Dieffenbachia Propagation: 2 Methods for Success - Epic Gardening (2022)

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Dieffenbachia is an attractive houseplant that is admired for its rich, tropical leaves. Commonly known as Leopard Lily or Dumb cane, the plant is prized is for its easy-to-grow, lush foliage that is perfect for home gardens.

The plant grows up to a height of 72-84″ inches (182-213cm) with oblong-shaped leaves. It thrives well in moist, well-drained soil and indirect but consistent sunlight. If you’re growing dieffenbachia plants indoors, there are chances that they may begin to crowd their pots.

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Apart from looking unkempt and messy, overcrowding compromises on the space your plants need for root growth. When this happens, it’s important to re-pot and propagate your dieffenbachia plants. Here is our detailed guide on dieffenbachia propagation.

How to Propagate a Dieffenbachia Plant

Dieffenbachia Propagation: 2 Methods for Success - Epic Gardening (1)

Dieffenbachia propagation can be done in two ways – stem cuttings and air-layering.

Stem-cuttings is a fairly straight-forward and one of the most common processes to re-produce a plant.

Air layering, on the other hand, is a type of layering where the dieffenbachia plant is wrapped or potted in a moist, growing medium to accelerate root growth.

Dieffenbachia Propagation From Stem-cuttings

Stem cuttings can be propagated in two ways – rooting in potting medium and rooting in water. You can choose either depending on your ease and convenience.

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Rooting in Potting Medium

  • Before snipping the stems, sterilize and clean your pruning shears with a solution of 1 part pine oil cleaner and 3 parts water. This will ensure that the fresh cuttings remain unharmed by bacteria or infection.
  • While the stem tips root the fastest, you can take cuttings from the base, middle, or lower section of the dieffenbachia plant. Wear rubber gloves and cut at least 3-4″ inches of the cane. Cut at least 3 sections to increase your success rate.
  • Remove any leaves and place the cutting in direct sunlight or leave it to dry overnight. Next, dip them in a high-quality rooting medium.
  • Now, prepare a flower pot with potting soil made from half sand and half peat moss. Moisten the mix thoroughly.
  • Place the dieffenbachia cuttings horizontally into the potting mix, with the bottom portion inserted into the soil and the leaf bud above the soil. Keep the potting mix in a warm location at around 75°F (24°C) and moist for optimal root growth.

You can also cover the plant cutting with a plastic sheet to keep the soil moist and humidity levels constant. Keep watering the plant whenever the soil looks dry.

The stem cuttings will take 4-8 weeks to root. At this point, you can transplant the cane sections to a sunny spot in your garden or a 3-inch pot, filled with a good potting mix.

Rooting Dieffenbachia Plants in Water

This is a relatively quicker and easier process:

  • Simply cut 4-6″ inches long stem sections and remove the leaves.
  • Pour a glass of water and place the dieffenbachia cuttings into it. You can change the water every few days or so.
  • Keep the jar in a bright and warm spot but out of direct sunlight as that can shrivel the plant. Once the new roots form in a few weeks, transplant each cutting into a 4″ inch pot filled with peat-based, moist, and well-drained potting mix.
  • Make sure to transplant right when a few roots have formed. If you let the roots grow any longer, it’ll be harder to transplant the stems.

Dumb Cane Propagation by Air Layering

Dieffenbachia Propagation: 2 Methods for Success - Epic Gardening (2)

Air layering is typically used to propagate larger dieffenbachia plants than ones produced by cuttings. Air layering is also great if the plant’s leaves are leggy or losing their color. This method of propagation uses flourishing stems to produce healthy roots and branches.

