Why Everyone Loves Dieffenbachia Plants—and You Will Too

Dieffenbachia plants are easy to find and grow. Here's everything you need to know, from care tips to popular varieties.

With its exciting foliage variegation, showy stature, and ease of care, what's not to love about the dieffenbachia plant? The tropical show-stopper​ features pointed ovate leaves in various combinations of green, cream, and white variegation. The dieffenbachia genus includes over a hundred beautiful perennials.

The tropical plant​ features pointed ovate leaves in various combinations of green, cream, and white variegation. The dieffenbachia genus includes over a hundred beautiful perennials. Here are the dieffenbachia varieties you'll see at your local nursery, plus nine popular cultivars and basic toxicity facts and care tips for keeping your plants looking their best.

Dieffenbachia Varieties

Of the dieffenbachia's many varieties, only three types are sold commercially.

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Dieffenbachia Seguine

Dieffenbachia seguine candida
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Dieffenbachia seguine is the most popular variety sold in stores. It can grow up to 10 feet tall and typically features clusters of large ovate leaves with green margins splotched with yellow or cream color.

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Dieffenbachia Maculata

Dieffenbachia maculata
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Dieffenbachia maculata features elliptic-oblong leaves blotched with cream and main lateral veins.

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Dieffenbachia Amoena

Dieffenbachia amoena
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Dieffenbachia amoena is a larger variety that features 20-inch leaves and grows up to 6 feet tall.

Popular Dieffenbachia Cultivars

There are also many dieffenbachia cultivars, or varieties that have been produced in cultivation by selective breeding. Here are some of the most popular types of dieffenbachia plants and what they look like:

  • Dieffenbachia 'Camille' is one of the most popular dieffenbachias featuring ivory-yellow leaves edged in rich, dark green.
  • Dieffenbachia 'Mary' is excellent for beginners because it's a faster-growing variety with light green leaves splashed with dark and creamy green.
  • Dieffenbachia 'Snow' is a large-growing variety that can grow up to 6 feet tall and features dark green leaves variegated with silvery-green and creamy-white speckles.
  • Dieffenbachia 'Sparkles' offers light green leaves speckled with dark green and white.
  • Dieffenbachia 'Reflector' features deep green leaves that are dotted with lime green and yellow spots. It also has a distinctive whitish-green central leaf vein.
  • Dieffenbachia 'Camouflage' gets its name from its randomly patterned dark green spots of varying shapes and sizes on pale jade leaves.
  • Dieffenbachia 'Rebecca' is a compact variety that features bright yellow-green leaves variegated with mid-green edges.
  • Dieffenbachia 'Carina' features large, lush foliage in a vibrant medium green color, with variegated splotches in dark and light tones.
  • Dieffenbachia 'Honeydew' has striking golden-yellow foliage edged in a vibrant green.

Is Dieffenbachia Toxic?

Dieffenbachia is commonly known as "dumb cane." It obtained this nickname because a side effect of swallowing the plant is loss of speech. If ingested, it will numb the throat and vocal cords, causing drooling, swelling, or speech loss until the poison wears off. The sap can also irritate the skin.

Thankfully, dieffenbachia isn't severely toxic to people. But according to the ASPCA, dieffenbachia is toxic to both cats and dogs with oral irritation being the most common side effect when it's ingested. To be on the safe side, keep dieffenbachia out of reach of small children and animals.

How to Care for Dieffenbachia

No matter the cultivar, growing dieffenbachia is relatively the same. In its natural habitat, dieffenbachia can reach 10 feet, with leaves 20 inches long. Indoors, the plants usually grow to 3 to 5 feet tall, depending on the cultivar. Consider these growing tips to help keep your dieffenbachia thriving.

Light

Most dieffenbachia varieties do best in bright, indirect light. The plant will need enough light to keep its variegated foliage. "Place it in a west, east, or south-facing window," say the experts at Plants.com. "But dieffenbachia can tolerate low-light spots and can do well in filtered light as well." However, if your dieffenbachia stays in a low-light environment, its leaves will revert to all green.

Soil and Water

Plant dieffenbachia in a well-draining soil mix. They like consistently moist (but not soggy) soil. To make sure you are keeping the soil moisture level just right, check the soil to make sure it is dry an inch down before watering. Then add water until it runs out of the bottom of the container. Overwatering and keeping the plant in a container or soil that does not drain well can lead to root rot.

Feeding

Dieffenbachia does not require much when it comes to feeding. Plants.com recommends feeding dieffenbachia with an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer once per season. Fertilizing dieffenbachia encourages it to grow more and faster.

Humidity

"The most common error with dieffenbachia is not providing enough humidity," say the experts at Plants.com. Most tropical houseplants like humidity, and dieffenbachia is no different. "If the air is too dry, you'll notice brown tips or edges on the leaves," according to Plants.com. Thankfully, increasing humidity is an easy fix. You can place your dieffenbachia in a sunny bathroom or create a mini humidifier by setting the pot on a pebble-filled tray or saucer filled with water. The water will evaporate to provide enough moisture.

Propagation

Increasing your dieffenbachia collection is easy! You can propagate the plant in one of three ways:

  • Division. As the plant grows, it will send up offsets (baby plants) around the base of the plant. When you repot it in the spring, separate the offsets from the parent plant. Use a clean, sharp knife to slice the offset off the main plant, making sure it has roots attached. Then, plant it into another pot.
  • Cutting. This propagation method is the most popular way to create new plants. It's also an excellent method for saving leggy dieffenbachias. Cut off a stem section with at least one node. Place the cutting in water and wait for roots to emerge. Once they appear, plant the cutting in soil.
  • Layering. Lay a cutting or a leggy part of the plant horizontally in damp potting soil. Nodes along the stems will eventually take root, and new leaves will gradually sprout. Once a new plant has successfully sprouted, cut away that section and plant in a separate pot.

Pests That Love Dieffenbachia

Dieffenbachia is susceptible to most classic houseplant pests, including mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids. The best way to prevent an infestation is to inspect the foliage weekly. Once you spot a culprit, treat the plant immediately to avoid spreading to other parts of the plant.

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