DUMB CANE

FAMILY: Araceae | GENUS: DIEFFENBACHIA

TYPE
  • Perennials
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
  • Full Shade
  • Filtered Light
WATER
  • Moderate Water
PLANTING ZONES
  • TS (Tropical South) / Zone 10
  • TS (Tropical South) / Zone 11
SPECIAL FEATURES
  • House Plants
  • Poisonous/Toxic

Plant Details

From forests of the tropical Americas. Grown for their strik- ing evergreen foliagein colors varying from dark green to yellow- green and chartreuse, with variegations in white or pale cream. In the Tropical South, will grow year-round outdoors, either potted or in the ground as accent plants. Elsewhere, grow them indoors. Young plants generally have single stems, while older ones may develop multiple stems. Taller than wide; those listed here are 12 ft. wide. Mature plants bear flowers resembling odd, narrow callas (Zantedeschia).

Nomenclature is somewhat confused. Some of the plants described below may be sold as selections of D. seguine, a highly variable species quite similar to D. maculata.

D. amoena. To 6 ft. or taller. Broad, dark green, 1-ft.-long leaves with narrow, slanting white stripes on either side of midrib.

D. maculata. Grows to 6 ft. or taller. Broad, oval green leaves reach 10 in. or longer, have greenish white dots and patches. 'Rudolph Roehrs' has pale chartreuse foliage blotched with ivory and edged with green. Foliage of 'Superba' is thicker and slightly more durable than that of species and is more generously marked with creamy dots and patches. Hybrids include 'Camille', with cream leaves edged with green, and 'Paradise,' with cream-colored leaves with small green spots radiating out from the center. 'Tropical Snow' has leaves variegated with cream and white.

Give container plants fast-draining potting mix, and be sure to let the mix dry to a depth of at least 1 in. before watering. Feed with half-strength general-purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer bimonthly in spring and summer. Underfed, underwatered plants show amazing endurance, recovering from severe wilting when better conditions come. Repotting is necessary when roots begin pushing plant up out of pot. Once repotted, plants usually send out new basal shoots. Sudden change from low to high light level will burn leaves, but you can move houseplants to a sheltered patio or lanai in summer. If plants get leggy, you can cut them back to 6 in. above the soil line; gangly specimens cut back in this way will usually resprout with multiple stems. Or start new plants by air layering or taking stem cuttings; discard the original, overly leggy plant. Spider mites can be a serious pest indoors, caus- ing discolored leaves; treat with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil (take plants outdoors to spray).

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