Dieffenbachia

OFFICIAL NAME

Dieffenbachia amoena 'Tropic Snow'

ALSO KNOWN AS

Dumb Cane

ORIGINS & CLIMATE

Caribbean, Central & South America | Tropical

ABOUT THE
PLANT

Large teardrop leaves in bright green with showy yellow flecks and splatters that emerge from a sturdy cane-like stalk. A fast growing friend, watching the Dieffenbachia transform year over year can be quite rewarding.

HOW MANY GREEN THUMBS?

easy going, bright indirect, goldilocks, great heights, upright, floor, aroid, tropical, variegation, oblong

No items found.

Dieffenbachia

The basics

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Be particularly vigilant in winter to avoid overwatering.

Water

Preferred Light

To thrive, Dieffenbachia prefer medium to bright, indirect light. Known to lean toward the sun—leading to lopsided growth, so do try to provide even, consistent light year-round and give your plant a little turn every few waterings to promote well-balanced growth.

Light

Humidity Needs

While not too bothered about high humidity, your Dieffenbachia will appreciate the occasional misting, which helps remove dust from their large leaves and can keep brown edges at bay.

Humidity

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but will complain when exposed to cold drafts or dry heat from vents. The lower leaves are likely to yellow.

Temperature

Toxic or Not?

Dieffenbachia are highly toxic to pets and humans. Known as 'Dumb Cane' due the toxic sap which can cause swelling of the upper airway—temporarily leading to an inability to speak. Keep away from children and pets and wash your hands after handling.

Toxicity

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow up to around 3-4 ft tall with a 3 ft spread (when mature and with enough light)!

Size

Overall Look

Generally an upright formation of a few cane-like stalks with large downward arching leaves. Works best on the floor or a plant stand to show off the splashy foliage.

Format

Leaf Look

Large teardrop shaped leaves in bright green with showy flecks and splatters of pale yellow that radiate out from the midline of each leaf.

Leaf Shape

Pro Tip

Dieffenbachia are known to lean toward the sun—leading to lopsided growth, so do try to provide even, consistent light year-round and give your plant a little turn every few waterings to promote well-balanced growth.

Pro Tip

Water

|

Allow top inches of soil to dry between waterings.

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Be particularly vigilant in winter to avoid overwatering.

Light

|

Medium to bright, indirect light.

Preferred Light

To thrive, Dieffenbachia prefer medium to bright, indirect light. Known to lean toward the sun—leading to lopsided growth, so do try to provide even, consistent light year-round and give your plant a little turn every few waterings to promote well-balanced growth.

Humidity

|

Not too concerned by humidity levels.

Humidity Needs

While not too bothered about high humidity, your Dieffenbachia will appreciate the occasional misting, which helps remove dust from their large leaves and can keep brown edges at bay.

Temperature

|

Can adapt, but doesn't like sudden change.

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but will complain when exposed to cold drafts or dry heat from vents. The lower leaves are likely to yellow.

Toxicity

|

Highly toxic to humans and pets if ingested.

Toxic or Not?

Dieffenbachia are highly toxic to pets and humans. Known as 'Dumb Cane' due the toxic sap which can cause swelling of the upper airway—temporarily leading to an inability to speak. Keep away from children and pets and wash your hands after handling.

Size

|

Pretty big, but manageable.

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow up to around 3-4 ft tall with a 3 ft spread (when mature and with enough light)!

Format

|

Upright cane-like stalks.

Overall Look

Generally an upright formation of a few cane-like stalks with large downward arching leaves. Works best on the floor or a plant stand to show off the splashy foliage.

Leaf Shape

|

Bright green with variegation and a large teardrop shape.

Leaf Look

Large teardrop shaped leaves in bright green with showy flecks and splatters of pale yellow that radiate out from the midline of each leaf.

Pro Tip

|

Rotate every few waterings for even growth.

Pro Tip

Dieffenbachia are known to lean toward the sun—leading to lopsided growth, so do try to provide even, consistent light year-round and give your plant a little turn every few waterings to promote well-balanced growth.

Beyond The Basics

Soil & Potting

Thrives in a rich, very well-draining potting mix—you can use a good quality potting mix labeled for indoor plants or make your own mix. You can try a 1:1:1:0.5 mix of potting mix, orchid bark, perlite, and activated charcoal. Ensure the pot has the appropriate drainage and don't forget to pour out any excess water collected in the drainage tray or cachepot.

Repotting

These ambitious growers are fairly quick to fill out their pot and become rootbound, but they don't mind as much as other plants. Try to repot every 2 years in the spring, especially when tending to a younger plant. Increase the pot size by about 2 inches each time. Once mature and becoming unwieldily to maneuver—you can reduce your repotting frequency and switch to a routine of refreshing just the top few inches of soil. More on repotting here.

Feeding

If you're not already planning to repot, you can fertilize during the spring and summer months. Once to every two months should be plenty. No fertilizer is necessary during the winter when plant growth naturally slows down. You can try a balanced liquid or water-soluble fertilizer—always diluted more than the recommended strength. More on using fertilizer here.

