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Propagating A Dieffenbachia: How To Propagate Dieffenbachia Plants

Image by Maja Dumat

Dieffenbachia can be an attractive and almost carefree houseplant that adds a tropical statement to almost any room. Once you have a healthy plant growing in your home, you have the potential for an endless supply of new, smaller plants simply by propagating cuttings and clippings from the original parent plant.

Keep reading for information on propagating a dieffenbachia plant.

Dieffenbachia Propagation

Dieffenbachia is also known as the dumb cane because the stems and leaves contain a chemical that will sting and burn the mouth for weeks if it comes in contact with the tender flesh. It can also cause loss of speech, and the sap or juice from the stems can also irritate the skin.

Always wear rubber gloves and consider using eye protection every time you work with your dieffenbachia, especially when rooting a dieffenbachia clipping. Starting a collection of new dieffenbachia plants is a simple procedure that even the most novice indoor gardener can easily handle.

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How to Propagate Dieffenbachia Plants

The easiest way to propagate your dieffenbachia is by rooting cuttings, either tip cuttings or stem cuttings. Plant these small pieces of greenery in the right medium and they will produce roots and, eventually, an entirely new plant.

Use a sharp razor blade to remove parts of the plant to be used for dieffenbachia propagation, and always make sure to discard this razor blade after use to prevent the spread of irritating chemicals. Cut the tips from the end of the plant or look for shoots coming from the main stem.

If your plant is overgrown and has dropped so many leaves that you have a bare stem, slice this stem into 2-inch pieces and use these for propagation. Just make sure to keep the stems right side up, as the roots will only grow if you stick the right end of the stem in the rooting medium.

Fill a planter with sand, sphagnum moss or another rooting medium. Moisten the entire contents and let it drain before planting the cuttings.

Moisten the cut end of the cutting or the bottom end of the stem piece and dip it in a spoonful of rooting hormone powder. Tap the cutting gently to remove any excess powder. Make a small hole in the planting medium with a pencil and place the powdered stem end in the hole. Push the medium up against the stem to hold it in place. Repeat with all the other pieces of stem you wish to root.

Keep the cuttings moist, but not wet, and place the planter in a warm, dim spot. Depending on the variety of dieffenbachia plant you own, you should see new roots growing in three to eight weeks. Wait until you have new green shoots growing before transplanting the baby plants to new containers.

Dieffenbachia propagation is a great way to increase your collection and knowledge of dumb cane plant care. Plus, the Dieffenbachia is quite easy to propagate.

Are your Dieffenbachia plants growing too big for that spot in the house? I’ve had a Dieffenbachia Tropic Snow reach 4′ feet tall in a 10″ inch pot, like the one in the image below.

Tall Dieffenbachia Tropic Snow ready for propagating by removing the top shoot

There are several ways to propagate Dieffenbachia plants using:

  • Top shoots (big tip cuttings)
  • Stem shoots
  • Removing suckers from the base to grow new plants

There and several reasons to propagate Dieffenbachia as well.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When propagating dumb cane, ALWAYS make sure to use a clean knife or razor while cutting new shoots as this Dieffenbachia plants are very susceptible to bacteria.

Afterward, wash the knife thoroughly to remove any poisonous sap. Drip the knife or blade in alcohol to further sterilize. Bacteria is nothing to play with.

What Is The Best Soil For Propagating and Growing Dieffenbachia Plants?

Dieffenbachia like a soil mix similar to African violets. The soil mix drains well but still holds some moisture.

When growing Dieffenbachia plant outside on a shaded patio a soil mix like the one below works well.

Recommended potting mix for Dumb cane growing outdoors:

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

When growing Dieffenbachia 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.

However, as a rooting medium, we like to add some extra perlite to the soil mix to improve drainage.

Dry mix one part peat moss and 1 part perlite. After mixing add some water to give the soil some moisture. This makes a simple rooting medium for Dieffenbachia stems and canes to allow cuttings to root and become established.

Propagation Tip: Springtime is the best time for propagating Dieffenbachia plants, just before the growing season begins.

What To Do When Your Dieffenbachia Plants Grow Too Tall? Take Topshoots!

