Plants

Dieffenbachia

Dieffenbachia maculata

Eva Monning Eva MonningUlrike Hanninger Ulrike Hanninger

Dieffenbachia adds a finishing touch to any living room with its decorative leaves. Here’s what you need to keep in mind when growing and caring for this tropical houseplant.

Growth type
  • Perennial plant
Growth height (from)
from 60.00cm to 200.00cm
Growth width (from)
from 30.00cm to 70.00cm
Growth characteristics
  • upright
  • foothills
Flower color
  • yellow
  • white
Flowering time (month)
  • June to July
Flower shape
  • Pistons
  • Spatha
Flower characteristics
  • unimpressive
Leaf color
  • green
  • yellow green
  • multicolored
page format
  • ovate
  • full margined
  • oval
  • pointed
Sheet properties
  • evergreen
Light
  • scattered light
Soil type
  • sandy to loamy
Soil Moisture
  • moderately humid
ph value
  • neutral to weakly acidic
Lime compatibility
  • sensitive to lime
Nutrient requirements
  • moderately nutritious
Humus
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • Leaf ornaments
Toxicity
  • highly toxic
Winter Hardness
  • frost-sensitive
Use
  • Interior greening
  • Planters
  • Winter garden
  • Warm House
Garden style
  • Pot garden

Origin

The Dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia maculata) is part of the arum family (Araceae) and is originally from the Tropical rainforests of Central and South America. Thanks to its decorative leaves, it is also a very popular houseplant and one of the best-known decorative leafy plants out there.

Growth

Depending on pot size, location conditions and care, Dieffenbachias can grow from 24 inches tall to room-height. Its growth is stocky and it has short, thick stems with large petiolate leaves that stand upright in a very dense arrangement.

Leaves

The most striking thing about a Dieffenbachia is its decorative, white or yellow-green patterned leaves. They are ovate, up to around 9.84 inches long and pointed at the end.

Flowers

As a houseplant, the Dieffenbachia very rarely produces flowers. Just like other arums, flowers only form on older plants if at all. The inflorescences are the spadices typical for arums, surrounded by a light green, pod-like casing (spathe). They are white to cream in color, quite inconspicuous and detrimental to the Dieffenbachia’s growth. So, they should be removed once opened.

Dieffenbachie Blüten

Die Blüte der Dieffenbachia ist wenig spektakulär

Location and Substrate

Dieffenbachias need lots of heat (69 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit) as well as high humidity. They do not tolerate temperature variations or cold draughts in the long term. But these richly patterned plants can’t get enough bright light. They will quickly lose their coloring if in a location that is too dark. But the leaves of the Dieffenbachia also have a sensitive reaction to direct sunlight. It may even burn them. In winter, the ideal temperature is between 59 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit. But it needs just as much light as in summer.

Dieffenbachia feels at home in nutrient-rich, humus-rich soil. You can use regular potting soil with an added handful of charcoal or expanded clay. Dieffenbachias are also suitable for hydroculture, and can be grown just in an inorganic substrate.

Dieffenbachie besprühen

Dieffenbachien benötigen eine hohe Luftfeuchtigkeit

Watering

The soil should be moist all year round, but never wet. Regular watering is essential, as these plants need a relatively large amount of water. A note of caution: too much water comes with the risk of waterlogging and root rot. If the ball is ever too wet, pick the plant up out of its pot and wrap the root ball in a thick layer of newspaper. This will quickly absorb the water. To ensure high humidity around the plant, the pots should ideally be placed in wide saucers filled with expanded clay and water, and the leaves regularly sprayed with rainwater or distilled water.

Fertilizing

Feed your Dieffenbachia every 14 days with a small amount of plant fertilizer from spring through to fall. If the plant is cooler in winter, its nutrient requirements will decrease so every four weeks will be enough.

Repotting

Repotting a Dieffenbachia every two years is plenty, and older plants can move every three to four years, although the variety’s rate of growth will play a key role here of course. Spring is the best time to repot. Make sure that the new pot is only a little bigger than the old one. Remember that the leaves of all Dieffenbachia contain toxins that can cause irritation of the skin or mucus membranes. So, always wear rubber gloves when repotting.

Our tip: always use heavy pots for Dieffenbachia. These plants grow vertically, so can become a little top-heavy over the years and potentially tip the pot over.

Dieffenbachie umtopfen

Dieffenbachien werden nur bei Bedarf umgetopft

Cutting

Normally, the dieffenbachia does not need pruning. However, you can remove withered or discolored leaves without hesitation. When pruning, be careful not to come into contact with the poisonous sap of the plant and clean the scissors thoroughly after pruning.

Varieties

Dieffenbachias come in all kinds of varieties and hybrids that all have different needs when it comes to keeping and caring for them. The biggest differences are in the rates of growth and leaf patterns of these various cultivated varieties.

Dieffenbachia ‘White Amazon’ (links), ‘Green Magic’ (rechts)

Propagation

Propagating Dieffenbachia is most successful when the soil is kept at a consistent temperature. Terminal cuttings placed in a vase with water root best in temperatures over 72 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also take stem cuttings. Cut pieces of around 1.97 inches in length from the stem and place them horizontally on suitable substrate. High humidity increases the chances of success, so you should wrap the propagation container with plastic wrap or use a transparent hood.

Dieffenbachia can also be propagated well by separating the rootstock during repotting in spring. Even sparsely rooted pieces of rhizome can grow well. But these should have at least one stem or one protruding bud already.

Diseases and Pests

If the leaves are turning pale, wilting, rippling or even falling off, waterlogging is usually the cause. Root rot can even take hold. This is visible even in colder locations. Dark-winged fungus gnats love damp environments, so will settle into your Dieffenbachia pot if the substrate is wet. Brown leaf spots are caused by burns due to sunlight or dry heated air. Change location, as the dry air is also inviting to spider mites.

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