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Dieffenbachia

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  • Indoor Plants
Dieffenbachia maculata 'Camilla'
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Josée Bouthot)

Onglets

Botany

Origin and description

Genus Dieffenbachia grows in the shade of tall trees in the Central and South American tropics, from Costa Rica to Colombia. Spotted dumb cane bears large creamy white spotted leaves on a thick stem that can grow to over a metre tall indoors. The stem is never ramified. White to greenish inflorescences, composed of a floral spike (spadix) surrounded by a bract (spathe), rarely appear indoors.

Species, cultivars and related plants

Dieffenbachia maculata 'Camilla' has creamy white leaves with dark green edges. Dieffenbachia maculata 'Exotica' is a popular cultivar with dark green leaves with white and pale green marbling. Dieffenbachia maculata 'Tropic Snow' has a single massive stem. Its leaves are strongly marbled with cream.

Toxicity

Careful! This plant's sap is irritating and toxic. Keep the plant out of the reach of children and pets and wear gloves when handling it.

Common name

Dieffenbachia / Spotted dumb cane

Latin name (genus)

Dieffenbachia maculata

French common name

Botanical family

  • Araceae
Horticulture

Growing conditions

Dieffenbachia needs heat, good humidity and moderate to low lighting, without direct sunlight in summer. It does best near an east-facing window. Do not allow temperatures to fall below 18ºC. This plant tolerates dry air but prefers high humidity year round.

Easy to grow?

Dieffenbachia is easy to grow provided it has proper temperatures and lighting. Its blooms have no ornamental interest and are difficult to obtain indoors.

Watering and fertilizer

Water sparingly, with tepid water, just enough to thoroughly moisten the soil and then allow it to dry out thoroughly between waterings. Cut back on watering in winter or in low light conditions. This plant appreciates feeding with balanced indoor plant food or all-purpose fertilizer like 20-20-20 during the growing period (from March to October).

Pruning and maintenance

This plant frequently becomes bare near the base. If that happens, cut your plant back sharply or air layer it to rejuvenate it. Provide it with a stake if the stem tends to bend. Clean off dusty plants under a tepid shower or with a damp sponge. It is best to remove any inflorescences, which are without any ornamental interest.

Repotting

Spotted dumb cane grows best if repotted in a slightly acidic, well-drained mix with plenty of organic matter, such as tropical plant potting soil, for instance. Full-grown plants are usually repotted every other year in spring. To prevent the plant from growing too large, prune the outer roots to reduce the size of the rootball and repot in the same pot.

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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