How to Grow and Care for Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane)

Reviewed by Sabrina Lopez | September 2, 2022

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Jump to: Fast Facts | How to Grow | How to Repot | How to Propagate | Common Issues | Our Recommendation | FAQ

A good houseplant can make any space feel warmer and more inviting. Dieffenbachia plants are especially lovely, with richly colored leaves that require little maintenance to keep them vibrant. Commonly referred to as dumb cane, this herbaceous plant adds a touch of class while also purifying your air, making it a great way to accessorize your home.

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Costa Farms Dieffenbachia


Dieffenbachia plants are easy-to-grow and are a popular choice for indoor planters due to its colorful green and yellow leaves. It is easy to care for, needing only water and some sunlight, and this dumb cane plant also is available in several different stylish potting options.

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Fast Facts on Dieffenbachia

Common nameDieffenbachia, dumb cane

Plant family


Native climate

South America, Caribbean

Light level

Bright, indirect light, but can tolerate low light

Average mature height (indoor)

3 to 10 feet tall

Soil type

Lightly moistened

Frequency of watering

Regular watering to keep the soil moist but not soggy


Toxic to people and pets

Ideal humidity level

High humidity, above 50%

Common variations

Dieffenbachia camille, dieffenbachia seguine (tropic snow)

It’s essential to keep a watchful eye on cats and dogs to keep them from chewing on your dieffenbachia plant. Dieffenbachia earned its nickname dumb cane because it contains needle-like formations of calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause severe irritation and pain in your pet’s mouth, throat, and stomach if ingested. If your furry friend is inclined to munch on houseplants, you should consider a pet-friendly option.


How to Care for Dieffenbachia

The dieffenbachia plant is a common low-light indoor plant. While relatively fuss-free, there are plenty of ways to help your dumb cane flourish even better.


Use a balanced houseplant fertilizer every few weeks during the growing season for the best results. You’ll see faster growth and more leaf production if you fertilize it every month, especially in spring. Reduce fertilization or stop fertilizing altogether during the winter months.  


Dieffenbachia plants are common indoor houseplants because their variegated, large leaves can tolerate low sunlight. They prefer bright light during the winter, but during the growing season, they don’t need direct sunlight—just enough light to stay happy. Rotate your dumb cane frequently to ensure it’s getting even light all over.


Dieffenbachias enjoy consistently moist soil, as they’re native to tropical Caribbean and West Indies climates. However, overwatering is a common mistake. Be sure to use a pot that offers proper drainage and a potting mix that aerates well.


You’ll want to water your dumb cane once or twice per week. For larger plants, twice per week during warmer months will do. Water it less often during colder months. For smaller plants, once per week is more than enough. As long as the soil stays consistently moist—but not too wet—your dumb cane will thrive.  


This popular houseplant thrives in warmer climates, so it’s best to keep your home’s temperature above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, keep dumb cane away from windows or doors where it may experience cold drafts. Dieffenbachia craves higher humidity levels, so if it’s exposed to cold or dry air, it may begin to lose its lower leaves. Brown tips on the dumb cane’s traditionally dark green leaves are a sure sign that something’s wrong.


How to Repot Dieffenbachia

Repotting is a great way to prevent root bounding, a condition that can develop as your dumb cane’s roots outgrow their container and become too densely packed. The ideal time to repot a dieffenbachia is in the springtime to give the plant the entire growing season to adjust to its new home. Here’s how to repot your dieffenbachia:

  1. Start by filling a new pot halfway with lightly moistened potting soil
  2. Prune any dying or dead leaves from the plant.
  3. It’s sometimes best to let the soil of the old plant dry out a bit before transferring. This can make it easier for the plant to slip out of the pot.
  4. Once your old plant is out of the pot, break off any remaining soil, then rinse the roots as necessary.
  5. Check for root rot, and trim off any roots that look infected with a properly sterilized razor. 
  6. Finally, nestle the plant in its new pot, and fill it with moistened soil until the roots are fully covered.

