How to Grow a Dieffenbachia Plant

Overview

Dieffenbachia is one of the easiest houseplants to grow and is prized for its attractive foliage. The dieffenbachia plant is also known as dumb cane, due to the mouth-numbing properties of its sap. Its large, tropical leaves are a great complement to indoor gardens, homes and offices. They are solid green, variegated or marked with spots, stripes, dots and colored veins. Most dieffenbachia plants reach anywhere from 3 to 6 feet in height with leaves up to 18 inches in length.

Step 1

Plant dieffenbachia in all-purpose potting soil formulated for houseplants. Place the container in an area that receives bright, indirect light for most of the day. Dieffenbachia plants will grow in low-light conditions, but perform better if filtered light is provided for at least four to six hours.

Step 2

Keep dieffenbachia plants at a constant temperature of between 60 and 75 degrees F. They prefer daytime temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees and nighttime temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees. They may tolerate slightly higher temperatures if adequate moisture is provided.

Step 3

Water your dieffenbachia plant thoroughly after planting, and continue to water about once per week as necessary. Allow the top 1 inch of the soil to dry out in between watering for the best results, but don't let the soil remain dry for more than a few days.

Step 4

Feed dieffenbachia plants once every two weeks during the spring and summer months using a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength. Reduce the frequency of fertilization to once per month during the fall and winter months, when the plant grows more slowly.

Step 5

Remove the lower leaves of the dieffenbachia plant whenever they begin to turn yellow and droop. This is a natural part of the plant's growth as it matures. The lower leaves drop to reveal the thick, trunk-like stems beneath. Use pruning shears to remove the leaves and always wear gloves to protect your skin from the plant's toxic sap.

Tips and Warnings

  • The sap of the dieffenbachia plant is toxic, but not fatal. It can, however, cause extreme pain to the inside of the mouth and throat. Keep the plant away from curious pets and children, and always wear gloves while handling any part of dieffenbachia.

Things You'll Need

  • All-purpose potting soil
  • Houseplant fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Gloves

References

  • Dieffenbachia, Dumb Cane
  • Clemson University Extension: Dieffenbachia
  • Beyond the Windowsill; Jon Carloftis; 2007
Keywords: dieffenbachia, dieffenbachia plant, dumb cane

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.