A few houseplants placed strategically around the house can make the interiors look more inviting and warm. Most of us look for houseplants that are low maintenance and which look great too. One such houseplant is Dieffenbachia which is a tropical plant of the family Araceae. It grows up to a height of 6-7 feet and has long oblong shaped laves with pointy tips. The popularity of this plant is due its ornamental leaves which are marbled with off white to yellow. It's common name "dumb cane" is due to the poisoning effect of its milky white sap that contains calcium oxalate which irritates the throat and the skin.
Since Dieffenbachia is a tropical plant, it requires a moderately high temperature to thrive. It also requires medium to high heat to grow although it should not be directly exposed to high sunlight as that might burn and shrivel the leaves of the plant. Dieffenbachia requires well drained and moist soil to grow.
There are different cultivars of the Dieffenbachia plant and the most popular ones are "Tropical Snow", "Paradise", "Snow Queen" and "Hilo". Dieffenbachia propagation can be done in two ways; stem cutting and air layering. Here we will discuss these two methods of propagation of Dieffenbachia plant.
Dieffenbachia Propagation by Stem Cutting
Propagating Dieffenbachia by stem cutting is a fairly straightforward process and even a novice gardener can do it. Here is how you go about it.
- Wear rubber gloves and cut out a 3-4 inch section of the cane, just below the leaf node. Cut out at least 3 sections of the cane so that at least one cutting propagates.
- Dust the end of the cane cuttings with rooting hormone which also contains fungicide.
- Prepare a flowerpot with a mix of potting soil which is made with half peat moss and half sand.
- Now place the Dieffenbachia cane cutting into the prepared soil in the flowerpot horizontally.
- The bottom portion of the cane cutting should be inserted into the soil and the leaf bud or node should remain above the soil.
- Next, water the plant cutting and cover it with a sheet of clear plastic. This keeps the soil moist and also keeps the humidity level constant.
- Place the pot in a warm location, adding water if and when you feel that the soil has become too dry.
- After a month or so you will find stems emerging from the cane cutting. At this point, you can remove the plastic sheet and place the Dieffenbachia plant in a sunny spot.
Dieffenbachia Plant Propagation by Air Layering
Another method for propagating Dieffenbachia plant is by air layering. This method is a little complex so you need to follow the steps mentioned below carefully.
- First identify a spot on the stem of the Dieffenbachia plant where there is a healthy leaf bud growing.
- Now make a long upward cut on the stem of the plant, about 2 inches long with a sharp knife.
- Insert a small twig or toothpick into the cut portion of the stem, making sure that the cut portion does not touch the main stem.
- Dust the cut portion of the Dieffenbachia stem with rooting hormone.
- Moisten some sphagnum moss in water, squeeze out excess water and place it over the cut portion of the stem. Tie the sphagnum moss to the stem of the plant with a piece of string.
- Use a piece of polyethylene film to cover the sphagnum moss, making sure that there is an air pocket in between the moss and the polyethylene film.
- Secure the polyethylene film to the stem of the Dieffenbachia plant with electrical tape.
- In a few days, roots of the plant will propagate at the cut portion and you will see some roots shooting out of the sphagnum moss.
- At this point, remove the polyethylene film and then remove the rooted branch from the parent plant with a sharp knife.
- Plant the new rooted branch in a pot containing potting mix. Cover the new plant with a polyethylene film for a week to prevent loss of moisture from the roots.
- Once the root system has been established, remove the polyethylene cover and place in a bright sunny spot.
These were two ways in which you can go about propagating a Dieffenbachia plant. It is a beautiful ornamental plant and once the propagation is complete, you need to water it regularly to help it grow. Because of the poisonous nature of the plants sap, it is essential that you keep it away from pets and children.