Dieffenbachia Plant Care

By Renee Gerber , last updated August 11, 2011

Dieffenbachia, which is also known as the dumb cane plant, is a great houseplant when properly grown. However, it should be noted that it got its nickname because it contains a poisonous sap that can cause swelling of the mouth and throat if consumed. With that in mind, if you are growing your own dieffenbachia plant, you should use caution and wear gloves when handling it. When you do, you will find that caring for this plant will be generally quite easy.

The dumb cane originates from Brazil, which makes it a tropical plant. Therefore, it requires fairly warm temperatures in order to grow. On average, however, it will generally do well in temperatures ranging between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It can grow to reach heights of one to six feet, although certain hybrid varieties usually will grow no taller than two feet.
You can start your own dieffenbachia plant from cuttings if you already have one that is mature. A cutting taken from the tip of the stem that is between three to five inches long will do well when placed in a potting mixture in a container during the spring or early summer. The dieffenbachia is also fussy where watering is concerned, as it prefers a mixture of materials that are very well draining, such as perlite and peat moss. Watering should be done thoroughly, although you should allow the plant's soil bed to completely dry prior to administering the next watering.
When growing your dieffenbachia indoors, keep the plant in a room that has average humidity levels. You do not need to worry about using a humidifier or dehumidifier, and you can keep it in a spot where it will have indirect sunlight. Access to the eastern or northern sun will best suit the dumb cane, although you might want to consider turning the plant around every so often so that it receives an even amount of light throughout. Also, a good liquid fertilizer should be given to the plant every two weeks during the spring and summer and once per month in the fall and winter. Make sure to dilute the fertilizer with water in a halfway manner.
One thing to keep in mind is that the dieffenbachia plant does not do well in drafty conditions. This means that if you choose to hang or place it outdoors, such as on your porch or balcony during the spring and summer, you should only do so if there is not draft. The moment the wind picks up, you should bring your plant indoors.
Unfortunately, the dumb cane is susceptible to certain diseases. Too much bright, direct sunlight can lead to the problem of leaf burn and leaf color change, and you may notice brown spots appearing. If this happens, you should bring your plant indoors or move it to a less sunny spot that is warm and not drafty. You can fix the problem by watering at regular intervals and by washing the leaves with warm water.
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