dumbcane
  • Dieffenbachia Seguine Or Dumbcane, Is A Species Of Dieffenbachia Native To The Tropical Americas – from Southern Mexico, Through Central America, To
  • Variegated potted Dieffenbachia plant with its ornamental tropical leaves popular as a houseplant isolated on white
  • Dumb cane, Dieffenbachia
  • Dieffenbachia leaf (dumb cane), Lincoln Park Conservatory, Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois
  • Dieffenbachia in flowerpot isolated on white background
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Pattern and lines of the Dieffenbachia plant
  • Dieffenbachia in pot
  • Dumb cane, Dieffenbachia, Araceae
  • Beautiful tropical leaves of Dieffenbachia Amoena
  • Dieffenbachia maculata (Spotted dumb cane)
  • Indoor plant with a black background, Dieffenbachia
  • Green and white dieffenbachia leaf texture – vertical
  • Close up Dumb cane or Dieffenbachia Tropical green leaf texture background
  • Beautiful Dieffenbachia plant placed in front of a old wall background with a washroom sign on it
  • Diphenbachia Latin Dieffenbachia is a genus of tropical flowers from a family of Latin Araceae latrines known for the appearance of leaves
  • Dieffenbachia plant roots in soil with gardening stylish tools, ground ,drainage and clay pots on wooden floor. Preparing for repotting dumbcane into
  • Dense clump of tall bamboo trees near mountain river in rainforest. Bamboo trunks are leaning over the river bed. Dieffenbachia tropical plants
  • dumb cane (Dieffenbachia spec.), foliage plant infront of a window
  • Dieffenbachia green
  • Dieffenbachia in flowerpot isolated on white background
  • Green Leaves Of Dieffenbachia Oerstedii In Botanical Garden.
  • Dieffenbachia on Madives
  • Dieffenbachia in flowerpot isolated on white background
  • Dieffenbachia Seguine Or Dumbcane, Is A Species Of Dieffenbachia Native To The Tropical Americas – from Southern Mexico, Through Central America, To N
  • Pattern and lines of the Dieffenbachia plant
  • natural enviroment of dieffenbachia
  • Dumb cane / Dieffenbachia seguine
  • Beautiful green leaves of Dieffenbachia Amoena
  • Dieffenbachia, Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia). Potted plant. Studio picture against a white background
  • Close up of dieffenbachia plant. Natural scene.
  • Dieffenbachia leaf texture green and white pattern.
  • Beautiful Dieffenbachia in flowerpot isolated on white
  • Male farmer holds two vases with flowers in the hothouse full of plants
  • Close up of a cluster of Dumb cane, green speckled leaves
  • Repotting plant concept. Dieffenbachia plant in soil with gardening stylish tools, ground ,drainage and clay pots on wooden floor. Preparing for repot
  • Dense clump of tall bamboo trees near mountain river in rainforest. Bamboo trunks are leaning over the river bed. Dieffenbachia tropical plants
  • Photo of virile guy self-confident skilled gardener holding flower pot with green plant demonstrating his work results wear green dungarees isolated
  • Assortment of tropical plants outdoors
  • Dieffenbachia in flowerpot isolated on white background
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Close up dieffenbachia copy space, focusing.
  • green spotted leaf fragment of window plant ‘Dieffenbachia’ macro (nature background)
  • Dieffenbachia Seguine Or Dumbcane, Is A Species Of Dieffenbachia Native To The Tropical Americas – from Southern Mexico, Through Central America, To N
  • dumbcane (Dieffenbachia maculata), leaves
  • natural enviroment of dieffenbachia
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  • Leaves of the Dieffenbachia Tissue are unique white texture
  • DIEFFENBACHIA MIX
  • Dieffenbachia Leaf
  • Dieffenbachia leaf texture green and white pattern
  • Beautiful Dieffenbachia in flowerpot isolated on white
  • Showing of the results of work. Male farmer holds two vases with flowers in the hothouse full of plants
  • leaf of dieffenbachia closeup abstract natural texture
  • Dieffenbachia plant in soil with gardening stylish tools, ground ,drainage and clay pots on wooden floor. Preparing for repotting dumbcane into new mo
  • Part of a banana tree trunk laid on black stones. Fresh sap flows out of slice. Ingredients of Balinese food. Tropical flowering plants Dieffenbachia.
  • Photo of handsome strong arms man holding watering can fresh plant going to give new life change pot wear green safety dungarees isolated grey
  • Home ornamental plants green, dieffenbachia flower,
  • Dieffenbachia, Dumb Cane or Dieffenbachia bowmannii plant
  • Dieffenbachia closeup on white background
  • Dieffenbachia closeup on white background
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  • Dieffenbachia flower, White flower
  • green leaves of plant dieffenbachia close up toned
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  • closeup of dieffenbachia leaves with beautiful pattern. natural texture background
  • Beautiful and attractive tropical leaves of Dieffenbachia Tissue
  • Dumb cane or Dieffenbachia leaf texture background, top view
  • Green Dieffenbachia Leaf
  • Dieffenbachia leaf texture with bigger and smaller leaves
  • Dieffenbachia or dumbcane wood background in flower pot
  • floral tropical background with patterned colorful leaves of dieffenbachia
  • leaf of dieffenbachia closeup abstract natural texture
  • Dieffenbachia plant in soil with gardening stylish tools, ground ,drainage and clay pots on wooden floor. Preparing for repotting dumbcane into new mo
  • Beautiful Dieffenbachia green plant on day white background
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  • Home ornamental plants green, dieffenbachia flower,
  • Dieffenbachia or dumb cane or dumb cane plant in the flowerpot
  • Dieffenbachia closeup on white background
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Dumb Cane

