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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 their 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. Dieffenbachia is a plant that requires very little attention and thrives when you forget to water it for a few days. It's quite a forgiving plant, which makes it great for 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.

Its unusual patterned leaves will surely make it stand out from the crowd in your house! Whether the leaves are larger or smaller, the leaves have a lot of contrast that will add a bit of interest to any room you put them in.

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. How often should I water my Dieffenbachia?
  2. What kind of light does a dieffenbachia need?
    1. Can I put my dieffenbachia near a window?
  3. The ideal soil for your Dieffenbachia
    1. How can I mix my own soil for a Dieffenbachia?
  4. When should you fertilize a Dieffenbachia?
  5. How often should I repot my dieffenbachia?
  6. What type of pot should I use for my dieffenbachia plant?
  7. Is a Dieffenbachia toxic to pets?
  8. Why do my Dieffenbachia's leaves turn yellow?

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.

How often should I water my 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. 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 in its stems and leaves. This is why you should water your Dieffenbachia regularly, but not too often. On average, once per week or once every two weeks is the right frequency 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 to plants, so remember to do this when you're first taking care of the Dieffenbachia. Once you know what your plant needs to be happy, you don't necessarily need to do this anymore.

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 can't hold onto all the water you give it, so this excess water should be able to escape the pot. You don't want your plant to sit in it as this could cause root rot.

What kind of light does a dieffenbachia need?

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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.

Can I put my dieffenbachia near a window?

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So we've learned that your Dieffenbachia prefers indirect or even low light. But does that mean you can't place your Dieffenbachia near a window? Luckily, you can still put it near a window, but you'll have to make sure your plant doesn't get any direct sunlight during the afternoon through this window. Direct sunlight in the morning or evening is no problem. So a north- or east-facing window is just fine for a Dieffenbachia, as this light is much less strong.

The ideal soil for your Dieffenbachia

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The soil of a Dieffenbachia

As we've gone over in the watering section, Dieffenbachia likes to be in moist soil. The perfect soil for a Dieffenbachia plant is soil that retains water well and should be able to be moist for at least a few days 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 quickly because this plant loves moist soil and would dry out too quickly if the soil is dry within a day or 2. Unless this is what you prefer of course.

How can I mix my own soil for a Dieffenbachia?

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If you want to make your own soil mix for your Dieffenbachia, it's very easy. You'll just need some potting mix, peat moss, and perlite. Potting mix is the perfect soil to retain water and keep your Dieffenbachia's soil moist. Peat moss will help the potting mix to be light and airy, as well as hold onto water and nutrients. Perlite is used to improve drainage, which is important for a Dieffenbachia because it doesn't like wet feet. This soil mixture will make sure your Dieffenbachia stays healthy long-term.

When should you fertilize a Dieffenbachia?

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Fertilizer is great for plants that grow very quickly and use a lot of energy to do so, like 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.

How often should I repot my dieffenbachia?

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Yoru Dieffenbachia is a fast-growing plant, but it's quite happy in its pot for a few years. Some plants should be repotted once per year, but that's not the case for your plant. You can repot your Dieffenbachia every 2-3 years, but you'll know if you need to repot your plant if it isn't growing as quickly as it used to. When you do repot your Dieffenbachia, make sure the pot is only one size larger than the original pot. Dieffenbachias don't like to be in big pots because they can get root rot in a pot that's too large.

What type of pot should I use for my dieffenbachia plant?

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When you're picking out a new pot for your Dieffenbachia, you can use any type of pot you want as long as it has drainage holes. A glazed or terracotta pot is a good option, as these usually have drainage holes. This is important because it helps to prevent the pot from becoming waterlogged and causing the plant to get root rot. Glazed pots also have drainage holes, but they're not as porous as terracotta pots, so they don't allow the soil to dry out as quickly.

Is a Dieffenbachia toxic to pets?

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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.

Why do my Dieffenbachia's leaves turn yellow?

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The Dieffenbachia is a plant that shows you quite quickly when it's not happy. When you see yellow leaves on your plant, it could mean that your plant isn't happy.

However, before we jump to conclusions, let's check one thing first: Are the yellow leaves old or new leaves? If these yellow leaves are old leaves, it could be a sign of aging leaves. This is part of your plant's natural life cycle and these yellow leaves are nothing to worry about. If these yellow leaves are new leaves, you might be dealing with an issue.

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 the plant is 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.

Another reason the leaves might turn yellow is that it's getting too much sun. If your plant is getting too much sun, the edges of the leaves usually also become crispy and dry. If you don't see the crispy edges, your plant is probably getting too much water.


Now that you know how to properly care for a Dieffenbachia, you can enjoy this beautiful and popular houseplant worry-free! Be sure to share this guide with your friends and family so they can keep their plants healthy and happy too. Thanks for reading and Happy Planting!

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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