How to Look After Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane) - A Care Guide

Updated: Mar 8

Here's some tips on how to care for your low maintenance Dieffenbachia houseplant, to help your Dumb Cane thrive and be a beautiful cane at that.

A Diffenbachia 'Camilla' being held up at the Garden Geeks store. | Garden Geeks UK
Diffenbachia 'Camilla' at the Garden Geeks store

Dumb Cane


A splendid, low maintenance houseplant, Dieffenbachia gets it's common name (Dumb Cane) from the fact that the liquid that drips from its leaves can cause a temporary loss of speech if ingested.


Native to the tropical ranges of Mexico, the West Indies and South Argentina, Diffenbachia makes for a great, colourful beginner plant - just remember not to put it in your mouth!

Light


While filtered, bright light is ideal, your Diffenbachia can tolerate lower light conditions, making it a rather versatile houseplant. However, too much shade will result in a leggy plant.


Avoid letting your Dumb cane sit in harsh direct sunlight for too long otherwise you may scorch its leaves.


Soil


Another reason why Diffenbachia are a good beginner plant is they're not too fussy about soil. So long as the mix is well draining you should be in good steed. Adding 1/3 perlite to a general peat potting mix will help with drainage and aeration for the roots of your Dumb Cane.


Watering


When the top half of your Diffenbachia's soil is dry, it's probably time for a drink. Water the plant thoroughly and let it drain through the bottom (make sure you use a pot with drainage holes).


Avoid letting your Dumb Cane sit in water for too long or root rot may occur. Cut back on watering slightly in winter.


Humidity


Your no-fuss Diffenbachia can survive in normal household humidity, however, originating from the tropics, it will really do best in higher humidity (around 60%).


Mist the leaves regularly or use a pebble tray or humidifier to help give your Dumb Cane a boost. Placing it near other plants will help preserve humidity levels too.


Temperature


Diffenbachia can cope just fine in normal room temperature at around 15-26 degrees Celsius. Just avoid placing it near any cold drafts, or areas prone to sudden temperature changes.


Toxicity


Diffenbachia / Dumb Cane are toxic to pets and humans. In fact that's where it's common name comes from - ingesting the liquid from its leaves can cause temporary speech impediment. So don't be tempted to give it a taste and keep it away from inquisitive moggies and doggies!

Growth


Diffenbachia are moderate growers, with maximum height of around 80cm to 1m tall.


Dumb Cane are hungry! They'll appreciate a feeding with a balanced water soluble houseplant fertiliser diluted to half strength every 2-4 in spring and summer. Just make sure you are applying it to already damp (not dry) soil.

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