One frequent complaint about Dieffenbachias is that over time older specimens become leggy, develop bare stems with only a small tuft of leaves at the top.

This can make dieffenbachia plants top-heavy and without enough weight in the pot, plants can easily fall over causing leaf and plant damage.

After a certain age, this is more or less normal. When Dieffenbachia plants have more tree-like form (almost resembling a palm tree) it makes the plant unattractive.

The “Top Shoots” method of propagation is ideal when your Dieffenbachia grows long legs, and there is plenty of naked stems.

To shorten a plant, or simply to eliminate the bare stem – one option is to air-layer the top.

The other option is to sever and cut the top portion of the plant off a few inches below the bottom leaves.

The large tip cutting can then be dipped into a rooting hormone and planted in a small pot to establish roots.

Another method is to root the topshoot in water. Yes, you can root a Dieffenbachia in water as a rooting medium. Once roots start to form transplant the new shoot into a pot using the soil recommended above.

NOTE: While waiting for roots to form syringe the foliage frequently.

You’ll soon have another vigorous, rooted, healthy plant growing in no time!

Rooting cuttings is done the same way as the top shoot except that the cutting comes from suckers at the base of the parent plant and not the tip of the plant.

How Do You Propagate From Stem Shoots?

Gently remove stem cuttings at the stem area.

These are the parts of a stem that has “eyes”, or points where new leaves and plants will sprout.

Stem eyes on Dieffenbachia cane

Place stem cuttings on their side, with about 1/2 the stem buried in the soil with the “eye” pointing upwards. Rooting in a “mini” greenhouse like a soda bottle planter will speed up the rooting process.

The stems will soon grow roots and turn into singular specimens. This propagation method can be accelerated if you keep the environment humid. Make a simple mini greenhouse from a soda bottle to prevent moisture from escaping.

Roots should start forming in 2-4 weeks. Keep the temperature around the 72° degree Fahrenheit range.

Final words on propagation. In the world of Dieffenbachia, you’ll find many mutants, sports, and variants. To keep stock clean most of the plants produced today and sold commercially start in labs as tissue culture microcuttings.

Dieffenbachia is an attractive houseplant that is admired for its rich, tropical leaves. Commonly known as Leopard Lily or Dumb cane, the plant is prized is for its easy-to-grow, lush foliage that is perfect for home gardens.

The plant grows up to a height of 72-84″ inches (182-213cm) with oblong-shaped leaves. It thrives well in moist, well-drained soil and indirect but consistent sunlight. If you’re growing dieffenbachia plants indoors, there are chances that they may begin to crowd their pots.

Apart from looking unkempt and messy, overcrowding compromises on the space your plants need for root growth. When this happens, it’s important to re-pot and propagate your dieffenbachia plants. Here is our detailed guide on dieffenbachia propagation.

How to Propagate a Dieffenbachia Plant

Dieffenbachia propagation along with many other plants. Source: birdtographer.zion

Dieffenbachia propagation can be done in two ways – stem cuttings and air-layering.

Stem-cuttings is a fairly straight-forward and one of the most common processes to re-produce a plant.

Air layering, on the other hand, is a type of layering where the dieffenbachia plant is wrapped or potted in a moist, growing medium to accelerate root growth.

Dieffenbachia Propagation From Stem-cuttings

Stem cuttings can be propagated in two ways – rooting in potting medium and rooting in water. You can choose either depending on your ease and convenience.

Rooting in Potting Medium

  • Before snipping the stems, sterilize and clean your pruning shears with a solution of 1 part pine oil cleaner and 3 parts water. This will ensure that the fresh cuttings remain unharmed by bacteria or infection.
  • While the stem tips root the fastest, you can take cuttings from the base, middle, or lower section of the dieffenbachia plant. Wear rubber gloves and cut at least 3-4″ inches of the cane. Cut at least 3 sections to increase your success rate.
  • Remove any leaves and place the cutting in direct sunlight or leave it to dry overnight. Next, dip them in a high-quality rooting medium.
  • Now, prepare a flower pot with potting soil made from half sand and half peat moss. Moisten the mix thoroughly.
  • Place the dieffenbachia cuttings horizontally into the potting mix, with the bottom portion inserted into the soil and the leaf bud above the soil. Keep the potting mix in a warm location at around 75°F (24°C) and moist for optimal root growth.

