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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Dumbcane - Dieffenbachia - Best Indoor Plants

I would like to introduce a New Series on Indoor Plants
and hope to come up with 10 Best Indoor Plants for Beginners.

And this is one of the most easiest to begin with.
It is fairly impossible to kill this plant. (If you do - I should congratulate you for it)
Let me introduce this plant - Dieffenbachia also known as Dumb Cane Plant.

It got it's infamous name due to the fact this plant contains toxic that when consume, one can loose the ability to speak as this plant causes the inflammation & swelling throat and tongue.

Later, the name is more directed and classified as Dieffenbachia when more exotic hybrids were introduced into the market. Hence, the taboo & the fear is slowly diminishing.


One of the main characteristics are the visible splashing and marble like stains of white and cream pigmentation on the green foliage. It has a strong accent on the cylindrical cane, often arched rather than upright.

Also there is so many varieties and hybrids that had been introduced and more at each year that it is going to be impossible to catalog each and every of them. However it is very interesting to note their variations and major color difference due brighten up a dark and dull space. The cream - white tones with green does amazing in feature spaces when displayed in garden or indoor spaces.


They do thrive very well in bright shade and handles well with over-watering.
I would dare say that this can behave well as a bog plant rather than any of the dry side plants.

However I would consider this as a hardy plant and may able to handle over-watering and under-watering as well - do check on the foliage if you are having the tendency to under water the plants - water immediately when the foliage appears withered.
Less infrequent watering can cause yellowing and withered look on this plant.


Ideally the best placement would be by the bright window side where it receive indirect bright light  but they can tolerate medium shade to almost direct sun if placed outdoor.

When expose to bright but shaded light, the colored pigmentation appears more dominant and strong. More showy than the green pigmentation.

I must caution that if it receive too much sun, the foliage will appear to be burned and yellow likewise if it is too shaded and dark - the leaves will be green (losing it's cream colors) and leggy (searching for a light source)

However, this plant handles movement well - as placing in areas and positions to find an ideal spot for this one - also another trick would be alternating 2 plants by putting one outdoors and one indoors and exchanging them on weekly basis. This works best too but the fact of constantly changing may likely to damage the plant if it is in a big pot.


This particular plant does so well in most medium. I would recommend to use a balance potting mix where it is rich with organic material. The roots do grow deep and it does good to grow them in deeper pots as the roots are thick and fibrous. They don't do well in shallow pots.


Do check for snails and slugs.
They can do extensive damage to the foliage especially the young tender foliage shoots at the crown. These pest tend to chew upon the unfurling of the leaf and thus create a unsightly appearance when the leaves unfolds.

Also another menace are the mealybug and scale insect - do eradicate it before it overwhelm the plant. There are many organic pesticide which would be an ideal solution like neem oil.

Do use snail & slug bait often to deter them from consuming this plant.


My greatest challenge for this one is propagation.
Don't get me wrong - its actually easy to propagate them.

It's the sap that causes the challenge.
When cutting or the leaf brushes on my arm or face
- I tend to experience light burning sensation on my skin.


Eventually the Dumbcane does become tall and leggy. If you enjoy keeping them in a medium pot and slightly compact formation - it is ideal to trim off from the top and replant it in a new potting mix and leaving the rootball with the cut-off trunk exposed (do keep it aside for few weeks and you will see new growth appears from there)

The roots, the leaves and the stem - all have toxicity on them that causes burning sensation and therefore I recommend to use glove and if you are like me (rarely use gloves as I like to feel my soil and plants) don't water them until finished planting them as these wet plants can have a stronger effect on skin.

A stem cutting may also root in water which is much stable but do change the water on daily basis if possible as they can tend to rot. Keep it in shade until new leaves appears.


This plant does well when the lower leaves are pruned - especially the matured yellow leaves.
Keeping it clean and free from falling over deters snails and slugs too. In appearance - keeping free where the canes are visible - the plant seemed to be healthier and robust in comparison to the one that is not pruned.


Do not place this plant near you (like at the dining table / work table)

Put it far where you can see and enjoy looking at the beauty but (see no touch) location.

Keep it far from children & pets or any chance of accidentally brushing or bruising the plant.

And wash your hands if you handle this plant when watering or touching it.

Just like what I mentioned about the ZZ plant.
I would like to repeat the characteristics of how to handle the plant here.
Like any ornamental plant - they need to be handled with care.

Some plants are designed with beauty and it comes with an addition (the toxic) 
The reason nature intend it that way so that animals don't go chewing on the leaves.

Sort of its defense mechanism to protect itself.

Dieffenbachia is a great show piece plant to have in a context of having a colored foliage plant.

Again the emphasize is its a (See no Touch Plant) so placing them in such a way no physical contact is the utmost priority.

The newer hybrids appear to be a mix Chinese Evergreen with well pronounced coloration.

I can't really tell whether if it's a Dieffenbachia species or Agloanema species since both can be cross pollinated and creating new cultivars.

These potted plants are currently sold in nurseries.
They are popular and still highly prized due to their demand as their variety is endless.

I'm still amazed to find that a singular plant is sold at RM15-RM18 by means it not cheap for a fairly easy plant to propagate. I believe due to new cultivars been introduced for commercial need especially for landscape design works for shaded area - This plant thrive in these designated areas.

I believe these are the dwarf variety where the plant is compact and display vivid colors compared to the older version where the canes are more open & broad like an umbrella shape.

It is indeed an easy plant to care for and not easily killed. I would definitely recommend this one as one of the Best Indoor Plants to have.

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Tropical Garden, Batu Caves, Malaysia
My Malaysian Tropical Garden mainly focused on unique and colorful plants ranging from rare to common plants all around the tropical belt across the world. Ideal for inspiration for challenging areas in the garden space - indoor gardening, balcony gardening and small green spaces especially for ariods, bromeliads, begonias, edibles, cascading & vertical garden plants, succulents & cacti, orchids, together with both shade and sun loving plants.

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