8 Most Common Dieffenbachia Mistakes

These Dieffenbachia mistakes not only put a dent in your plant’s appearance but could be fatal in the long run!

If you are looking for a not-so-common plant in your collection that would simply uplift the ambiance of your place, picking a Dumb Cane variety would make for a wise choice! And here are some Dieffenbachia mistakes you must avoid!

Most Common Dieffenbachia Mistakes

1. You are Either Under or Overwatering It

Most Common Dieffenbachia Mistakes

Dieffenbachia grows in tropical habitats in the wild, where regular rain keeps the soil consistently moist but, of course, not soggy. Hence, your goal must be to mimic this condition. However, a common mistake that might happen when you try to achieve moist soil—you overwater it, leading to root rot. If the leaves look wilted even when the soil is moist, this means that root rot has set in. The first step to remedy the situation would be to stop watering and repot your plant immediately in fresh soil while snipping away to damaged roots.

On the other hand, if it with drooping or wilting yellow leaves even when the soil is dry, it could mean inadequate watering. Always keep an eye on the top layer of the soil and water it once you see signs of it drying out. Do not wait for it to get cracky or leave the sides of the container, as that might lead to dramatic wilting of leaves that’s almost impossible to reverse.

Check the soil by sticking your finger into it up to the first knuckle. If the soil is wet, hold off on watering for a few days, and water immediately if it is dry. Cut off any yellow leaves that may have been caused by underwatering or overwatering.

2. Not Providing the Right Sunlight Balance

Most Common Dieffenbachia Mistakes

If you have been noticing abnormally slow growth coupled with pale leaves in your plant, it’s time to check your plant’s sunlight exposure. While Dieffenbachias might survive in low light, but an extended exposure to a shady space will only stunt its growth in the long term.

The best bet is to place them in bright but indirect sunlight. During winter, they can even tolerate full sun. Also, it’s important to rotate it every few days to ensure an even distribution of sunlight, or the plant will appear leggy with stretched-out stems and leaves.

3. Temperatures are Extreme or Fluctuated

Temperatures are Extreme or Fluctuated

Dieffenbachia thrives in the temperature range between 60-75°F (15-24°C). Since it naturally grows in tropical conditions with somewhat higher temperatures, any temperature below this range could make your plant lose the lower leaves and assume an unattractive palm-like appearance. It is also essential not to subject your plant to any temperature fluctuations in the form of warm or cold drafts.

This means locating it far away from any heating or AC vents. Being in the path of cold drafts could be why your plant is dropping even if you maintain an appropriate temperature range around your plant. During winter, you should bring your potted Dieffenbachia to a location where the temperature stays above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. During this time, you can also cut back on watering a bit, down to once a week.

4. Humidity is Low

Humidity is Low

To reiterate, Dieffenbachia prefers both higher temperatures and higher humidity levels. In fact, if you have been subjecting your plant to drier air, you will start seeing brown leaf edges. The immediate solution to this would be to mist the leaves regularly or to add a humidity tray below the potted plant. As water evaporates from the pebble-filled tray, it creates a microclimate of high humidity for your Dieffenbachia.

Keep the water level below the bottom edges of the plant to ensure that your plant’s roots are not sitting in water. Another way to deal with the low humidity issue is to plant several Dieffenbachias together and set their pots on a humidity tray.

5. Not Cleaning the Foliage

Not only is inspecting your plant for pests regularly of utmost importance, but cleaning your plant is as well. This should give you enough incentive not only to inspect your plant but also to clean it regularly of dust or stubborn films on leaves. To clean the foliage of dust, use a soft cloth, a microfiber duster, or even a cotton pad. To remove the film from the leaves, dip your cloth or cotton pad in a water bowl with one drop of Castille soap and wipe the leaves twice in the same direction.

Take utmost care not to use the same cloth for multiple plants to prevent spreading diseases, pests, or spores. It would be best if you avoided commercial leaf shine products.

If you notice sticky leaves on your Dieffenbachia, it could signify pests. The most common for this plant are spider mites, aphids and mealybugs. As these suck juices from your plant, they leave a sticky residue. In case of a larger infestation, ensure appropriate humidity levels (the air should not be dry) and treat with a horticultural oil.

6. Not Feeding it Enough

Not Feeding it Enough

For the best, unhindered growth of your plant, you would obviously need to feed it, which helps in faster growth and bushier foliage. But if you have been seeing less than adequate growth even after fertilizing, it could be due to under-fertilizing, which can cause smaller, stunted leaves, or over-fertilizing, which can burn your plant’s roots.

Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer monthly during the growing season after diluting it well according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If your plant is nutrient deficient, like in nitrogen deficiency, it will show yellowing leaves. This is why it is essential to use a balanced fertilizer with an equal, balanced NPK ratio.

Reduce feeding during the winter months, as your plant will grow more slowly during this time.

7. Neglecting Pruning

If yellowing or dead leaves are too prominent on your plant, it is due for a pruning sesh! Regular pruning is extremely important to maintain the plant’s beautiful shape. Besides, it also aids in bushier growth. Remove all yellow, dead, and damaged leaves promptly and clip or gently tug away any of the lower leaves (called canes) that may be turning brown. You must also remove any dead leaves that may have fallen onto the soil before they rot.

As your dumb cane grows and matures, you may see the stems growing too tall and bare-looking, resembling tree trunks. You can rejuvenate these plants by cutting the stems back to 6 inches of height and enjoy the fresh growth that starts growing along the canes and around the base of the trunk.

You can propagate the stem cuttings by removing the lower leaves, dipping the base in a powdered rooting hormone, and sticking it into a small pot of soil or water.

8. It’s Sitting in an Unfit Pot

It's Sitting in an Unfit Pot

Last but not least, this is one of the most essential facts to consider when growing Dieffenbachia. You must use a pot with proper drainage holes that also provide room for growth and filter out excess water efficiently. Besides that, it is essential to remember that keeping Dieffenbachias in the same pot for too long can lead to poor root health.

Oftentimes, Dieffenbachias need annual replanting, especially if your plant has been showing signs of stress, such as crowding, falling leaves, or roots poking out of the topsoil. When repotting, you must first lift the plant out of the soil as a whole, carefully remove the old soil and any dead material from the roots, and finally repot it in a larger container with fresh soil mix. Ensure that you are giving your plant enough time to acclimatize. Wear gloves to avoid contact with the sap.

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