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Dieffenbachia – Dumb Cane Plant

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The Dieffenbachia, pronounced (deef-en-BOK-ee-uh), also known as the dumb cane plant, is a large, lush plant that’s a perfect addition to any office or room. They are versatile, ranging from large (floor plants) to small (perfect for table or desktops). I fell in love with this plant variety from the get-go. The patterns that their leaves adorn leave me in awe, how does nature do that? They look so soft and matted.

In case you didn’t know, there are 56 varieties of this, each showcasing beautifully patterned leaves full of different colors. Their leaves features pointed, broad leaves in a variety of combinations of green and white. A large, well-grown dieffenbachia can reach five feet, with leaves of a foot or more. However, the plants will rarely reach this size in typical indoor conditions. I own two and find them super easy to care for. In fact, they are almost TOO easy to the point that it’s easy to forget about them. This happened once, and the leaves were hanging mighty low (sad, sad day), but it was quickly resolved with a shot of water. It perked right back up as if to say, “I forgive you.”

 

Here is another variety of a dumb cane plant that I own.

Water Requirements

To avoid overwatering your plant, let the soil get quite dry before completely drenching it again. Conversely, the plant will also suffer if the soil becomes too dry. The goal is to keep the soil slightly moist without overwatering. Dieffenbachia also does best with pots with drainage, as root rot is not uncommon with these plants.

Light Requirements

The dumb cane plant thrives with medium light. This plant doesn’t need to be fully exposed to indirect light, but don’t want a dark space either. During the growing season, expose them to more indirect (never direct) light to facilitate healthy, new leaves. I have my plant on a high up shelf in the living room, roughly 3 feet from a North facing window. We don’t get direct light, and where I have it positioned, the light is being filtered through a large Dracaena plant.

Temperature Requirements

These beauties enjoy temperatures anywhere between 60-85 degrees (F). If the temperature drops below 50 degrees (F), the plant will stop growing.

Fertilizer – Plant Food

During the growing season (Spring-Fall), feed the Dieffenbachia half-strength complete liquid fertilizer. Don’t feed them in the winter months; this is because most plants go dormant in the colder months.  If your Dieffenbachia sits in brighter light, then fertilize more frequently.

Additional Care

Plant Characteristics to Watch For

Diagnosing what is going wrong with your plant is going to take a little detective work, but more so… patience! First of all, don’t panic and don’t throw a plant out prematurely. Take a few deep breaths and work down the list of possible issues. Below, I am going to share some typical symptoms that can arise. When I start to spot troubling signs on a plant, I take the plant into a room with good lighting, pull out my magnifiers, and start by thoroughly inspecting the plant.

My plant is developing yellow leaves.

My plant has brown tips and edges along with the leaves are brown.

My plant is bushier on one side than the other.

Brown leaves are forming at the base of the plant.

Common Bugs to Watch For

If you want to have healthy house plants, you MUST inspect them regularly. Every time I water a plant, I give it a quick look-over.  Bugs/insects feeding on your plants reduces the plant sap and redirects nutrients from leaves. Some chew on the leaves, leaving holes in the leaves.  Also watch for wilting or yellowing, distorted, or speckled leaves. They can quickly get out of hand and spread to your other plants.

IF you see ONE bug, trust me, there are more. So, take action right away. Some are brave enough to show their “faces” by hanging out on stems in plan site. Others tend to hide out in the darnedest of places, like the crotch of a plant or in a leaf that has yet to unfurl.

Toxicity

Dieffenbachia plants contain needle-shaped oxalate crystals, which can harm animals and children if consumed. If you have young ones or pets, keep the plant out of reach. If you think your pet may have ingested it, call the Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435.

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