Dumb Cane Care

How to Grow and Care for Dumb Cane

Dumb cane care

The dieffenbachia or dumb cane by which it’s called is cultivated mostly for indoor use even though it can be grown outdoors there are more than 30 species of dieffenbachia. The leaves of the dumb cane are large and showy, this plant is native to the West Indies, and Mexico. The dumb which is a tropical plant belongs to the Araceae family and is known for its great tolerance of growing in shaded areas.

It’s said that the dumb cane gets its name from” temporary speechlessness that occurs after chewing a piece of the stem which produces a juice that contains oxalates along with other properties that irritate the mucous membranes causing inflammation and swelling of the throat and tongue”  the chemical that the dumb cane contains will sting and burn the mouth for weeks. The sap can also cause irritation of the skin.

I have worked with dieffenbachia on many projects, the dumb cane is very delicate and should be handled with care because can break very easily other than that you have a winner when working with this plant so with that said let’s see how to have success with this garden beauty that has made a name for itself.

Dumb cane planting location

If installing your dumb cane outdoors install in an area that gets filtered or indirect sunlight.

Dumb care soil type

The soil of the dumb cane should be soil that drains well but will hold the right amount of moisture. Good potting soil is ideal for your dumb cane to thrive.

Watering methods for dumb cane

Dumb cane hates wet feet or too much moisture when watering your dieffenbachia or dumb cane, allow the soil to dry before watering again.

Fertilizing dumb cane

A water-soluble or quick-release fertilizer will give your dumb cane what it needs to thrive. Before applying this type of fertilizer read and follow the manufacture’s label for best results because overuse or fertilizing incorrectly will cause the plant to burn.

Garden insect pests of dumb cane

Garden insect pests to keep watch for include.

  • Aphids
  • Mealybugs
  • Spider mites


Aphids are pear-shaped and can either be black, red, yellow, green, or brown. Aphids are among the sucking insect group and will cause flowers to drop. These garden insect pests also produce a sticky substance known as honeydew. This honeydew is their excrement that causes sooty mold to form. Applying soapy water or insecticidal soap will bring aphid infestation under control.


Mealybugs are sucking insects that do damage by extracting the plant’s fluids, mealybugs are covered with a white cottony substance and if observed moves very slowly especially when disturbed. To bring these garden insect pests under control the use of insecticidal soap will help. Before applying this pesticide read and follow the manufacture’s direction for best results.

Spider mites

Spider mites are very tiny, they are hard to spot but the damage of these small insects can be, server. Spider mites do damage the same as aphids and whiteflies with yellowing of the leaves. To test if your spider plant has spider mites place a white sheet of paper under the leaves and tap if spider mites are the culprit you will see tiny mites moving around on the sheet of paper you may also feel them crawling on your hands. The presence of webbing is another sign of spider mites the use of insecticidal soap or a miticide label for spider mites will bring the infestation under control.

Diseases of dumb cane

These are diseases of the dumb cane.

  • Anthracnose Leaf Spot
  • Phytophthora Stem, Root Rot, and Leaf Spot
  • Xanthomonas Leaf Spot
  • Fusarium Stem Rot
  • Erwinia blight
  • Myrothecium Leaf Spot and Petiole Rot

As a rule to go by to avoid your dumb cane from getting any of these diseases always sterilize your tools, use fresh potting soil when repotting or planting your dumb cane, and do not overwater or allow your dumb can to sit in standing water.

Growing dumb cane in the garden

Place your dumb cane in these areas of your home garden for beautification.

1. Install dieffenbachia in containers and place the containers on either side of your door entrance provided that this area gets indirect sunlight.

2. Place container-grown dieffenbachia on your balcony.

3. Place containers on your porch or patio.

4. Locate an area in your garden that gets bright indirect or filtered sunlight and install your dieffenbachia.

5. Grow them alongside a porch that gets filtered sunlight.

Indoor care of dumb cane

As mentioned earlier the dumb can or dieffenbachia is mostly cultivated for indoor use, when growing and caring for dumb cane indoors place near a window that gets indirect bright sunlight. The temperature can be anywhere from 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit, these plants need the right amount of humidity to thrive, to accomplish this set the base or bottom of the pot on a tray filled with water and pebbles.

Growing dumb cane from a container

When growing dumb cane in a container the container should be large enough to accommodate your plant. The container should have drain holes for water drainage, a good potting soil that will hold moisture but will allow good water drainage is ideal or if you prefer to leave the dumb cane in the grower’s pot place the grower’s pot in the decorative container followed by adding storiform inside the container filling the sides almost halfway to the top. Next, add Spanish moss or decorative nugget barks to finish your design, and it’s that simple.

Repotting dumb cane

When the dumb cane has outgrown its pot it is time to switch to a larger one, remove the plant from the container and inspect the root ball. If the roots are tangled and growing in a circular pattern gently loosen the roots from the root ball. Remove as much soil as possible follow by adding fresh potting soil that has good drainage to the container install your dumb cane backfilling with the reminder of the soil. Water your dumb can thoroughly until water comes out of drain holes. Replace your dumb cane back in its location allow the soil to dry out a bit between watering.

Propagating your dumb cane plant

Before taking cuttings for your dumb cane ensure that the tool you are using such as a pruner is sterilized. Half a cup of water to a tablespoon of bleach is ideal, mix together and with a clean cloth wipe the blades of your pruner thoroughly. Remove about 2-3 inches of the cane, each cane should have 1-2 nodes each. Ensure there are no leaves that are attached to each cane that is cut.

The container or pots that are used can be growers pots from 6 inches or larger with drain holes, A good potting soil along with adding peat moss and perlite is ideal. Place this mixture in the container and water until it runs out of the drain holes, this potting mixture should be really moist. Dip the end that was cut in water then, in root tone which is a growth hormone that will stimulate root growth. When inserting the cuttings into the mixture ensure that the buds and marked ends are facing upwards. Keeping the potting mixture warm and moist is crucial, In about 3-8 weeks your cuttings should begin to take root

Note: As discussed earlier because of the negative effect this plant can have if eaten or swallowed keep this plant out of reach of children and animals.

The final word on dumb cane plant

The dumb cane or dieffenbachia by which it’s famously called makes a great house plant though delicate and must be handled with care this garden beauty which produces beautiful leaves will give your interior and garden area continual color which is so cool. The dumb cane will go to work for you to get the job done. Why not give the dumb cane a try and see for your self with that said let’s get started by growing and caring for our very own dumb cane.



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About the author

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Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.