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Dieffenbachia growing a new leaf

How to care for a Dieffenbachia

If you've ever taken care of plants that have wild patterns on its leaves or stems, you'll know that these plants often require a bit more attention than plants that have plain looking leaves. However, this is not always the case. The Dieffenbachia is a plant that requires very little attention and actually thrives when you forget to water it for a few days. It's quite a forgiving plant, which makes it great for the beginning plant owners. It will also tell you very quickly when it's not happy, so you can adjust your plant care in time, before serious harm can be done.

As this is quite an easy plant to take care of, we'll only need to go over a few steps to find out how to take care of your plant:

  1. Watering your Dieffenbachia
  2. The perfect light for your Dieffenbachia
  3. The ideal soil for your Dieffenbachia
  4. Fertilizing your Dieffenbachia
  5. Toxicity

As you can see, there aren't a lot of steps to give your plant the care it needs to thrive. So let's dive right in and let's help your plant be happy.

Watering your Dieffenbachia

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Watering a Dieffenbachia

Overwatering is the biggest cause of killing your plants. Some plants love a lot of water and others need to be in dry soil to thrive. The Dieffenbachia is right in between. It has thin roots, so it can't tolerate wet soil for too long, but it also doesn't store a lot of moisture by itself. This is why you should water your Dieffenbachia regularly, but not too often. Once per week or once every two weeks is usually the right time to water your plant.

Before you water your Dieffenbachia, make sure the top 2-5 cm (1-2 inches) is dry. This way you make sure you're not watering your plant when it doesn't need it yet. Overwatering is often quite harmful for plants, so remember to do this when you're first taking care of the Bieffendachia. Once you know what your plant needs to be happy, you don't necessarily need to do this any more.

When you do water your plant, it's best to have a pot with drainage holes, like in the photo above, to let the excess water drip out of the pot. The soil wasn't able to absorb this excess water and you don't want your plant to sit in it as this could cause root rot.

If you're doing this correctly, you should see your plant grow quickly. However, when something is not going as it should, your plant will tell you. When the leaves of your Dieffenbachia turn yellow and the stems are soft or mushy, you've given it too much water. When the leaves are starting to hang a little bit, then it's not getting enough water. When you see this happen, adjust your watering schedule and the plant will get back to normal quite soon. You should trim the yellow leaves though, as these won't turn back to what they were.

The perfect light for your Dieffenbachia

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The Dieffenbachia has very thin leaves, which is a great indication that it doesn't do very well in very bright places. So the perfect light exposure for your Dieffenbachia is indirect light or even lowlight situations. It won't do well if it doesn't get any sunlight though, so make sure it still gets enough.

You know your plant is getting the perfect amount of sunlight when the leaves stay bright with wild patterns. As with the watering issues, your plant will also let you know if it's not getting the light it needs to thrive. If the leaves turn green, it's not getting enough sunlight and if they're turning yellow, it's getting too much sunlight. If you know you've watered your Dieffenbachia perfectly, but its leaves are still turning yellow, you'll know it's getting too much light.

The ideal soil for your Dieffenbachia

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The soil of a Dieffenbachia

As we've gone over in the watering section, the Dieffenbachia likes to be in moist soil. The perfect soil is a soil that retains water well and should be able to be moist for at least a week to provide the plant with the perfect amount of moisture. Make sure you don't use soil that retains so much water that the soil stays wet, not moist, for more than a day, because this could cause root rot. Also make sure the soil doesn't drain the water away too well, because then you'll have to water your Dieffenbachia more than once per day. Unless, this is what you prefer of course. A perfect soil is a palm mix.

Fertilizing your Dieffenbachia

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Fertilizer is great for plants that grow very quickly and use a lot of energy to do so, like the Dieffenbachia. During the growing season, the spring and summer, you should fertilize your Dieffenbachia once per month. By doing this, you provide the plant with the nutrients it needs to grow so quickly. A general liquid fertilizer is the easiest option, because you can mix this with the water you're already giving it. However, you could also use fertilizer sticks or balls if you already have these.


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The Dieffenbachia is mildly toxic to pets and small children when the leaves and stems are being chewed. Chewing this plant can cause irritation and a burning sensation. Luckily this is only temporary and the symptoms are only mild. It's still a good idea to keep this plant away from your pets and young children if you can. It's better to avoid this situation altogether.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: beginner-friendly

Posted on: Oct 3, 2020

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Frequently asked questions

Can you use Leca with a Dieffenbachia?
Yes, you can use Leca with any plant, including the Dieffenbachia.
Why are the Dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow?
The Dieffenbachia leaves are turning yellow because of one of these two reasons: it's getting too much water or it's getting too much sunlight.

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