Grooming

Can be prone to legginess (or straggly, elongated growth). Regular pruning of the new growth (up to a third of the whole plant) will promote a fuller, bushier appearance. New leaves will emerge from the cut stem. Plus, you can use these stem cuttings to propagate! In addition, it's always good practice to regularly remove yellowed or dying leaves and any fallen plant debris. Ensure your scissors or pruners are sanitized to avoid spreading disease or pests.

Propagation

If your Dieffenbachia it getting crowded with many stalks, you can always divide these into multiple plants when repotting. You'll simply pull apart the roots into your desired clumps. Or, if a bit rootbound, you may need to cut them apart. You can then pot each one up into their own appropriately sized vessel. If you'd like to propagate without dividing your plant, you can also try a stem or stub cutting. If you pruned a leggy plant, you can try both methods by first cutting off a few small 2 inch sections off the bottom of the bare stem, making sure to leave a decent section on the top (or apex) with 3-4 leaves and make the final cut just below the lowest leaf. With the top piece, remove the lower leaves to ensure a clear stem before rooting in water or another medium. With the small chunks of stem, you can simply lay them horizontally in potting mix, only pushing them into the soil about halfway. Soon these stub cuttings will take root and leaves will sprout! With either method, once the roots are a few inches long you can pot up your new Dieffenbachias. More on propagation techniques here.

Variants

There are various captivating Dieffenbachia cultivars. 'Camo', 'Tiki', and 'Camille' all have splashy variegation to admire, while 'Sterling' has an elegant pinstripe look, and 'Compacta' is known for its, well, compact, shrubby nature.

TrOUBlESHOOTING

Why are the leaf tips on my Dieffenbachia browning?

Symptom

Leaves turning brown just on the edges or tips. These edges may gradually change from yellow to brown, crispy, and possibly a bit curled.

Cause

Browning just on the edges of tips is usually a reaction to low humidity. Since many of our houseplants have tropical origins, they also thrive in humid conditions. Our average indoor humidity is usually adequate, but some plants are simply more sensitive to changes in humidity than others. You may notice this more acutely when conditions are particularly dry—like when you turn on the heater in winter.

Solution

Try to accommodate your plant's needs by locating them in more naturally humid places, like the bathroom or kitchen, or grouping a bunch of humidity-loving plants together. But the only way to truly guarantee increased humidity is to get a humidifier!

Once you've addressed the problem: If the brown tips bother you, you can trim them back. Do your best to follow the shape of the leaf to help them look natural. Also, try to cut just short of the discolored edge so it doesn’t expand.

More on leaf changes here.
1/2

Why does my Dieffenbachia have patchy, pale spots?

Symptom

Larger grey or pale patches on a few leaves. The spot may look dried out and somewhat bleached.

Cause

When your plant is exposed to the hot sun, it begins to evaporate more moisture from the leaf surface than the plant can replace. Leading to bleached areas or large grey patches on leaves.

Solution

You may be pushing the limits on how much direct sun your plant can handle. Try moving it out of reach of those direct rays of sun or moving to a spot that receives only minimal direct sun in the mornings or evenings. While this should prevent further burning, the spots will not "heal", so it's up to you if you'd like to prune off the affected leaves.

More on leaf changes here.
1/2

Why does my Dieffenbachia have a soft, discolored stem?

Symptom

One or multiple stalks feel a bit soft and may be starting to yellow or brown.

Cause

This is a sure sign of persistent overwatering. The root rot has spread and led to stem rot as well.

Solution

You will have to cut back any stems with signs of rot. To avoid further spread, you should also take a peak at the roots by removing the plant entirely from their container. If there are any black and mushy roots, trim them back completely before repotting with fresh soil in a new or sterilized container.

You may be able to propagate some of the cut stems if the rot has not yet spread to the top of the plant.

1/2

Why is my Dieffenbachia dropping leaves?

Symptom

Multiple leaves are yellowing and dropping.

Cause

If only one of the older leaves is dropping at a time—this is likely a normal sign of aging. But if multiple leaves are yellowing and dropping in quick successsion, you may be dealing with overwatering or possibly a sudden environmental shift, like a big temperature drop or a drafty area.

Solution

If your plant is near a heating or A/C vent or a drafty window, you'll want to adjust the placement to make sure they are still getting enough light but far away from any drafts.

However if you suspect overwatering, first, ensure that your plant has appropriate drainage (both in terms of a well-draining soil and plenty of drainage holes in the plant's container).

If you think you've caught the overwatering early on, you can simply let the plant dry out more than you have been. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Continue monitoring and only water when needed. You may also try using chopsticks (or something similar) to poke holes in the soil to help the roots get more oxygen. And finally, you can try to "wick" the excess moisture out of the soil by placing the whole pot (with drainage holes) in a tray or container with dry soil. This new layer of dry soil should soak up some of the excess moisture from the waterlogged areas around your plant's roots.

More on leaf changes here.
1/2