Short and Simple Guide to Dieffenbachia 

Let’s talk about the dieffenbachia. For me, it’s the plant that I fall in love with over and over again whenever I look at it, but it’s also the plant that I tend to ignore. My dieffenbachia, also colloquially known as a dumb cane, has been slowly eking by over the past year, and while it’ll lose a leaf or two from time to time, it’ll keep putting out growth (and growing taller and taller). It’s a reliable plant with striking foliage and can grow quite beautifully under ideal conditions.

Dieffenbachia Identification

Native to tropical South America and the Caribbean, the dieffenbachia has been popular in homes since the Victorian era. As a houseplant, it’s usually around one foot tall with a straight stem and simple alternating leaves. However, it may grow up to eight feet tall. This tropical flowering plant comes in many different variegated forms, all of which share similar elements. My particular plant is a Tropic Snow variety, which has creamy white leaves edged and flushed with dark green. Other types of dieffenbachias include Star Bright, Honeydew, Camille, and more — basically, you’ll find creamy leaves with some dark or medium green edge or speckling! 

My dieffenbachia plant!

Dieffenbachia Care

I suspect my plant needs a bigger pot and more light to grow to its full potential, but it’s been (at least) going through the motions in its four-inch home. Happy in loose, well-draining soil such as a peat and perlite mixture, the dieffenbachia thrives in room temperature above 60 degrees and tolerates medium to bright indirect light. It does tend to grow better with generous lighting but may get yellow, faded leaves with too much sun exposure. 

An unfurling leaf on my dieffenbachia plant!

Whenever the surface of the plant feels dry, water thoroughly, yet sparingly, as too little water can cause droopy leaves and leaf drop, but too much water can lead to root rot. Like many foliage plants, the dieffenbachia appreciates humidity, so if you find its large leaves drying up, place it in a tray with pebbles or keep a humidifier handy. As for food, feed your dieffenbachia plant with all-purpose liquid fertilizer once or twice a month during spring and summer! You don’t want to go overboard with the fertilizer, though, as it may cause browning tips. 

The dieffenbachia doesn’t typically get pests. However, should you find mealybugs or spider mites, your best bet is to spray down your plant with water and apply neem oil to the affected areas. 

One last note: do not ingest your dieffenbachia plant! The sap is poisonous and will cause your mouth to swell and burn. Keep it away from your little ones and pets!

My dieffenbachia is getting old, but it’s a survivor. I might give the stalk a much-needed cutting later and try to repropagate, but for now, I’ll give it more fertilizer and a good helping of sunlight. While it’s by no means my easiest plant, I recommend the dieffenbachia plant to foliage novices — it’s a relatively common and inexpensive find that’s beautiful in form and will teach you a thing or two about plant parenthood without too much heartbreak! 

Sources

You might be interested in …

A Short and Simple Guide to Schefflera (Arboricola)

Plants

Introduction The schefflera, or umbrella plant, is just one of those plants that looks both whimsical and elegant. As the colloquial name suggests, the leaves resemble little umbrellas, clustering in pinwheels from thin stems. The foliage is a striking green color, glossy when unfurling. The variegated kinds flaunt splashes of bright colors for an added […]

Read More
Croton Plant

A Short and Simple Guide to Crotons

Plants

Crotons are the pumpkin spice lattes of the plant world. To put it bluntly, they’re pretty basic. You’ll find them overtaking nurseries towards the end of the summer and throughout fall. Their bright orange, red, and yellow foliage are instantly recognizable. Instantly. Crotons do have a cozy and comforting quality to them, though. While their […]

Read More

Weekend Update: 8/29

Weekend Updates

Y’all, I have gone three weeks without acquiring new plants. Congratulations to me! I’m sure this will change once autumn makes my home more suitable to indoor plants, but for now, I’m appreciating any plant that’s displaying steady growth. Especially the big ones, like my monstera, philodendron ring of fire, and variegated rubber plant! I’ve […]

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *