This guide will give you all the instructions you need to keep a Dieffenbachia plant thriving. We will look at a number of concerns you may have such as the requirement of the soil, water level, temperature and propagation. We will also look at potential signs that can stop your houseplant from wilting. Have any questions about your new tropical houseplant? Don’t worry. We have a section for that too.
- 1 DIEFFENBACHIA PLANT CARE BASICS
- 2 WATERING YOUR DUMB CANE PLANT THE RIGHT WAY
- 3 DUMB CANE PRUNING
- 4 PROPAGATION OF THE DUMB CANE PLANT
- 5 SIGNS THAT YOUR DIEFFENBACHIA IS UNHAPPY
- 6 5 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR DUMB CANE HAPPY
- 7 RELATED QUESTIONS
DIEFFENBACHIA PLANT CARE BASICS
The Dieffenbachia plant, or Dumb Cane, can grow just fine with low light yet prefers a good amount of indirect light. Don’t let that scare you. This houseplant is easy to care for when given the right parameters. Use this quick care sheet to keep your Dieffenbachia thriving and flashy.
One easy aspect to the Dumb Cane is that it can grow in just about any type of soil. Keep in mind that they do like to be placed in soil that is both moist and properly drained. Using a typical houseplant potting mix is sufficient. When in doubt, simply mix 1 part of perlite to two parts of peat moss. The Dumb Cane originated in tropical America, where the soil had a constant layer of mist.
Considering the natural habitat of the Dieffenbachia plant, you can imagine these individuals being surrounded by expansive trees with large leaves. Dumb Cane in the wild inhabits forests that have lower light. To imitate these growing conditions, keep your Dieffenbachia plant in a spot where indirect sunlight can reach it. Plant lovers have noticed these individuals shoot up when placed in partially shaded areas.
The Dieffenbachia plant prefers to be well saturated yet also properly drained. The best practice is to add water and check the top 2 to 3 inches of soil. Do not add any more water until this section of the soil is dried out. The tropics are known for its humidity, so routinely spray your plant. Just make sure not to overwater or else you may end up with root rot. Also, keep in mind that the water requirements should be reduced during winter months.
Being a well-sought after houseplant, the Dumb Cane can thrive in the average room temperature of about 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They can even live when placed in a room that is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. These plants do not fare well with temperatures that reach below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In these living conditions, you may see the leaves start to turn yellow.
As mentioned earlier, the Dieffenbachia plant is a fan of a room with fairly high humidity. This is not a deal breaker as they adjust well to the average humidity found indoors. You can keep your Dumb Cane happy and healthy through a routine misting on top of the occasional watering.
When tending to your tropical houseplant in the growing season, supply your Dumb Cane with a good amount of fertilizer. Fellow Dieffenbachia growers have noticed that these plants thrive best when adding fertilizer twice a month. For the colder months, fertilizer is not necessary. In fact, most recommend not feeding your plant during this time.
There are three ways in which you can get new growth from your existing Dieffenbachia plant. These include air layering, stem cutting and suckers. The most commonly used method, stem cuttings involves snipping the ends off of your plant and placing them in water. New stems emerge in about a month’s time, making this plant rather easy to propagate.
There are a number of Dumb Cane varieties that vary greatly in their physical appearance. When grown properly, these plants tend to reach a total of 3 to 6 feet in length. As for their width, they typically grow between 1 and 3 feet wide. The largest Dieffenbachia plant, the Tropical Tiki (Dieffenbachia maculata) grows to a staggering 6 feet with a width of 5 feet. It is quite the household statement with silver leaves and mottling of green and white hues!
Due to the growth rate of these houseplants, it is advised that you check on it regularly. As time goes on, the soil begins to break down until there is hardly any breathing room for the roots. If the plant seems squished on the sides, repot it in a pot that is only slightly larger than the existing home. The best time to repot a Dieffenbachia plant is during the end of the winter season as the plant begins to grow.
WATERING YOUR DUMB CANE PLANT THE RIGHT WAY
One of the most common mistakes made with a Dieffenbachia plant is that people tend to overwater. This plant is among one of the easier tropical houseplants to care for, yet it needs to have a consistent watering regimen.