However, layering can be a tad bit complex. Therefore, it’s important to follow the steps with precision. Here’s what you have to do:

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  • Carefully inspect the plant and identify stems with healthy leaf bud. Choose one and carve a long, upward slit – about 2-inches long – on the stem.
  • Insert a small toothpick or a twig in the cut portion to ensure that the slit section doesn’t touch the main stem. Now, dust the cut portion with some rooting medium.
  • Next, moisten a handful of sphagnum in water and hand-squeeze it to remove excess moisture. Make sure it’s still moist but not dripping.
  • Place the moss over the cut section of the dieffenbachia stem and tie it around with a piece of string or an electrician’s tape.
  • Cover the moss using a sheet of polythylene film, cover the moss while making sure that there are no air pockets between the film and the moss. Secure the film further with some electrical tape.
  • In a few days, the roots will start to propagate at the cut portion. Soon enough, you will see roots shooting out of the moss.
  • Once you notice growth, carefully remove the polyethylene film. Using a sharp knife, remove the newly rooted branch from the parent stem.
  • Plant the new branch in a pot filled with high-quality potting mix. At this point, take another piece of polythelene film and cover the newly rooted branch to prevent any loss of moisture.
  • Once the roots have properly established, remove the film and place the dieffenbachia plant in a well-lit spot with indirect sunlight.

Safety Tips for Propagating Dieffenbachia Plants

There’s a reason why dieffenbachia plants are known as dumbcane. This is because the leaves contain a poisonous, milky white sap of calcium oxalate, which can severely irritate the skin and throat.

While propagation is quick and easy, it’s important to practice some safety tips when handling this plant. Here’s what you need to take care of:

  1. Always wear protective clothing, a face mask, and a pair of gloves to remain unharmed from its poisonous sap.
  2. Never touch your eyes after handling the plant as dieffenbachia can cause severe itching, burning, and irritation.
  3. Keep the plants out of reach of curious pets and children, preferably at a higher place if you have placed it indoors.

You might have to relocate the plants to your garden outside if they’re especially under the reach of pets and children. Chewing the leaves can cause a deep burning sensation ensued by temporary paralysis. It can swell your pets’ airways, making it extremely difficult to breathe. Therefore, make sure to keep the plants in a pet-free and child-free zone.

As long as you keep these safety tips in mind, you can enjoy propagating dumb cane plants without any stress!

Other Related Questions

Q. How do you fix leggy dieffenbachia?

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As mentioned above, a leggy plant can be fixed through air-layering. The process uses a healthy stem to propagate stronger branches, while thinning the mother plant out overall.

Q. How many varieties of Dieffenbachia plants are there?

There are many, each with their own personality and lush leaves. There is Tropic Snow, the Hilo – known for its dark, pointed leaves with lighter veins, and the Rudolf Roehrs with creamy leaves and bright, white spots.

Q. Can dieffenbachia tolerate colder drafts?

Dumbcanes thrive the best in warmer temperatures, around 75°F (24°C). Keeping them in darker, colder regions can slow down the growth and cause excessive leaf drop.

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How do you propagate a dieffenbachia plant? ›

The easiest way to propagate your dieffenbachia is by rooting cuttings, either tip cuttings or stem cuttings. Plant these small pieces of greenery in the right medium and they will produce roots and, eventually, an entirely new plant.

How do you propagate dieffenbachia from cuttings? ›

Simply cut 4-6″ inches long stem sections and remove the leaves. Pour a glass of water and place the dieffenbachia cuttings into it. You can change the water every few days or so. Keep the jar in a bright and warm spot but out of direct sunlight as that can shrivel the plant.

Can you propagate dieffenbachia in water? ›

You can start collecting new dieffenbachia plants by only propagating clippings and cuttings from the parent plant. There are two ways to propagate dumb cane, either by rooting in soil or water. We went with propagating in water as it's more convenient and quicker.

What kind of soil does dieffenbachia like? ›

Dieffenbachia Care. Dieffenbachia is best grown as an indoor plant in bright, indirect sunlight. Plant it in fertile, well-drained potting soil with a high peat content. As a tropical plant, it will do best in high humidity.

Where do you cut dieffenbachia? ›

It is quite easy to cut back dieffenbachia. In order to reduce the plant's size, cut the upper stem back to a leaf node. If you want to promote bushier growth, remove top growth by pinching or, in older plants, with pruners or shears.

