Dieffenbachia Plant Dumb Cane Houseplant Care

HousePlantJoy is supported by our audience. When you purchase through one of our links, we may earn a small affiliate commission.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Your cost is not affected.


Dieffenbachia ‘Camille’


Dieffenbachia Plant Dumb Cane beautifully displays as a houseplant.


Also Known As:


  • Dumb Cane ‘Camille’
  • Leopard Lily ‘Camille’
  • Mother-In-Law’s Tongue

Click on the video above to hear how to pronounce the word



Propagation Stations play a crucial role in ensuring optimal care for Dieffenbachia Plant Dumb Cane houseplants, offering an effective method for promoting healthy growth and successful propagation.
Mini garden tools serve as indispensable companions in maintaining and nurturing Dieffenbachia Plant Dumb Cane houseplants, providing precise and convenient assistance throughout the care process.


Dieffenbachia Plant Dumb Cane Houseplant Care
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • pinterest

Dieffenbachia Plant Dumb Cane Houseplant


At a Glance:


  • Botanical Name: Dieffenbachia spp.
  • Common Names: Dieffenbachia, dumb cane, mother-in-law’s tongue
  • Herbaceous perennial (usually grown as a houseplant)
  • Evergreen
  • Partial shade; Bright, indirect light
  • Easy care, low maintenance
  • Moderate watering
  • Humidity level: moderate to high (best in high)
  • Expected size: up to 3-10 feet at maturity
  • Leaves grow to about 20 inches in length
  • Time to maturity: approximately 3 years
  • Fragrance level: none apparent
  • Soil Type: Peaty, well-drained
  • Soil pH: 6.1 to 6.5
  • Flower color: white
  • Outside hardy zone: zones 10 to 12 (USDA)
  • Native to the Caribbean, South America
  • Poisonous (see note below)
  • Excellent at improving air-quality


In fact, due to its air-purifying qualities, Dieffenbachia makes a great houseplant for homes with children and pets (if kept out of reach, of course!) and also for the elderly who may benefit from the air quality and also its gentle beauty. But, for more plants that promote healthy indoor air, please read our article here.


However, if you would like to consider only plants that are safe for children and pets, read here.




The Dieffenbachia genus includes a large group of beautiful tropical perennial species. However, the ones most commonly grown in cultivation are D. sequine, D. oerstedii, D. maculata, and D. amoena. Several Dieffenbachia species have recently been given different names. (see information below) Therefore, you may note some confusion on the naming of different varieties. Collectively, they are generally known as dieffenbachias or dumb canes.


Varieties of Dieffenbachia


Of the many species of Dieffenbachia, only a few are commonly available as houseplants.


  • D. seguine is the most popular Dieffenbachia species, a native of Brazil with clusters of large ovate leaves with green margins splotched with yellow or cream color. It can grow as tall as 10 feet.


  • facebook
  • twitter
  • pinterest


  • D. maculata(formerly known as D. picta). Good cultivars include ‘Perfection’, with intensely variegated 8-inch leaves;


– ‘Rudolph Roehrs’, with fully yellow leaves with ivory splotches; and ‘Superba’, with thicker leaves and white variegation.

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • pinterest

  • D. amoena is a large, 6-foot plant with 20-inch leaves. One notable cultivar is ‘Tropic Snow’, which has smaller leaves and more variegation.


  • facebook
  • twitter
  • pinterest


A very easy-care plant, Dieffenbachia ‘Camille’ decorates many homes. And, while they prefer a shady spot, they need filtered light. Dumb Cane tolerates bright light for short periods. However, too long a duration damages the foliage. This evergreen perennial prefers high humidity. If your home is dry, consider adding a humidity tray with a layer of stone or gravel-covered with water.


Dieffenbachias​ feature pointed, ovate leaves in a variety of combinations of green, cream, and white colors. Indeed, a large, well-grown dieffenbachia can reach 10 feet, with leaves 20 inches long. However, the plants will rarely reach this size in typical indoor conditions.


Flowering happens occasionally in the houseplant and with no apparent seasonality. However, when the flowers appear, note that they come on erect spikes that are surrounded by cream to green spathes. Though rare in our homes, these flowers occur frequently in those in the native lands.


The common name, Dumb Cane, refers to the plant’s poisoning effect. If ingested, it causes a temporary inability to speak.  All parts are poisonous by ingestion, and sap may cause skin irritation.


How to Grow Dieffenbachia


Dieffenbachia grows best as an indoor plant in bright, indirect sunlight. Plant it in fertile, well-drained potting soil with a high peat content. It will do best in high humidity. One way to provide this is to place the pot on a tray of pebbles that is kept wet.




Dieffenbachia plants appreciate bright light during the winter months. During the growing season, the plant prefers dappled shade or indirect light. Too much or direct light will be detrimental to the plant.




Use a fast-draining, well-aerated potting mix. Make sure their drainage is good to avoid damaging the roots. Dumb Cane will not tolerate soggy roots. Therefore, they should never be left with very wet soil.




During the growing season, Dieffenbachias like regular moisture. Do not allow them to dry out completely. A large dieffenbachia might need watering twice a week. In the winter, cut back on the water. However, they still should not dry out completely.


