How to care
for your Dieffenbachia
Dieffenbachia is a genus of tropical flowering plants in the family, Araceae, originating from the tropics of Mexico, South America and the West Indies. Known for their vibrant green, cream and white patterns, Dieffenbachias are fast-growing plants that are able to reach 3 to 5 feet tall (10 when outside!) in just a matter of a couple of years – provided certain conditions are met. They’re relatively low maintenance, but they’re one of the more toxic plants, emitting needle-like calcium oxalate crystals called raphides that can severely burn animals and cause swelling in humans. In fact, its other commonly known name, Dumbcane, is in reference to the sap when it gets into someone’s mouth, causing so much swelling that they’re unable to talk. So, while we should slap a “buyer beware” sticker on Dieffenbachias, they do make for great, towering houseplants or a lush, tabletop friend who doubles as a reminder of what not to eat during lunch.
Care Level : Beginner, Expert or Somewhere in the middle.
Dieffenbachias are relatively low maintenance plants. The major watchout is to handle them with care when propagating or pruning. Wear garden gloves, use clean, sharp shears and make sure you wash your hands and tools appropriately with soap and water when you’re done. And whatever you do – even if the Dieffenbachia sings its siren song – do not ingest.
Dieffenbachias thrive in bright, indirect light. They can tolerate lower-light areas, but they won’t be as lush or Insta-worthy as the ones that people get envious of. Dieffenbachias really move towards its light source, so you should rotate its pot periodically for balance. If the leaves start to dull, that could be a sign of too much light.
Dieffenbachias like regularly moist soil and don’t like being dried out. Give it the finger or stick test to check the top few inches of the soil to determine whether it needs a good bath. Usually watering once a week during the warmer months and once every two weeks during the winter is a good schedule to adhere to. Like all indoor plants, you’ll want to be mindful of overwatering which can lead to root rot.
Dieffenbachias like warm conditions and a humid environment. We suggest pairing it with a humidifier or placing it on top of a tray filled with water and pebbles. Misting is helpful but misting alone won’t sufficiently provide enough humidity.
Dieffenbachias thrive in 18 to 23°C conditions, generally preferring warmer conditions.
You’ve already been warned! This is one plant you definitely don’t want Mittens around.
Other fun facts:
- Dieffenbachia plants flower with similar looking flowers to a Calla Lily or Monstera Deliciosa, but the flowers they produce don’t have a smell or fragrance.
- Dieffenbachia are toxic plants that also take toxins out of the air! While it is a seriously toxic plant it also takes toxins out of the air, so your family can breathe easier.
- Its name, Dieffenbachia, honours J.F. Dieffenbach, a man who was in charge of the royal palace gardens of Schonbrunn, Vienna in the 1800s. Maybe this will come up in trivia one day.
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