University of Maryland Extension: Plant of the Week
Text and photo by Christine McComas
You can’t beat houseplants to enliven a room. Dieffenbachia makes a big statement with its large, deep green leaves and attractive white markings.
The fleshy 10-inch leaves are borne on long stalks rising from a thick, cane-like stem. They grow well in bright, indirect light, needing no direct sun except in the winter. Normal room temperatures above 60 degrees keep them happy, as does placing their pot on a tray of damp pebbles to increase humidity.
Actively growing dumb canes will appreciate a standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks. With time, they can grow to ceiling-scraping heights, but can easily be propagated down to a tip cutting of six inches in spring or early summer.
Cutting just below a node, dip the cut end in rooting hormone and plant it in a soil based potting mixture, keeping it warm and well-watered.
Dieffenbachia is also known as Dumb Cane, because the poisonous sap can cause an temporary (and painful) loss of speech if it gets in the mouth. Be sure to wash your hands after handling this plant.