Botanical Name: Dieffenbachia hybrids

Dumb Cane get its name from its poisonous sap that causes painful swelling of the mouth and throat, as well as vocal loss if eaten. Keep it away from pets who may play with or chew on this plant. It also can cause skin irritation, so I recommend wearing gloves while handling this plant.

This attractive and popular house plant features a single, thick trunk that unwinds into several trunks as it matures.

Its handsome, broad leaves are about 10 inches (25 cm) long and are splashed, streaked or speckled in green and white.

Many varieties of Dumb Cane are available with varied leaf patterns. Choose one based on your own preference because they’re all easy to grow.

You’ll find Dieffenbachia for sale in nurseries or online year-round. ‘Tropic Snow’ is heavily marbled with creamy white and has green central veins. ‘Camille’ is compact reaching only 15 in (38 cm) tall and has green-yellow leaves edged in dark green with white central veins. ‘Exotica’ has leaves patterned with dark green and creamy yellow blotches with white central veins.

Any problems with Dumb Cane will show in its leaves.

  • The older leaves may turn yellow and drop off. This is normal. If new leaves fall off, the plant is too cold. Keep it away from doorways or windows where could be exposed to cold drafts.
  • Brown leaf tips are caused by sporadic watering. Water regularly, but don’t allow the soil to get soggy.
  • Curled, crispy leaf tips could indicate too much fertilizer. Flush soil with clean water to wash
  • away any accumulated fertilizer. Wait a month before feeding again.
  • If they are not getting enough light, leaves lose their variegation. Give the plant moderate to bright light, but not direct sun.
  • Scorched leaves (dry, brown spots) are caused by strong, direct sunlight.

Pruning Tip: Cut back your Dieffenbachia if it grows too tall. Use sharp pruners to cut off the top of the plant, leaving a few leaves. New growth will sprout from where it was cut.

Repot in spring or early summer when the plant has outgrown its pot. Always use a container with drainage holes to prevent soggy soil.

Although this plant is native to the South American rain forests, it tolerates average room humidity quite well and is easy to grow.

Dumb Cane Care Tips

Origin: Brazil

Height: 1-6 ft (30 cm – 1.8 m) Newer hybrids are more compact reaching only 1-2 ft (30-60 cm)

Light: Bright light, no direct sun. Give plant a quarter turn every few days to expose all sides to sunlight and encourage even growth.

Water: Water thoroughly and allow soil to dry out a bit between waterings. Drooping leaves on Dumb Cane indicates it’s too dry. Water regularly with room-temperature water and use a pot with drainage holes so its roots are not sitting in water.

Humidity: Try to maintain 40% relative humidity or higher. Indoor air can become extremely dry in winter. Take a look at these easy ways to increase humidity for your tropical houseplants.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures 65-75°F/18-24°C year-round.

Soil: Peat moss-based potting mix with added perlite to allow good drainage.

Fertilizer: Feed spring through summer every 2 weeks with a liquid or water-soluble fertilizer diluted by half. In fall and winter, feed monthly.

