How to Care for a Dieffenbachia


Dieffenbachia, commonly known as a dumb cane, includes approximately 30 tropical plants native to South America and the West Indies. Grown for its impressive variegated foliage and large leaves, dieffenbachia can reach heights of 4 feet. Foliage color varies, but most consists of variegated green and white to green and yellow. As a houseplant, dumb cane creates the illusion of paradise, but its beauty can be deceiving. Its vegetation is toxic and poses a risk to small children and pets.

Step 1

Plant dieffenbachia in loose, well-drained soil. Check the pot for drainage holes and select potting mixture designed for tropical plants.

Step 2

Place in an area that receives bright filtered light from spring until fall. Hang sheer curtains in southern or western windows to filter light. Shrubs or bushes outside windows provide natural filtering. Move dumb cane to direct sunlight in winter.

Step 3

Maintain room temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain humidity with misting or by placing plants on pebble trays filled with water.

Step 4

Fertilize with water-soluble plant food mixed to 1/2 strength every 14 to 28 days to promote healthy growth.

Step 5

Water thoroughly when soil dries at 1 inch below the soil level. Plants may require watering every few days during periods of active growth. During winter, once-a-week watering is typically adequate.

Step 6

Repot in early spring when the plant begins a new flush of growth. Select a pot that is 2 to 4 inches larger than the current pot, depending on the size of the plant. Small houseplants typically require an increase in size of 2 inches, but large plants may require a larger increase.

Tips and Warnings

  • Dumb cane is extremely toxic. The sap can burn the mouth and throat, cause tongue swelling and paralyze vocal cords. Wash hands after handling the plant.


  • Clemson University Extension: Dieffenbachia
  • Dieffenbachia

Who Can Help

  • NDSU Extension Service: Houseplants
Keywords: grow dieffenbachia, grow dumb cane, dieffenbachia care

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.