How to Care for a Diffenbachia Plant


Dieffenbachia possesses large, often variegated leaves growing out of think, cane-like stalks. It's a relatively easy houseplant to care for, making it quite common. Native to Costa Rica, Colombia and Brazil, dieffenbachia plants are said to burn the throat if ingested, taking away one's ability to speak. Thus, it was given the common name "dumb cane." Just like many house plants, dieffenbachia will also remove small amounts of toxic chemicals from the air. The plant's relatively large leaves increase its air-cleaning effectiveness.

Step 1

Place the plant in its container on a sturdy, level surface in a well-lit room. Chose a location away from direct sunlight and potential drafts. An ideal temperature is above 65 degrees F.

Step 2

Fill a watering can with lukewarm water. Slowly pour water around the base of the plant evenly, until it just begins to seep out of the bottom of the container. Insert your finger into the soil. Check to determine that the soil is damp but not saturated. Repeat this step if needed, until the soil is completely drenched.

Step 3

Wait a few days, and insert your finger into the soil again. If the soil is moderately dry to the touch, repeat step 2. If not, check the soil once again each day until the soil is moderately dry. Continue this process throughout the life of your dieffenbachia plant.

Step 4

Read and follow the label instructions for mixing a soluble fertilizer into your watering can. Water your dieffenbachia with this mixture every two weeks during the spring and summer months.

Step 5

Grasp one of the leaves with your thumb and forefinger. Gently turn it over and inspect the underside. Look for small, cotton-like bugs. If found, grasp the bugs between your thumb and forefinger and pick them off. Repeat this with each leaf. Do this before each watering.

Step 6

Hold a warm, damp cloth in one hand. Grasp a leaf with the other hand and gently wipe the top and bottom of the leaf. Wipe from the stem to the end of the leaf. Repeat this for the other leaves to remove remaining insects and the dust that will attract mites.

Tips and Warnings

  • Keep dieffenbachia plants away from children and pests. The leaves are poisonous if eaten.

Things You'll Need

  • Dieffenbachia plant in container and potting soil
  • Watering can
  • Water-soluble plant fertilizer
  • Damp cloth


  • Plant Dumb Cane, Leopards Lily - DIEFFENBACHIA

Who Can Help

  • Medline Plus: Dieffenbachia Poisoning
Keywords: dieffenbachia tips, dieffenbachia care, dumb cane plant

About this Author

Aaron Painter began as a garden writer in 1999, publishing in "Louisiana Gardener" and "Baton Rouge House and Home" magazines. He has more than 10 years of professional experience in landscaping and horticulture and six years in broadcast journalism. Painter holds a B.A. in mass communication and horticulture from LSU, and now lives in Nashville, Tenn.