Using some greenery to decorate your home is one thing that will never go out of style. Plants like dieffenbachias give your space a tropical look whilst improving indoor air quality.
Looking to add some life to your home but don’t know how to get started? Start off with easy-to-maintain plants like the Dieffenbachia Reflector.
It’s among the most popular houseplants, which is not surprising given how easy it is to keep it alive. Here’s everything you need to know about caring for Dieffenbachia Reflector.
Dieffenbachia Reflector Care
Dieffenbachia Reflector ought to be grown in a slightly acidic, well-draining potting soil with good moisture retention. Provide medium to bright sunlight and water only the top 1 to 2 inches of soil are dry. Maintain temperature in the range of 65º to 75ºF (18 to 24ºC) and the humidity at 60%.
The Dumb Cane reflector thrives in soil with good drainage and moisture retention capabilities. On that note, regular garden soil doesn’t cut it. It’s too dense, and this impedes free flow of water. The problem with this is that if the water fails to reach its root system, the plant begins to die.
If you have to use this growing medium, then consider amending it before planting your Dieffenbachia.
I like to mix in a little bit of perlite or coarse sand, which improves the soil’s retention and aeration. Usually, my potting mixture comprises:
- 1 part humus or peat
- 1 part perlite/ coarse sand
- 1 part garden soil
- 1 pinch of lime
Garden lime is great at improving the soil’s acidity. This plant thrives in slightly acidic soil, preferably one with a pH between 6.1 and 6.5.
If the soil you have isn’t up to par, mixing in garden lime can help. This results in a healthier base, and it makes it easy for the plant to access essential nutrients.
Lastly, adding peat or humus improves the plant’s ability to absorb and retain nutrients present in other parts of the soil.
Diffused sunlight or medium-to-bright sunlight is what this plant prefers to grow healthily. Does that mean that it can’t grow in low-lighting conditions? Not necessarily. But it will likely not produce that remarkable variegation on its foliage.
Besides, it requires plenty of light to keep growing vigorously. Place it in a dimly lit area, and its growth rate suffers.
On the other hand, you don’t want to expose it to too much sunlight because this can scorch its leaves. To find that happy medium, I prefer to place my Dumb Cane in an east-facing windowsill.
The reason for this is that east windows are exposed to the morning sun, by which time the rays aren’t too intense. West-facing windows receive full sun, starting from the afternoon till evening, and this can get quite intense in summer.
If you have to place your Reflector on a west-facing window, be sure to use a sheer curtain to soften the sun’s rays.
Alternatively, place it in a room that doesn’t receive sunlight then set up a fluorescent lighting fixture. Ensure that your plant receives 12 to 18 hours of light each day. If you’ve placed yours on a windowsill, consider rotating it at different times during the day so that it’s exposed to the sun evenly.
In terms of frequency, don’t water your Dieffenbachia reflector unless the top 1 to 2 inches of the soil have dried up. This way, you’re able to water frequently enough to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
The latter can lead to root rot, which is one of the most common issues that gardeners face.
If you suspect that your plant is overwatered, check the coloration on its leaves. If they’re beginning to turn a yellow color, there’s a good chance that your plant is sitting in soggy soil.
Other than frequency, another factor that can lead to overwatering is your watering technique. When it’s time to water, give your plant a deep soak.
Only stop watering when you see the excess water coming out through the pot’s drainage holes at the bottom. Then, give it a couple of minutes to allow this water to drain completely.
Watering this way ensures that the Dieffenbachia’s roots stay hydrated long enough until the next watering session. If you water lightly but frequently, the water only stays at the surface instead of penetrating to the roots. This creates a damp environment where your plant can’t thrive.
Apart from the leaves’ coloration, other signs that indicate you’re watering incorrectly include:
- Shriveled leaves (effect of underwatering)
- Fungal growth (the result of watering lightly but often)
- White fuzzy mold growing on the soil’s surface (caused by poor drainage)
The optimum temperature range for Dieffenbachia Reflector is between 65º and 75ºF (18 to 24ºC). When it’s too cold, look for ways to keep your plant warm as a temperature below 50ºF can kill it.
