Dieffenbachias are beautiful plants that produce broad, big leaves littered with stripes of white, lime, and green speckles. Even though the foliage is enough to make you fall in love at first sight, planting dieffenbachias at home can be tricky.
Many homeowners experience their dieffenbachias growing tall and ugly, with their once-gorgeous leaves falling off completely. This usually happens when these plants are kept in a room with bad lighting. Dieffenbachias try to reach towards the sun and hence, become limp. Dieffenbachias thrive when put in bright spots, and they need to be rotated from time to time to ensure that every side gets light.
How Does a Dieffenbachia Normally Grow?
Before we start, it must be kept in mind that dieffenbachia can grow into tall plants and have all their leaves crowded at the top. They are also commonly known as Dumb Canes for this very reason. If you want your plant to stay bushy and short, you must give it the right growing conditions.
Since loads of people want their dieffenbachias to grow into shorter versions, they have figured out ways to alter the plant’s biology. Here are some common dieffenbachia variants:
- Compacta: This is a speckled, bold plant that does not grow more than 3 feet tall.
- Camille: This variant is easy to find and comes with yellow and cream leaves in its center.
- Tropical Tiki: This is a rare version of the dieffenbachia that is silver-grey and has small spots on its leaves that are white and green.
- Rebecca: The design on this plant looks a little like Compacta and a little like Camille.
It doesn’t matter what shape of dieffenbachia you have in your home- as long as you care for the plant properly, it will grow into the shape you want. In this article, we will give you tips and tricks to ensure that the leaves on your dieffenbachia grow back so the plant has a fuller appearance.
Sunlight Requirement for Dieffenbachias
If your dieffenbachia is not getting sufficient sunlight, it will become skinny and start to lose its leaves. Many online articles tell you that dieffenbachias are great shade plants that can be put in any corner of the house. However, this is not entirely true. While dieffenbachias can survive in dark corners, they will only be healthy and big if they receive proper sunlight. These plants thrive in bright conditions as long as the leaves are not receiving direct sunlight.
When you put your dieffenbachia in a dim spot, the plant feels like it is in a crowded area with other plants and starts growing upwards. This growth pattern causes a skinny, poor-looking stalk. Hence, the leaves begin to get smaller and scarcer, till eventually, they stop growing back.
If you want your dieffenbachia to remain healthy, you must give it plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. Think about it this way- you should be able to write in your notebook next to the plant without feeling the need to turn the light on. This does not mean that you should place your plant in direct sunlight. Instead, strategically place it in a room so that sunlight is reflected from some objects or a thin curtain creates a barrier between the harsh sunlight and the plant.
Rotating the Dieffenbachia
Even though picking a good position for your dieffenbachia is helpful, that is not all you need to do. If sunlight does not reach all sides of the plant, it will only grow well from the part facing the sun. Eventually, your plant will end up looking lopsided and unbalanced, with scattered leaves here and there.
Dieffenbachia plants look best with a full and well-rounded appearance, with their big, green leaves blooming from all sides. To create this, you must rotate the plant now and then. This will help all parts of the plant receive sunlight for the same amount of time. Dieffenbachias grow super-fast, so we recommend rotating them every four to five days so that the plant can look balanced and fresh.
You can also check its soil to understand when to rotate the plant. If the soil is dry and needs to be watered, water it and rotate the plant. Turning the plant regularly will make a massive difference to its growth in the long run.
Help Your Plant Exercise
For a robust appearance, we previously recommended giving your plant ample indirect sunlight and rotating it regularly. However, how will your plant grow its leaves back if it has a wobbly stem that cannot support the weight of its foliage?
Dieffenbachias that grow in the wild are thicker and fuller because the wind pushes them around, causing them to develop resistance. However, when you grow a dieffenbachia at home, there is not any wind that can help the plant exercise. However, you can always give your dieffenbachia a gentle shake occasionally to mimic the movement of the wind.
Remember to be gentle. We do not mean that you must throw your plant around. You only need to carefully place your hands on the stem and make it move back and forth. You can do this when you are rotating your plant every couple of days so that it develops a well-rounded routine. You can even leave the fan on a low setting to mimic the wind. However, air should not hit the plant directly, affecting its humidity levels.
Fertilizing Your Dieffenbachia
To help your dieffenbachia grow its leaves back, you need to provide it with a good diet. These plants thrive when fertilized as the correct nutrients are provided that they cannot receive from the surrounding air, water, and sun.
Liquid fertilizer works best as it can be mixed into a watering can that you usually use to water the dieffenbachia. Your dosage must be accurate so that the fertilizer does not adversely affect the plant. Spray half the recommended amount of fertilizer and build your plant’s resistance up a bit by bit. This method will ensure that you do not burn the plant. We recommend using the fertilizer once a month.
Moreover, only fertilize your plant when you see new leaves. This is a sign that your dieffenbachia does not need extra nutrients in the winter and fall months. If you are unsure how much fertilizer to use, remember that you can use a little less rather than too much. Using an abundance of fertilizer will cause leggy growth; in the long run, the plant will start to shed its leaves.
As we mentioned at the start of the article, most dieffenbachia plants look like stalks of bamboo rather than bushes. This is true even if you do everything right, from gently moving it to giving it the right amount of fertilizer, water, and sun. However, if you want the leaves on your dieffenbachia to grow back, you can strategically prune the plant so that it looks fuller and starts growing new leaves.
The uppermost leaves of your dieffenbachia should be pruned from time to time so that the plant does not grow too tall because if it does, it will naturally shed its leaves on the bottom, and there will not be much you will be able to do. If your plant has too many stems, prune each of these to a different height, so the trunk does not look bare.
This allusion can be created by cutting the leaves from the top of the plant and growing them back in the same pot. This will not affect the growth of the existing plant but will cause it to look fuller.
Give the Dieffenbachia Space to Grow
Another reason why dieffenbachias shed their leaves and become thin and poor-looking is because their roots are overcrowded, and they do not have space to breathe. Based on the growth of your dieffenbachia, you must repot it every two to three years. If you see roots poking out from the soil or the drainage holes, take this as a sign to repot the plant.
Aim to increase the size of the pot by two diameter inches. Use a potting mix containing lots of course ingredients, so the plant has a sound drainage system.
However, if you do not want to change your dieffenbachia pot, you can prune the roots until you are ready. This means you need to eliminate 1/3rd of the root mass. This will create a similar effect to stem cutting. Moreover, when using this technique, cut the leaves proportionally from all sides of the plant; otherwise, they will start to droop in a certain direction.
Growing the leaves back on your dieffenbachia is not difficult as long as you provide it with some light and fertilizer and follow the tips in this article.
Your plant’s growth depends on how consistent you are with its maintenance, such as repotting and pruning the plant. It might take some time, but soon, you will notice your favorite plant’s foliage coming back!
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.