How to Propagate a Dieffenbachia Plant Using Cuttings
You Probably Already Have One!
If you have house plants in your home, there is a very good chance that one or more of them is a dieffenbachia plant, sometimes known as dumb cane. If you have one that you have been caring for and you think you could never have another one that looks as good, think again, because that one nice plant can produce many more using cuttings.
If you start a plant from seed, you can never be certain how it will turn out, but using cuttings allows you to clone the plant and have another one with the exact, same characteristics. And, the good news is that it is EASY!
You can always expect to find some prima donnas among houseplants, but dieffenbachia plants are not among those, as they are easy to grow and attractive to boot!
A Poisonous Plant
The sap of the dieffenbachia plant is poisonous. If you have small children or pets, always be mindful of where your plant is placed. It must be out of reach. When taking cuttings, always avoid contact of the plant juice with skin.
Some Popular Varieties of Dieffenbachia
If you don't already own a dieffenbachia plant from which to take cuttings, you will probably have to purchase one from a garden center (or beg a neighbor for a cutting). If you do buy one, keep in mind that a dieffenbachia plant can grow for many years as an indoor plant, which makes them a good investment.
Generally, the plants have a juicy, thick stem that resembles the trunk of a small tree. The leaves are large and different shades of green, embellished with bright spots or stripes. These are a few of the most popular species that people choose for their homes and/or businesses:
Dieffenbachia Tropic Snow - This is one of the largest and most beautiful of the dieffenbachia plants. It is native to Brazil and has stalks that resemble canes with large, oblong green leaves variegated with white or cream.
Dieffenbachia Camille - This is one of the best-known dieffenbachia plants. The leaves are broad and coarse and have dark green and cream variegated coloring. If you are looking for a bushy, lush variety this might be a good fit for you. Camille will grow from two to five feet high with a spread of three to five feet.
Dieffenbachia Hilo - Hilo plants have large, pointed, coarse, dark green leaves that have a light green variegation and prominent white veins. They can grow to four feet high with a spread of up to two feet.
Dieffenbachia Compacta - This variety has medium-green, heavily-speckled leaves with a creamy yellow color in the center.
Larger Stems Root Faster
Larger stems will start rooting faster than smaller stems because the larger stems contain more stored food.
Your Cuttings Should Resemble These
What You Will Need
- A healthy dieffenbachia plant
- Some potting soil (or sphagnum moss, perlite, peat, sand or vermiculite)
- Rooting hormone
- A tray or pot in which to put your cuttings
Before you begin:
Don't have any reservations about cutting your dieffenbachia plant. Some of them will grow to the ceiling if you let them. I always cut the plant to my desired height and use that cutting to start a new plant (I don't particularly want my plant to be huge, thick, and to-the-ceiling).
- Use a sterile knife to make the cuttings and be sure to sterilize the instrument before and after you use it. If you have stems that have become bare from dropped leaves they can be cut into two-inch sections as long as they have at least one lateral bud.
- Dust the cut with rooting hormone. There are so many rooting hormones available...just pick the one that you like or have used before. The one I always use is Garden Safe TakeRoot Rooting Hormone for Plants, but most people find no measurable difference in any of the major brands.
- Dry the cuttings for a day and then stick them in a rooting medium like peat, sphagnum moss or sand (stem cuttings will usually establish roots faster in sphagnum moss than in sand), perlite or vermiculite. Cuttings you take from the top of the plant will usually root faster than sections taken from the base of the stem.
- You can also use some new, sterile potting soil (I like Miracle Gro®). The cutting will take root (patience is a virtue) and the mother plant from which you took the cutting will branch out.
Tips and Warnings
- Cleanliness is essential when propagating any plants, so use a sterile knife to make your cuttings.
- Use new, sterile potting soil.
- Wash your hands often during the process.
- Keep your cuttings in an area where the temperature is pretty constantly 65-70 degrees.
- The sap of the dieffenbachia plant is poisonous. If you have small children or pets, always be mindful of where your plant is placed. It must be out of reach.
- Always wash your hands after handling a dieffenbachia plant. Even a very small amount of sap on your tongue can cause your throat to close up and you could suffocate.
Questions & Answers
I have brownish colored scale on one of my diegfennachia plants, the plant continues to grow and scale doesn’t appear on all the stems. What do I do with it? Also have a large section of plant that fell off the side of my plant can it root in water?
In regard to scale, check out this video and see if your dieffenbachia has the same problem - https://youtu.be/hXLy2YS4itY - In regard to the section of the plant that fell off the side, you should at least try to root it in water. Cut off 3-4" sections and snip off any leaves. Put it in clean water. Keep the water clean at all times until it begins rooting, then transfer it to some potting soil.
© 2011 Mike and Dorothy McKenney