Few plants look better than the classic and beautiful Dieffenbachia plant. Originating from the tropics of the new world, dumb cane or leopard Lilly has become quite the popular indoor plant. You will find millions of them in homes throughout America. Let’s learn how to grow and care Dieffenbachia plant.
The Plant That Leaves You Speechless
Dieffenbachia or Dumb plant. The thick-stemmed tropical perennial comes with large ovate leaves tapering into a point. Its leaves are found in luxurious green, cream, and pale white color combinations.
It grows rapidly and can clear two feet in its first year alone. It can grow up to ten feet outside but smaller indoors.
Dieffenbachia seguine was cultivated in England as early as 1759. It was named after the head gardener at The Royal Palace Gardens, Herr Joseph Dieffenbachia. He brought the plant home after an expedition in Brazil. The plant was anointed after him to honor his work in 1830.
Since then, it has been naturalized in many tropical environments. It’s genuinely a cult favorite houseplant known for its oxygen-producing abilities.
The variegated members of this genus are the most popular. Many people get it to clean the air in their home and its simple, elegant, two-toned look.
Who would think that the large variegated leaved plant we adorn our homes with is poisonous? It was so poisonous that the indigenous tribes of tropical America used it to poison and punish people. Indigenous communities also used it to poison their arrow tips and as a temporary sterility drug.
If the plant’s toxic sap gets in your mouth, it creates a chain reaction in the body. Your throat starts to swell up until you cannot speak. This quality that rendered people speechless led to it being known as dumb cane.
We recommend keeping it away from pets and small children. Wash your hands after handling the plant since it’s better to be safe than sorry. Some people are allergic to touching it as well.
Also read: Do Dieffenbachia Like Humidity? [Signs And Process]
You can grow Dieffenbachia in various lighting conditions. The light conditions decide how the plant ends up looking. It can survive in low light, but its leaves might not be as large or variegated. To enjoy its aesthetic qualities, grow it in medium to full bright light.
Like most tropical plants, it can bear a canopy’s full sun or filtered light. That means you can place it in any part of your home you desire. We recommend turning the plant regularly so that only one part doesn’t face the light source. Otherwise, the plant will only grow from that end. Turning is essential to get a plant with full luscious foliage all over.
Similar to wild leopards like its name, the Leopard Lilly loves the water. The tropical habitat has no shortage of rainfall. However, overwatering is a huge problem since they are susceptible to root rot. Aim for a soil mixture of 60% cocoa coir, 20% compost, and 20% course sand or crushed pumice stones to combat this.
This mixture should ensure you have the right amount of drainage to water retention ratio. The sand also allows enough oxygen in the soil for the roots to thrive. That’s necessary since indoor plants don’t have insects burrowing underground to create air pockets.
As a rule of thumb, you should water it twice a week. Once a week, if you get less sun. check to see that the top inch of the soil dries up before watering it again, or wait for the leaves to get slightly droopy. This practice is the same for most indoor plants except succulents, which need even less watering.
As young plants, Dieffenbachia love being fertilized. However, you must know how to fertilize them the correct way. Overfertilization causes the leaves to curl or burn. That’s not something we want since we are growing them for their foliage.
We recommend using a twice diluted liquid fertilizer for actively growing plants at every watering. The active growing season for Dieffenbachia is from March to October. Check the instructions of the liquid fertilizer and add twice the amount of water needed in your fertilizing solution. Water the plants first before pouring the fertilizer.
After October, observe your plant for any more new leaf growth. The growth slows down in the winter. If no more new leaves are growing, you can discontinue fertilizing until the next growing season. If fresh leaves are growing but at a slower pace, dilute the liquid fertilizer much more and add that every other watering.
Once every spring, you can top dress the plants with worm castings or any 1:1:1 organic fertilizer powder.
Click to know: Dieffenbachia Repotting – What You Need to Know
Dieffenbachias are tropical plants, so obviously, they thrive in tropical temperatures. They can survive a wide range of temperatures but avoid going under 60°F. They will do great in temperatures like 70°F and even higher.
Avoid cold drafts because they will not survive them. You’ll know your plant is too cold if its leaves start drooping despite proper watering. You must move it to someplace warmer.
Dieffenbachia plants love humidity. If you’re wondering how to grow and care Dieffenbachia plant, you must provide 60% humidity year-round. To improve the humidity situation, you can spritz the leaves with water as you pass around the plant.
Also, place the plant over a tray with water in it. Use pebbles to prevent the pot from touching the water. That prevents the roots from rotting from sitting in the water.
Don’t worry. You can prepare this entire setup discreetly. Put the plant in a small terracotta pot and place the pot and water tray contraption inside a larger decorative pot. That way, you’ve ensured the plant gets adequate humidity and looks fantastic.
Let’s say you love your Dieffenbachia plant and want more. We don’t blame you since they are excellent plants to look at. You can propagate your Dieffenbachia in different ways.
If you have a relatively young plant that doesn’t have a large thick stem, you should take a cutting at the point three or four leaves merge. Ensure that you are cutting from a place leaving two leaves. That way, the mother plant can continue to grow.
Now you can place the cutting in water or damp soil for a couple of months and wait for its roots to establish. If you propagate in water, you can watch the roots form, which is interesting. Just remember to change the water frequently. You can do this without root hormone or fungicide though both are optional.
Another way you can propagate your Dieffenbachia if it has a long thick stem is to cut the stem in several places. First, you cut the top of the plant off and secure that in the soil.
You can accomplish this with regular garden soil, but using compost won’t harm the process. Next, you cut the large stem every three inches, leaving about four to five inches of the original plant.
Plant each three-inch stem cutting in garden soil and water them genuinely. Remember to ensure that the bottom inch of the cutting is covered in mud.
Use a sharp knife to make excellent clean cuts. All plant cuttings need ample bright sunlight. However, direct sunlight will burn pre-existing or new leaves.
Check out: Why My Dieffenbachia Leaves Are Turning White? [7 Reasons]
Dumb Cane Problems
Every plant has its problems. Here is some Dieffenbachia have to face.
The biggest problem faced by these giant plants is mealybugs. The best way to get rid of them is to place your infected plant outside so they don’t spread and wipe them off with rubbing alcohol. Do this once a week until no more bugs come back.
This disease is a fungus that grows on the leaves of the Leopard Lilly. To treat this, remove infected leaves and apply fungicide to other plants and remaining plant leaves. Also, avoid overhead watering or getting the leaves soaking wet.
Marginal Leaf Burn
The edges of leaves start to burn in your Dieffenbachia if it’s over-fertilized. Remove the affected leaf and cut down on the fertilizer. This practice should save the rest of the plant.
If your Dieffenbachia’s leaves turn yellow and grow smaller than usual, the plant has nitrogen deficiency. To fix this problem, use a balanced soil fertilizer. You should see normal growth soon.
If your plants aren’t getting enough water, the outer leaves will turn yellow, wilt, and dry up. You should water your plant if you notice your leaves starting to wilt to prevent them from reaching this stage.
As far as plant care is concerned, Dieffenbachia is easy to look after. You have to water them on time and turn them around from time to time. They grow fast and look great in any room. They like it warm and humid so keep that in mind. To ensure they thrive, make your home resemble a rainforest. They will still survive otherwise but look the best with ample sun. You can propagate your Dieffenbachia if you want more of them too.
You may also like:
- Can You Grow Dieffenbachia in Water?
- Are Dieffenbachia Toxic To Dogs?
- Are Dieffenbachia Toxic To Cats?
- Can You Grow Dieffenbachia From Cuttings?
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.