Dieffenbachia or dumb cane

This article contains: Appearance Potting Mix and planting Sunlight Water Fertilizer Repotting: Propagation Diseases Toxicity Common problems

4/14/20235 min read


The ideal light condition to grow dumb cane or dieffenbachia plant is bright light. But it can also grow in low light. It is a perennial plant. Dieffenbachias is a nice choice as an indoor plant. It has a straight stem with big leaves and foliage colour is the combination of green, white or cream which looks very nice and beautiful. There are almost 20 different varieties of dieffenbachia with beautiful foliage. This is a very popular house plant because of their shade tolerance. It has a soft stem which will get damaged with pointy stone so be careful with it. In general, the height of dieffenbachias grows to 3 to 10 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. Summer is the growing season of dieffenbachias. It does not require much fertilizer; it can grow fine with no fertilizer also. In winter it goes dormant.


Potting Mix and planting:

Dieffenbachias or dumb cane grow to 10 feet tall so I suggest choosing a 10–12-inch pot for it. Make 3-4 drainage holes at the bottom and cover those holes with pebbles so the excess water will drain out easily. It likes well-draining soil so to make it take 60 percent garden soil,30 percent cocopeat,10 percent vermicompost and also you can add some sand.

Now fill 40 percent of the pot with potting mix and put the plant at the center of the pot and then add the remaining potting mix around the plant and gently press it. Water it thoroughly. Next before you water it check the soil if the soil's upper 2-inch layer is dry and then water it. From the 2nd month, fertilized it with some very light fertilizer.



Dieffenbachias or dumb cane prefers partial shade and full shade also. But keep in mind to place the plant on the place where it gets some bright light. Never expose it in direct afternoon sunlight; it will burn their leaves.


Water the plants every alternate day but check the soil before to water it. Overwatering will damage the plant; the lower leaves of the plants turn to pale green colour and then drop. Root rots if it gets overwater. So strictly avoid overwatering it.



Dieffenbachias or dumb cane grow just fine without fertilizer, but for healthy and fast growing fertilized it with low fertilizer in summer which is its growing season. I think organic liquid fertilizer is best for this plant. Do not fertilize it in winter because winter is its dormant time.



When to repot the Dieffenbachias or dumb cane?

There are some signs that indicates when to repot dieffenbachia or dumb cane:

1) Roots are coming through the drainage holes.

2) The soil gets dry very early then regular.

3) Plants show very slow growth.

4) There are somewhat root bounds.

These all are signs that plants need more space to grow their roots. Spring is the best time to repot the plant. To repot the dieffenbachia, select a slightly bigger pot than its current pot.

Make drainage 3-4 holes at the bottom, cover those holes with stone and fill the ΒΌ tph part of the pot with soil. Now remove the plant from the old pot lightly patting the pot from outside. Remove the plant from the pot very gently so its roots do not get any harms. Now put it in a new pot and add the rest of the soil in the pot around the plant and press it gently. Water it thoroughly.






Dieffenbachia or dumb cane easily propagate through the stem cutting and divide method. At every leaf the stem contains a node part. This node part is more important in propagation because the new shoot will come from the node part. To propagate the dieffenbachia just take a 2-inch cutting of the stem which contains a node with sterilized tools. Now fill some 4 inch pot half with soil and coco peat mix and put the cutting in that pot facing the node in upward direction. Now add some soil and coco peat mix on it. Put it in shade or on the place where it gets bright light. In 2-3 weeks, new shoots will come out from the soil.

Fully developed dieffenbachia produce some small pups around it like aloe vera. Just separate the pups carefully and plant it into another pot.

Be careful when the pups get separated from the mother plant there will be at least one root along with them so it survives separately. Otherwise, it will die.



These two are the main problems with Dieffenbachia.

1) Lower leaves yellowing and falling off with root rot.

If your dumb cane or dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow and fall off, then the most common reason behind them is overwatering. Dieffenbachia likes well-draining soil so just keep soil moist and not make it too soggy. If the plants show any of the symptoms, then immediately change the soil repot into completely dry soil. Water it after 2 days from the repotting. It does not require any special maintenance so just pay attention on proper watering frequency.

2) The leaves are turning brown.

Dumbcane or dieffenbachia leaves tip turning brown happens due to underwatering. So first cut all the dry edges of the leaves and then water to plants by following the water schedule. When you cut the leaves, edges just take the shape of leaves in mind and then cut so the plant's look will not change too much.

Let it dry the upper 1–2-inch layer of soil in the watering gap

3) Spots on leaves.

The spots on dumb cane or dieffenbachia are due to exposure in harsh direct sunlight. So do not expose the plant in direct harsh sunlight, indirect sunlight is best for it. But morning or evening sunlight is also ok.

In direct harsh sunlight the leaves start to burn and the leaves lose their colour. That makes some spots on leaves. So, avoid exposure in harsh sunlight.



Dieffenbachia plants contain calcium oxalate crystals called raphides. This is harmful for pets and humans. So, if by mistake plant leaves get eaten then these crystals can cause temporary burning sensation.


Common problems:

Lower leaves turning yellow and falling off in winter –

The main problem with dumb cane or dieffenbachia is lower leaves turning yellow and fall off during winter. Winter is the dormant period of this plant. It is not active in winter and the weather is also not too hot so this plant never requires any food or too much water. But in that time if it gets fed and even a little bit overwater then the plant goes into stress. And start to turn the lower leaves green colour to yellow and fall off. So do not give any fertilizer to this plant in winter and avoid overwatering it.

Before water it first checks the soil and then water it. Do not make it soggy. Let it dry about 2 inches between the watering gap.