The best houseplants are the ones that require little to no care, and dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane) certainly fits this criterion.
This attractive indoor plant gives a tropical feel to any room, and its gorgeous green leaves are often splashed with yellow, light, dark green, snow white, ivory, and even spots and dots.
Most dieffenbachia plants tend to grow fast, so they need regular pruning in the USA. With a tendency to grow as tall as 5 to 10 feet, dieffenbachia plants start accumulating new leaves over their stems, causing them to tip over.
When kept indoors, the dieffenbachia leaves grow about 3 to 6 inches wide and 6 inches or more in length. The dieffenbachia can grow into a gorgeous, bushy floor plant if properly pruned.
These quick-growing houseplants tend to get top-heavy as they mature. Timely pruning and repotting into deep pots can help promote growth while maintaining health.
People without a green thumb prefer keeping dieffenbachia at home as they are easy to grow and will not die on you even if you forget to water them for a few days.
However, it is essential to prune dieffenbachia from time to time so its leaves don’t lose their pattern and color.
Dieffenbachias belong to the Araceae family and are related to Caladium, Anthurium, Monstera Deliciosa, and Calla Lily plants.
Dieffenbachia is also called Dumb Cane plant due to the toxic oxalates in its sap that cause irritation and inflammation in the throat of people and animals, temporarily hindering the ability to speak.
Today’s article discusses the correct way to prune dieffenbachia, what tools to use for pruning, and what care regime to follow so the plant keeps thriving.
Pruning a Dieffenbachia
Some smaller varieties of dieffenbachia maintain a permanent low height, eliminating the need for pruning. You can prune your tall dieffenbachias when they grow above a certain size.
With dieffenbachia, it is easy to notice the signs of distress, signaling the need for pruning. The first thing to keep an eye out for is the drop of lower leaves from the stem. The big leaves at the bottom start yellowing and lose their signature tropical patterning.
Next, the leaves fall from the plant and leave the cane-like stem exposed. At this level, pruning becomes essential if you want the plant to maintain a bushy look after the natural loss of leaves.
If you want your dieffenbachia to regrow faster, prune it during the phase of active growth.
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Tools Required for Pruning a Dieffenbachia
Anyone can prune their dieffenbachia at home. The process doesn’t require difficult techniques, hard-to-find, fancy gardening tools, or chemicals. Here’s what you need when pruning a dieffenbachia:
- Gardening gloves
- Sharp pruning knife
- Eye protection
- Household pine-oil cleaner
Gardening gloves are a must if you want to protect your skin from itching, allergies, and other skin-related issues.
Eye protection goggles will prevent flying sap from getting lodged in your eyes and causing infection.
The plant’s sap is toxic; hence you will want to keep yourself safe from accidentally touching it and then touching your mouth and eyes. Keep a safe distance while you prune the dieffenbachia.
Another safety consideration is disinfecting your pruning tools with a household pine-oil cleaner and water solution.
Use a 3:1 ratio to make a cleaning solution, and soak your pruning knife in it for five minutes. Rinse the knife before pruning the plant.
How to Prune a Dieffenbachia
Pruning is done to maintain a certain plant height and remove the unhealthy, dying, or dead leaves and branches.
Pruning furthers new growth and protects the plants from infestation. It is also essential for preserving the natural shape of the plant.
Here’s how you can prune a dieffenbachia:
- To prune a dieffenbachia, you need a minimum of 6-inches of the plant’s cane-like stem.
- Wear your gloves and remove the yellowed, dead leaves around the lower stem to expose it.
- Take note of the leaf node and use a sharp pruning knife to cut at a 45-degree angle about ¼-inch above the leaf node. To recognize a leaf node, check for a small swelling on the plant stem from where leaves emerge.
- For a bushy and heavy look, do not cut more than ⅓ of the plant’s leaves in one pruning session.
- Once the stems have been removed and pruning is complete, lightly water the plant to help recover from pruning. Too much water can cause the plant to rot and die.
- The new leaves will emerge under the cut, and the plant will be rejuvenated.
