Quick Plant Care: Dieffenbachia

Quick Care Guides | House Plants


The Dieffenbachia, also known as a Dumb Cane, is an easy going, easy to grow plant and is a staple in most plant lover’s collections. Whilst it’s easy look after, successful care needs the right lighting, high humidity and the right watering schedule.

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What is it? 

The Dieffenbachia is a showy plant that features bright green leaves, speckled with white variegation.

Where is it from? 

Dieffenbachia plants are from tropical climates in Mexico, South America and the West Indies.

Light conditions and location 

Your Dieffenbachia can adapt to different light conditions but they won’t grow as vigorously as they will when the lighting is just right. 

The best spot for your Dieffenbachia is a room with bright ambient light, but no direct light as this will scorch your plant’s leaves. 

However, if you leave your Dieffenbachia in lower light conditions, it will grow tall and leggy. Make sure you choose a spot next to a sunny window or where the light is filtered by a curtain. Just make sure you don’t place them directly in the window or the plant will get sunburnt. 

If you start to notice your plant’s leaves fading or turning brown, move it further away from the window. 

Dieffenbachia favours the light so will grow towards it. Rotate your plant every time you water it to prevent it from leaning towards the light.

Watering 

It can take a while to learn what your plant needs and all of this will depend on where you put it and the amount of light it receives, as well as the current season. 

Proper watering will be key to keeping your Dieffenbachia growing well. Overwatering on a regular basis can kill Dieffenbachia so it’s important to monitor it’s needs very carefully. 

We always recommend sticking your finger into the top inch of soil before watering to check on what your plant needs. If the soil is still damp, hold off watering for another day or too, if the soil is no longer damp, then you will need to water the plant thoroughly. 

Allow the soil to dry out between waterings but don’t leave it until the soil is bone dry. 

When watering your plant, give it a good soaking until the water starts to run out of the drainage holes in your pot. Make sure you allow any excess water to drain out before you put the plant back in its pot or plant tray. Never allow a Dieffenbachia to sit in water as this will cause root rot.

Temperature 

Dieffenbachia like fairly warm conditions so keep them between 18-24 degrees Celsius. If the temperature around your plant drops below 15 degrees, or it’s exposed to cold draughts, it will start to lose its lower leaves and look more like a palm tree.

Humidity 

As a tropical plant, Dieffenbachia prefer higher humidity but they can adapt to growing without it. Without higher humidity levels, you might find that your plant always has brown leaves, tips or edges. 

To help with humidity, add your plant to a pebble tray that is kept wet all of the time. Just keep your plant’s soil elevated above the water so it’s not constantly sitting in it.

Soil 

Dieffenbachia are not fussy about the type of soil they grow in so normal potting soil will be fine. However, if you really like to care for your plants, provide a fertile, well-draining potting soil with high peat content.

Size 

Dieffenbachia can grow up to three to five feet in size and, as a fast growing plant, it can achieve up to two feet in height within the first year of planting a rooted cutting.

Good to know 

  • Repotting - you don’t need to worry about repotting your Dieffenbachia too often as they won’t need to be repotted until they become pot-bound.
  • Toxic - Dieffenbachia are toxic so make sure you keep them away from children and pets and wash your hands after handling the plant.
  • Leaf loss - lower leaf loss is common as your plant adapts to new conditions.

Common problems to look out for

  • Drooping leaves - a Dieffenbachia with drooping leaves can be caused by over or underwatering. Feel the soil and if it's moist and the leaves are drooping, it could be overwatering. If the soil is dry, the problem is likely to be underwatering so make sure you water your plant regularly.
  • Brown tips on leaves - this can be caused by irregular watering so make sure you stick to your watering schedule.
  • Yellowing leaves - it’s completely normal for the lower leaves of your Dieffenbachia to start turning yellow or brown and die off. Just trim them off to encourage new growth. If you find that there are a number of yellow leaves on your plant, the issue could be overwatering, not enough light, pot bound roots or bugs.

For more information on the common houseplant problems you may experience and how to solve them, read our guide

Take a look at our full range of Dieffenbachia to buy your own. 

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