Dieffenbachia

Dieffenbachia

The Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane) is an extremely common houseplant. It is also one of the easiest to care for. The foliage entails elliptical shaped leaves however the colors can vary greatly between type. Some foliage may be all green, cream with green borders or a mix between the two.

Dieffenbachia requires moist soil, so water frequently. You may also place a tray under the pot with water in it to help in keeping the plants soil moist at all times. This houseplant also requires high humidity levels so misting daily will also help keep the Dumb Cane healthy.

This houseplant prefers to be within 5 to 8 feet of a window, but will survive lower light levels. However please caution against placing the plant anywhere near drafty areas. The Dieffenbachia also prefers temperatures above 60 F.

The Dieffenbachia contains a toxic sap thus giving the name Dumb Cane, so please keep out of reach of children or animals that may try and eat the plant. It is one of the many poisonous houseplants you may have in your home.

Plant Description
Dieffenbachia plants are cherished for their beautiful foliage. The plants are characterized by a thick and fleshy stem and elliptical, and an oval or oblong shaped variegated foliage. The leaves are usually large and gradually tapering towards the apex. They are generally green in color with white or yellow spots, and bands along the lateral vein and deep green border. The leaves are glossy and can grow up to length of 15 to 40 cm.

The leaves of the Dieffenbachia Camilla are usually small and oval shaped with a pointed apex. They are usually creamy yellow in color with a green border. On the other hand, the Dieffenbachia Maculata variety has oval shaped glossy green foliage, marked by white or pale green spots. So, the size and color of the foliage of Dieffenbachia plants can differ a bit, depending on the specific variety. But, in spite of this slight variation, the leaves of these plants are highly decorative.

Toxicity of Dieffenbachia
The sap of Dieffenbachia is considered poisonous. This is due to the presence of needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals, which are generally known as raphides. If the leaves of Dieffenbachia are chewed or if the sap is ingested ingested, it can cause a burning sensation and inflammation of the mouth, throat, tongue and the lips. Ingestion of the sap can also cause diarrhea and vomiting. Skin contact on the other hand, can cause itching, redness and dermatitis. The plant is also toxic for the pets.

Dieffenbachia Plant Care

Dieffenbachia plants are shade loving plants and that is why they are grown as houseplants. Bright but filtered or diffused sunlight is sufficient to ensure healthy growth of Dieffenbachias. This is the reason why, they grow well if kept within 5 to 7 feet of a window, preferably a north or east window. The ideal temperature range for growing Dieffenbachia plant is 70 to 80 degree Fahrenheit during the day, and 60 to 65 degree at night. If temperature fall below 40 degree Fahrenheit, i.e. about 5 degree Celsius, the plant may not survive.

Dieffenbachia prefers well-drained soil. The ideal potting soil for Dieffenbachia plant is the one made up of good loam soil and rich in organic matter. You can also consider the application of fertilizers on the soil, and for this both regular and liquid fertilizers can be used. The soil should be kept moist for growing Dieffenbachia plant. Therefore, thorough watering at regular intervals is recommended to keep the plant healthy. However, allow the soil around the root to dry a bit between waterings. Find out more about soil science.

Next to watering, humidity is another important factor for the healthy growth of dumb cane plant. The plant prefers high humidity levels and so, regular misting is essential. Fertilization can be usually carried out during spring and summer. You can use a good all purpose fertilizer for houseplant for this purpose. But, be sure to dilute the fertilizer. If the plant is not getting enough nutrition, or if the soil does not contain adequate nutrient, you can observe yellowing of the leaves. As the plant grows, it will drop its lower leaves to make way for the new ones. But, if due to this, the plant loses its attractiveness and looks too leggy, you can cut the stem back to about 6 to 7 inches. This will promote new growth. Find out more about indoor gardening.

As compared to many other houseplants, Dieffenbachia plants are easier to grow, as they require little care and maintenance. Besides, the plants with their decorative foliage can truly enhance your home décor. This is why they are so popular as indoor ornamental plants. However, occasionally, the plant can become infested with pests like aphids, mealybugs, mites, thrips, two-spotted spider mites and scales, which can be quite problematic. For such problems, it is better to take the help of a professional in this field.

How to Propagate a Dieffenbachia Plant Using Cuttings

If you have house plants in your home, there is a very good chance that one or more of them is a dieffenbachia plant, sometimes known as dumb cane. If you have one that you have been caring for and you think you could never have another one that looks as good, think again, because that one nice plant can produce many more using cuttings. If you start a plant from seed, you can never be certain how it will turn out, but using cuttings allows you to clone the plant and have another one with the exact, same characteristics. And, the good news is that it is EASY! Here's how it's done


1. Don't have any reservations about cutting your dieffenbachia plant. They will grow to the ceiling if you let them. I always cut the plant to my desired height and use that cutting to start a new plant (I don't particularly want my plant to be huge, thick and to the ceiling). Use a sterile knife to make the cuttings and be sure to sterilize the instrument before and after you use it.
 
2. Dust the cut with rooting hormone. There are so many rooting hormones available...just pick the one that you like or have used before. Personally, I have used them all and find no measurable differences in any of them.

3. Stick the cutting into some NEW, STERILE potting soil (I like Miracle Grow). The cutting will take root(patience is a virtue)and the mother plant from which you took the cutting will branch out.
 

Tips & Warnings

  • USE STERILE INSTRUMENTS, STERILE POTTING SOIL AND WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN WHEN HANDLING DIEFFENBACHIA PLANTS!
  • Keep your cuttings in an area where the temperature is pretty constantly 65-70 degrees.
  • The sap of the dieffenbachia plant is poison. If you have small children or pets, ALWAYS be mindful of where your plant is placed. It MUST be out of reach.
  • ALWAYS wash your hands after handling a dieffenbachia plant. Even a very small amount of sap on your tongue can cause your throat to close up and you could suffocate.
  • Cleanliness is essential when propagating any plants, so use a sterile knife to make your cuttings.

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