How do you take care of a dieffenbachia plant? ›

Dieffenbachia prefer soil that is consistently and lightly moist, but not soggy. Generally, aim to water when the top 1”- 2” of the soil is dry, but if the plant is in a lower light condition, it can comfortably dry out a little further.

How do you divide a dieffenbachia plant? ›

Plant Division

Unpot the plant from its container. Turn the pot upside down for smaller containers and thump the container edge against the work surface edge to loosen the root ball so it slides out of the pot. Lay large containers on their sides, thumping and rotating the pot to loosen the root mass.

What is dieffenbachia good for? ›

Dieffenbachia. Ideal for creating a tropical look, dieffenbachia (sometimes called dumb cane because its poisonous leaves contain a substance that can temporarily numb the vocal cords if consumed) offers lush foliage that takes toxins out of the air, so your family can breathe easier.

How big do dieffenbachia plants get? ›

Most dieffenbachias will grow from 3 to 6 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide. Individual leaves can be 18 inches long by 12 inches wide.

How much sunlight does a dieffenbachia need? ›

Dieffenbachia prefers diffused sunlight or partial shade, but will tolerate full shade, which is why it is well-suited as a houseplant. It thrives in temperatures between 60 and 75°F. Your dieffenbachia should be watered regularly, with soil being allowed to dry between waterings.

How often should I water my dieffenbachia? ›

The Dieffenbachia is right in between. It has thin roots, so it can't tolerate wet soil for too long, but it also doesn't store a lot of moisture by itself. This is why you should water your Dieffenbachia regularly, but not too often. Once per week or once every two weeks is usually the right time to water your plant.

Can you grow a dieffenbachia from a leaf? ›

Dieffenbachias can't be propagated from leaf cuttings, but stem cuttings work very well.

Does dieffenbachia need fertilizer? ›

Dieffenbachias are considered heavy feeders. As a general guide, use a complete fertilizer such as 20-20-20 and feed every 4-6 weeks only during the active growing season. Maintain moderately moist soil. Watering is an important part of growing dieffenbachia.

Does dieffenbachia need light? ›

Dieffenbachia is a tropical plant that grows well indoors in lots of indirect light. It can tolerate low light, but its growth will slow dramatically. Given more light, it will quickly begin to grow again.

How do you make a dieffenbachia flower? ›

These plants don't typically flower until they're at least a few years old. Sunlight is also crucial for flowering in most aroids. Your Dieffenbachia can survive dim lighting, but it probably won't produce an inflorescence unless it's getting a healthy dose of bright, indirect light.

How do you save a dying dieffenbachia? ›

Lack of Nutrients

Dieffenbachia should be given fertilizer to help them grow. Dieffenbachia should receive a 20-20-20 fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks. If you haven't been feeding your dieffenbachia plant, this might be why it is dying. Try giving it some nutrients to see if it perks up!

How do you cut dead leaves off dieffenbachia? ›

It's possible to cut a dieffenbachia cane at any point as long as you leave at least 6 inches of stump. Make the cut on a 45-degree angle 1/4 inch above a leaf node (a small swelling near a ring on the stem). The rule of thumb is to not cut more than one-third of the foliage in any one pruning.

Why is my dieffenbachia falling over? ›

Poor lighting is the main cause for many dumb cane plants to fall over. As it strives to reach for the light, it bends and falls over. However, having the dieffenbachia in direct sunlight is harmful too. Over and under watering, bugs, diseases, shock, and harsh temperature may also cause falling over.

Can you touch dieffenbachia? ›

Skin exposure can lead to rash, swelling, redness, and dermatitis (skin inflammation). Touching the sap and then touching your eye can lead to eye irritation, corneal abrasions, and, rarely, permanent eye damage. For ingestions, rinse with water and spit to remove any remaining plant materials from the mouth.

How do you fertilize dieffenbachia? ›

Quick Dieffenbachia Care Guide

Water: Keep the potting medium moist, can tolerate some soil drying. Fertilizer: Apply a liquid houseplant fertilizer at 1/2 strength every 6 weeks to 2 months.

What is a good rooting medium? ›

What is the best medium for rooting cuttings? Potting soil, peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, sphagnum moss, LECA, and coco coir are among the very best mediums for root cuttings.

Is dieffenbachia good for bedroom? ›

Dumb Canes (Dieffenbachia)

These easy-to-grow houseplants have green leaves with creamy or yellowish blotches. Because dumb canes grow upright, they are excellent for placing at an empty bedroom wall or in a shady corner. The bright leaves add texture and color to any room without the need for flowers.

Why is my dumb cane crying? ›

Don't worry – a little water dripping from your Dieffenbachia's leaves is normal and doesn't necessarily indicate a problem with your plant. This phenomenon is called guttation, and it occurs even in perfectly healthy Dumb Canes.

Do dieffenbachia have flowers? ›

The Dumb Cane does flower indoors every once in a while but they can never match the impressive and splendor of the foliage so don't worry if yours isn't producing flowers.

How many types of dieffenbachia are there? ›

Dumb canes

Should I mist dieffenbachia? ›

The goal should be to have a 60 percent humidity level throughout the year. You can place your plants atop a tray filled with water and pebbles, or use a humidifier. Misting the plant's leaves is a temporary help, but isn't enough to keep the humidity levels sufficient.

Can dieffenbachia go outside in summer? ›

Can Dieffenbachia Grow Outside? Yes, they love being outside during the summer. They could even be grown in your shade garden if you live in a warm climate. You can move your dieffenbachia outdoors during the summer, and they will flourish.

What makes dieffenbachia leaves turn yellow? ›

Exposure to too much sun can cause a plant leaf to turn yellow and droop. Before you know it, all the leaves will turn yellow. If your plant is placed in the middle of the room away from a light source, it's best to move it to the window sill, where it can get direct sunlight during the day.

Does dieffenbachia like small pots? ›

Pot Size for Dieffenbachia

Similarly, dwarf varieties like 'Compacta' can do well in a small 6-8 inches pot. Since this houseplant becomes tall and has the ability to adjust in a smaller pot, choose a decorative terracotta pot for the indoor purpose.

How do you root dieffenbachia in soil? ›

2 Simplest Ideas to Grow Dieffenbachia from Cuttings [in Soil ...

How do you make plant roots grow faster in water? ›

Let's get started
  1. Identify the location where you will snip your cutting from the main plant. ...
  2. Carefully cut just below the node with a clean sharp knife or scissors. ...
  3. Place the cutting in a clean glass. ...
  4. Change out the water every 3-5 days with fresh room temperature water.
  5. Wait and watch as your roots grow!

Why does my dieffenbachia smell? ›

Erwinia Blight, Erwinia Soft Rot

Symptoms: Lower leaves of Dieffenbachia turn yellow and spots appear. Rotten spots feel mushy, soft, or watery. Infected areas have a rotten, fishy smell. The spots may enlarge rapidly and the centers of the spots may fall out, leaving holes.

Can you propagate dieffenbachia from a leaf? ›

Dieffenbachias can't be propagated from leaf cuttings, but stem cuttings work very well.

How do you propagate dieffenbachia with pictures? ›

2 Simplest Ideas to Grow Dieffenbachia from Cuttings [in Soil ...

Why are dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow? ›

Exposure to too much sun can cause a plant leaf to turn yellow and droop. Before you know it, all the leaves will turn yellow. If your plant is placed in the middle of the room away from a light source, it's best to move it to the window sill, where it can get direct sunlight during the day.

Should you mist dieffenbachia? ›

Dieffenbachia loves humidity. Putting it in a bathroom will give you bath a great look and give it the humidity it likes. If you want to have it in another room, mist the leaves from time to time to keep the humidity high.


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