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Portland Nursery


A sturdy and stately plant with large dramatically variegated foliage and an easy disposition, the dieffenbachia are a wonderful addition to most homes.

Dieffenbachia is prized for its big eye-catching leaves. They lend an exciting tropical look with leaves in many shades of green that are marked with spots, stripes, dots or colored veins. Dieffenbachia can grow quite tall and they tend to lose their lower leaves which gives them a palm-like shape that is attractive but may get too top-heavy after some time.

If the plant gets too tall there are a few remedies. Air- layering is the most successful method. Please ask us or research the process of air-layering details. Dieffenbachia also respond well to chopping of the plant at a desired height and planting the top which should root.

The original topped plant should begin growing again and branch at the point it was chopped. You can also grow new dieffenbachia from stem segments that contain 3-4 growth rings. All of these procedures are fun to do at home and we can guide you through them. These procedures should be done during the spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing.

The common name of dieffenbachia is “dumb cane” and refers to the toxic sap of the plant which contains calcium oxalate crystals which can cause painful and dangerous swelling of the mouth and throat. So KEEP DIEFFENBACHIA OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN, PETS, and anyone else who thinks eating houseplants is a good idea. And wash your hands after you play with or prune any of your plants.

Commonly found cultivars include ‘Mariana’, ‘Perfection’, ‘Carina’, ‘Tropic Snow’, and ‘Sparkles’.






Family: Araceae

Genus: Dieffenbachia

Name: Dieffenbachia are named in honor of Herr J. F. Dieffenbach who was a German botanist who oversaw the imperial gardens at Schonbrunn Castle in Vienna in the 19th century. Fancy that!

Water: Water regularly and deeply but allow the soil to dry 1”-2” deep between waterings. Water less frequently in the winter.

Soil:  A rich but well-draining soil is best. Add a bit of pumice to your potting soil to improve the drainage and make sure you have holes in the bottom of your pots!

Light:  Dieffenbachia will not do well in direct sun and their colors will fade if they are in intensely bright light. The best spot is a med/bright indirect spot. They will do okay in a low light situation for a while but eventually they will grow long and spindly as they stretch toward a distant light source.

Ideal Temperature: Average to warm home conditions. Dieffenbachia lose their lower leaves more readily under cold conditions. The cooler the temperatures the less you will probably have to water so pay attention.

Humidity: Humidity is a good thing for dieffenbachia as it is for most tropicals.  They’re native to tropical America (Costa Rica and Colombia for example) as well as the West Indies-very muggy places!  Mist the foliage often, place on a pebble tray or both.

Maintenance: If the plant becomes too tall or leggy some cutting back may be in order. See text for details.  Also, dieffenbachia can grow pretty fast in the right conditions so annual or bi-annual up potting in the spring may be in order. Check the roots every spring to see how much room they have.

Pests and Diseases: They may get scale or spider mites but are not especially prone to infestations. Stem and root rot may occur with poor drainage or over-watering especially if temperatures are low.