You can also cover the plant cutting with a plastic sheet to keep the soil moist and humidity levels constant. Keep watering the plant whenever the soil looks dry.

The stem cuttings will take 4-8 weeks to root. At this point, you can transplant the cane sections to a sunny spot in your garden or a 3-inch pot, filled with a good potting mix.

Rooting Dieffenbachia Plants in Water

This is a relatively quicker and easier process:

  • Simply cut 4-6″ inches long stem sections and remove the leaves.
  • Pour a glass of water and place the dieffenbachia cuttings into it. You can change the water every few days or so.
  • Keep the jar in a bright and warm spot but out of direct sunlight as that can shrivel the plant. Once the new roots form in a few weeks, transplant each cutting into a 4″ inch pot filled with peat-based, moist, and well-drained potting mix.
  • Make sure to transplant right when a few roots have formed. If you let the roots grow any longer, it’ll be harder to transplant the stems.

Dumb Cane Propagation by Air Layering

Propagating dumb cane via air layer makes for a more robust start to its life. Source: natematias

Air layering is typically used to propagate larger dieffenbachia plants than ones produced by cuttings. Air layering is also great if the plant’s leaves are leggy or losing their color. This method of propagation uses flourishing stems to produce healthy roots and branches.

However, layering can be a tad bit complex. Therefore, it’s important to follow the steps with precision. Here’s what you have to do:

  • Carefully inspect the plant and identify stems with healthy leaf bud. Choose one and carve a long, upward slit – about 2-inches long – on the stem.
  • Insert a small toothpick or a twig in the cut portion to ensure that the slit section doesn’t touch the main stem. Now, dust the cut portion with some rooting medium.
  • Next, moisten a handful of sphagnum in water and hand-squeeze it to remove excess moisture. Make sure it’s still moist but not dripping.
  • Place the moss over the cut section of the dieffenbachia stem and tie it around with a piece of string or an electrician’s tape.
  • Cover the moss using a sheet of polythylene film, cover the moss while making sure that there are no air pockets between the film and the moss. Secure the film further with some electrical tape.
  • In a few days, the roots will start to propagate at the cut portion. Soon enough, you will see roots shooting out of the moss.
  • Once you notice growth, carefully remove the polyethylene film. Using a sharp knife, remove the newly rooted branch from the parent stem.
  • Plant the new branch in a pot filled with high-quality potting mix. At this point, take another piece of polythelene film and cover the newly rooted branch to prevent any loss of moisture.
  • Once the roots have properly established, remove the film and place the dieffenbachia plant in a well-lit spot with indirect sunlight.

Safety Tips for Propagating Dieffenbachia Plants

There’s a reason why dieffenbachia plants are known as dumbcane. This is because the leaves contain a poisonous, milky white sap of calcium oxalate, which can severely irritate the skin and throat.

While propagation is quick and easy, it’s important to practice some safety tips when handling this plant. Here’s what you need to take care of:

  1. Always wear protective clothing, a face mask, and a pair of gloves to remain unharmed from its poisonous sap.
  2. Never touch your eyes after handling the plant as dieffenbachia can cause severe itching, burning, and irritation.
  3. Keep the plants out of reach of curious pets and children, preferably at a higher place if you have placed it indoors.

You might have to relocate the plants to your garden outside if they’re especially under the reach of pets and children. Chewing the leaves can cause a deep burning sensation ensued by temporary paralysis. It can swell your pets’ airways, making it extremely difficult to breathe. Therefore, make sure to keep the plants in a pet-free and child-free zone.

As long as you keep these safety tips in mind, you can enjoy propagating dumb cane plants without any stress!

Other Related Questions

Q. How do you fix leggy dieffenbachia?

As mentioned above, a leggy plant can be fixed through air-layering. The process uses a healthy stem to propagate stronger branches, while thinning the mother plant out overall.

Q. How many varieties of Dieffenbachia plants are there?

There are many, each with their own personality and lush leaves. There is Tropic Snow, the Hilo – known for its dark, pointed leaves with lighter veins, and the Rudolf Roehrs with creamy leaves and bright, white spots.

