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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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Sunday 31st of January 2021

Hi everyone, I was wondering what the small bulbs, grown from a leaf, in the center of the plant. I wish I could post a photo... they are 2in tall & open up once/day

Carol Speake

Monday 1st of February 2021

It's hard to say for sure but sounds like your plant may be flowering. This is unusual but does happen sometimes with a plant grown indoors.

Bippus-Campbell Gloria

Wednesday 13th of January 2021

I’ve had my dumb cane now for 25yrs. It’s about 8 feet tall. Can I cut from the bottom and just stick it back in the pot and water it. Will it grow or die. I love these plants. I have several in my home. People always commet how beautiful they are and full. I only feed them club soda and coffee grounds. I do the same to my outside roses. Thank you,

Carol Speake

Thursday 14th of January 2021

If you cut the stem, eventually roots will grow from it and it will grow again. It takes a while but is possible. Try to keep the humidity high while it is rooting. The plant will also sprout from the area of the stem that you cut.


Sunday 15th of November 2020

I have a three year old, 4 foot tall dieffenbachia plant and I was wondering what size/shape pot would be the best. It is currently in a 12 inch diameter pot but has fallen over multiple times. Would a taller more narrow pot be better or a wider one? Thank you

Carol Speake

Sunday 15th of November 2020

Repotting is done when the plant is root bound. The way to determine this is to take the root ball out of the pot and see if it is a mass of roots. If pot bound, the normal advice is to repot in a pot 1/3 larger. If the pot is tipping over, pruning the top could also help if the roots are not pot bound.

Angie D.

Saturday 7th of November 2020

I bought this plants, sadly the leaves are turning brown and seems dying now. What should I do? Thanks

Carol Speake

Sunday 8th of November 2020

There are lots of reasons that this could be happening but I can't diagnose specific problems for plants since I can't see them in person. Reasons could be underwatering, over watering, not enough light, etc.

Ethel Stevens

Friday 2nd of October 2020

Hi; I just bought a Diffenbachia plant on October 1st, but hasn't repotted it yet..... Should I wait a while before set to repot! I want this plant to grow very well.....

Carol Speake

Saturday 3rd of October 2020

Normally indoor plants don't need repotting for a few years. Repotting them before they are root bound will slow down their growth.

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