Dieffenbachia (also known as dumb cane) is a popular houseplant grown for its large, showy leaves. They are generally green with splashes or blotches of creamy white, although cultivars have expanded the palette to include yellow. This plant can grow quite large in the right setting (6 to 10 feet tall in its native Brazil, for example), but offers smaller sizes, too. As lower leaves naturally drop off over time, the plant’s cane-like stems become visible.
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On larger dieffenbachias, the individual leaves (which are thick and glossy) can reach more than a foot long. Even better, the foliage comes in a variety of patterns and colors that include light green, dark green, cream, and gold seen in stripes, solids, speckles, and edges. Keep the leaves looking shiny by wiping them occasionally with a damp cloth.
As dieffenbachia ages and continues to grow, its lower leaves may fall off and reveal a thick, almost bamboolike stem in dark green. Dieffenbachia occasionally bears calla-type flowers followed red berries (a rare occurrence).
Dieffenbachia Care Must-Knows
Dieffenbachia doesn't require much care to thrive. Although it tolerates low light, it does best in bright, indirect light with protection from sun. Filtered light is especially important in the spring and summer when dieffenbachia is putting out new leaves, which may suffer from sunburn if exposed to bright light that shines directly on the plant. When planting in a container, use a general-purpose potting mix with plenty of peat moss to help retain moisture. This plant likes consistently moist, well-drained soil that is allowed to dry out to an inch or so below the surface between waterings. Soggy soil can be fatal, so make sure your potted plant doesn't sit in water.
High humidity, on the other hand, is a plus. If your plant's foliage develops brown edges, it's not getting enough humidity. You may need to move the potted plant to a more humid spot like the bathroom. Some gardeners like to keep the pot on a saucer filled with wet pebbles to boost the humidity level.
Worth noting: Dieffenbachia's sap irritates human skin and eyes, and burns the mouth and throat (if swallowed it can temporarily paralyze the vocal cords, hence the common name of dumb cane). Handle this plant carefully.
More Varieties of Dieffenbachia
Leaves with a broad band of white, edged in green makes this variety of Dieffenbachia maculata unique. Leaves turn more solidly green in low light conditions.
Dieffenbachia 'Camouflage' has eye-catching light green leaves speckled and splashed in dark green and cream. Zones 12-15
Dieffenbachia maculata usually remains under 3 feet tall with multiple stems and shrubby growth. Medium green leaves are irregularly splashed with creamy white variegation.
'Tropical Tiki' dieffenbachia
This variety of Dieffenbachia maculata has leaves with a band of silvery green splotched with cream blotches.
Dieffenbachia seguine has a canelike stem and arching leaves up to 12 inches long. They are usually marbled with white or cream.
'Tropic Marianne' dieffenbachia
Dieffenbachia 'Tropic Marianne' is a large variety sporting broad creamy-white leaves variegated with green. Zones 12-15