Q. Can dieffenbachia tolerate colder drafts?

Dumbcanes thrive the best in warmer temperatures, around 75°F (24°C). Keeping them in darker, colder regions can slow down the growth and cause excessive leaf drop.

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Keeping A Dieffenbachia Plant In Water – Knowledgebase Question

Dieffenbachia is a tropical plant and it will die if left outside in cold weather, so it is usually grown as a container plant.
As with most plants, this one is not best started in water. Although it may form roots, the roots will not adapt to soil when the time comes to plant it, and water does not provide sufficient nutrients for it to survive and be healthy enough to grow.
For most people it is easiest to purchase a small plant and grow it on in a pot, moving it to larger pots as it grows.
Otherwise, to propagate it yourself, take a tip cutting from a vigorous shoot. Remove the foliage from the bottom half. Trim the remaining foliage by about half. Place the cut end into barely damp soilless potting mix (usually composed of milled spagnum peat moss and vermiculite and perlite), firm the soil, water lightly once, and place in a clear plastic bag or under a clear dome made by cutting the bottom off of a clear plastic soda bottle. This will help keep the atmosphere humid while the plant is rooting. Place the pot in a bright location but out of direct sun so it won’t overheat. Open the bag from time to time to allow for air exchange and make sure the soil is still damp but not soggy. Check for roots and when there are some, gradually remove the cover to accustom the plant to normal humidity levels and move it to its normal growing location. When the roots fill the pot, repot to the next larger size.

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia) care is easy when you know exactly what to do. In this post, I’ll give you lots of information about the plant – including the name, different dieffenbachia types, toxicity, common problems, and FAQs. I’ll also show you exactly how to care for a dumb cane plant.

I love being surrounded by plants all year round, and that’s one reason why I have a large collection of houseplants. I like to grow a variety of them, but I especially appreciate the ones that are simple to maintain.

Well guess what, the dumb cane houseplant (Dieffenbachia) is one of the easiest!

It’s no mystery why dumb cane plants are one of the most common houseplants you see for sale at garden centers and big box stores.

They are extremely tolerant of any indoor environment, and are super easy to grow houseplants (heck, they practically take care of themselves).

Even though dieffenbachia care isn’t difficult, it’s definitely important to know the growing requirements in order to keep it alive and thriving. This comprehensive guide will show you exactly how to grow dieffenbachia.

Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed dieffenbachia care guide…

  • What Is Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane) Plant?
  • Is The Name Dumb Cane Or Dieffenbachia?
  • What’s With The Weird Dieffenbachia Common Name?
  • Different Types Of Dieffenbachia
  • Are Dieffenbachia Plants Poisonous?
  • Does A Dieffenbachia Flower?
  • Can Dieffenbachia Grow Outside?
  • Dumb Cane Care Instructions
    • How To Make Dieffenbachia Bloom
    • Water Instructions
    • Light Requirements
    • Soil Requirements
    • Repotting Dieffenbachia Plants
    • Fertilizer For Dumb Cane
    • Dumb Cane Pest Control
    • Dieffenbachia Pruning Tips
  • Dieffenbachia Propagation Methods
  • Troubleshooting Common Problems
  • FAQs
    • Why are the leaves on my dieffenbachia turning yellow?
    • Why is my dieffenbachia drooping?
    • How often should I water my dieffenbachia plant?
    • Can you cut back a dieffenbachia?
    • Why are the tips of my dieffenbachia plant turning brown?
    • Is the dieffenbachia dumb cane plant poisonous?
  • Where To Buy Dieffenbachia Plants

What Is Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane) Plant?

Dieffenbachia (aka Dumb Cane) is a very common tropical indoor plant that is prized for it’s beautiful foliage and easy care requirements.

Though they originate from the tropics, they make excellent houseplants because they can easily adapt to growing indoors.

Is The Name Dumb Cane Or Dieffenbachia?

Both! (or should I say “either”?) Dieffenbachia is the scientific name for the plant, and Dumb Cane is the common name.

So you can use whichever name you prefer (and I will be using these two names interchangeably throughout this post).

