Dumbcane

Description:There are several varieties of Dumbcane with different veining and verigation in the leaves. The leaves can range from dark green to a lighter green with white, off-white and sometimes even yellowish verigations on the leaves.

The plants leaves are ovate with pointed tips and grow on stalks that can actually grow up to 8′ or more. If left unpruned the plant will grow to resemble a palm tree.

Lighting:
Dumbcane’s prefer a medium to bright lighting source, but can do well even in low light conditions. An area that gets bright, but filtered light is the ideal location.

Dumbcane Dieffenbachia seguine

Dumbcane Dieffenbachia seguine

Watering:
The best way to water Dumbcane is too completely drench the soil and let it get moderately dry before rewatering. This method can only be used if you have a pot with a hole in the bottom so that excess water can properly drain. Let dry between waterings, but never allow Dumbcane to get bone dry for long periods of time.

Soil:
Dumbcane needs soil that will retain water, but also drain well. If general potting soil seems to pack tightly, add some Perlite or sand and a little peat moss for aeration.

To mix your own soil add 1 part moist humus or peat, 1 part garden soil and 1 part Perlite or coarse sand. Add a light dusting of lime to the mix and use a pot that has a hole in the bottom.

Fertilization:
You should fertilize Dumbcane at least every two weeks. Use a good quality plant food that is lime free. Don’t fertilize during the winter months when the plants growth rate is slowed.

Propagation:
Propagation can be done through air layering, suckers and stem cuttings at any time of the year. Propagating should be done with a mixture of Perlite and moist peat.

To air layer, cut the plant about half way through the stem with a sharp knife approximately one foot down from plant top. Place a toothpick or other thin object into the stem to hold soil mixture in place.

Wrap some wet moss around the open cut and secure with plastic and rubber bands or strings. Once the roots have formed, cut the new plant off below the roots and pot.

Toxicity-Poisonous:
Dumbcane is considered one of the deadliest house plants. The sap from the plant contains calcium oxalate crystals. Ingestion can cause the mouth and throat to burn and swell. In severe cases the swelling can block airways resulting in suffocation.

Ingesting the plant can cause an inability to speak, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation and head shaking. Immediate medical attention is recommended.

Common Name: Dumbcane, Dumbplant, Leopard Lily, Spotted Dumbcane, Zebra Plant
Latin Name: Dieffenbachia seguine
Family: Araceae
Plant Type: Perennial
Origin: North and South America
Blooming Time: Mid-spring
Humidity: Moderate to High
Temperature: 60- 85 *F
Height: 8′
Color: Green, white, off-white
Insects and Diseases: Mealy bugs, aphids, scale, whitefly, spider mites

Written by Connie Corder for HouseplantsForYou.com, Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved

28 Comments

  1. audrey
    Jan 5, 2010

    I have had a dumb cane plant for several years,watered it the same and all of a sudden the top dirt got crusty,it acted like it wasnt taking the water and the leaves just started falling off,i started giving it miracle grow plant food ,Ive done it twice so far and cant see much change in it,Im really sad about it because I got it when my mother passed away,any suggestions?

    • Derek
      Jun 15, 2013

      re pot it: Take it out of the old pot, gently knock off most of the old dirt being careful not to damage the roots. re pot it in a bigger pot with new soil. It should do well, Good Luck. P.S. I’m not an expert just been growing only this type of plant in my home for the last 15years.

  2. Ashton
    Jan 7, 2010

    Try to replant it with new soil. Or you can cut the plant on the stock 1 foot under the last leaf and just stick it in moist soil in another pot. The roots from the pot of the old plant will start new growth and will give you separate different plants while keeping the old plant. I hope this helps ive had the same plant for 20 years by cutting it when it gets too tall and replanting. Another thing is make sure you dont have spider mites they are very deadly and hard to get rid of. if you do, the best way to get rid of them is diluted rubbing alcohol.

  3. Doug
    Mar 9, 2010

    I just got one of these plants a few months ago and at first it was doing great, now it seems to be having some troubles. I keep it pretty much watered as suggested above. I keep a close watch for bugs and don’t see any but I’m not all to positive of what to look for especially when it comes to spider mites. As of late my plant continues to lighten in color and the leaves get really soft, almost mushy, turn yellow or white and then fall off. I don’t want to loose this plant I enjoy having it very much but I fear unless I can find a way to help it I may loose it. Can anyone help me save my plant?

  4. Ginger
    Apr 23, 2010

    Doug I have had one for years and all I do is give it one glass of water once a week. From what you are saying it is getting too much water. People in the plant business will tell you that people watering too much is what keeps them in business. I have to cut mine about every three years because it reaches my ceiling. Good luck.

  5. BARBARA LSSTELLA
    Apr 23, 2010

    I HAVE A PLANT 35 YEARS OLD & I HAVE JUST MAKE MY 4TH PLANT OUT OF IT.I HAVE JUST PUT IT IN A LARGE POT BECAUSE IT’S 10 FT TALL THE LEAVES ARE CURLED IN TO THE STEM .NEED HELP THANKS BARB

    • Hope
      Aug 17, 2013

      My dumbcane is 14 years old, sometimes the leaves turn yellow and I do water it about once a week. It is about 3 or 4 feet tall. I was surprised to find you
      have had yours for 35 years. A friend of mine gave it to me as a gift when
      I moved into a new apartment . Hers died and mine in still going strong.
      I had to repot mine because it is so big, but I think I may have to do it again.

  6. Dom
    May 7, 2010

    Apart from killing people, what other positive way can the poison be used? Anything in excess is poisonous. Pesticide? Insecticide? Mosquito poison? Cancer therapy? Diluted it may probably have a useful function.

  7. Lindsay
    May 22, 2010

    I have a dumb cane that my friend gave to me. It’s about 6′ tall when standing upright. The leaves aren’t growing from the base, only about 3′ from the top. Because it is so tall it has a tendency to bend over. I know that supporting it will help, but i am not too sure if i need to replant it. It’s a very healthy plant, and i’m nervous to replant it.

  8. Earlette
    Jun 19, 2010

    I received a dumb cane cutting from a friend approximately 12 years ago. I potted the plant and it growed slowly when I lived in VA. At one point I left the plant with a friend who placed it on a patio where it got flooded with water after a long rainy spell. There was one leave and the stalk when I got the plant back after I moved to FL. Approximately 6 months after I moved to FL and placed the plant in my sunroom it grew from a skinny stalk my friend told me to throw away to a thriving 8 ft plant. I’ve grown 10 plants from this one in the 3 years since I moved here! I’ve even given some away. I love the plant and its beautiful (all of them)!

  9. DORENE
    Jul 8, 2010

    My dumb cane is about 6′ tall when standing upright. The leaves aren’t growing from the base, only about 3′ from the top. and the stalk is very tall it is bending over. I don’t understand air laying too well. can i cut the stalk down and replant the cane in water to grow new roots or can i put in another potted soil?

  10. dyllium
    Aug 9, 2010

    i tasted the dumb cane…. i did not know wat the plant was but i only had it in my mouth. yeah it was stupid but i experienced swelling and severe mouth watering. i ran my mouth under tap water for a few minutes and sponged my tounge. after a while the pain was gone. i do not recommend to eath or digest this plant in any way. hope this helps for anyone desperately looking for a cure at four in the monring.

  11. Grace
    Aug 22, 2010

    A week ago my plant started to have dry, yellow leaves and I’ve noticed small black bugs on the leaves. How should I treat the leaves? Thanks!

    • Indoor Gardener
      Aug 22, 2010

      Try spraying the plant with a mixture of water, garlic and dish washing liquid. The dish washing liquid is basically there to help the water/garlic stick to the leaves.

  12. Anna
    Oct 23, 2010

    I never receive my answer about dumb cane care i have brought over 20 they last a while and soon leave me.i probably let them dry out before watering and they droop and started getting pale and fading. please help me.

  13. Patricia
    Nov 17, 2010

    I would not have this plant in my house after finding out how poisonous it really is. I touched the dry, dead leaves to remove them and was working on supper at the same time. Not washing my hands, I ate a carrot and immediately started experiencing burning and swelling. What if one of my grandbabies had touched a leaf? It’s gone! Sorry if there are those of you that will defend this house plant but it doesn’t belong anywhere near small children, animals, nor adults.

  14. Ashton
    Nov 17, 2010

    Anna, Im not sure why your plants are dieing? How much sun do they get? I have had mine for almost 20 years and its never tried to die on me. I usually let them get bone dry before water and it gets morning sunlight but not direct

  15. shanai r.
    Dec 12, 2010

    i have a dumbcane plant and the weather changed and all the leaves started withering i moved it upstairs where it is slightly warmer but the leaves are still dying….any suggestions…i really wanna save my plant

  16. pat
    Mar 7, 2011

    hello, im pat and i have several dumbcane plants BUT i have noticed that the leaves have white powdery stuff on them i clean them with a soft cloth but a day or two the white stuff comes back and i notice little bugs i tried using the sprays for killing the bugs but it also kills my plants as well, i have lost several plants due to that i love this plant i dont want to loose any of them can someone help me???

  17. tray
    Apr 19, 2011

    HEY THIS TYPE OF PLANT HAS BEEN IN MY HOUSE FOR OVER 3 YEARS IN I NEVER KNEW WHAT IT WAS. TODAY(4-19-11) MY FATHER TOLD ME THE TYPE OF PLANT IT WAS. BEING THE TYPE OF PERSON I AM I ASKED IF WE CAN REMOVE IT,HE SAID NO ITS YOUR MOTHERS.SORRY BUT UNTIL I FIND OUT SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT THIS PLANT IM GOING TO TRY MY BEST TO GET IT OUT OF THE HOUSE LIKE GOD DID CAIN WHEN HE KILLED HIS BROTHER ABEL!!!!! NO HARD FEELINGS. WAS MY REPLY…

  18. Jodie
    Apr 23, 2011

    Hi, Does anybody know how to get a leopard lily to flower? I’ve had mine for a couple of years and it just seems to be getting bigger rather than flowering. I’ve re-potted it once and it had a big growth spurt then, it has started spouting new stems so it’s getting fuller, but no flowers. It’s in a good size pot (with no drainage holes at the bottom) is this the reason? or perhaps the soil?
    Thanks!
    Jodie

    • Hope
      Aug 17, 2013

      Mine didn’t flower for years, I was really surprised. The flowers are kind of blah and then their gone, doesnt really add anything to the plant.

  19. PlantLady
    May 8, 2011

    Anytime that the plant gets too tall it can be cut off. The removed sections can be rooted in water to create new plants. If you want to be able to keep an eye on them, root them in a clear vase or pot so you can see when the roots begin to grow. Once the roots are well established you can plant it in soil.

  20. stripe97266
    Jun 14, 2011

    Anna. I noticed in your post that you mentioned that you bought these plants. I’m not sure that everyone will agree with me on this, but whenever I purchase any plant from the store I have a basic rule of thumb which is to repot the plant into a larger pot. I’ve noticed for some reason that my purchased plants tend to be nearly rootbound which will ultimately wind up killing the plant if not corrected before it’s too late.

    Watering, fertilizing and providing the ideal place for a plant are all key elements to maintaining heathy plants, however it’s also very important to pay attention to many other things as well. My mother Gave me a start of this plant four years ago. She simply started it in water. I potted it in her back yard and brought it home. It’s now more then a foot taller then the plant she started it from which is two years older then the one I have and much brighter and more pleasant to the eye.

    I keep it near a window in a room with a good ammount of light, but not in the direct sun. The plant tends to make dramatic turns toward the sun so I turn it when this happens to keep the stalks from bending too much. These plants love corners and look beautiful in them. Make sure they are getting proper drainage and listen to them when they tell you something is wrong.

    The other thing I have noticed is that they do not like high traffic areas where people tend to brush their leaves a lot. I’m not sure any plant does, but this plant seemed very sensetive to it and it doesn’t like drafts or very dark rooms. My plant seems happiest in the North East or South West corner of a room,

    Hope this helps.

  21. giftedplantperson23
    Mar 5, 2012

    I think I have one of these plants from my inlaws. They thought it was a palm, but It matches almost every discription of this plant and nothing of the palm. The only thing that doesn’t seem to fit is the poisoneous part. My cats have eaten entire leaves (on more than one occasion) with no side effects. I admit I’ve even ingested some after pruning some tattered leaves and forgetting to wash my hands, and I had no problems either.

    Is there a chance it really is something else? If so what? Any ideas would be welcome

  22. michelle
    Jun 23, 2012

    I have a lot of dumbcanes when they grow too big I slice the plant off at the base n stick it in water n they root good. When I went to water my big dumbcane bush /tree I noticed this white growth it almost looks like a flower…my question is….what is it?

  23. Katie
    Jun 3, 2013

    My Dumbcane plant has 3 stocks to it and 2 of them are about 5 feet tall and have a problem standing on their own. Recently repotted it thinking that a bigger pot would help but the stocks are just too heavy to stand on their own anymore any suggestion?

  24. Nathaniel Miles
    Jul 9, 2013

    I have had several Dumcane’s and the problem has been that they get top heavy and can’t stand on their own. The one I currently have is about to reach that point and I was wondering if there’s a plant prop that can accomodate a Dumcane’s height and diameter. I appreciate your imput.

    Thanks,
    Nathaniel

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