WHERE TO WATER
These plants prefer to be placed in soil that is moist but not soggy or overwatered. For the best results, horticulturists have suggested watering at the base of your Dumb Cane plant. That way all of the added moisture is being deposited directly into the soil.
WHEN TO WATER
One of the most critical steps in caring for a Dieffenbachia plant is in the watering routine that you implement. Considering when to give your individual ample water is key. To avoid overwatering, you should only add water when the top layer of soil is completely dried out. This generally includes the top 2 to 3 inches of soil depth.
If your Dieffenbachia plant cannot drain properly, then you may want to solve that problem first. Adding a drainage hole to the bottom of the pot is a great start. Once you make this adjustment, you can implement a routine schedule of watering. It takes a bit of time to find the best length between watering episodes.
Some even recommend completely drenching the soil once the plant is dried out. Do not try this method unless you have a pot that is able to drain out the excess liquid. When in doubt, it is best to add the water slowly until the top 2 to 3 inches of soil is moderately dry.
THE RIGHT WATER QUALITY
Some plants require rainwater in order to grow. The Dumb Cane actually prefers a certain temperature. Watering a Dieffenbachia plant with lukewarm water yields the best results. The most important water requirement is not in the quality but in the quantity. It is best to focus on the possible risk of overwatering rather than what type of water you use on your houseplant.
DUMB CANE PRUNING
As with most plants, the act of pruning can be beneficial for both you and your tropical addition. You may not want to snip away at those flashy leaves but keep in mind that it will keep your plant healthy and happy.
WHEN TO PRUNE YOUR PLANT
The Dieffenbachia plant is known for how broad the leaves can get. As it grows, this foliage grows too tall to the point that the leaves start to take on a bare appearance. But where do you start cutting without damaging the plant?
HOW TO PRUNE YOUR DUMB CANE?
Before you even start pruning your Dieffenbachia plant, it is best to be prepared with the proper attire. The sap produced by these leaves is quite poisonous. To avoid becoming sick, always wear gloves.
Once ready, begin by cutting the stems at roughly a 45-degree angle. The new growth will begin to develop directly below the newly made incision.
You can even keep these cuttings for a new plant entirely! Once you’ve made the desirable pruning efforts, water your plant.
Due to the fact that this plant is poisonous, be sure to sterilize your tools and thoroughly wash your hands.
PROPAGATION OF THE DUMB CANE PLANT
We touched earlier on the subject of propagation of your tropical houseplant. But how exactly do you go about creating a new plant entirely out of the old one? By propagating your Dieffenbachia, you will see that this process is easy and simple. Let’s take a look at some of the more widely discussed methods of propagation, each of which is listed below.
DUMB CANE PROPAGATION THROUGH AIR LAYERING
This type of propagation involves the parent plant, where the stems are simply wrapped up with a moist moss to encourage new growth. To do this, begin by finding the stem and making a cut halfway across it. Your incision should be about a foot down from the top of the plant. Continue by wrapping the open cut with dampened moss. You will know that you are successful once roots start to form. Once this happens, make another cut below the freshly developed roots to get the new plant. You can finally pot your newly propagated plant.
DUMB CANE PROPAGATION THROUGH STEM CUTTING
Arguably one of the easiest ways to get new Dieffenbachia plants is through stem cutting propagation. This is especially simple when completed on an indoor individual, making it the preferred method. Below are the steps involved in stem cutting.
Properly sterilize your pruning tool so as not to spread any toxins that may be released in the sap of the leaves. Also, be sure to arm yourself with some gloves for added protection.
Find the growing tip of a healthy section of your Dumb Cane plant.
Cut about 3 to 4 inches of the cane. This will be located underneath the leaf node where new growth begins. For the best results, we would suggest making three of these sections, especially if you are new to propagating your houseplant.
This is an optional step, but you may want to add a rooting hormone to the end of your cane cuttings. These typically have fungicide in them to keep your new plants healthy.
Prep your new pots with a good amount of potting soil.
Take your stem cuttings and place them into the newly prepared soil so that the buds are facing out of the soil. The sides with the buds tend to look like the “eye”. They should be about halfway exposed. Keep in mind that they grow quicker when laid down horizontally in the soil.
One of the last steps is to water and wait. After the soil is moist, place clear plastic over the top of the pot. Routinely check on the moisture level of your new plants.