Propagation: Take 3-5 inch (8-13 cm) stem tip cuttings in spring or early summer and insert in moist potting mix. Pups that emerge from the base of the plant can be cut away and planted in their own containers.

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Dieffenbachia, otherwise known as dumb cane, comes in a lot of varieties, all of which make great houseplants. This is a houseplant that can live and thrive easily, but it’s known for some toxicity to human and pets. So even though it makes a beautiful tropical look to your house just like the Prayer Plant, Dracaena Corn Plant, Peace Lily, etc. you’ll need to have good knowledge of how to care it, which I’ll go into details in this article.

Dieffenbachia Plant Overview

Quick Facts

Origin Brazil
Scientific Name Dieffenbachia
Family Araceae
Type Evergreen perennial
Common Names Dumb cane
Ideal Temperature 60-80° F
Toxicity Toxic to people and pets
Light Bright, indirect light

Watering Allow to dry out between watering
Humidity High humidity
Pests Mealybugs, scale, red spider mites

Caring for Your Dieffenbachia Plant

Watering

Dieffenbachia plants will benefit from generous watering followed by a short period where the soil is allowed to dry out partially. Between watering, check the soil to see if it is due for another watering. The top inch of the soil should be dry, while everything below that will still be moist. If the top layer of soil has dried out, then you can give the plant another generous watering and repeat the cycle. The frequency with that you need to water your Dieffenbachia will depend upon the variety you have, the size of the plant, the season, and the conditions in which you are growing it. Generally speaking, the plant will need much less water during the winter months (Missouri Botanical Gardens). The Dieffenbachia grows from March to October, so you can expect the plant to require more frequent watering during this time.

Like all houseplant, the Dieffenbachia is susceptible to root rot. Root rot is the result of overwatering, so your best line of defense is prevention. Pay close attention to the condition of your plant’s soil before watering. Ensure the plant is in well-draining soil and that the pot has drainage holes in the bottom. Check regularly that drainage holes do not become blocked, and remove any water collecting in the drip tray after you have watered it. The easiest way to prevent accidental overwatering is to follow our guidelines whereby you check that the top layer of soil is dry before adding further water to the plant. This method will increase your chances of a healthy and thriving plant.

Light

This plant does well in a variety of lighting situations, from light shade to bright indirect light. The leaves will be at their most vibrant when the plant receives a good amount of bright, indirect light, though any direct light should be avoided as this can burn the leaves or cause the foliage coloring to look bleached or faded. The Dieffenbachia would ideally like to be in bright light that is filtered through sheer fabric, or another type of window covering that will allow light to pass through it. Although Dieffenbachias prefer bright light, they will do just fine in moderate light or even partially shaded environments.

Though a shaded area isn’t recommended for this plant, if it finds itself in a dark corner, it will manage to stay alive and maintain a healthy appearance, but it will stop growing. Given the plant’s adaptability to a variety of lighting conditions, it makes for a good easy-care houseplant in most homes and offices. Dieffenbachias are also a good choice to brighten up dull commercial spaces as they can survive entirely on artificial light.

Humidity

The Dieffenbachia likes high humidity and will thrive in humid conditions. Because of this, the plant does especially well when kept in kitchens and bathrooms that tend to be quite humid. As well as keeping your plant happy, providing high humidity is also an easy way to deter some pests. Spider mites tend to latch on to houseplants when the air is dry, so maintaining a humid environment should help to prevent you from having to deal with this problem.

Most homes are not naturally humid places, but you can easily increase the humidity for your plants in various ways. Spraying plants frequently with a light mist of water will increase the humidity, and this also has the added benefit of keeping dust from settling on the leaves. Another way to increase humidity is the use of a rock tray. Sit your Dieffenbachia plant on a tray that is covered in rocks or pebbles, and then, cover the pebbles with water. As the water evaporates, the air around the plant will become more humid. Humidity will also be increased by grouping plants together. You could also use an electric humidifier to battle dry air.

Although the Dieffenbachia plant prefers humid conditions, it usually does just fine in average humidity found in homes. Keep an eye on the Dieffenbachia and take note if your plant starts to react badly in a low humidity environment, as you may need to address the issue. Also, be on the lookout for spider mites on your plant in low humidity.