Another thing we recommend is being mindful of where you position your dumb cane. Ideally, it shouldn’t be close to doors that are kept open or an AC unit. The cold air that’s blasted through the AC’s air vents may be keeping you warm but it may also harm your plant.
During winter, move your plant to the warmest part of your home. If you can’t find one, consider investing in grow lights to offer some warmth.
Like most Dieffenbachia plant species, the Reflector thrives in a highly humid setting. Aim to maintain a humidity level of at least 60% throughout the year.
For spaces with low humidity, buy a humidifier or place your houseplants in close proximity. The water transpired from their leaves helps to keep the atmosphere humid.
Another trick I learned for improving humidity entails placing the dumb cane in a bathroom. This lets you transform this space into a jungle-like spa whilst providing the plant the humidity it needs.
The dieffenbachia plant species is regarded as a heavy feeder. However, going overboard with the application can lead to fertilizer burn.
Once the plant’s roots have absorbed essential nutrients from the soil, the excess salts are transported to the tips of the leaves alongside water. Through the process of transpiration, the plant loses this water in the form of water vapor.
But since the excess salts cannot be evaporated, they begin to build up on the leaf’s surface- a factor that can result in leaf burn.
To prevent this, ensure you fertilize just once every 4 to 6 weeks, during its active growth stage. If its growth starts slowing down or stops, which typically occurs when it enters dormancy, do away with fertilizing.
Another point you should keep in mind is the kind of fertilizer you use. A well-balanced fertilizer tailored for foliage plants would be a great option. And remember to dilute the fertilizer before application. Mixing about two teaspoons of the fertilizer to a gallon of water is a good ratio.
Based on my experience, propagating the Dieffenbachia Reflector is best done using cuttings as opposed to starting it from seed.
It gives me a splendid opportunity to clone my current plant, so the resulting creation possesses the exact same traits. Follow these steps to propagate your dumb cane:
- Start by sterilizing the knife you’ll use to get a cutting. Next, cut a portion of the stem, preferably from the top of the plant so that it can root faster.
- Although this is not mandatory, I also like to dust my cutting with a quality rooting hormone. This stimulates faster growth.
- Next, allow your cutting to dry for at least 24 hours before putting it in a suitable growing medium. You can choose your rooting medium from several options, such as peat, perlite, sphagnum moss and vermiculite.
- Alternatively, you can use a sterilized potting mixture. Here, the cutting may take longer to root but it will also be less susceptible to pests and diseases.
One factor that many homeowners consider before choosing houseplants is how big they grow. In the case of Dieffenbachia Reflector, expect it to grow to a height of 30 to 36 inches and spread by the same margin of 36 inches.
If it grows too tall, you can always prune it to encourage new growth and help it maintain a compact structure.
If you’ve been growing your dumb cane in a container, there will come a time when you’ll need to transplant it into a bigger container. Thankfully, this process is a cinch. All you need to do is to pick a slightly bigger pot, fill it with a suitable rooting medium, then gently transfer your plant.
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Common Problems with Dieffenbachia Reflector
For the most part, the Dieffenbachia Reflector is very easy to care for. But this doesn’t mean that you cannot encounter a few problems while growing it.
As such, you should arm yourself with the right knowledge so that you’re prepared to tackle any issue that you face. Here’s a rundown of the most common problems, and their respective solutions:
Anthracnose is an umbrella term used for the array of fungal diseases that attack Dieffenbachia plants.
The greatest culprit is the Colletotrichum gloeosporioides fungus, which can be identified through the brown spots that form on this plant’s leaves.
The brown spots can spread quite extensively, reaching up to 2 inches in diameter. They may either be circular or oval in shape. There should also be some tiny black dots in the brown spots.
Another fungal problem that’s particularly common among Dieffenbachia Reflector plants is Myrothecium roridum leaf spot. This one leads to the formation of oval-shaped, dark brown to black spots on the tips of the leaves.
The primary cause of fungal issues is improper watering. Whether you’ve planted your dumb cane in a container or in the garden, be sure to water at the soil level instead of using a sprinkler or mister. This way, you don’t end up watering excessively.
In case your plant is already showing signs, prune the affected areas and dispose of them. You may also want to cut back on the amount of nitrogen you’re applying and look for an organic pesticide tailored for dumb canes.