In about 2 to 4 week’s time, you should start to see the new plants developing. Once this growth takes place, remove the plastic covering and keep it in a fairly well-lit area of the house until they develop into the plant that you want to display in your house.
SIGNS THAT YOUR DIEFFENBACHIA IS UNHAPPY
The Dumb Cane is not too picky yet that does not mean that problems don’t exist. Being able to recognize why your Dieffenbachia may be unhappy will save you from needing to restore this tropical houseplant.
Problem: DROOPY LEAVES
Cause: You may remember seeing that this plant can be sensitive to how much water it is given. If you notice that the leaves begin to droop instead of holding their own, revise the amount of water given.
Remedy: To correct this potential problem, check the top layer of soil. If the soil seems soggy, then regularly mist until you can find the right routine.
Problem: LEAVES WITH BROWN TIPS
Cause: Some Dumb Cane plant owners try to give their plants a routine amount of water so as to not overwater. Depending on the method they use, the tips of the leaves may take on a brown hue. When this happens, it is likely due to the fact that they are watering at the wrong times. Environmental factors often can change the regularity of watering.
Remedy: If you see brown tips, check to see that your plant isn’t sitting in water. If this happens, consider adjusting the drainage hole.
Problem: CURLED LEAVES
Cause: Another potential problem that you may find with your Dumb Cane plant is when the leaf edges start to curl inwards. This is commonly due to the addition of excessive fertilizer. Remember that these houseplants do not need any food during the colder months.
Remedy: Solve this phenomenon by flushing away any fertilizer with clean water. This can be done over time to avoid overwatering.
5 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR DUMB CANE HAPPY
Now that you know about some of the problems that may occur, let’s focus on how to keep your new tropical addition happy and healthy. Read the following section to ensure that your flashy plant stays beautiful.
1. Keep your plant in areas of the house that have ample light that is low and indirect. Living rooms and kitchens are ideal, as they are not tucked in the corner.
2. As for the temperature, try to keep your Dumb Cane in an area that is roughly between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid putting this plant in areas that are exposed to colder drafts.
3. Place these individuals in pots that drain properly, making sure to provide just enough water to keep the soil moist.
4. Give your Dumb Cane plant fertilizer during the growing seasons and stop when the colder months come around.
5. Repotting should be done about once per year. Make sure to wear gloves and sterilize all tools, as these plants are poisonous.
Have a few questions of your own? See if we can provide any answers or solutions below.
Why is it named the “Dumb Cane” plant?
You’ve read this name throughout the article, but you may wonder where the name comes from. It is largely due to the effects it has when eaten by a human. The toxins in the leaves temporarily prohibit a person from talking, making them sound less competent.
How tall can a Dieffenbachia Camille get?
The Tropic Snow (Dieffenbachia camille) is one of the taller varieties of the Dumb Cane plant. It tends to grow to a height of about 4 to 5 inches with a width of 48 inches. They make an attractive indoor houseplant yet need quite the hefty pot so that they don’t fall over.
What varieties of Dieffenbachia are there?
One of the reasons why people like to house the Dumb Cane is because of the many varieties. Each has its own personality with a set of flashy leaves. Other than the Tropic Snow, the Rudolf Roehrs (Dieffenbachia maculata) has white spots with a creamy leaf. The Hilo (Dieffenbachia hilo) is known for its pointed leaves that are dark with lighter veins.
Is Dieffenbachia toxic?
This plant is indeed toxic due to the calcium oxalate crystals located in the leaves. If you were to chew the foliage of the Dumb Cane, you could experience a burning feeling followed by temporary paralysis. Keeping this plant away from children and pets can save them from any possible trips to the hospital or vet.
Can Dieffenbachia kill cats?
Although cases of fatality are somewhat rare, this plant has been known to kill cats and other animals such as dogs or rabbits. At the very least, it can swell up the airways of your pet, making breathing extremely difficult.
The Dumb Cane plant is a great tropical plant to add to your home if you want a flashy plant that requires simple and straightforward care. They do tend to be slightly picky when it comes to their water requirements, yet they are easy to keep happy and healthy. Just be sure to take the necessary precautions when handling your Dumb Cane plant.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.