This plant is grown almost entirely for its attractive shape and striking foliage, although it does produce insignificant spathe flowers. Some of the more robust forms can reach a height of about 6ft/1.8m in six years or so, but dieffenbachias are grown principally as compact plants that seldom get out of hand if confined to pots of reasonable size.
Dieffenbachia leaves, which can be up to 10in/25cm long, are usually green, and the more commonly seen forms have patches, blotches, or variegations in shades of white, cream, yellow, or pale green. All parts of this plant are poisonous; the sap has a most unpleasant effect on the mouth and throat, causing swelling, pain, and temporary loss of speech, a fact reflected in the name dumb cane. Wear gloves when handling dieffenbachias and wash your hands well afterward.
FACT FILE Dumbcane Plant
ORIGIN Brazil; hybrids.
POTTING MIX Soil- and peat-moss-based in equal quantities.
REPOTTING In summer, when the plant has become too big for its pot.
PROPAGATION Take 3-5-in/8-13-cm-long stem cuttings in spring or summer (cuttings must have a node with an eye); lay them horizontally, half-submerged, in a peat moss and sand mixture. Keep at a temperature of 70°-75°F/21°-24°C.
KEEPING PLANTS Cut back plants that are too tall; new growth will sprout from the cuts.
PLANT CARE Dumbcane Plant
- Fairly light, but shaded from direct sun.
- Minimum winter temperature of 60°F/16°C, with normal to high room temperature at other times.
- Keep away from heat sources and out of cold drafts.
- In spring and summer water generously; in winter water less and use tepid water.
- Stand the plant on a tray of damp pebbles and mist the foliage when the temperature is high.
- In spring and summer apply weak liquid fertilizer with each watering;
- feed only every second watering at other times.
TIPS AND GUIDE FOR Dumbcane Plant
- If the plant is overwatered, the stems may rot. Falling Leaves may mean that the atmosphere is too cool or too damp.
- The color in variegated leaves will suffer if the plant does not receive adequate light, and growth will be weak.
- Leaf scorch can occur if the plant has been placed too near a heat source or has been left in strong, direct sunlight. Remove scorched leaves, since they will not recover.
- Aphids may infest both the plant and the soil; check regularly for signs of these pests.