What’s With The Weird Dieffenbachia Common Name?

Dumb cane is a really weird name for a plant, right? Well, there’s a reason for that funny name!

The dumb cane got the name because there is a chemical in the sap that can cause temporary loss of speech if any part of the plant is chewed or eaten.

And the word “dumb” is an old slang term that was used to describe someone who can’t talk (it’s mean, I know!).

Different Types Of Dieffenbachia

There are lots of different species and cultivars out there these days, and they are all gorgeous! Dumb canes can live for many years, and some varieties can grow to be several feet tall, creating a very large floor plants.

Some dieffenbachia varieties have dark green leaves, many with white spotting. Variegated dieffenbachia are even more stunning, and some have bright green or almost white leaves with dark edges.

Common dieffenbachia plant types or names you may come across are seguine, compacta, maculata, golden sunset, camilla (aka camille), amoena plant.

Here’s a great list of some of the most common dumb cane varieties. The good news is that, no matter which type you have, dieffenbachia care is the same for all!

A variety of different dumb cane (dieffenbachia) types

Are Dieffenbachia Plants Poisonous?

Yes, the dieffenbachia plant is poisonous. According to the ASPCA website, dieffenbachia is toxic to cats and dogs.

So, if you have pets or small children around, then it’s best to treat dumb cane as you would any of your other poisonous houseplants, and keep it out of reach. Otherwise, check out my list of pet friendly houseplants instead.

Does A Dieffenbachia Flower?

Yes, but it’s not very common for a dumb cane houseplant to bloom indoors. They need the perfect growing conditions in order to flower, and it can be difficult to get it just right in the average home.

Though dumb cane flowers are pretty (and fun to see!), they’re small and insignificant, so it’s not a huge asset to the plant. That’s why they’re grown more for the beautiful foliage than for the flowers.

Can Dieffenbachia Grow Outside?

Yes, they love being outside during the summer. They could even be grown in your shade garden if you live in a warm climate. You can move your dieffenbachia outdoors during the summer, and they will flourish.

They won’t tolerate the cold at all though, so be sure to move them back inside before the temperature gets below 60F. Like I said, it can be grown outdoors in your shade garden, but must be protected from cold there too.

Dieffenbachia Care Instructions

Just like any other living plant, dumb canes do require some care in order to grow their best.

You can’t just stick it in a dark corner, pour a glass of water in the pot once and a while, maybe toss in some fertilizer if you think of it, and then expect it to stay healthy for long. Am I right?!

Instead, follow these detailed tips for how to care for a dieffenbachia plant…

Two different types of dumb cane houseplants

How To Make Dieffenbachia Bloom

In order to bloom, dieffenbachia houseplants need a lot of bright, indirect light. However, they will not tolerate direct sunlight. So it can be a difficult balance to give them the perfect amount of light in order to get them to bloom.

Putting them next to a sunny window where they will get lots of natural light (but no direct sun) is the ideal location for them. If you can’t give them enough natural light, you could always add a grow light.

Feeding also encourages flowers. So, if you really want to see if you can get your dumb cane to bloom, then be sure to feed it. Follow the directions below for fertilizing dumb cane plants.

Dieffenbachia Watering Instructions

The number one cause of dieffenbachia houseplant death is overwatering!! <dramatic pause> Ok, ok, I just made that up to sound cool, I don’t know if there are any actual stats about the top causes of dumb cane death.

All kidding aside, overwatering really is the main thing you need to worry about when growing this plant. Proper watering is a crucial part of dieffenbachia care, and consistent overwatering will definitely kill your plant.

Just make sure you check the soil before watering by sticking your finger about an inch into the dirt. You want to allow the soil to dry out a bit between watering, but never become completely bone dry. Once the soil no longer feels damp, then it’s time to water.

To water your dieffenbachia, give it a good soaking until the water starts to run out of the drainage holes. Then allow the excess to drain from the pot before putting it back on the plant tray. Never allow your plant to sit in water.

If you struggle with knowing when to water your plants, then I recommend getting a soil moisture gauge. It will allow you monitor the moisture level, and help ensure you’re watering your plant at the right time.

