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How to Care for a Dieffenbachia Plant

Dieffenbachia is one of the most popular houseplants today, and for good reason: it's easy to care for. The dieffenbachia, also called dumbcane, is a fast-growing tropical plant that can reach 6 feet tall. The leaves are striking, in variegated patterns of green, white and yellow.

Provide your dieffenbachia a spot in your home that receives filtered sunlight or light shade. The dieffenbachia can tolerate direct sun in the winter.

Water the dieffenbachia when the first 2 inches of soil is dry. Do not allow the pot to sit in water. Mist daily to provide humidity.

Fertilize your plant once a month from March to September. An all-purpose houseplant food, diluted to half the recommended strength, will be sufficient.

The dieffenbachia will, as it grows, lose the lower leaves, exposing the cane of the tree. If you prefer a bushier plant, lop off the top of the plant.

Cut Dieffenbachia Plants

Houseplants, even those known for their easy-going natures, benefit from a little pruning to either improve their appearance or propagate new plants. In the case of dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia spp. ), Dieffenbachia earned its common name dumbcane because when cut, its cells exude a material that can cause the mouth and throat to itch and swell -- literally striking you dumb -- for up to two weeks when it comes in contact with your mouth. Avoid touching your face or skin while wearing the gloves. Cut through one or more diffenbachia canes at a 45-degree angle with a sharp, clean knife -- removing no more than one-third of plant's foliage -- about 6 inches above the soil about 1/4 inch above a node. New growth begins at this point. Strip all but the top few leaves from the leafy top of the cane and discard them. Cut the remaining leaves in half so they do not draw as much moisture and energy from the cutting as it tries to grow. Trim the end at a node, as in Step 4.

Tip

If you cut the top off your dieffenbachia plant, you can root it in a pot filled with sand.

Warning

The sap of the dieffenbachia contains oxalic acid, a poison to humans and animals. If the leaves or any part of the plant is ingested, call the National Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222 or 911 immediately.

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