How To Grow a Dieffenbachia

Dieffenbachia is one of those stately looking indoor plants with very large leaves that are variegated. It is fairly easy to grow, and makes a great addition to your collection of indoor plants.

How to grow a dieffenbachia

Most people grow Dieffenbachia for their eye catching leaves.  The plant gives a tropical look and various varieties can be striped, spotted or have colored veins. Some are solid colors. All are impressive.

Note:  Dieffenbachia is one of the poisonous plants.  The plant sap contains calcium oxylate, a chemical compound which causes swelling of the tongue and throat.  Keep this plant out of reach if you have small children or pets.  This is the reason for the common name “Dumb cane.”

deiffenbachia leaves

The plant is quite easy to grow.  Just follow these steps:

  • Be sure you have room for it. Dieffenbachia can grow quite tall.  They will lose their bottom leaves in time. This gives them a palm tree like shape which is quite attractive. They may need staking if they get too tall, or they will get top heavy.
  • The plant will grow in a wide range of light conditions, but likes bright, indirect light the best. This makes it an ideal houseplant.  You will know if it gets too much light because the leaves will start to yellow.
  • If you have it in very low light, it will grow but only very slowly.
  • Water when the soil is starting to get dry.  Just stick your finger in to the first knuckle.  If the leaves droop, or start to brown on the edges, this is a sign that it needs more water.
  • Fertilize with a houseplant fertilizer in spring and early summer.   Do not fertilize in the winter.
  • The plant loves humidity.  Putting it in a bathroom will give you bath a great look and give it the humidity it likes. If you can’t do this, mist the leaves from time to time.
  • The plant will grow easily from cuttings in a glass of water.  Plant in potting soil when the roots have started to grow.
  • Keep the temperature above 50 degrees. Ideal is 65 to 75 degrees.  A spot outside in the shade during the summer will be fine as long as it does not get too hot where you live.
  • The plant will grow from stem cuttings.  When your stem has dropped a lot of leaves, cut a piece of the stem off, and slice int 2″ pieces. Dry them for a day or so and then stick into a rooting medium such as perlite, sand or vermiculite.  The cuttings will establish roots and then grow into new plants.
  • The common name for Dieffenbachia is dumbcane. This comes from the fact that all of the plant’s parts contain raphides (crystalline, needle like structures which cause stinging and burning of the mouth and throat.)  Handle the plant with care when making cuttings and keep small children and pets away from the plant. Check out this article for more information on Dieffenbachia poisoning.

Dieffenbachia plant

Dumb cane can grow to quite a large sized plant, as this specimen at the Missouri Botanic garden shows.  It makes a great focal plant, especially since it can be grown in corners of a room.Dumb cane plant

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  20 comments for “How To Grow a Dieffenbachia

  1. 03/12/2015 at 2:42 pm


    I was hoping for some help in determining what the powdery white substance is on the leaves of my dieffenbachia maculata. I first notice it about 3 weeks ago. I washed the plant; the powdery substance was gone. Now it back. HELP!

    • admin
      03/12/2015 at 4:51 pm

      Hi Berta. It sounds as though you might have a case of powdery mildew. It is a fungal infection and will spread to other plants. Most home improvement stores carry fungicides that will take care of it.

  2. Deonne
    03/10/2016 at 11:34 pm

    I recently repotted my dumb cane plants and now the big leaves are turning yellow please help

    • Carol
      03/11/2016 at 9:45 am

      Hi Deonne. It is hard to know why they have turned yellow. Sometimes on repotting, there is much more soil in the pot compared to the way it was before. Pot bound plants take more water than those that have more soil, normally. Perhaps you are watering it too much now? Carol

  3. Tonya Anderson
    09/29/2016 at 8:47 am

    Thank you sooooo much for this information. I was at a complete loss as to how to care for my plant. I’m going to try to add a picture of it. A friend recommended I put it in a glass of water but would lovea 2nd opinion.

  4. Tonya Anderson
    09/29/2016 at 8:49 am

    Picture attached…

  5. toma
    07/20/2019 at 6:12 am

    Can this plant grow bigger if potted in a bigger pot after 1 year ?

    • Carol
      07/21/2019 at 11:55 am

      All plants will grow larger if they are place in a bigger pot, since there is more room for the roots to grow. However, you need to be careful not to repot too soon. The plat should be slightly pot bound before moving to a larger sized pot.

  6. April Belton
    07/12/2020 at 12:09 pm

    GM. I have had a Dumbcane for over 6 years. It is to the ceiling now and even though it is stakes its starting to get so top heavy its tipping over. Can I cut and propagate a plant that has a 4inch thick stalk?

    • Carol Speake
      07/12/2020 at 12:59 pm

      Yes you can. New grow roots better than older tough stalks but in time, it should develop roots.

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