Temperature

This houseplant likes to be kept cozy and warm. Ideally, it should be in the temperature range of 60° F-80° F at all times. A few degrees outside of this on occasion should not cause a problem, but frequent cold drafts will result in stunted growth and damage to the foliage. Excessively high temperatures should also be avoided, as this will lead to a weak plant. Keep your Dieffenbachia away from any areas that might see a temperature drop, such as near doorways or in disused rooms that don’t get heated through the winter. Also, avoid areas that get too hot, such as sunrooms or locations near heaters.

Pruning

Pruning a Dieffenbachia isn’t essential, though you may wish to tactically prune it to encourage a shape you like. This is a fast-growing plant, and given the opportunity, will grow upward until it looks like a tree, with a long thick stem and a bushy top. Most people prefer their Dieffenbachia to have more of a compact, bushy style, so you can achieve this by pruning it to encourage outwards rather than upward growth. If you are inexperienced with pruning, there’s no need to worry about going wrong with a Dieffenbachia. It is a very forgiving plant, and even if you over prune it, you will find in a very short time that it is once again full and bushy. This is one of the great features of the Dieffenbachia because if you ever need to, you can completely cut it back to just a short stem and it will regrow to a lush plant in a relatively short space of time. This might be an option if the plant suffers from a disease or has stem rot from the top. Healthy cuttings that result from pruning do not need to be wasted and can be used to propagate more Dieffenbachia plants in your home.

Repotting

Dieffenbachia plants should be repotted with caution. If you give your plant more space to grow its roots, then it will also begin to require more space outside of the pot. Many varieties of Dieffenbachia can grow to ceiling-height quite rapidly, so if you would prefer to keep your plant compact, then you will need to keep it in a restrictive pot. If you do go ahead and repot your Dieffenbachia, wear protective gloves with long sleeves, as the sap contained in both the leaves and the stem is a poisonous irritant that can cause pain and discomfort if it comes into contact with skin. If you do get the sap onto your skin, wash thoroughly and avoid touching your mouth or eyes.

Dieffenbachia plants are easy to propagate with cuttings, so from a healthy mother plant, you could have an endless supply of new Dieffenbachias. The simplest way to propagate this plant is with a stem cutting or tip cutting. To get a stem cutting, locate the main chunky stem of the plant and cut off a two-inch piece with a sharp razor or pruning tool. Wear protective gloves and eyewear, as the sap could easily find its way onto you and cause pain and discomfort.

Be sure to keep the stem cutting the correct way up, as if it is potted upside down it won’t root. You can dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone to encourage root growth, though, generally, Dieffenbachia plants will successfully root without this step.

Meanwhile, fill a small and shallow pot with a rooting medium and ensure that it is watered to the point of being moist. Make a small hole in the soil with a fingertip or pencil, and place the stem cutting into the hole with the cut side facing down to the bottom of the pot. Half of the cutting should be buried in the soil, and half should be sticking out.

Pack the soil up against the cutting to make sure it is securely in place. Put the pot in a warm spot, ideally with bottom heat, and wait for the cutting to root. The length of time this takes will vary depending on the variety of Dieffenbachia you have, but it will be between three and eight weeks. Once the cutting has several new shoots of its own, you can pot it into a more permanent home and continue care as usual.

You can also propagate with offshoots from the main stem. Cut a length from the mother plant of around six inches and remove all leaves on it. You can then root this in a rooting medium as above, or you can propagate it in water.

To propagate in water, you simply need to place the cutting in a glass or jar of water. The jar should be about half the height of the cutting so that plenty of the cutting is sticking out of it. Place the jar in a warm spot with bright indirect light, and wait for roots to grow. You will need to change the water in the glass when you notice it becoming dirty or discolored, as the water must be kept clean. Propagating in water is quite fascinating because you can visually keep track of every stage of the new roots growing, which is something you don’t get to witness when propagating in a rooting medium. Once the cutting has a few small roots, you can transfer it to a pot filled with well-draining soil and continue usual Dieffenbachia care. Be sure not to allow the cutting to grow too many long roots in the water, as this can make it very difficult to pot successfully.

Toxicity

This plant gets its common name of ‘dumb cane’ from its ability to leave a victim speechless or struck dumb. The Dieffenbachia sap contains calcium oxalate crystals called raphides. The raphides are minuscule, needle-shaped crystals that can cause severe reactions when they come into contact with skin or tender tissue found in the mouth or eyes. The sap, which is found in the stem, leaves, and even the roots of the plant, is poisonous to both humans and animals, though reactions in humans tend to be milder and not life-threatening.

