How do you care for a Dieffenbachia plant?

Dieffenbachia plant

The Dieffenbachia is a plant that is normally kept indoors and can grow very quickly in a short time. It can give any house a rich and tropical look. Like many other plants, it can come in different varieties but is usually easy to care for. The Dieffenbachia is sometimes known as “Dumb cane” and is generally grown for its beautiful leaves as it very rarely flowers. In many cases, it is considered as a living decoration around your house or an office environment.

Lighting

The Dieffenbachia needs plenty of light, but no direct sunlight, as exposure to very hot and direct sun can burn the plant. In my case, I keep my Dieffenbachia on a windowsill which is north facing where it gets plenty of light without too much heat. If the plant is situated in a location with little light, it will still survive but its growth rate will be slowed down significantly.

Filtered light is of significant value in spring and summer when the houseplant tends to grow new leaves. These new leaves are not as strong and are vulnerable to sunburn if exposed to the sun directly. I also find it is very useful to rotate the Dieffenbachia plant regularly (every 5 to 7 day) to give enough light to all sides of the plant. If not, there is a risk that the plant will lose shape as it tries to reach towards the light from one side only.

Watering the Dieffenbachia

Dieffenbachia plants do not need too much watering. I keep mine in a pot and water around once a week, or when the top 5 centimetres of soil feel dry when touching. Do not over exaggerate with water, as keeping the soil too wet for too long can eventually lead to damaging the plant. Dangling or droopy leaves are normally an indication that the Dieffenbachia needs to be watered.

Pruning

If you feel that the Dieffenbachia plant is too tall, you can prune to cut back to a desirable size. Alternatively, you can also prune the plant if you would like it to grow in a particular shape. Use a good set of pruners to cut it, and it will soon begin to grow new leaves. Sometimes, bottom leaves tend to lose colour and become brown. This is pretty normal if it happens infrequently, and you may simply cut them off to keep the plant looking beautiful and clean.

Propagating a Dieffenbachia

Rooting Dieffenbachia cuttings is easy to do and can give you the ability to re-create more plants at ease. These can then be used in different places around the house or given to someone as a very original gift. Take a thick, strong stem cutting, dip it in rooting powder and stick it in a pot with moist potting mix. Before sticking it in, prepare a hole using a pencil or similar item and make sure that the rooting powder is not removed through the sides of the hole when sticking the cutting into the potting mix. Dieffenbachia plants can also be rooted in water.

Place the plant cuttings in the water and a warm, bright place. Change the water every 3 to 4 days, and the cutting will eventually form new roots. Be careful and gentle with the new roots when handling the cutting or during planting.

Irritation

The sap of the Dieffenbachia plant is considered toxic and may trigger numbness when touched. It is very important to wear gardening gloves when holding the plant. One must also be careful to keep the plant away from children or pets around the house, to avoid any unnecessary accidents.

Planting a Dieffenbachia

Planting is very easy. If you have a new plant or would like to put the plant in a larger pot, choose a container that is about 25% larger than the plant’s root ball or the original container. Put the plant in the new container and fill around the root ball with soil or potting mix until the plant is nice and steady in its new home. Do not put too much soil on the surface, as water might overflow from the top of the container when watering. Always leave 3 or 4 centimetres from the top edge towards the surface of the soil. When planting for the first time, make sure to water thoroughly, let any excess water flow from the bottom holes and place the plant in its chosen location.

Photos

The below photos show the progress my Dieffenbachia plant has made over 4 months. I am very proud of it, and it is one of my favourite houseplants. Do you have any comments or photos you would like to share? Please let us know in the comment section below or through our Facebook page. Happy gardening!

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