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Dying Dieffenbachia

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
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by Nittrox on November 09, 2005 10:11 AM

I am a grad student in Houston and just took to gardening. I got a healthy Dieffenbachia a few months back and well, now the plant is all but a collection of dying stems. All the leaves are gone and the new ones die before growing completely.

I guess some of the problems could be insufficient light, plant standing in water ( [tears] ) or not enough nutrients! The problem is I just dont know the problem!

I repotted it yesterday into a bigger pot using new potting soil. Today I noticed a small brown worm in the soil on the surface. I am greatly worried about my plant and dont know what to do.


by Jiffymouse on November 10, 2005 05:41 AM
well, i wouldn't have used a bigger pot, but the new soil was good. also, you know, diffenbachias can be cut off and the base will send new shoots and the top will root if you just plop it into the soil beside the mother plant. just be careful, the sap is irritating to some.
by Nittrox on November 11, 2005 10:21 AM
Thanks Jiffymouse!

I ll try to cut the stems and plant them beside the mother plant.

I dont understand though, if dieffenbachias can survive in water, why would they wilt in overwatered soil?
by Bill on November 11, 2005 10:44 AM
In very simple terms... When you set a cutting in water, the water will always be in motion as it heats and rises to the top. During that movement it is picking up fresh oxygen before it circulates back to the bottom of the pool. Waterlogged, soggy soil is too dense for that process to be quick enough to move the oxygen and CO2 to the roots and the plant basically will suffocate.

Be sure to heed Jiffy's warning regarding the sap. I can be very toxic in some cases. The common name "Dumbcane" comes from medieval times when the master (or Lady) of the manor would make the sevants chew a leaf to ensure their silence about certain "no nos" they may have witnessed.
The Dumbcane would cause the servants tongue to swell to a point that they were incapable of speach.... insuring their silence....

Or so the legend goes...

[teacher] Beware of the sap, just to be safe! OK?

* * * *
by Sorathien on November 13, 2005 06:56 AM
over exposure to the sap on your skin can cause a rash. either wear gloves, or wash your hands really well after handling it.
by Nittrox on November 14, 2005 02:19 AM
Thanks Bill, Sorathien.

The story behind the 'dumb cane' seems pretty insightful and interesting!

Thanks for the tips guys.

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