Dieffenbachia plant belongs to the Araceae family. Dieffenbachia is a half-shrub with big beautiful oblonged leaves. The homeland of dieffenbachia is American tropics, where several dozens of species of this plant grow. Almost all of them are poisonous. In times of slavery plantation owners punished their slaves by making them eating dieffenbachia stalks that caused swelling of tongue and mouth muscosa. Punished slaves were not able to talk for quite a long time afterwards. For dieffenbachia poison it was often called a dumb cane plant. Dumb cane toxicity was well known among people and remains that as well. So if you are asked — is dumb cane plant poisonous? then you can be certain to answer — yes, it is.
Dieffenbachia plant has been cultivated in European gardens for quite a long time already. The flower is named after Dieffenbach, a gardener of Vienna Botanical Gardens, who lived in XIX century. Sometimes the name of the plant is misspelled — diffenbachia.
The majority of dieffenbachia sp growing in rooms have came from spotted dumb cane (also referred to as dieffenbachia picta, or dieffenbachia maculata). These room plants are called so due to their motley leaves.
Most often the leaves of spotted dumb cane are of pure green colour with white or creamy spots. These spots often blend depending on specie, forming light lines on the leaves, or blend into a single spot occupying a better part of a leaf, for instance, Dieffenbachia Camille.
One more specie popular among gardeners is dieffenbachia amoena (or charming dieffenbachia). It has steadier leaves coloration. These species are less whimsical and easier naturalize in indoor conditions. They are ornamental.
Besides, there are many other species of this beautiful plant, among which the following are most well-known — dieffenbachia seguine, dieffenbachia compacta, dieffenbachia exotica and so on. Presence of such variety of species of dieffenbachia house plant can tell us about its big popularity.
Alghough dieffenbachia plant care includes some difficulties, it’s not so capricious as a lot of people used to believe. Dieffenbachia flower cannot withstand sudden fluctuations in temperature. The most suitable temperature for it is +20-25 °C, and +17°C in winter. The best air humidity is 70-80%, so the leaves should be often sprayed and washed once per two weeks.
This plant loves fresh air, but hates drafts. Dieffenbachia plants feel good on a balcony in summer if you find a shady corner for it there, and the rooms where dieffenbachia plants live should be regularly ventilated.
Dieffenbachia maculata loves light but cannot withstand direct sunbeams, so it should be kept under bright light in winter, and in penumbra in summer. Some dieffenbachia species feel quite well in the shade, and it allows you to keep them in poorly enlightened rooms.
The soil in the pot of dumb cane should always be wet but not too watery. Waterlogging is especially dangerous when the surrounding temperature is quite low. It can cause roots and stalks rotting. Warm spaced water is suitable for dieffenbachia watering. During the period of growth, from spring till autumn, diffenbachia care should include feeding with fertilizers, but you should reduce the amount of fertilizers and water in winter. However, you should prevent drying of the soil in the pot.
Some diffenbachia species can reach 2 m high when growing indoors, and in case of lack of watering lower leaves shank off making the plant look like a palm tree. When dieffenbachia plant gets old, its lower leaves shank off too, which is natural and nothing to worry about. If such appearance of a plant doesn’t satisfy you, you can cut the stalk 10 cm higher the ground, dieffenbachia plants will produce new sprouts, and the top cut can be easily implanted.
The transplantation of a dumb cane (which is necessary because of growth stopping or dieffenbachia disease), is performed by transplanting it to a new pot with a soil mixture containing turf, peat soil and sand in a proportion 2:4:1. At that the damaged segments are removed or processed with wood charcoal. Dieffenbachia plant care process includes annual transplantation in spring. The size of a pot should be bigger with every transplantation. The bed of a pot should be covered with a drainage of broken bricks etc.
That’s all about plant care as for dieffenbachia, except one more thing: please remember of dieffenbachia toxicity! Don’t forget to wash your hands after caring of a plant.
Two ways of duplication can be used.
Firstly, duplication can be held by cutting top sprout with leaves and planting it as one more plant.
Secondly, it’s pieces of a stalk about 7 cm long which are used as a stalk rot. Some dieffenbachias produce side sprouts which also can be used for planting. The soil for the rots should be consisting of peat and sand in proportion 1:1. Temperature not lower than +25°C and high humidity are required for good rooting, so the seedlings are covered with a bank or a piece of polyethylene, are well watered and sprayed. When the seedlings get rooted and produce leaves, you can transplant them to a permanent place.
DIEFFENBACHIA CARE IN CASE OF DISEASES AND BLAST
When dieffenbachia plant receives wrong lighting or is not watered properly, it becomes looking worser and gets sick. Thus you can see your dieffenbachia yellow leaves and they can wither, if the temperature is too low, the soil is too dry and if there are cold drafts in the place.
When lighting is too bright or when direct sunbeams reach your dieffenbachia the leaves can change colour, and brown spots can appear on them. In case of it the plant must be brought to a less enlightened and warmer place with no drafts. The plant should be watered in time, and the leaves should be sprayed and washed with warm water.
Despite of dieffenbachia poison is well-known, it can be damaged by blast — parlatoria and red spiders. Rarely it can be damaged by aphides as well.
Red spider is a very small spider. It appears in the bottom side of a leaf and covers it with a thin spider web. It can be eradicated by spraying and washing the leaves, especially their bottom sides with water, mild tobacco extract with soft soap, dusting with young sulfur (outdoors), or with prepared system insecticides. If you decide to wash the leaves with a mixture of tobacco extract and soft soap, you should wash them in 2-3 hours again with clear warm water.
Parlatoria has a sort of wax-like shield that covers the body of a fullmouthed insect. When young, parlatorias are almost unnoticeable, but they reproduce very quickly, covering the stalks and leaves with dark spots. Fullmouthed parlatorias are motionless and are covered with shields, from under which maggots creep through the entire plant.
Exactly this time is the best for eradication. The best way is spraying the plant with a mixture of soap and tobacco, possibly adding a bit kerosene or methylated spirit. The fullmouthed blast is removed by a wet sponge, yet you should treat the plant with an insecticide to remove maggots.
Aphis is a little insect of green, grey or black colour. Aphis is living on a bottom side of a leaf and causes its withering. Their reproductional cycle is very quick. The blast can be eradicated with preparations sold in shops or with a mixture of nicotine sulfate in the soapy water in the following proportion — 1 gramme of nicotine sulfate to 1 litre of soapy water.
In a day after this procedure dumb cane should be well-washed. And do not forget to cover the soil with polyethylene while washing. Then insecticide treatment is repeated if necessary. It’s a pity that dieffenbachia poisoning has no effect on these insects, but even nature has not forseen everything.