Dumb cane plants also really like humidity, but they will adapt to growing without it. However, if you struggle with keeping your dumb cane healthy, and it constantly has brown leaves, tips or edges, then try running a humidifier near the plant to see if that fixes problem.

Dieffenbachia ‘Camille’ (Camilla) has near-white leaves with dark green edges

Dieffenbachia Light Requirements

Dumb cane are perfect low light houseplants because they actually don’t like it when they get too much light, especially direct sunlight. Direct sun will cause their leaves to fade or burn.

On the other hand, if the room is too dark, they’ll quickly grow tall and leggy. A spot next to a sunny window, or where it gets filtered sun through a curtain would be perfect.

Just be sure to keep them out of the window so they don’t accidentally get too much sun. If you start to notice the leaves are fading or turning brown, then move it farther away from the window.

They will adapt to growing in a low light area, but they won’t grow as vigorously. And like I said, they will get leggy much faster without adequate lighting.

If you don’t have a bright room to grow your dumb cane, then you could add a small grow light to help keep the plant from growing too leggy.

It also helps to rotate the plant once and a while so it doesn’t reach toward the window (like this neglected one that was growing in my dark kitchen…oops!).

Rotate the plant every time you water to help prevent it from leaning to one side as its reaching for the the light.

It’s common for dumb cane to grow tall and leggy over time

Dieffenbachia Soil Requirements

Dumb cane houseplants aren’t super fussy about the type of soil they’re grown in. Any general purpose potting soil will work just fine.

However, if you’re a person who tends to give your houseplants TOO much love in the form of water… then you’re better off using a fast draining soil mix for them.

Simply add some perlite, pumice, or coarse sand to the potting soil to help with drainage.

If you tend to overwater plants, make sure you grow your dumb cane in a pot that has drainage holes, and never allow it to soak in water.

Repotting Dieffenbachia Plants

You don’t need to worry about repotting your dumb cane very often, they really don’t need to be repotted until they become pot-bound.

In fact, repotting a plant just for the sake of aesthetics, or simply because you feel it should be part of your regular dieffenbachia care routine are the wrong reasons.

And never repot a sick or ailing plant to try to save it. Repotting puts a lot of stress on plants, and the transplant shock may end up killing weak or unhealthy plants.

So how do you know when to repot it then? One good indication that it’s time for repotting your dumb cane is if there are roots coming out of the bottom holes.

Also, if there are more roots than soil in the container, or you find that you have to water it constantly to keep it from drooping. Then it’s probably time for a bigger pot.

To be sure, simply slide the plant out of the pot and take a look at the roots. If very little soil is left, or the roots are circling around the bottom of the container, then it’s time to repot it.

Only go up one or two sizes in pots, or the plant may have a difficult time becoming established in the new pot. For example, if you’re growing dieffenbachia in a 4″ pot, then choose a 6″ pot.

Or if it’s in a 10″ pot, put it into a 12″ or 14″ pot. Always, always use a container with holes in the bottom for drainage. Learn how to repot houseplants here.

Fertilizer For Dumb Cane

Another great thing about easy-to-grow indoor plants like dumb cane is that they can grow just fine without fertilizer. But, like any houseplant, a dumb cane will definitely benefit from a being fed.

I highly recommend using an organic plant fertilizer rather than chemical ones. Over-feeding with synthetic fertilizers is a very common problem with dieffenbachia plants, and can lead to brown leaf edges and tips, among other issues.

I like using compost fertilizer, which you can get in liquid form or buy compost tea bags and brew your own. You can also give your plant a foliar spray using compost tea.

Just put it in a spray bottle and mist the leaves of the plant – they will love the added humidity too! Other organic fertilizers that I like using are this houseplant fertilizer or a general purpose plant food.

Only feed your plant in the spring or summer (during their active growing season). They go into a dormant state during winter, so it’s best to let them rest.

Beautiful large dieffenbachia floor plants

Dumb Cane Pest Control

It’s rare for a healthy dumb cane houseplant to have problems with bugs, but sometimes insect pests like spider mites, thrips or mealybugs can attack the plant.

If you notice webbing on the leaves or leaf joints, those are spider mites. Mealybugs look like white cotton on the plant, and thrips are tiny bugs with arrow shaped black bodies.