Your plant may “droop” for several days to a few weeks after repotting. This is normal, as it takes time for a plant to recover from the stress. Avoid direct sunlight and overwatering during your plant’s recovery period. Once you see new growth, you’ll know the repotting was successful.


How to Propagate Dieffenbachia

There are a few ways to propagate a dumb cane plant, all of which are fairly easy. 

Root Cutting

To start with root cutting, sterilize a razor (to avoid spreading disease), then cut a section of roots from your main plant. Once cut, place them in their own pots with a mix of soilless media and a small amount of rooting hormone.

Stump Cutting

For stump-cutting propagation, grasp the plant firmly, then slice the top off your older dieffenbachia. Next, place the stump in its own pot with some rooting hormone and watch it grow new leaves

Cane Cutting

To propagate from the cane, cut a piece of the cane that has at least one bud on it with a properly sterilized razor. Place each cut piece of cane horizontally in its own pot. For faster rooting, use a combination of moistened potting mix and peat moss.


Common Issues with Dieffenbachia

While dieffenbachia is low-maintenance, some issues may still occur. A dumb cane’s leaves can usually tell you everything you need to know and what you should do next. Keep an eye out for these warning signs:

Yellow Leaves

Yellowing leaves are a sign of either underwatering or overwatering, the latter of which is a common problem. Stick your finger about 2 inches deep in the soil. If it’s moist, hold off on watering until it fully dries out. If it’s totally dry, it’s time to water. Be sure to cut off yellow leaves when you see them.

Yellow leaves can also be a sign of malnutrition. Adding a little fertilizer to your watering routine can give your dumb cane the nutrients it needs to thrive. If you notice the edge of the leaves getting brown and crispy, that’s a sign you may be overfertilizing.

Wilting or Drooping Leaves

Wilting or drooping leaves can signify a few different conditions. Leaves typically wilt when your dumb cane needs more water or suffers from root rot. If the soil is dry, odds are your plant is just thirsty. If the soil is wet and the leaves are still wilting, you’ll need to take the plant out and inspect the roots for infection.

Drooping leaves may also mean your plant is getting too much sunlight. If this happens, relocate it to a shadier part of your house. However, drooping yellow leaves can mean your plant isn’t getting enough sunlight. Finally, drooping leaves can indicate that your plant is near a draft or too cold.  


Even if your dieffenbachia is indoors, it’s still susceptible to pests—particularly spider mites. Other pests that love dumb cane include mealy worms and aphids. In some cases, you can wash or wipe the pests off, but other cases may require a pest control professional.

Our Recommendation

Dieffenbachia can brighten up any room in the house. They add lush, tropical appeal to even the darkest corners of a home. They’re perfect for new plant parents, as they don’t require too much work. Plus, if you learn to propagate your dumb cane, you can add even more all over your home. Remember to be careful if you have children or pets in your home, as they are toxic.


Dieffenbachia FAQ

Are dieffenbachia good indoors?

Dieffenbachia are good indoors, as they can thrive in low, medium, and bright light. They can also tolerate lots of indirect sunlight, which makes them a versatile addition to almost any room in your house.

Should dieffenbachia be misted?

Dieffenbachia don’t require misting, but it won’t hurt the plant either. Dieffenbachia love humidity, so some plant owners use misting as a quick fix. However, you’ll need a long-term solution if your home lacks a suitable humidity level. Try placing your dumb cane near a humidifier or in a larger tray filled with water and pebbles to give it the humidity it craves.

Why do dieffenbachia plants turn yellow?

Dieffenbachia plants turn yellow for several reasons, including underwatering, overwatering, too much sunlight or lack of nutrients. If your dieffenbachia is suffering from yellowing leaves, try adjusting your watering patterns, moving it to a shadier part of your home, or adding a bit of fertilizer. Remember: if your dieffenbachia’s leaves turn colors, it’s trying to tell you something.