How to grow and care for Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia spp) Indoors

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Dumb cane Care, Dieffenbachia Care

Botanical name: Dieffenbachia spp
Family: Araceae
Subfamily: Aroideae

Dumb Cane Description

Dumb Cane is a popular houseplant with large and highly decorative leaves, easy to grow and a good air cleaner. The stems in Dumb Cane are straight and may grow to a height of 5 ft under room conditions.

The leaves are simple and alternate containing white spots and flecks which make it an attractive houseplant. The lower leaves in Dumb Cane will normally fall to give the plant a False Palm effect.

The common name, "Dumb Cane", is derived from the unpleasant effect of its poisonous sap on the mouth and throat.

Dumb Cane is poisonous to both humans and pets if ingested. Always wash hands thoroughly after handling.

Dumb Cane Origin

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia spp) is native to the New World Tropics from Mexico and the West Indies south to Argentina.

Dumb Cane Varieties

There are many varieties of Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia spp) available with varied leaf patterns and not all are easy to grow.

The Dieffenbachia amoena and Dieffenbachia picta varieties are fairly tolerant and easy to grow.

Dieffenbachia amoena has dark-green foliage with white bars, the stems can reach a height of 5 ft and the leaves are 1.5 ft long at maturity.

Dieffenbachia picta is the most popular, bearing oval leaves with ivory white blotches or markings.

Other varieties include Dieffenbachia oerstedii which bears all-green leaves with a prominent white mid-rib, the yellow-green Dieffenbachia bausei and the giant-leaved Dieffenbachia bowmannii among many others.

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia spp) Air Purifying

According to the NASA Clean Air Study, Dumb cane was found to remove common VOCs like formaldehyde, toulene and xylene from indoor air.

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia spp) Buy

Buy beautiful Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia spp) on Etsy.

Dumb cane Care, Dieffenbachia Care

Photo Credit: Crocus

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia spp) Care Indoors

Dumb Cane Light Requirements

Dumb Cane grows best in bright filtered light, away from direct sunshine. Direct sunlight will lead to leaf scorch while too bright light causes loss of leaf color.

Turn the pot regularly to ensure that your Dumb Cane gets light on all sides, which prevents it from bending towards the light source. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

How to Water Dumb Cane

Keep soil moist at all times for Dumb Cane but reduce watering in the cold season to maintain the soil fairly moist.

Avoid soggy soil for your Dumb Cane as it can lead to stem-rot and eventual death of your plant. Read more on how to water houseplants.


Temperature for Dumb Cane

Average to above average warmth with a minimum of 150C is ideal for Dumb Cane.

Protect your Dumb Cane from cold draughts as it is very sensitive to cold temperatures which may lead to yellowing and wilting of the lower leaves. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity for Dumb Cane

Average room humidity is ideal for Dumb Cane. Brown leaf tips is an indication of low humidity.

To raise humidity for your Dumb Cane set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Regularly clean the leaves of your Dumb Cane by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and discourage pest infestations. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding) for Dumb Cane

Feed Dumb Cane every 2-3 weeks during the growing period with a water-soluble, nitrogen-rich fertilizer to encourage foliage development.

Withhold feeding for your Dumb Cane during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

How to Repot Dumb Cane

Repot Dumb Cane annually at the beginning of the growing season. Use a pot 1-2 sizes larger and one that has drainage holes. The soil should be free-draining and rich in organic matter. Never allow the roots to sit in soggy soil as it can lead to stem-rot.

How to Prune Dumb Cane

Pruning Dumb Cane involves removal of dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy.

With age, Dumb Cane becomes leggy and unattractive. Cut off the cane, leaving a 4 inch stump. Use the crown for propagation. The stump will resprout to produce a new plant. Read more on how to prune houseplants.

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia spp) Propagation

Dumb Cane can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem cuttings, from offshoots and from the top crown of leaves.

How to propagate Dumb Cane from stem cuttings

Take 2-3 in. long stem cuttings from a healthy Dumb Cane. Ensure each cutting has at least 2-3 leaf nodes as this is where new growth will come from.

Dip the lower cut-end of the Dumb Cane cutting in a rooting hormone and insert it in moist, free-draining rooting soil.