If a human, most commonly a young child, has nibbled on the Dieffenbachia, they may encounter symptoms such as a burning sensation on the lips, tongue, inside the mouth, or in the throat. Blistering can also occur inside the mouth, along with hoarseness, pain when speaking or swallowing, and a refusal to eat. In the past, the plant was actually used as a means of torture (Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility).

Fortunately, as the sap gives a burning sensation as soon as it touches the mouth or lips, it’s very rare that anyone continues munching on it and ingests a large amount. If your child does ingest some of the plants, the most common side effects will be vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and tummy ache. Contact with skin and eyes is also problematic and can cause long-term damage to the corneas. Side effects of getting the sap on your skin will likely include an itching or burning sensation, and redness. These issues usually resolve within a few days, but can sometimes last several weeks.

Varieties of Dieffenbachia

Tropic Snow

Dieffenbachia ‘Tropical Snow’ – Credit toMokkie

This variation of the Dieffenbachia plant is popular in homes and offices because it does well in dim conditions with very little light. The leaves are smaller than some of the other varieties, growing to around 12 inches in length. The foliage base color is green, with deep green margins between the white colored veining. This is an especially bushy-looking variety, with a habit to grow very densely so that the stem is no longer visible.

Rudolph Roehrs

Dieffenbachia maculata ‘Rudolph Roehrs’ – Credit toDavid Stang

The foliage of this variant is fairly small for a Dieffenbachia, with lengths of around 10 to 12 inches. Also known as the spotted dumb cane, this variety has tropical looking green leaves with vibrant white spots on them. Grown outside, the plant can reach heights of six feet, but this can be limited with pruning when kept as a houseplant (University of Florida- Institute of Food and Agricultural Services).

Compacta

Dieffenbachia ‘compacta’ – Credit to blumenbiene

This cultivar of Dieffenbachia maculata, as the name suggests, is a more compact plant. Its growth will be full and dense and will make an ideal tabletop plant rather than a floor plant. It has green leaves with creamy middles and green edges. It can grow to a maximum of three feet tall.

Camilla

This cultivar is another compact plant, growing up to three feet tall. The leaves on this Dieffenbachia are large, with lengths of up to 16 inches. Similar to the Compacta, the plant is full and dense, giving a very lush look. The foliage is pale yellow with vibrant green edges.

Tropic Tiki

This larger Dieffenbachia has very stunning foliage. The leaves are a base color of silver and feature green and white spots.

Sparkles

Dieffenbachia ‘Sparkles’ – Credit toDavid J. Stang

This cultivar has some of the smallest leaves found on a Dieffenbachia, of around seven inches long. The leaves have white veins on a bright green and pale green variegation.

Camouflage

Dieffenbachia ‘Camouflage’ – Source

The foliage on this cultivar is quite different from the others. The leaves are very pale green with random specks of dark green and white splashed across them. The leaves almost appear as if the paint has been flicked all over them.

Tropic Marianne

Dieffenbachia ‘Tropic Marianne’ – Source

This variant has large, broad leaves that are predominantly a creamy pale green color. The leaves edges are dark green, giving a very contrasting outline to the foliage.

Mary

This variety grows even more quickly than your average Dieffenbachia, so it may need to be pruned more frequently to prevent overgrowth. The leaves are a pale greenish yellow with dark green edges and flecks.

Carina

This cultivar has dark green leaves that feature flecks of pale green. It is one of the larger varieties of Dieffenbachia, working well as a floor plant.

Delilah

Another of the larger varieties, this plant has large broad leaves. Foliage is predominantly a creamy pale yellow, edged in dark green with small dark green spotting where the two colors meet.

Snow

This variety received its name from the small cream and white spots on the leaves that resemble falling snow. On a background of dark green, the resulting effect is quite unique. Growing up to six feet tall, this is a large-growing variant.

Honeydew

This appropriately named variety of Dieffenbachia grows to be quite large, with big broad leaves. The foliage is mostly a golden yellow color, with a contrasting bright green edging. The bright and bold colors of this plant make it perfect for bringing fun and vibrancy to a dull corner of a room.

Which variety do you like best? Let us know in the comments, and feel free to ask any questions you might have about your Dieffenbachia!

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