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Cutting Dieffenbachia

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by Andrea D. on February 20, 2005 11:21 PM
I read a post from about a year ago with a similar question to mine about a dieffenbachia, however I have a few more questions. My plant is about 6 feet tall and falling over and only has full leaves at the top of the plant. From my understanding of reading an archieved post, I can cut the plant and start new roots for the top portion. What length should I cut the cane? How big of a pot should I plant this in? What kind of fertilizer/soil should I be using? I received the plant and am certainly not much of a gardener and don't want to kill it. Also, how often should I water this cut piece?

Okay, more questions - I understand I can also keep the bottom portion of the plant and it will sprout new growth. Is this true? Should I be cutting back the root system as well? Again, I would like answered the same questions as to soil, fertilizer, water for this section of the plant too please.

I've read as well that dieffenbachias have very poisonous sap. Are there any precautions I should take when handling these cuts? I also have a cat who I wouldn't want to be harmed by this plant - should I keep it away from the cat for any length of time after it has been cut? I've had the plant for a few years now with no harm to my kitty, but have also not noticed any sap but imagine some will come out when cutting it.

Sorry for the many questions, but the top portion really is beautiful and I'd like to keep it healthy, but don't have much of a green thumb - but I'm trying.

Thanks so much.
by Jiffymouse on February 21, 2005 02:27 AM
ok, here is the skinny on your plant. as far as where to cut the top, you just need to cut it where you feel like it will be most astheicly pleasing.

as for the bottom, you don't need to do anything different to it than you would have if you did not cut it. watering the top and bottom should be the same as before you cut it.

you can put them in the same pot (just make a hole in the soil and stick the top down in it) or put it in another pot about 2/3 size to the one it came out of. i wouldn't root prune it, i don't to disturb the roots if i am messing with the top.

if the stalk in the middle is too long, you can cut it off and either discard it, or 1/2 bury it and it may sprout for you also.

as for your cat, if you haven't had any problems before, you probably won't have any now. cats are pretty good about not getting into new plants if they have already scoped them out.

for the sap, either wear gloves, or wash your hands and utinsils thoroughly when you are done. that is what i do. not a big glove fan myself.
by Andrea D. on February 21, 2005 03:00 AM
Thanks Jiffymouse. That's exactly the answer I was looking for.

Do you use any particular type of potting soil or fertilizer for house plants? In all honesty, I sometimes wonder how my plants live at all. I water them once a week if I'm lucky - sometimes they may go weeks without water and somehow they manage to live.
by Jiffymouse on February 22, 2005 03:06 AM
i don't have any favorite, although i usually use miracle grow as the only alternative at the "big box stores" seems to be schultz, which i hate. it is just to heavy. and your plants will be much more forgiving of too little water than they would be if you overwatered them. glad i could help!
by Andrea D. on February 24, 2005 07:39 AM
Thanks for all your help Jiffymouse. We just did the plant "surgery" this evening. We decided to move the bottom stalk with roots intact, as well as the four sections of rings we're trying to get to grow, to the bedroom where my cat can't get at them, as those are the sections where the sap is now exposed. Of course the top portion has the exposed middle of the stalk in the dirt, so figure that is harmless.

Do you know how long it will take before those exposed sections are not harmful to my cat. Unfortunately, he is very curious, and you know the saying.....
by Jiffymouse on February 24, 2005 07:52 PM
i really don't. i do know that once the edges have calloused over (however long that takes) you are in good shape.

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