If you find bugs on your dieffenbachia, then start treating the plant right away using organic pest control methods.

Never use chemical pesticides on indoor plant bugs because they can build up a resistance to chemicals, making problem even worse.

My favorite product to use is organic neem oil. It’s s a natural insecticide that is very effective at controlling houseplant bugs. Horticultural oil works great too.

A soapy water spray is also very good for controlling most types of bugs. I use a mixture of 1 tsp mild liquid soap per 1 liter of water.

If you don’t want to mix your own, you can buy an organic insecticidal soap spray. Learn all about how to get rid of houseplant bugs naturally here.

Dumb cane leaf infested with thrips

Dieffenbachia Pruning Tips

Pruning is an important part of dieffenbachia care, it helps keep the plant tidy, grow bushier, and look healthier. Here are my tips for how to prune dieffenbachia…

Brown or yellow leaves can be removed from the plant at any time, as can dead or faded flower. Simply cut them back all the way down to the main stem.

You can also prune brown leaf tips and edges as necessary, following the natural shape of the leaf.

To keep dieffenbachia from growing leggy, pinch or prune out the new growth at the top regularly. Pruning out new top growth like this will encourage your plant to grow bushier, and stay more compact.

If your dumb cane has grown tall and leggy, you can top the plant, or cut it back anywhere on the stem. New leaves will grow just below the place you made the cut.

You can even keep the top and root the stem to grow yourself a new plant (learn how to propagate dieffenbachia in the section below).

Dieffenbachia Propagation Methods

Dumb canes can be propagated by either rooting stem cuttings or by division. If there are several stems growing in the pot, you can separate them to grow new plants.

Just be sure that each stem has roots before potting them up, otherwise they may not survive on their own.

Rooting dieffenbachia cuttings can be a bit tricky. The key is to keep the soil moist but never soggy, and give the cutting lots of humidity.

You’ll definitely want to dust the cut end with rooting hormone before attempting to root it. And be sure to use a fast draining soilless mix for rooting cuttings, rather than regular potting soil.

Personally, I’ve had the best success using my propagation box for rooting dumb cane cuttings. But you could try putting a plastic bag over the cutting to help give it enough humidity (just never allow the bag to touch the leaves).

I’ve also heard of people successfully rooting dieffenbachia in water, though I’ve never tried it myself. If you want to try rooting your cuttings this way, make sure the stem is several inches long.

Place the stems into a vase of fresh room-temperature water. Then keep the water fresh as you wait for the roots to grow.

Gorgeous dieffenbachia indoor plant with bright green leaves

Troubleshooting Common Dieffenbachia Problems

The most frustrating part of dieffenbachia care is when your plant is sick and you don’t know why.

As you’ll see below, almost all problems you’ll have with growing dieffenbachia are caused by either incorrect watering (usually overwatering) or over-fertilzing.

So keep that in mind as you troubleshoot your plants symptoms…

  • Yellowing leaves – It’s normal for the lower leaves to turn yellow or brown, and eventually die. Simply trim them off as needed. However, if there are several yellow leaves, and they aren’t all on the bottom, then there’s something else wrong. It could be caused by overwatering, insufficient light, pot-bound roots, or bugs (spider mites or thrips are the likely culprits).
  • Brown leaf tips and edges – Brown leaf edges and tips could be caused by inconsistent watering, low humidity, too much fertilizer, or salt/mineral buildup in the soil from tap water. Crusty buildup on the top of the soil or around the pots edge are signs of over-feeding or too much salt/minerals from tap water. Switch to using organic fertilizer, and use filtered water or rainwater instead of tap water.
  • Brown spots on the leaves – Brown spots on dieffenbachia leaves can be a sign of a houseplant pest infestation (probably thrips or spider mites), or the leaves may have either been frozen (perhaps touching a freezing cold window?) or somehow burned (is it near a fireplace or in a sunny window?)
  • Drooping leaves – Drooping is usually caused by over or under watering, but it could also be from exposure to cold or hot air, plant bugs, or transplant shock after repotting.
  • Curling leaves – Curling dieffenbachia leaves are usually caused by spider mites or other types of pests, but could also be caused by excess fertilizer, under watering, or extreme temperature changes (like cold or hot drafts).
  • Stunted, small new leaves – Small, stunted new leaves are usually the first sign of a pest infestation (most likely mealybugs or spider mites). Over-fertilizing or improper watering are also a common causes. However, in some cases it could be due to the plant being pot-bound, or sometimes even root rot.
  • Yellow stem – A yellow stem can be caused by overwatering, over or under fertilizing, pot-bound roots, or something more serious like root rot or stem rot. Slide the plant out of the pot to inspect the roots for signs of rot. If the top of the stem is yellow, you can prune it off using a sterile knife or clippers.
  • Leggy dieffenbachia – Legginess is the natural growth habit for this plant, dieffenbachia normally grow leggy over time. But it can be made worse if your plant isn’t getting enough light, so move it to a brighter location. You can also prune your plant regularly to encourage bushier growth.

