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Diffenbachias

Hey plant friends! I’ve had several people ask me how to care for a Dieffenbachia. Um...gesundheit? Haha only joking! Dieffenbachias are fun plants. They’re also known as Dumb Cane. According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica online, Dumb Cane is called that because it causes temporary speechlessness after a person chews a piece of the stem. The tongue and throat swell up, so please don’t try it!


Dieffenbachia can be found in most garden centers, including Garden Gateway. The different varieties of this plant refer to the different patterns of white and green on the leaves. The different varieties that Garden Gateway carries include Tropic Snow, Compacta, Perfecta, and my very favorite, Camille! Regardless of which variety you’ve got, the care will be the same. 


Care


When you get your dieffenbachia, check the soil. This will help you decide when you need to water. Generally, they can be fine in just about any potting soil. You can repot if you want, but it’s not necessary. As for watering, overwatering is usually the reason these creatures get sick or die, so be vigilant! When you check that soil, if it’s wet, just let the plant dry out a bit. They don’t like to be soggy, but letting them dry out too much will cause them to droop rather dramatically! If you stick your finger into the soil about an inch, and the soil is dry that deep, then it’s time to water. 


As with all plants, after a while you’ll be able to predict when it needs water. When you water, give it a good soaking. Water until extra water comes out the drainage holes. I like to let my plant sit in the extra water for about 10 minutes, just to make sure it soaks up all it wants, but then it’s so very important to get rid of that extra water after that! The roots don’t like to sit in water, and will make the plant very unhappy. Usually this is all the water they need, but if you’re consistently having brown edges on the leaves, a small humidifier might help.


Dieffenbachia do well in low light. They actually are unhappy if you put them in too much sun. They'll burn or fade. They'll lean toward the window,but you can just turn them occasionally to fix this. They also don't need much in the way of fertilizer. An occasional feeding is plenty! 


Pruning and Propagation


Whenever I hear the word pruning, I feel kinda anxious. What if I do it wrong? What if I cut off too much? What if? Blah. Luckily, for this plant, it's fairly straightforward!


There's regular stuff, like when leaves turn yellow. You can just remove those at the base of the leaf. You can also cut off new growth to encourage the plant to be more bushy. Just cut or pinch those new leaves at the top.


If it has gotten too tall or leggy, you can also cut it anywhere on the stem. It will grow new leaves below the cut! And don't throw away that piece you cut off. We can grow a new plant from that!


If you put it in water, it will grow roots. You can plant it after that! Or you can put it directly into soil. Keep the soil damp and it can root. If you put rooting hormone on the cut end it will help immensely.


Is dieffenbachia poisonous?


Yes, the dieffenbachia plant is poisonous. As I mentioned before, if a person chews the stem, the throat and mouth can swell up. But along with being toxic for people, it is also harmful to pets. If you have children or pets, it is best to keep this plant out of reach.




At first, dieffenbachia care may seem a bit overwhelming. Don’t you worry, you’ll get the hang of it! I have confidence that, now that you know how to take care of dieffenbachia, you’ll be able to grow these lovely houseplants for years to come! And thanks for gardening with the Gardening Moose!