Place the set up in a warm, shaded place. Roots will develop in about 3-6 weeks.

Once there is new growth, the rooted Dumb Cane cuttings can be transplanted into individual pots.

How to propagate Dumb Cane from offshoots

Some varieties of Dumb Cane produce daughter plants (pups or offshoots) at the base.

Remove the Dumb Cane pups with some roots when at least 10 in. tall and pot them in individual pots.

Place the pots in a cool, shaded place and maintain the soil moist through out until new growth emerges.

Allow the new Dumb Cane plant to be well established before transplanting.

How to propagate Dumb Cane from the top crown of leaves

Remove the top crown of leaves of Dumb Cane bearing about 3 in. of stem.

Apply a rooting hormone on the stem of the crown of leaves and stick it in moist, free-draining, rooting soil.

Place the set up in a cool, shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges.

Allow the new Dumb Cane plant to be well established before transplanting after which routine care begin.

Dumb cane Care, Dieffenbachia Care

Photo Credit: Plant Circle

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia spp) Problems Indoors

Why are the lower leaves of my Dumb Cane yellow and wilted?

Too low temperature below 100C or cold draughts are the causes of yellow and wilted leaves in your Dumb Cane.

Maintain average to above average temperature for your Dumb Cane and protect it from cold draughts. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Why are the lower leaves of my Dumb Cane yellow?

The cause of yellow lower leaves in Dumb Cane is underwatering.

Ensure the soil is moderately moist at all times and never allow the soil ball to dry out completely. Read more on how to water houseplants.

Why is the stem base of my Dumb Cane soft and discolored?

Soft and discolored stem base in Dumb Cane is an indication of Stem-rot Disease, which is encouraged by soggy soil and low temperatures.

Cut out diseased parts and treat your Dumb Cane with a fungicide. If the Dumb Cane is badly damaged, discard it as it is too far gone.

Avoid soggy soil in the future by ensuring that the pot for your Dumb Cane has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining.

Ensure also to maintain average to above average room temperature for your Dumb Cane and protect it from cold draughts.

Why is my Dumb Cane losing leaf color or variegation?

Exposing Dumb cane to direct sunlight or excessive brightness will lead to loss of leaf color.

Move your Dumb Cane to a more shaded spot or protect it from direct sunlight. Read more on understanding light for houseplants.

Why is my Dumb Cane dropping its leaves?

Naturally, the lower leaves fall to give Dumb Cane a False Palm effect.

If young Dumb Cane leaves are falling there are three possible causes of this.

One possible cause of leaf fall in your young Dumb Cane is cold temperature. Maintain an average to above average temperatures for your Dumb Cane with a minimum of 100C.

The second possible cause of leaf fall in your young Dumb Cane is dry air. To raise humidity for your Dumb Cane, Set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Read more on how to raise the air humidity for houseplants.

The third possible cause of leaf fall in your young Dumb Cane is cold draughts. Protect your Dumb Cane from cold draughts to avoid sudden drop in temperature which causes leaf fall.

Why do the leaves of my Dumb Cane have brown edges and tips?

There are two possible causes of brown leaf edges and tips in Dumb Cane.

One possible cause of brown leaf edges and tips in your Dumb Cane is that the soil has been allowed to dry out.

Maintain the soil for your Dumb Cane moist at all times and never allow the soil to dry out completely.

The second possible cause of brown leaf edges and tips in your Dumb Cane is the air is too dry.

To raise humidity for your Dumb Cane, set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Why is my Dumb Cane producing small new leaves and has leggy growth?

Too little light is the cause of small new leaves and leggy growth in Dumb Cane.

Move Dumb Cane to a brighter spot and ensure it is receiving bright, indirect light. Read more on understanding light for houseplants.

Dumb Cane Pests

The common plant pests in Dumb Cane are Scale Insects and Spider Mites.

Isolate the affected Dumb Cane to prevent spread to other plants and treat it appropriately for the pests.

Is Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia spp) toxic?

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia spp) is toxic to both humans and pets.

If the leaves are chewed or ingested, they may cause temporary swelling of the tongue and the throat which may lead to a temporary loss of speech and hence the common name dumb cane. In severe cases suffocation may occur.

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