Dumb Cane Plant Care – How to Grow the Dieffenbachia Plant

Dumb Cane Plant Care and Growing Guide

Last Updated on October 31, 2021 by Phil

The dumb cane is one of the most popular houseplants you’ll come across. One look and you’ll know why. Its lovely green leaves are adorned with colorful specks and patters.

But, for all its beauty, it can be a dangerous plant to leave within the reach of young kids and pets.

Learn more about this beautiful indoor plant by reading on below.

About the Dumb Cane Plant

dumb cane Plant Care Guide

Like many other plants, referring to the dumb cane can be confusing. That’s because the dieffenbachia genus includes a variety of plants. In total, there are more than 12 of them.

As such, you can expect to see them come in different sizes, shapes, colors, and variegation patterns in the nursery.

That said, their defining feature is their thick, broad pointed leaves that are patterned with green, white, and yellow colors.

The key is choosing which one suits your home.

Many homeowners like the small varieties, which don’t grow any taller than a foot high. Because of their size, there’s a lot less maintenance, including not having to cut them back.

But, there are also bigger varieties that grow up to 6 or 8 feet tall. These don’t get to be that large when grown indoors. However, they do need more pruning.

While dieffenbachia are often grown indoors, you can also put them outside. The biggest advantage of this is that they’re able to flower when planted outdoors. But, do be aware of their lighting requirements so that they don’t get too much sun.


Dumb Cane Plant Care

How to Grow & Care for Dumb Cane

Dumb Cane Plant Light Requirements

The lighting requirements of Dieffenbachia varies depending on the variety you have. But, for the most part, they enjoy filtered light or partial shade. This is especially true during spring and summer.

As such, they prefer to sit near a winter where the sun’s rays aren’t directly hitting it. Instead, there’s a window cover or sheer curtain that reduces the intensity of the light.

Similarly, you could have trees right outside the window so that your plants inside only receive diffused or dappled sunlight.

Doing so helps keep your dieffenbachia’s new leaves from experience overexposure to the sun.

That said, it’s likewise important to provide it with bright light during the winter when the sun’s rays aren’t intense.

It’s also a good idea to rotate it regularly. This allows all sides of the plant to receive ample sunlight. Thus, helping it grow evenly.

Outdoors, they prefer staying in shaded areas. But, you should protect them from cold breezes and weather as well.


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Dumb Cane Plant Temperature & Humidity

Your dieffenbachia enjoys fairly moderate temperatures ranging from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So, while it does well in shaded areas, it’s important not to put it somewhere that it can get cold.

Cold temperatures and even cool drafts are enough to bother it. Thus, causing its leaves to change in color, curl up, and experience brown edges.

Like its cousins, the philodendron and peace lily, dieffenbachia like humid areas.

This makes it perfect for the bathroom which is moist and doesn’t often get a lot of light.



Your dieffenbachia needs regular watering during the growing season. During this time, it’s important not to let it dry out. You can monitor this by inserting your finger into the soil every so often.

Once the top inch becomes dry, it’s time to add more.

Larger varieties will need more moisture. This can mean watering them two times a week.

But, come wintertime, you’ll want to cut back on the moisture.

That said, it isn’t the lack of water that often becomes the problem with dieffenbachia plants. Instead, it’s too much of it.

As such, it’s a good idea to water them lightly and make sure that you use well-draining soil. This allows the soil to stay moist and not soggy.



From above, you already know that your dumb cane plant appreciates quick-draining soil. This helps get rid of excess moisture so that they don’t end up waterlogged. When that happens, they become susceptible to root rot.

Additionally, a well-aerated potting media helps.

Dumb Cane Plant Care and Growing Guide

source: Flickr


During its growing season, your dumb cane plant will need regular feeding. You can use a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Just make sure to dilute its strength.

Do this twice a month and it will be happy.

Once winter comes around, you can cut back on the feeding.



Pruning is a good way to keep your dieffenbachia healthy. It also keeps it from growing too big.

Keep in mind that this plant can grow up to 5 feet tall, with its leaves reaching about a foot long. Although, this rarely happens indoors.

In any case, pruning it helps limits its size. It also allows you to groom it to look the way you want it to. This prevents it from looking like a palm tree, which is what happens when it doesn’t get pruned.



Like other houseplants, you can propagate your dieffenbachia in a few ways. These including air layering and stem cuttings.

Among them, stem cutting is fairly simple. And, most home gardeners are fairly familiar with the process. This makes it a good option if you want to grow new plants without having to start from seed or buy plants from the garden center.

Propagating Dieffenbachia from Stem Cuttings

  • Stem cuttings involve cutting a long stem that has leaves and stems growing from it. This ensures that it’s got growing potential.
  • After cutting the stem, dip the end in rooting hormone to speed up the initial growth.
  • Then, place the cutting horizontally into your potting media such that half of it is buried.
  • Water the potting mix thoroughly allowing any excess moisture to drain
  • If you don’t have an area in your home with high humidity, place a plastic bag over the plant. This will increase the humidity inside it.
  • After 2 to 4 weeks, you should see new roots start to form.


Repotting Dumb Cane Plant

How often you’ll need to repot will depend on what species of dieffenbachia you have. Some grow bigger than others, so you’ll need to repot more.

Similarly, you may decide to put off repotting it to keep its size manageable.

Either way, it’s important not to over pot it. Instead, move it to a container that’s just slightly bigger. This prevents it from growing too much.

That said, there are some tell-tale signs that your plant needs repotting. And, when they happen, it’s a good idea to listen to what it’s saying. These symptoms include:

  • Falling leaves,
  • Roots starting to poke out from the surface or through the drainage of the pot
  • Crowding

These signs of stress mean that it’s not happy with its current environment. And, if you want it to keep growing healthily, you’ll need to move it to a larger container.

As always, when handling the dumb cane, make sure to wear gloves.



The dieffenbachia is named dumb cane for a reason. That’s because if its milky sap touches your mouth, it will render your speechless (literally) for a short period of time.

As such, this temporary inability to speak is one reason why you need to keep this plant away from the reach of kids and pets. Them chewing or ingesting any part of the leaves and stems will cause the sap to be released in their oral cavity, resulting in throat and tongue swelling.

In the same light, it’s important for you to wear gloves when working with the dumb cane, especially while pruning it.

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