Dumb cane leaves turning yellow

Dieffenbachia Plant Care FAQs

In this section, I’ll answer the most frequently asked questions I get about proper dieffenbachia care. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for after reading through the post and these FAQs, then ask your question in the comments below, and I’ll answer it as soon as I can.

Why are the leaves on my dieffenbachia turning yellow?

It’s normal for the bottom leaves to turn yellow, and eventually die and drop off. Though annoying, that’s the normal growth pattern of this type of plant.

However, if several leaves are yellowing at the same time, or they aren’t the bottom leaves, then something may be wrong. Refer to the troubleshooting list above to help you figure it out.

Why is my dieffenbachia drooping?

The most common causes of dumb cane drooping are over or under watering, exposure to hot or cold drafty air, houseplant bugs, or transplant shock.

See to the “Troubleshooting Common Dieffenbachia Problems” section above for more details.

How often should I water my dieffenbachia plant?

Rather than watering your plant on a set schedule, you should always check the soil to figure out when it needs water.

Check it every few weeks by sticking your finger about 1″ into the soil. If it no longer feels damp, then it’s time to water. See the “Dieffenbachia Watering Instructions” section above for details about watering dumb canes.

Can you cut back a dieffenbachia?

Yes, and you should make it part of your normal dieffenbachia care routine. The stem will grow new leaves right below the cut.

See my “Dieffenbachia Pruning Tips” above to learn how to cut back a dieffenbachia. Plus, you can take the cutting and root it to make a new plant!

If you want to learn how to root a dieffenbachia plant, see the details in the section called “Dieffenbachia Propagation Methods”.

Why are the tips of my dieffenbachia plant turning brown?

Brown tips and leaf edges could be caused by inconsistent watering, dry air, overuse of chemical fertilizer, or minerals in tap water.

The list under “Troubleshooting Common Dieffenbachia Problems” will give you more ideas and details about fixing common dieffenbachia plant care problems.

Is the dieffenbachia dumb cane plant poisonous?

Yes! So if you choose to grow this plant, then be sure to keep it out of reach of children and pets. See “Are Dieffenbachia Plants Poisonous?” above for more information.

Where To Buy Dieffenbachia Plants

Since they are very common indoor plants, you should be able to find dieffenbachia plants for sale at your local garden center any time of the year.

But, usually you’ll find the best selection of houseplants during the fall and winter months. Of course, you can find dieffenbachia for sale online any time during the year.

Dieffenbachia care may seem a bit overwhelming at first. But don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it in no time! And now that you know how to take care of dieffenbachia, you’ll be able to grow these gorgeous houseplants for years to come!

If you’re tired of watching your houseplant suffer to stay alive through the long, dark winter months, then my Winter Houseplant Care eBook is for you! It will show you how to keep your indoor plants alive and thriving all year long!

Recommended Dieffenbachia Plant Care Products

More Indoor Plant Care Guides

  • How To Grow Tropical Plants Indoors
  • How To Care For A Peace Lily Plant
  • How To Grow Spider Plants: The Ultimate Care Guide
  • How To Take Care Of A Money Tree Plant (Pachira aquatica)
  • How To Care For Palm Trees Indoors

Share your dieffenbachia care tips in the comments section below.

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