Temperature and Humidity


This plant likes above-average warmth. If the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it is likely to lose lower leaves and appears more palm tree-like. This also occurs if the plant is exposed to cold drafts, Place your plant in a warm, draft-free location.




For best results, feed regularly (every 4 to 6 weeks) with a balanced, diluted fertilizer, such as a 20-20-20. However, it’s best to reduce the amount of fertilizing during the winter months of slower or stalled growth.


Potting and Repotting


Repot annually for best results. Simply lift the plant as a whole, and remove any old soil and dead material from the roots. Then place the plant in a larger container. Watch out for signs of stress on the plant. Note any roots poking out from the surface, crowding, or falling leaves. These signal that the plant needs repotting. However, it is also possible that falling leaves may indicate another form of stress if the plant seems to fit the container. After repotting a dieffenbachia, give it some time to adjust to its new setting. Make sure to wear thick gloves. Remember, this plant contains a milky, mildly toxic sap.




There are several possibilities for propagating a dieffenbachia:


  • During repotting in the spring, offsets can be divided (leaving some roots intact) and planted in their pots. If you take this route, make sure not to damage the root systems of the parent plant in the process. Also, use clean tools to avoid spreading disease.
  • Older dieffenbachias plants may appear leggy. Propagate new plants from these by cutting off the top and repot in fresh,  potting soil with a rooting hormone. In time, new leaves will sprout from the stump.
  • Layering offers yet another option. Simply place pieces of the cane horizontally in damp potting soil.


Toxicity of Dieffenbachia


Dieffenbachia contains oxalic acid and calcium oxalate crystals. These cause burning and swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat. In turn, this causes difficulty speaking and swallowing (hence the “dumb cane” common name), and nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The poisoning, though certainly unpleasant, is rarely fatal to humans. However, you should contact your local poison control agency if any portions of the plant are chewed or ingested.


In addition, note that Dieffenbachia may produce fatal results in pets and livestock. Again, contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet has ingested or come into contact with this plant. Remember to wear gloves when exposure to the sap is possible. While this plant is relatively easy to grow, it might be considered best for the experienced gardener. Some skill helps to keep it alive and flourishing.


NOTE: If you prefer a low-maintenance pet-friendly houseplant, find them here.


Common Pests/Diseases


Watch out for common houseplant pests. Some, such as scale and spider mites,  cause exterior damage. If just a few pests are seen, they can be simply wiped away manually. However, a more widespread or heavy infestation could require the use of a good, strong pesticide.


  • facebook
  • twitter
  • pinterest

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • pinterest

Wrapping Up


In conclusion, the Dieffenbachia, or Dumb Cane, is a beautiful houseplant with some care considerations. It adds tropical elegance and purifies the air, but keep in mind it’s toxic to children and pets. Provide bright, indirect light, water moderately, and watch out for overwatering and pests like mealybugs and spider mites. For more in-depth guidance, visit HousePlantJoy’s blog. Enjoy the beauty and benefits of this plant with proper care. Happy gardening!


How often should I water my Dieffenbachia plant?
Dieffenbachia plants prefer moderately moist soil. Water your Dumb Cane when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot. It’s important to strike a balance and ensure the soil is consistently moist but not waterlogged.
Does Dieffenbachia require a specific light exposure?
Dieffenbachia plants thrive in medium to bright indirect light. They prefer to be placed near a window with filtered sunlight or in a well-lit room. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, as it can scorch their leaves. Rotating the plant occasionally ensures even growth as the plant tends to grow toward the light.
How can I maintain the right humidity levels for my Dieffenbachia plant?
Dieffenbachia plants appreciate higher humidity levels. You can enhance humidity by misting the leaves regularly or placing the plant on a tray filled with water and pebbles. Grouping it with other plants can also create a microclimate with increased humidity. Alternatively, using a room humidifier can help maintain adequate moisture levels.
How do I fertilize my Dieffenbachia plant?
Feed your Dumb Cane plant with a balanced houseplant fertilizer during the growing season, from spring to early fall. Dilute the fertilizer to half the recommended strength and apply it every two to four weeks. During winter, reduce fertilization to once a month or suspend it altogether, as the plant’s growth slows down.
Is Dieffenbachia toxic to pets and children?
Yes, Dieffenbachia plants are toxic if ingested. They contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and swelling of the mouth, tongue, and throat. It’s essential to keep the plant out of reach of pets and children and seek immediate medical attention if ingestion occurs. Consider selecting non-toxic alternatives if you have pets or small children in the household.
How do I care for a sago palm bonsai and a Dieffenbachia plant (Dumb Cane)?
To care for a sago palm bonsai and a Dieffenbachia plant, provide bright but indirect light, water them appropriately (letting the soil dry slightly between waterings for the sago palm and keeping the soil evenly moist for the Dieffenbachia), and maintain suitable temperatures (around 65-80°F for the sago palm and 60-75°F for the Dieffenbachia). Additionally, ensure proper drainage for both plants and consider fertilizing them occasionally according to their specific needs.

Great gift idea!

Bonsai Trees

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links. Any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). I use these commissions to help maintain this site to provide helpful information to you.


sun-loving houseplants

Join the HousePlantJoy Newsletter

You will receive our newsletter and updates.

We promise to only deliver quality information to you with NO spam.

We never sell or distribute your information!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest