Dieffenbachia plants are known as great houseplants that allow you a lot of freedom. They are not particularly demanding so they are great even for the beginner gardeners. These plants look so good in your home so it’s not surprising that Dieffenbachia is among the most popular houseplant around the world.

However, even the low-maintenance plants such as Dieffenbachia can benefit from some pruning. It should be done from time to time to improve the appearance of your plant. Also, a good reason for pruning might be propagation: if you wish to propagate your plants it’s best done at the time of pruning.

In fact, you can do both at the same time: propagate your Dieffenbachia to get some new plants and improve the health and appearance of your old plant. It is a win win situation that will get you more of these gorgeous plants.

When to Prune?

If you are wondering about the best time to prune your Dieffenbachia plant, there is no one good time to do it. Generally speaking, these plants should be pruned when they have shed enough of the leaves to expose the stems. In other words, you need to observe your plant and see when it’s the right time to prune.

Keep in mind that Dieffenbachia plants can reach about 6 feet in height indoors. When they are this big, they will typically shed some leaves. Their big, variegated leaves simply go yellow and drop from the bottom of the stems. This will leave the canelike trunk exposed. When this happens you’ll know that it’s a good time to prune your Dieffenbachia plant.

How to Prune?

It is not difficult to prune your Dieffenbachia plant, but you need to prepare some basic tools and materials and to follow some easy steps.

Materials you’ll need:

  • Gardening Gloves
  • Sharp knife

It is important to wear your gardening gloves when working with a Dieffenbachia plant. Remember, it got its name “dumbcane” because when you cut it, the plant produces a material that can cause itching and other problems on the mouth and throat. It can “strike you dumb”, hence the name. This is a lasting effect that can go on for a week or even two. To avoid getting the plan material on your mouth and throat, it is vital to wear gloves whenever working with a Dieffenbachia plant.

Another problem is touching the eyes: it can be very painful and it can lead to a rash. For this reason, make sure to avoid touching your face, skin, lips and eyes when you work with a Dieffenbachia plant and always make sure to wear your gardening gloves!

Here are the steps you need to take when pruning your Dieffenbachia plant:

  1. Cut the canes. Using a sharp, clean knife, cut through one or more canes. Make sure to do it at about 45 degree angle. Never remove more than one third of the plant’s foliage because that can harm your plant. It is best to cut about 6 inches above the soil. Make sure to cut about ¼ inch above a node. You will be able to identify a node easily: it looks like a small swelling near a brown ring on the stem where a leaf was attached. This is where the new growth develops.
  2. Propagate your plant. If you wish to propagate your Dieffenbachia plant, now it’s the best time to do it (see below).
  3. Water your plant. Once you cut the canes, make sure to water your plant well. It will help it recover from pruning. However, make sure not to keep your plant too moist. Keep in mind that Dieffenbachia plants are prone to rotting if they are in a too moist environment.

Propagating Your Dieffenbachia Plant

Propagation is best done during the time of pruning. Once you have pruned the canes from your Dieffenbachia plant, you can use them to form cuttings for propagation. Here’s how to do it in a few simple steps: 

  1. Cut the cane to form cuttings. Take the cane you have pruned from the main plant. Make sure to cut it into 2 inch segments. Each segment has to have a node about ¼ inch from the bottom edge. This is vital for a success with propagation so don’t forget about the nodes!
  2. Remove leaves. Make sure to remove all except for a few top leaves from the leafy top of the cane. Discard the leaves. It is also good to cut the remaining leaves in half so they don’t take much energy and moisture from the rest of the cutting. When cutting the leaves, make sure to trim at the end of a node.
  3. Plant the cuttings. Plant your cuttings, nodes down. It is best to use a soilless potting mix for this.
  4. Take care of cuttings as they grow. Make sure to keep the cuttings evenly moist but never soggy. The ideal temperature for the cuttings is 75 degrees F. They should produce roots in about 8 weeks.

Photo credit: bygdb – Gianni Del Bufalo (CC BY-NC-SA) Fiore Dieffenbachia 1 via photopin (license)

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