There are three main types of bacteria that can attack your Reflector, namely:
- Xanthomonas dieffenbachiae
- Erwinia chrysanthemi
- Pseudomonas cichorii
All three cause leaf spots and blight, which can wreak havoc on your dumb cane’s leaves and stems.
These bacteria create tiny, watery-looking spots, which change the color of the foliage as they increase and spread. Ultimately, your Reflector loses the beautiful variegation on its leaves.
The first place where you’ll likely notice these spots is on the leaves’ surfaces and margins. But these spots can grow big enough to the point they start merging.
One factor that creates a habitable environment for these bacteria to attack and spread is high humidity. So be sure to maintain this at the recommended level of 60%.
Another thing that I’d recommend, especially if you’re growing your dumb cane in a container, is to use a sterilized growing medium. This way, you’re certain that the potting soil doesn’t harbor ant pests or diseases.
Your Dieffenbachia reflector is also susceptible to pests, such as aphids, spider mites and mealybugs.
If the infestation is in its early stages, wiping the insects down with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol should do the trick. Alternatively, try washing the plant’s leaves in water to knock off the pests. You may have to do this a couple of times for it to work.
However, if the infestation is severe, your best option is to use a systemic insecticide. What this means is that the pesticide is absorbed very easily by the plant, allowing it to move around in its tissues and kill the underlying bugs.
If chemical insecticides aren’t your cup of tea, you can opt for natural pest-control solutions. One that I found to be particularly effective is neem oil.
Mix about two tablespoons of neem oil with a gallon of water, then spray on its foliage every 1 to 2 weeks. Continue with this practice until you eliminate all pests.
Tips to Keep your Dieffenbachia Reflector Problem-Free
For the best outcome, follow these hacks when growing your Dieffenbachia Reflector:
- Expose the plant to plenty of indirect sunlight. If you’re growing it outdoors, position it in a partially-shaded spot.
- Plant your Reflector in a suitable potting mix; should be rich, well-draining but also be able to retain moisture for a reasonable amount of time.
- Only water when the top few inches of the soil are dry to the touch.
- Feed every 4 to 6 weeks to enhance growth.
Dieffenbachia Reflector Plant Profile
The Dieffenbachia Reflector is a houseplant with an intriguing background.
It was given this name by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott, who named it so to pay tribute to Joseph Dieffenbach. Dieffenbach had served as the head gardener of the Botanical Gardens in Vienna between 1796 and 1863.
While Dieffenbachia Reflector is the more popular name, the cultivar also goes by “dumb cane”. It gets this name from its sap, which if ingested, causes inflammation in the mouth, leaving the victim unable to speak or “dumb.”
The Dumb Cane Refector is classified in the Araceae family. The Araceae family constitutes plants whose flowers are produced on a distinct inflorescence referred to as spadix.
This cultivar has stunning, lush-green leaves with a mixture of lime green and yellow to cream spots. These contrast beautifully with the central leaf vein, which is a very pale shade of light green.
If you’re looking for a houseplant that won’t be too difficult to keep alive, the Dieffenbachia Reflector is an excellent choice. It has stunning foliage comprising light to dark leaves, which are about 12 inches long.
Apart from the fact that it’s aesthetically appealing, the Dieffenbachia reflector doesn’t require much maintenance. You only need to pick suitable potting soil and a well-lit spot. Next, water and fertilize as needed, and you’re good to go!
Frequently Asked Questions about Dieffenbachia Reflector
What’s the best way to ensure my Dieffenbachia Reflector grows evenly?
This plant species is known to produce a lot of new growth within a short time.
You’ll need to rotate your plant occasionally as it tends to grow towards the source of light. This way, it doesn’t end up becoming bare on one side and full of growth on the other.
Is Dieffenbachia Reflector poisonous?
Unfortunately, all sections of the dumb cane are considered toxic. Like its close cousin the Philodendron, it contains calcium oxalate crystals, which are small needle-like structures.
If the plant is not handled carefully or ends up being ingested, the oxalates can lead to toxicity. In severe oral exposures, the victim may experience pain, inflammation, excessive drooling, and speech impairment.
Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.