How to Care for the Dieffenbachia
Hardy and easy to care for due to its ability to rebound quickly when the necessary changes are made, the Dieffenbachia—also known as Dumb Cane or Leopard Lily—is a majestic-looking indoor plant with large, eye-catching leaves in varying shades and combinations of green, cream, and white. Native to the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America, this fast-growing plant can reach up to 10 feet with 20-inch leaves when grown outdoors; indoors, it grows up to a more manageable height of three to five feet. The most common species of Dieffenbachia is called the Dieffenbachia Seguine. It has clusters of large green leaves with splotches of yellow or cream, and is native to Brazil.
One of the most important things to note about Dieffenbachia is that it is poisonous to both humans and animals. All parts of the plant have calcium oxalate crystals that can lead to swelling and inflammation of the mouth when ingested. This side effect is what prompted the nickname ‘Dumb Cane.’ Avoid coming in to contact with the sap and always wash your hands after handling your plant.
Dieffenbachia do well under low light conditions and fluorescent lighting, hence their popularity as home and office plants. They grow best in bright, indirect light, though; often favoring the side facing the light. Rotate your plant from time to time to ensure even, full growth.
These plants enjoy humid environments and regular moisture; having them dry out is a no-no. You can look to the leaves to assess the Dieffenbachia’s watering needs. If your plant is thirsty, the leaves will crinkle and dry out. If it is overwatered, the leaves will leave a slimy residue on the stalk after falling off. Aim to hydrate it with filtered water when the soil is 50-75% dry. Keep temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and avoid cold drafts. Exposure to such may make your plant drop its lower leaves.
When the roots start crowding or poking out from the surface, consider this a sign to repot your plant. Place it in a larger container with fresh soil and give it time to adjust to its new environment. Be mindful of skin contact with the sap, as this may have adverse effects.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Why is my Dieffenbachia dropping leaves?
This may be a sign that it’s getting too much direct sunlight. Move it to an area where you can mimic the dappled lighting conditions of its native habitat.
Why are the tips of the leaves turning brown?
This could be due to the mineral in the tap water should you be using such to water your plants. Remedy this by switching to filtered water or rainwater.
Why is my plant getting leggy?
This is because it isn’t getting enough light. Simply move the plant to a brighter location.
Will my plant flower?
It does flower indoors when proper care is involved, but the foliage will always be more spectacular. No need to worry if yours isn’t producing blooms.