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Optimal Growth Conditions for Dieffenbachia
Dieffenbachia plants are local to the West Indies and grow well in moderate climates with temperatures above 15.6°C.
This plant can survive in unfavorable climatic conditions, such as low temperatures or minimal sunlight but may not grow well.
Indoor dieffenbachias are easy to take care of. They need little exposure to sunlight, slightly moist soil, and good quality fertilizer.
Rotating the plant ¼ of the way each time you water it will result in equal growth, and the leaves won’t turn brown at the edges.
Types of Dieffenbachias
There are more than 24 types or variations of dieffenbachia plants. A few of them are:
- Tropical tiki
Poisonous Plant Alert
Consider the following points while taking care of your dieffenbachia:
- Dieffenbachia plants are a good-looking addition to any interior. But each part of this plant, leaves, stem, sap, and roots, is poisonous and dangerous to people, children, and pets.
- While pruning your dieffenbachia, cover yourself to avoid touching the sap and roots. Wear a long-sleeved shirt or dress and good-quality gardening gloves. Disinfect your tools before and after the plant’s pruning, fertilizing, or general caretaking.
- Dieffenbachia plants have an increased amount of calcium oxalate crystals producing idioblasts. These crystals can cause redness, rashes, and swelling if they come in contact with the skin. The itchy effect and rashes can last up to two weeks if you’re not careful. Avoid touching your hands, mouth, skin, lips, and eyes while working with this plant.
- If you accidentally touch your eyes while your hand is covered in sap, the resultant damage can range from severe irritation to permanent loss of sight. Eye protection is also recommended to prevent sap from flying into the air and damaging the eye.
- If any part of this part is accidentally ingested, repeatedly rinse your mouth with clean water until it is free of any plant debris.
- If you’re pruning multiple dieffenbachia plants, always disinfect the tools before moving from one plant to another. To avoid spreading the sap, prepare your potting medium before starting the pruning.
- Sterilize the new pots in which you plan on planting the smaller dieffenbachia for good measure.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I keep my dieffenbachia looking healthy?
If left uncared for, dieffenbachia plants could grow long and leggy. You can prevent this through regular pruning. This will promote bushier and compact growth.
Remove the yellowed leaves from the bottom of the stem and cut 45-degree, leaving 6-inches of the stem intact. Pruning the plant this way will keep it looking healthy for a long time.
When will I know that it’s time for pruning my dieffenbachia?
Short answer: The plant will tell you by itself. Long answer: The leaves at the bottom of the plant will turn yellow and start to sag.
You’ll be able to notice a clean stem visible from afar. This indicates that the plant has overgrown and needs to be rid of extra load.
Can I use my original dieffenbachia to propagate another plant?
You most definitely can. If you see shoots growing from the stem, pull them out of the soil and plant them in a new pot.
Otherwise, you can cut a 2-inch piece from the bare stem and use it for propagation. An overgrown dieffenbachia can easily provide a section or two for starting a new plant in a different pot.
My dieffenbachia has started to fall on its side. What can I do to correct this?
If your dieffenbachia is growing vertically instead of expanding horizontally, it means that the plant is under stress and needs repotting, fertilizing, and indirect but more prolonged stretches of placement in light.
A healthy dieffenbachia grows in a bush-like formation. If it starts to grow taller, it can fall to its side under its own weight.
My dieffenbachia lower leaves have turned yellow. Why is this happening?
Check if your plant is near an air-conditioning vent or getting sufficient sunlight and water. Usually, a lack of water and light or exposure to cold temperatures can cause the leaves to turn yellow.
My dieffenbachia plant keeps growing new leaves at the top while the lower leaves keep dying – What’s causing this?
Dieffenbachias tend to lose lower leaves in the absence of proper light. Poor growth can cause the dieffenbachia to shed the bottom leaves while the top keeps growing new ones.
To prevent this, cut the top stem to about 3-inches. This will help move the nutrients and promote equal growth.
Also, read more on house plants:
- Can You Grow Dieffenbachia From Cuttings?
- Are Dieffenbachia Toxic To Cats?
- Are Dieffenbachia Toxic To Dogs?
- Can You Grow Dieffenbachia in Water?
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.