Caring for Dieffenbachia — interesting facts about the well-known houseplant

Dieffenbachia are probably one of the best-known types of houseplants. The arum plant inspires with fascinating leaf markings and different leaves. As with almost all green plants of the plant family Araceae, the flower plays a subordinate role. The different varieties differ mainly in the size of the foliage and the variations in the patterned leaves. All types of Dieffenbachia are decorative, easy to care for and quickly convey a tropical atmosphere.

Botanical name: Dieffenbachia maculata and other species, often hybrids of the varieties: Dieffenbachia seguine, Dieffenbachia bowmannii, Dieffenbachia oerstedii
Other names: Dieffenbachia
Use: houseplant, indoor greening, room climate plant, ornamental leaf plant, conservatory plant, ideal for bathrooms, solitary plant, depending on the variety up to 1, 50 meters high
Origin: from the rainforests of Central and South America
Flower: minor role, varies by variety. Flowers usually white or cream.
Specifics: Toxic, so keep out of reach of pets or small children. Easy to care for and propagate. Ideal for people without a green thumb.

Which location does Dieffenbachie feel most at home in?

The popular green plant prefers a light to semi-shady place in the house. East or west orientation is ideal, a south-facing window with direct sun is unsuitable in summer. Make sure that the location is as draft- free as possible and not too shady. If the plant’s location is too dark, it forms smaller leaves that are not as intensely colored. The aroid prefers temperatures of 18 to 22 degrees Celsius and high humidity all year round. A heated conservatory or a living room is well suited. The optimum ambient temperature should not be undercut for a longer period of time.

Fact: A Dieffenbachia also thrives with little light and in places that are too dark or shady for many other houseplants. Plant lamps can help in autumn and winter to bring the light of tropical South America home. Direct sunlight damages indoor plants. Brown leaf edges are usually the result.

How do I properly care for my Dieffenbachia?

The care of the leaf ornamental plant is easy and can be carried out in the right location without much effort. To increase the humidity, it is beneficial that you regularly spray your Dieffenbachia with low-lime water using a spray bottle. Small plants can be sprayed with a gentle jet once a month in the shower. Wipe off the dust on large plants with a damp cloth. Next it is important in the Dieffenbachia care that the earthis kept evenly moist. Waterlogging is just as little tolerated as ball dryness. With older Dieffenbachia, the lower leaves become ugly over time, you can cut them off. Or wait for them to drop. Large Dieffenbachia can be shortened in length.

How do I water my Dieffenbachia correctly?

Due to the large leaves, the green plants evaporate a lot of water. Therefore, regular watering is very important. Note that excess water must be poured off after 15 minutes, because waterlogging is not tolerated and the roots will rot. You can dip smaller plants once a week. Here you place the houseplant in a bucket filled with water and immerse the plant until no more air bubbles rise. By dipping, the root ball is evenly moist and the plant is well cared for.How often you have to water depends on the room temperature, the radiation, the root penetration and the variety. The rule of thumb is watering once or twice a week.

Our gardening tip: Especially in winter when the heating air is dry, spraying is very beneficial against brown leaf tips and infestation by the red spider. An indoor fountain also increases the humidity.

How do I fertilize my Dieffenbachia?

Regular fertilization is necessary for the growth of new leaves. A special green plant fertilizer that contains important growth and vital substances and thus helps the plant to look healthy and fresh is ideal for fertilization. Fertilize the Dieffenbachia weekly from March to October and once a month in winter. Make sure that the soil is not too dry when using the houseplant fertilizer, otherwise damage to the roots can occur. Fertilizing with fertilizer sticks is easy to handle. With this convenient long-term fertilization, your plant is supplied with all the necessary nutrients, minerals and trace elements for 3 months.

How do I repot my Dieffenbachia?

For lush growth and colorful leaves, it is important that you repot your Dieffenbachia into fresh substrate every 1 to 2 years. Transplanting in spring is best. However, if the leaves are yellow, you can also repot at other times of the year. Make sure the soil is structurally stable and loose. Special green plant and palm soil with a pH value of 5.5 to 6 is ideal. The potting soil stores moisture and thus makes it easier to care for it. When repotting, choose a pot that is 3 to 5 cm wider than the previous one. For better drainage, put a layer of expanded clayon the bottom of the pot. It is also important for stability that you regularly provide the houseplant with a larger pot.

Which Dieffenbachia species and varieties are there?

Over 50 different varieties are known worldwide. They differ mainly in the leaf pattern and growth height. Some of the drawn leaves of older plants are larger and vary in color compared to young plants. The countless color variations make it very difficult to distinguish between them. Dieffenbachia maculata is probably the most common hybrid form. The relatively broad leaves are elliptical and have pointed ends. Combinations of green and white are common, sometimes with variegation, stripes or speckles in the foliage. Well-sounding variety names can often be found in the evergreen plant. Designations such as «Super Tropic», «Green Magic» or «White Amazon» allow conclusions to be drawn about their origin or shape.

What pests and diseases can the Dieffenbachia get?

Basically, the colorful plants are robust green plants, which are very rarely attacked by diseases and pests in the partially shaded location. Too much sun will result in brown leaves. If the foliage is yellow, there may be a lack of fertilizer or the plant has not had enough water. The following pests can occur:

spider mites

An infestation with spider mites can occur, especially when the air is dry in winter. The foliage has silvery dots on the upper side and webs are visible on the underside of the leaves. It is usually sufficient to spray the plants with water and treat them with plant strengtheners. These organic active agents contain natural plant extracts that contribute to the vitalization of the plant. Improve conditions, especially during the winter months. Spray regularly with lime-free water to increase the humidity.

scale insects

There are brown, slightly curved knobs in the leaf axils. The scale insects are safely hidden under these protective shields and are therefore difficult to combat. As soon as you discover the infestation, you should wipe off the scale insects or cut back the plant. The pests can be controlled biologically with oil-based agents. It is important that the application is carried out several times.

Are you looking for more information about pests and diseases or do you have questions about a plant problem? Our plant doctors will be happy to help you – in person and online!

FAQ — Frequently asked questions about Dieffenbachia

How is propagation possible?

The best way to propagate the green plant is to separate the small offshoots. When transplanting, the young plants can be easily separated from the mother plant and planted in potting soil. In the ideal location and with sufficiently high humidity, new roots will form within a few weeks. Make sure the substrate is never too wet to prevent rot.

What can be the reason for brown leaf tips?

Leaf damage can occur in winter due to dry heating air. Furthermore, waterlogging or dryness can lead to browning on the tips.

Are Dieffenbachia poisonous?

Despite its popularity, the Dieffenbachia is one of the poisonous indoor plants. Above all, glycosides, alkaloids and saponies are contained in the Dieffenbachia, which can lead to severe skin irritation. Gloves are therefore essential when cutting and repotting. Be careful not to get the sap in your eyes or open wounds. Severe irritation can result. The Dieffenbachia is poisonous in all parts of the plant.

Is hydroponics possible with Dieffenbachia?

The indoor plants grow particularly well as hydro plants. It is important that the water level indicator is always at the minimum. Too much water damages the plant.

How does it flower?

A Dieffenbachia flower is mainly found on older plants. Sometimes Dieffenbachia bloom unnoticed. The flower initially resembles a new leaf. There are male and female flowers on the spadix. Flowering takes energy from the plant, so it’s important to cut off the inflorescence after flowering. The flowering time is usually in early spring.