Dieffenbachia Care

Dieffenbachia Sterling

Dieffenbachia Care Instructions

Many people ask us for the proper care of the Dieffenbachia plant- a member of the family Araceae. By following these instructions, you should have no problem keeping your Dieffenbachia not only surviving, but thriving for years to come. The Dieffenbachia are some of the most popular indoor plants used in homes, offices and interior landscapes due to their attractive appearance and interesting patterns of color on their leaves. Dieffenbachia are on NASA’s list of clean air plants because they help filter the air of harmful chemicals. It is recommended to use one plant per 100 square feet of living space to help filter chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzene from the air. Dieffenbachia are also referred to as the Dumb Cane.

Varieties

Dieffenbachia comes in many varieties and a range of patterns. They are available as a bush and sometimes grown as a cane. Generally providing a thick and dense form, Dieffenbachia are available in 4, 6, 8, 10, 12,14 and 17in pot sizes. The heights will vary depending on what shape that plant was groomed into. Dieffenbachia provide a great alternative to a standard Janet Craig or Corn Plant in an interior or office environment where the lighting is suitable. Popular varieties include Camille, Tropic Snow, Panther, Camouflage, Compacta and Sterling – although there are dozens of others.

Lighting Requirements

Dieffenbachia do best in well-lit locations such as a window sill that has an Eastern exposure. Bright but indirect sunlight is optimal. Be careful not to put your Dieffenbachia in full sun because in many cases the plant will burn and the leaves will be damaged in a similar way that people get sunburn. If you have less than optimal lighting available, do not worry. Dieffenbachia has an excellent track record with tolerating medium light locations. In most cases, artificial lighting such as in a windowless office is not ideal for this plant. Some varieties tend to do better than others in low light. From our experience Dieffenbachia are an excellent choice for medium to bright light situations.

Temperature Requirements

The Dieffenbachia is a great interior plant because it prefers the same temperatures that many homes are kept at on a daily basis. Night time temperatures in the lower 60’s and day time temperatures in the 70’s are ideal. Keep in mind that although your home or office are kept at these average temperatures, other factors may play a part in your plant being too hot or cold. Make sure that your Dieffenbachia is not directly affected by a heating or air conditioner vent. The direct cold or hot air will surely damage your plant. You also want to keep an eye on the window if you place your plant in one. On very cold days, the glass will transfer the cold – and if the leaves from your Dieffenbachia are pressed against the glass, they will become damaged. It is never a good idea to have your Dieffenbachia up against any window or wall. You will also want to avoid any drafts in colder climates. A cold gust of wind from being placed near a door or window that opens could also damage your plant.

Watering Dieffenbachia

The most important thing to keep in mind when watering Dieffenbachia are that you want to avoid creating a situation that promotes root rot. In our homes and offices, we keep them in a light, well-draining soil. They prefer to be kept on the moist, but not so moist that it damages the plant. There is not specific amount or frequency of water that we can suggest because the lighting, temperature and evaporation rates differ in every home. You will need to develop a feel for the proper amount of water. Try to water at an even amount of moisture, not letting your plant get soaking wet and then allowing it to completely dry out. Do not let water accumulate in the crown or cups that the leaves. Moderation is key. Any planter that allows for evaporation, air flow and water drainage works well. Once you develop the “feel” for watering, you will be able to judge when to water by picking up the plant. The heavier the plant feels, the more moisture there is in the growing medium. If the plant is too large to lift, a water meter is well worth the investment.

Are Your Plants Leaf Tips Turning Brown?

A common problem with Dieffenbachia and almost all indoor houseplants is what we call “tipping” or simply the tips of the leaves drying out and turning brown. This can be caused by a number of factors including over-watering, chemical burn from too much fertilizer, Root rot and dry stagnant air. Probably the most common reason your plant is tipping could be in the tap water. Tap water contains salts, chlorine, minerals and fluoride – all of which can build up in the soil of your plant causing the tips of the leaves to burn and turn brown. One way you can reduce this is to use a water filtration system. If you do not have a filtration system available, leaving he water in an open container overnight before using can help relieve some of the chlorine.

Fertilizing Dieffenbachia

Do house plant fertilizers work? Definitely. Anitas, like every other living thing need a source of energy. The plants take in their nutrients from the water and potting medium they are planted in. That medium only holds so much, and when the nutrients are depleted, fertilizer is the only source left. People who grow house plants without repotting and fertilizing regularly are essentially starving the plants and holding them back from their full potential. There are many different fertilizers on the market and they come in many forms. There are water soluble fertilizers, ready to use liquid, liquid concentrate, fertilizer spikes, time release granules and many others. Which fertilizer works best? That is up for you to decide. We prefer a ready to use liquid simply for the convenience of use. We also dilute the fertilizer and use every time we water so there is a constant stream of nutrients being fed to the plants.

Are Dieffenbachia Poisonous to pets and humans?

The Dieffenbachia plant contains needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals called raphides. Chewing, biting or ingesting the plant can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms such as redness or swelling, a burning sensation, numbing, oral irritation and excessive drooling. It is suggested that households with children and pets should avoid this plant.

Do you have a question about Dieffenbachia or any other plant that was not answered here? Please feel free to contact us at 201-794-4747 and speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members. We would be happy to help.

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